After remaining in captivity for nine days, Malkangiri Collector R V Krishna was released on Thursday by Maoists, an official said, finally bringing to an end the tense hostage crisis in Orissa.
Chitrakonda Tahsildar D Gopalakrishna said Krishna was released by Maoists on Thursday evening and was on his way to his residence in Malkangiri, which is about 90 km from the spot where the official was freed.
The 30-year-old Indian Institute of Technology graduate-turned IAS officer was released before a "people's court" by his abductors in a forested area in Jantapai close to the area where he was abducted along with junior engineer Pabitra Majhi on February 16, eyewitnesses said. Twenty-two-year-old Majhi was freed on Wednesday.
Television footage showed Krishna sitting on a boulder with folded hands appearing to be in good health listening, as an unidentified man spoke about the problems faced by villagers. The inspector in-charge of Chitrakonda Rajesh Chhatria said Krishna was released near the Jantapai area.
"It is a good end; it's a positive end," said Swami Agnivesh, a Maoist sympathiser after the end of the hostage crisis which had a new twist on Wednesday when Maoists made a fresh set of demands raising uncertainty whether the rebels will honour their commitment made on Tuesday to release the two abducted men within 48 hours.
The fresh demand was an immediate release of five Naxal leaders. The Orissa government had already accepted all the 14 demands made by Naxals.
Prof Hargopal, who was among the Maoist-appointed mediators, appealed to Maoists to release Krishna by 18.00 hours on Thursday evening. Hargopal said the Maoists at no stage ever made any threat to kill Krishna.