Hundreds hold rally seeking Orissa collector’s release

Thursday, February 17, 2011

BHUBANESWAR - Residents of Orissas Malkangiri town observed a shutdown and held a massive rally Thursday demanding the safe release of the district collector abducted by Maoists rebels a day earlier.

Most of government offices, business establishments, schools, colleges and other educational institutions remained closed, Additional District Magistrate S.L. Seal told IANS.

Students and residents marched carrying placards, some of which read “release our beloved collector”, “we want safe release of our beloved collector, he said.

Road traffic was also hit in the district headquarter town, he said.

Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer R. Veenel Krishna was kidnapped from the Chitrakonda area along with junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi by around six rebels Wednesday evening. Giving a 48-hour ultimatum, Maoists have demanded a halt to combing operations by the security forces for their release, police said Thursday.

This is the first time the rebels have taken an IAS officer hostage in the state. The abduction happened just two days before Home minister P. Chidambaram has scheduled a video conferencing with the district magistrates of 60 districts affected by Left wing extremism.

Chidambaram was to hold the conference Friday to gauge the impact of the Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for districts affected by Maoist violence.

Krishna, 30, a native of Chanda Nagar, a suburb of Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, joined the IAS in August 2005 after he graduated from Indian Institute of Technology, Madras.

He had been posted in Malkangiri for 16 months. Pabitra Mohan Majhi, a native of state capital Bhubaneswar joined as a junior engineer in the district only four months ago.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said: “We are monitoring the situation. I appeal for the release of the young collector of Malkangiri who is known for his hard work for the poor and for tribals.”

Maoist rebels are active in more than half of Orissa’s 30 districts. Malkangiri, 615 km from here, is considered a Maoist stronghold.

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