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Centre had asked Orissa not to free Naxals

Source: PTI
February 25, 2011 21:21 IST
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The Centre was not not in favour of Orissa government striking a deal with Maoists for the release of its two officials in exchange for the freeing some top Maoists from jail.

Home Minister P Chidambaram is understood to have spoken to Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and urged him not not to set precedent by striking a deal with the Maoists that would pressure on other governments in future in any similar situation, sources said.

Patnaik is believed to have agreed with the home minister's suggestion but later went ahead with his government's strategy of releasing Maoist leaders from to ensure the safe release of Malkangiri District Collector R Veenil Krishna and Junior Engineer Pabitra Majhi, the sources said.

The abduction of the Orissa government officials was an operation mounted by Orissa Maoists and their counterparts from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh pitched in with their demands. Then the Orissa

Maoists raised the stakes by demanding release of their comrades from jails which the Andhra Pradesh Maoists resisted saying they should focus on the problems of tribals. Otherwise, they would be looked at as working for their selfish interests, the Andhra Pradesh Maoists said. They also noted that the Collector was a popular official known for working for the people.

Sources said the Centre's point of view mattered little in these situations because law and order is a state subject and the state governments have to handle such situations. The Centre could convene a meeting of chief ministers and try to evolve a consensus on how to handle such situations but some of them could turn around and say how can Centre dictate to them, the sources said.

The sources noted that in a similar situation Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had handled the issue of abduction of some policemen last year with tact though he appeared soft in his statements.

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