Collector of Malkangiri in Orissa R. Vineel Krishna, who was kidnapped by Maoists on Wednesday, remained untraceable till Thursday night.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealed for the release of Mr. Krishna and Pabitra Majhi, a Junior Engineer of the Kudumuluguma Block of Malkangiri district. The engineer was taken hostage along with the Collector.
The government ordered the suspension of anti-Maoist operations in Malkangiri and expressed its willingness to hold talks with extremists' representatives to ensure the safe release of Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi.
The government also contacted veteran social activist Swami Agnivesh, who had appealed to Maoists not to cause any harm to Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi, a tribal. He had offered to make efforts for the release of the two.
Maoists took Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi as hostages when they were going to a village in the cut-off area of the Balimela reservoir on a motor-cycle to inspect some development work.
Another Junior Engineer, who accompanied Mr. Krishna, was not kidnapped. He returned late on Wednesday evening with a note containing Maoists' demands that included the release of all tribal Maoists within 48 hours, and no combing operations be conducted by both the Orissa and Andhra Pradesh police forces.
Shops and business establishments in Malkangiri remained closed on Thursday. Rallies and processions were taken out by social organisations and members of the general public, requesting the abductors to release Mr. Krishna and Mr. Majhi.
G. Narasimha Rao reports from Visakhapatnam:
The Communist Party of India (Maoist) gave the names of those who should mediate with it. It also listed the leaders to be released in exchange for Mr. Krishna.In telephonic messages to some newspaper offices late on Thursday evening, official spokesman of the Andhra Orissa Border State Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the party Prasad said convener of the Political Prisoners Release Committee Dandapani Mohanty, R. Someswara Rao, a retired economics professor of the Sambalpur University; and Haragopal, a professor of the Central University (Hyderabad) and civil rights activist, should be sent to it as mediators.
It wanted the release of Sudhakar of the AOBSZC; Padma, wife of top leader A. Haragopal alias Ramakrishna; and Ganti Prasadam, who is leading the coordination committee of the martyrs' families.