Signalling start of the process for freeing rebels, bail was granted by a fast track court on Tuesday to hardcore Maoist Sriramulu Srinivasulu, whose release is being demanded by abductors of Malkangiri district Collector R.V. Krishna and an engineer.

Additional District Judge of the fast track court P. K. Karna granted bail to Srinivasulu in a case involving criminal conspiracy and sedition charges on a bond of Rs. 25,000 and surety of equal amount.

He was the first naxal to get a bail among the ultras whose release is being demanded by the captors of Mr. Krishna and junior engineer Pabitra Majhi.

However, he would remain in jail for now in connection with another case, his lawyer R. P. Patnaik said.

The Maoist leader, who was arrested in July 2007 from Bariguda forest in Kalimela area of Malkangiri dsitrict, had filed his bail application before the court on February 19. The judge, who heard the petition on Monday, had reserved the judgement for today.

A former chief of Revolutionary Writers Association, he had been lodged in Malkangiri jail except for a few months when he was taken to neighbouring Andhra Pradesh in connection with some cases against him there.

Srinivasulu had been acquitted in four cases by a Malkangiri court earlier.

The bail plea of Maoist leader Ganti Prasadam, facing charges in about 100 cases in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, Padma, wife of a senior Maoist leader, and three others would be taken up in the Orissa High Court tomorrow.

Ganti Prasadam was shifted to high-security Jharpada jail here from Koraput to join the talk process with Maoist hand-picked interlocutors.