Talks between the Maoists and the West Bengal government seems imminent with the Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji informing rediff.com over telephone from an undisclosed location late on Wednesday night that he was ready for discussions to end the impasse.
He assured rediff.com that the abducted police officer Atindranath Dutta was safe. He even invited Dutta's family members to visit Jangalmahal and meet him on Thursday morning.
"If they (Dutta's family members) want, we can organise a meeting," Kishenji said.
"The abducted police officer has drafted a letter for his familty members and the same would be delivered to his residence on Thursday morning," Kishenji told rediff.com.
"He is a prisoner of war and we will pay him due respect," he said.
However, Dutta could be released only after the women arrested by security forces were freed, added the Maoist leader.
The Maoists have called a press conference at Jangalmahal on Thursday afternoon. The grapevine has it that the media might get a glimpse of the abducted police officer there.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Buddhadev Bhattacharjee's office had informed local media that the state government was ready for talks with the Maoists, provided they put forth a definite set of demands.
"The government is awaiting a well-defined line of talks from the Maoists," it said.
However, all of their demands cannot, rather, should not be met, the CMO added.
On Wednesday afternoon, Indrani, wife of the abducted police officer along with his in-laws, met the chief minister and discussed with him Kishenji's demand.
On Tuesday, Maoists abducted Dutta from West Midnapore district's Sankrail police station after killing two of his colleagues, sub-inspector Dibakar Bhattacharya and assistant sub-inspector Swapan Roy, and looted 19 firearms from the police station.
The Maoists, who came on motorbikes, also looted over Rs 900,000 from an adjacent State Bank of India branch before escaping.
Both the operations, it is said, were led by two women.