Mediators meet top Maoist for Orissa hostages’ release (Lead)

February 22nd, 2011 - 12:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, Feb 22 (IANS) Two mediators Tuesday met a top Maoist leader, who was brought to a jail here to speed up negotiations for the release of a district collector and a junior engineer held hostage by Maoists since Feb 16, officials said.”A special police team brought Ganti Prasadam from a jail in Koraput to Bhubaneswar by road. Prasadam reached here early Tuesday. He has been kept in the city’s Jharpada jail,” a senior police officer told IANS.

“As soon as he arrived here, two of the mediators met him in jail and held discussions with him,” he added. The negotiators, G. Haragopal and Dandapani Mohanty, met Ganti Prasadam.

The presence of Maoist ideologue Ganti Prasadam, who has been facing several charges in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, was sought by mediators negotiating with the government for the safe release of the hostages.

Malkangiri collector R. Vineel Krishna, and junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi were abducted by the Maoists Feb 16.

Haragopal had Monday said “once Ganti Prasad is made available to us for consultation, the dialogue process will be faster”.

According to sources, the state police secured a prison transfer warrant from a court and brought Ganti Prasadam from a jail in Andhra Pradesh Saturday night.

His lawyer Monday moved a bail petition in the high court in Cuttack, 26 km from here.
The government lawyer may not oppose this bail petition to facilitate the negotiation process.

“The court is likely to take up the petition for hearing Wednesday,” a senior police officer said.

After that, it depends on the court as it is the prerogative of the judge to decide if he wants to grant bail or not, an expert said.

Along with Prasadam, four other Maoists also Monday moved their bail petitions in the high court.

State home secretary U.N. Behera and Panchayati Raj Secretary S.N. Tripathy have been holding talks with three negotiators - Dandapani Mohanty and academicians Haragopal and R. Someswar Rao, chosen by the Maoists.

The talks which began Sunday and went on for several hours both Sunday and Monday remained inconclusive. The talks will resume Tuesday even as the government has agreed to several of their demands.

It was not immediately known whether the state officials will meet Prasadam or invite him to participate in the negotiation process.

The Maoists, in a letter to the government, listed their demands for the safe release of the hostages.

These included halting of anti-Maoist operations by security forces, release of all political prisoners, the scrapping of accords with MNCs and compensation for the families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody.

The government stopped anti-Maoist operation Feb 17 and Monday agreed to eight of the 14 demands put forward by the rebels. The issues mutually agreed upon include those on human rights violations and displacement by various development projects.

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