Jharkhand takes steps to free abducted official

Ranchi, Feb 17 (IANS) The Jharkhand government Wednesday took steps to secure the release of its official abducted by Maoists and sought to re-investigate the case of three people arrested on charges of being guerrillas.

The state government moved a Jamshedpur district court for permission to re-investigate the case of three people who were arrested a few months ago on charges of being Maoists. The three held are Basanti Patar, Raghunath and Ashwani.

According to highly-placed government sources, the operation against Maoists to rescue Prasant Layak, the abducted block development officer (BDO), has also been stopped since Tuesday night, as per the Maoists’ demand.

Layak was abducted Saturday by four armed men of the outlawed Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Dalbhumgarh block of East Singhbhum district. In exchange for Layak, the Maoists wanted a few of their comrades released from jails.

The 72-hour deadline set by the rebels to fulfil their demands ended Tuesday.

Maoists, while extending the deadline, demanded that operations against them be stopped and that three people who were detained after the abduction be released.

The three villagers were released by the police Wednesday.

Layak’s wife Juli said she got a call from the Maoists Tuesday night and that she also spoke to her husband.

‘I got a call from them (Maoist) and I spoke to my husband. My husband asked me not to worry,’ Juli told reporters.

The Maoists were using Layak’s wife to pressurise the government. The rebels called Juli on her mobile phone Sunday and asked her to talk to Chief Minister Shibu Soren and convey their demands. Juli met Soren Sunday night.

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