PATNA: A day after the bullet-riddled body of an abducted policeman was found, Maoists Saturday said that the three other hostages with them were safe and called for talks as “time was running out” even as police arrested two Naxalites and expanded combing operations to fresh areas in Bihar to trace them.
Chief Minister Mr Nitish Kumar, who is monitoring the combing operation, has called an all-party meeting here on Saturday to discuss the situation arising out of the crisis, officials said.
Self-proclaimed Maoist spokesman Avinash Saturday rang up media offices including PTI and said the three policemen abducted by the rebels were safe and demanded the Bihar government immediately halt operations and call for talks. Avinash said the rebels would provide an audio CD containing the voices of the three policemen kidnapped on Sunday from Lakhisarai district.
However, he said time was running out and the state government should immediately hold talks for the release of the three, he said.
“We want the state government should halt the operations and hurry to hold talks for securing the safe release of the three hostages,” he said.
Asked about his earlier statement that sub-inspector Abhay Yadav had been killed, he said, “I made the statement to create fear in the minds of those handling the hostage situation.”
In Jamui district, police sources said that two Naxalites, including Pinki Yadav, were apprehended in Jamui town Saturday morning when they were speaking to their colleagues from a telephone booth.
On reports that the mastermind of the encounter in which the Maoists killed seven policemen and looted around 35 rifles from policemen on Sunday in Lakhisarai district has been arrested, Director General of Police (DGP) Mr Neelmani told PTI here “We have no information about it”.
“The area of combing has been further expanded to the districts of Banka, Kaimur and fresh hilly and forest areas in Munger, Jamui and Lakhisarai districts,” he said.
The body of kidnapped assistant sub-inspector of the Bihar Military Police ASI Lucas Tete was found at the Simra Tari Sringirishi dam in Kajra police station area, about 150 km from Patna, on Friday.
Official sources said the Centre has dispatched more than 200 additional security personnel and two choppers to Lakhisarai to assist in the anti-Naxal campaign launched in the extremist controlled pockets along the Bihar-Jharkhand border.
The Maoists had kidnapped sub-inspectors Mr Rupesh Kumar and Mr Abhay Yadav, Bihar Military Police havildar Mr Ehtesham Khan and assistant sub-inspector Lucas Tete after the encounter on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Mr Yadav’s family members and villagers from Shahpur Kamal in Begusarai district blocked the national highway near Begusarai town for the second consecutive day on Saturday to build pressure on the state government.
The state top police officials are in constant touch with their counterparts in Jharkhand to assist in the combing operations and seal the escape routes of Maoists.
Six units of Cheetah attached to Special Task Force (STF) and additional Cobra personnel too were assisting the police in the operation.