The District Collector of Orissa’s Maoist-hit Malkangiri has been kidnapped by Maoists, who are demanding withdrawal of Central forces and release of jailed ultras.

Malkangiri collector R.V. Krishna along with a junior engineer went missing last evening when he was on a visit to the remote Chitrakonda area, a Maoist stronghold about 85 k.m. from here, to attend a camp for local development, S.P. Anirudh Singh said.

There was no trace of the 30-year-old IAS officer after he went from the camp held at Badapada bordering Andhra Pradesh to see a culvert on a road nearby on a motorcycle along with two junior engineers and another person, Chitrakonda Tehsildar D. Gopal Krishnan said.

While the collector and a junior engineer remained untraced, two others reached Badapada late last night with a letter, written by suspected Maoists, and handed it over to senior officials, he said.

The letter demanded withdrawal of Central forces from the district, halt to anti-Naxal operations and release of all red rebels lodged in jails. “We are examining the letter and reviewing the situation. Efforts are on to trace him,” he said.

Mr. Singh said the collector is suspected to have been kept hostage by suspected ultras, but their exact position is being ascertained.

In Delhi, Home Secretary G.K. Pillai said, “He (Krishna) was abducted by the Maoists and they sent the engineer back with a chit asking for... their so called demands. The State government and other officers are working on this.”

Strongly condemning the abduction, Mr. Pillai said, “I don’t think there is any need for any operation to release him. I am sure that the local support that he has and the State government will be able to negotiate and get his release.”

“I think it will take some time because the area is quite cut-off but back channel efforts are underway and I think it will take a few days but we are quite confident of getting him back,” he said.