Bhubaneswar: After two days of talks with Maoist-chosen mediators, Orissa government on Monday said it was confident of securing early release of abducted Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna and a junior engineer.

Till now, the state government has conceded to eight of the 14 demands of the Maoists.
 
Home Secretary U N Behera said while eight demands of the Maoists were met, final talks on the remaining six conditions would be held on Tuesday.

"I am confident now that both the Collector and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi will be released very soon," he told reporters.

Among the issues resolved during the meeting were recognising Konda Reddy and Nokadora communities as Scheduled Tribe, steps for scrapping Pollavaram multi-purpose dam project in Andhra Pradesh, issue of land pattas to tribals whose land had allegedly been taken away in Malkangiri and Koraput, 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, he said.

The government would also take steps for the release of two central committee members of CPI (Maoist) Sila Di and Padma lodged in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh jails, Behera said.

The issue of stoppage of bauxite mining in Mali and Deomali hills in Koraput and Rayagada districts and cancellation of MoUs with multinational companies were also resolved.

Talks with the mediators, Prof G Hargopal, Prof Someswar Rao and Dandapani Mohanty, have "progressed well," Behera said.

"We have been assured by the mediators that Krishna's health is fine and there is no cause of concern," he said adding both the hostages are safe and secure.

In a related development, five hardcore Maoists, including Ganti Prasadam, who has about 100 cases against him in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, moved the Orissa High Court for bail after a similar plea was rejected by a lower court.

Ganti Prasadam, who was arrested by Orissa Police and lodged in jail on sedition charges, told his lawyer Nihar Ranjan Patnaik that he was interested in joining the talks with the government for the release of the abducted officials.

As Krishna, a 2005 batch IAS officer, and Majhi spent the sixth day in captivity, the mediators were keen that certain jailed ultras like Ganti Prasadam joined the negotiation process to resolve the hostage crisis.

Having already conceding a majority of the demands of the Maoists, Orissa government had made it clear that there would be no combing operation against them till the conclusion of the negotiations. The operation was halted on February 17, a day after the 30-year-old Collector and the JE were abducted.

Meanwhile, National Human Rights Commission appealed to the Maoists to free the IAS officer and the junior engineer.

Though the whereabouts of the hostages were not known, the mediators have assured the Orissa government that the two would not be harmed and that the rebels would refrain from violence as long as negotiations are underway.