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Jharkhand mulls Maoist demands for official’s release

Ranchi, Feb 15 (IANS) The Jharkhand government is considering the demands of Maoist guerrillas to ensure the safe release of a government official, who was abducted Saturday, highly placed sources said Monday.

The state government is considering the demands made by Maoists for the safe release of Prasant Layak, a block development officer (BDO). Layak was abducted by four armed men of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Dalbhumgarh block of East Singhbhum district.

‘The state government is working on two fronts. The operations are going on to ensure the release of the abducted official and at the same time the government is considering how to fulfil the demands of Maoists. The state government has to go through legal procedures to ensure the release of the people who are in jail,’ a highly placed source in the state government told IANS.

In exchange for Layak, the Maoist rebels want seven people released.

Maoist rebels are using Layak’s wife Juli to put pressure on the government. The rebels called Juli on her mobile phone Sunday and asked her to talk to Chief Minister Shibu Soren and convey their message regarding their demands. Juli met Soren Sunday night along with her four-year-old daughter.

‘I have conveyed their (Maoists) message to the chief minister as suggested by Maoists. We appeal to them (Maoists) to release my husband for the sake of my daughter and for me. Please release my husband,’ pleaded Juli.

Jharkhand Chief Minister Shibu Soren held a meeting with two Deputy Chief Ministers Raghubar Das and Sudesh Mahto. ‘The state government is ready for talks with Maoists. No issues can be sorted out by abducting innocent officials. We appeal to Maoists to release the official to create an environment for development where officials can work without fear,’ Soren said Monday.

Inspector General of Police (Operation) D.K. Pandey is camping in Jamshedpur and monitoring the operation against Maoists to ensure the official’s release.

CPI-Maoist leader Mangal in a statement to local media took responsibility and said that the People’s Liberation Guerrillas Army (PLGA) had ‘arrested, not abducted’ Layak.

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