Abducted Jharkhand official untraced, BJP questions swap plan

Ranchi, Feb 19 (Calcutta Tube) While the Jharkhand official abducted by Maoists a week ago remined untraced, the Bharatiya Janata Party – which is a ruling alliance partner – and the opposition Congress Friday questioned the state government’s move to initiate the release of 14 jailed rebels in exchange for his release.

‘I am not in favour of swapping jailed Maoists for the release of the government official. This will set a wrong precedent. In future, Maoists will make it a habit to abduct officers to get their men released,’ Jharkhand Assembly Speaker C.P. Singh, a senior BJP leader, told reporters.

The BJP is an alliance partner of the ruling Jharkhand Mukti Morcha of Chief Minister Shibu Soren in the state.

The Congress accused the Soren government of being soft on Maoists and demanded an all-party meeting to discuss the Maoist problem and the abducted official’s release.

‘The Soren government should come out with an explanation regarding the delay in the release of the abducted officer. We demand an all-party meeting to discuss the Maoist problem and the release of the officer,’ Leader of Opposition Rajendra Prasad, a senior Congress leader, told reporters Friday.

There is still no trace of Block Development Officer (BDO) Prasant Layak abducted Saturday by four armed men of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Dalbhumgarh block of East Singhbhum district.

The Maoists had, through Layak’s wife, voiced their demand for the release of three of their comrades from a jail, and then insisted on the release of 11 others. While the government late Wednesday agreed to move court to ‘re-investigate’ the cases of the 14 Maoists, the rebels Thursday came up with two new demands.

Besides seeking freedom for a large number of villagers jailed on the suspicion of being Maoists or their sympathisers, the rebels also insist on the arrest of Nagrik Suraksha Samiti (NSS) president Shankar Hembrom and others. The NSS was formed to fight Maoists at the village level.

According to a senior police official, the state government has also put on hold the operations against Maoists to rescue the government officer.

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