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PWG gives 48-hour ultimatum

Hyderabad, April 9: People’s War Group rebels today threatened not to free the policemen they had kidnapped last week unless their list of demands were met within the next 48 hours.

The ultimatum was sent through Babu Rao, a home guard and one of the four kidnapped policemen. Released near Pedda Dornala, Rao, carrying a cassette and a letter from his abductors, walked about 12 km to reach the nearest police outpost, where police superintendent Charu Sinha was camping.

The cassette contained appeals from the three policemen — an inspector, a sub-inspector and a constable — still in the custody of the Naxalites. “Please accept their demands and release their comrades in jail in exchange for our lives,” it said.

Last Wednesday, the Naxalites had abducted four policemen from the Nallamalla forest in Prakasham district during the Ugadi festival that marks the beginning of the Telugu new year.

The extremists have laid down seven conditions for the safe return of the captives. They have sought the release of members of the group arrested for the murder of industrial tycoon Magunta Subbarama Reddy three years ago and a judicial inquiry into alleged fake encounters, like the one last month that killed Ramakrishna, the organisation’s North Telengana secretary.

State home minister T. Devender Gowd is waiting for chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, who is touring the districts, to arrive in Hyderabad to deliberate on the next steps to be taken to secure the safe release of the hostages.

After the abduction last week, police had prompted families of the kidnapped colleagues to stage dharnas and also raid the local office of Vaartha, a Telugu newspaper, for its alleged biased report that put the lives of the hostages at risk.

The chief minister held several meetings with senior police officials to decide on the future course of action, while the kin of those kidnapped appealed to him to do whatever it takes to gain their release.

Scoffing at the police plea for humanitarian considerations, the president of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee, Ratnamala, said it was laughable. “When they do not show such considerations for the common man, why do they deserve any'” she asked.

In the last couple of months, the People’s War Group had resorted to violence and abductions to push for their demands, mainly fair deal for undertrials and release of their top brass and activists arrested recently.

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