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After wrapping up the three-day talks with the state government, the Maoist-chosen mediators said Krishna, the 30-year-old IAS officer, and Pabitra Majhi, who are in captivity for the seventh day, would return within 48 hours.
Home secretary U N Behera said the hostage crisis has been resolved. "Both the Malkangiri Collector and the junior engineer will be back within 48 hours," Prof G Hargopal, one of the three Maoist-chosen interlocutors, told reporters at the conclusion of the talks. Hargopal said the mediators were satisfied at the outcome of the talks.
Behera said it was agreed that cases against five Maoists, including Ganti Prasadam and Padma, wife of top naxal Ramakrishna will be withdrawn after following due process of law.
The government also agreed that there would be no coercive action by security forces as long as the Maoists do not indulge in unlawful activities, he said. Twelve Maoists including hardcore rebel leader Sriramalu Srinivasalu were today released on bail in one case by a fast track court but will be be behind bars in connection with another case.
Regarding the demand by Maoists for release of naxals like central committee member of CPI (Maoist) Asutosh Sen, Sriramulu Srinivasulu, Gananath Patra and Jiban Bose, the Home secretary said the matter would be examined on their merit.
England toil hard to beat Holland by six wickets in World Cup
While eight demands of Maoists had been settled yesterday, remaining six were agreed to during today's talks, he said, adding now the path is clear for release of Krishna and Majhi, who were abducted from Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district on February 16.
Regarding the demand for release of tribals, Behera said the state government in the past had already withdrawn petty cases against tribals and same approach would be adopted for those still in jails.
Steps for examining withdrawal of petty cases of tribals now lodged in jails would be started in 15 days and completed within three months, he said.
"We mediators express our satisfaction with the outcome of our mediation. We express appreciation for concern of Maoists for tribals of Orissa. The tribals' release was of utmost concern for them," Prof Hargopal said.
Apart from Prof Hargopal, other interlocutors who participated in the negotiations were Prof Someswar Rao and Dandapani Mohanty while Behera and Panchayati Raj secretary S N Tripathy represented the state government.
"We trust the withdrawal of cases against tribals on priority basis will be taken up in 15 days. We hope that tribals will get released and will be back in their habitats," Prof Hargopal said.
England toil hard to beat Holland by six wickets in World Cup
Hostage crisis: 12 Maoists released
About 12 Maoists including hardcore rebel leader Sriramalu Srinivasalu were today released on bail as talks for safe return of abducted Malkangiri district collector and an engineer appeared to reach a decisive stage after another top Naxal Ganti Prasadam joined the negotiation process.
Srinivasalu got bail along with 11 others from a fast track court in Malkangiri. The Maoists had demanded release of Sriramlu, Ganti Prasadam, Padma and several others for freeing district collector R V Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi. They were abducted on Wednesday last.
The mediators - Prof R S Rao, Prof Hargopal and Dandapani Mohanty - today consulted Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam, who was shifted to the special jail in the state capital from Koraput.
"It is the common responsibility before us to defuse the situation," Prasadam said after reaching here from Koraput. After the third day of talks, state Home Secretary U N Behera said, "We are nearing close (to resolving) the issue with the mediators selected by the Maoists."
"They (mediators) are in touch with him (Prasadam)," the Home Secretary said.
Asked whether the state government would oppose the bail of certain other Maoists leaders, Behera did not give a direct reply and said, "We have progressed well in the matter."
The state government was represented by Behera and Panchayati Raj Secretary S N Tripathy. The three mediators went to Jharpada jail for discussions with Prasadam. Contentious naxal demands like release of Maoists and 700 tribals, withdrawal of BSF and CRPF from Malkangiri and Koraput were discussed at length as Krishna, 31, and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi spent yet another day in captivity.
England toil hard to beat Holland by six wickets in World Cup
Participation of Prasadam in the negotiations was one of the major demands of the Maoists who had abducted the two officials on February 16 from Chitrakonda area of Malkangiri district.
While eight of the 14 demands of Maoists were settled between mediators and state government officials yesterday, discussion on the remaining six would hold the key to resolution of the crisis, sources said.
Prasadam has moved a bail petition before the Orissa High Court along with four other Naxals. The state government has decided not to oppose Prasadam's bail, they said.
The settled issues included recognising Konda Reddy and Nokadora communities as Scheduled Tribe, steps for scrapping Pollavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra Pradesh and issue of land pattas to tribals whose land had allegedly been taken away in Malkangiri and Koraput, Behera said.An agreement has also been reached on extension of a canal project in Malkangiri and compensation to families of two persons who died in jail custody due to alleged torture in Koraput.
The state government would also take steps to facilitate release of two central committee members of CPI(Maoist) Sila Di and Padma lodged in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh jails, he said.The issue of stoppage of bauxite mining in Mali and Deomali hills in Koraput and Rayagada districts was also resolved, he said.
With people remaining anxious about the fate of the hostages, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told the assembly, "We have been assured by the mediators that there shall be no harm to Krishna and Majhi."Both are safe and in good health, he said
Source: PTI & IANS