New plan afoot to deal with Maoist-triggered hostage crisis

Ranchi: Plans are afoot for a standard operating procedure (SOP) to deal with any future hostage crisis in the Left wing affected states – a central plan prompted by the recent abductions and subsequent release of an Odisha MLA and a collector in Chhatisgarh.

The draft SOP by the Centre has been sent to the nine Maoist-affected states, including Jharkhand, for their “comments and suggestions” before finalising the method to deal with any hostage situations in future, according to police sources here.

The SOP has been sent in the wake of the recent abductions of district collectors (Chhatisgarh) and legislators and foreign national (Odisha), by the Maoists to demand release of their jailed cadres, the sources added.

Mooting to effectively neutralise Maoists tactics to resort to abductions to get their demands fulfilled, the draft SOP outlined a key point relating to suspension of anti-naxal operations during negotiations on such situations, giving rebels time to “intensively lay landmines in their areas of dominance”.

Therefore, the draft SOP suggested a three-tier crisis management mechanism and their roles to deal with abduction situations.

The draft also touched other points like the process of negotiations, the decision of hard option and other basic requirements, the sources said.

The draft outline states that major demands of the hostage takers should not be conceded and release of convicted Maoist cadres and those facing murder charges would be non-negotiable, the sources said.

However there should be no hesitation in conducting negotiations. The draft SOP also says that the primary objective in a hostage situation is to save the life of the hostage and the hard option — use of force to rescue hostages — should be exercised only after exhausting all avenues of negotiated settlement, the sources said.

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