Orissa stops anti-Maoist operations after official’s abduction (Fourth Lead)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

BHUBANESWAR/NEW DELHI - Anti-Maoist operations by security forces have been stopped in Orissa since Thursday morning after the abduction of Malkangiri district collector R. Veenel Krishna and a junior engineer by the left wing extremists, a state police officer said.

We are not doing any operations. It has been suspended across the state, the officer told IANS on condition of anonymity.

Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer Krishna was kidnapped from the Chitrakonda area in Malkangiri district along with junior engineer Pabitra Mohan Majhi by around six rebels Wednesday evening.

The union home ministry in Delhi said it was for the state government to decide on temporary suspension of anti-Maoist operations in a limited area.

Home Secretary G.K. Pillai told reporters on the sidelines of a function that the state government was “fully competent to decide whether the operation is to be stopped in a limited area”.

“It has been done in Chhattisgarh a few days ago where for 48 hours the operation was suspended to enable the release of abducted policemen, Pillai said, reacting to Krishna’s kidnapping.

Giving a 48-hour ultimatum, Maoists had demanded a halt on combing operations and release of the rebels arrested in the past if the government wants to see the abducted officials free.

We are making all out effort to negotiate with the rebels and to locate the abducted officials, the police officer said.

This is the first time the rebels have taken an IAS officer hostage in Orissa.

Maoists 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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