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BackYou are here: NewsIndia Suspend search ops, will free cops: Maoists

India

Suspend search ops, will free cops: Maoists

Express News Service,  Wed Feb 09 2011
Raipur : Acting swiftly on the Maoists' proposal to release the five policemen held hostage for more than a fortnight, the Chhattisgarh government on Tuesday agreed to suspend search operations for 24 hours - a precondition set by the Maoists.

"The government has agreed to suspend the search operations for 24 hours as the people involved in the negotiations requested the Chief Minister to agree to such a demand of the Maoists," said a government spokesman, hoping all the hostages would be freed safely within a couple of days.

Earlier in the day, the Maoists indicated that all the hostages were safe and they were ready to hand them over to activists Swami Agnivesh and Gautam Navlakha in the presence of the media. "All the five policemen are safe. They were produced before a Jan Adalat (the people's court) of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) which accepted their apologies taking their poor family background into consideration and on humanitarian grounds," a spokesman of the outlawed organisation telephoned journalists in Bastar in the afternoon.

Quoting Comrade Niti, commander of East Bastar Divisional Committee, the spokesman said they were demanding immediate stopping of search operations. "We will hand over the hostages to Swami Agnivesh and Gautam Navlakha in the presence of the media. The date and time of their release would be announced later," the spokesman added.

Earlier, the CPI (Maoist) had made 11-point demands, including scrapping of the proposed Army training centre to be set up in the foothills of Abujmarh in Narayanpur district.

Official sources said Swami Agnivesh spoke to Chief Minister Raman Singh about the developments and said he and Gautam Navlakha, accompanied by PUCL's Justice Rajinder Sachar, would visit Chhattisgarh "very soon" to take over the hostages from the Maoists.

Swami Agnivesh was learnt to have impressed upon the state government to "accept few of their demands, including stopping of search operation for the time being".

He also insisted that no government representative should be present during their visit to the state, said official sources.

The five policemen - three Head Constables Ramadhar Patel, Raghunandan Dhruv and T Ekka, and Constables Manishankar Dubey and Ranjan Dubey, all belonging to the Chhattisgarh Armed Force - were abducted when they were travelling in a private bus on January 25.

A senior police officer said "hostage situations in urban areas and forest locations like in Bastar are always different. The strategies adopted are also different. In forest areas, establishing credible contacts with the captors, negotiating with them and every other process takes a lot of time".

When the Maoists had abducted a few policemen late last year, the state government and the police sent their relatives to Hyderabad to meet Maoist ideologue Vara Vara Rao, who appealed to the Naxalites for releasing the hostages on humanitarian grounds. Subsequently, the Maoists handed them over to journalists of a local television channel.

This time, however, relatives of the abducted policemen stayed in Narayanpur district and preferred to go from one tribal village to another so as to send out a message to the Naxalites, assuring them that all of them would quit the force once they were freed.