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Talks begin, mediators say Maoists will not harm abducted officials

Prafulla Das

BHUBANESWAR: The Orissa government on Sunday began talks with mediators chosen by Maoists to discuss the release of abducted Collector R. Vineel Krishna and Junior Engineer Pabitra Majhi.

The State government announced that there would be no combing operation in Maoist areas until the talks were over. During the talks, the mediators — Someswar Rao, G. Haragopal and Dandapani Mohanty — assured top Orissa officials that the duo would not be harmed and the Maoists would not resort to any violence and road blockade while the dialogue was on.

The talks would resume on Monday.

Although five days had passed since the officials were taken hostage in Malkangiri district, the mediators said more time was needed to secure their release in view of the likelihood of some Maoists getting bail from different courts in line with the demands made by the abductors.

“Both Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi are safe,” Home Secretary U.N. Behera said.

The Maoists have demanded release of about 700 tribals, and some suspected Maoists, including Ganti Prasadam, Padma (wife of Ramakrishna) and Sriramulu Srinivasulu. While the talks were on, Prasadam was brought from the Ongole jail in Andhra Pradesh and produced before a Koraput court.

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