Italian, Odisha MLA still in Maoists’ captivity
Bhubaneswar: Talks between the Odisha government and rebel mediators to facilitate the release of tribal BJD MLA and an Italian are likely to resume soon.
While Maoists set free 61-year-old Italian Claudio Colangelo, his compatriot Puri-based Italian tour operator Paolo Bosusco, 54 was still being held captive by the ultras who said his release would depend on Odisha government`s seriousness towards their demands.
Colangelo`s release came after talks between the Left-wing extremists and government mediators were suspended when the ruling BJD MLA from Laxmipur, Jhina Hikaka was abducted by over 50 Maoists in Koraput district.
The issue of Hikaka`s abduction rocked the state assembly with opposition Congress members storming the well demanding Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik`s resignation.
They alleged that the MLA was abducted because of an agreement between the ruling BJP and a Maoist-backed outfit for zila parishad elections in Koraput.
The House was adjourned for over an hour following pandemonium over the issue.
Now the talks are likely to resume with the state government representatives for safe release of Bosusco, said Dandapani Mohanty, one of the rebel-nominated negotiators. The other Maoist negotiator is social activist and former bureaucrat, B D Sharma.
The state government would be represented by Home Secretary U N Behera, Panchayatiraj Secretary P K Jena and ST&SC development secretary S K Sarangi.
The 37-year-old legislator Hikaka`s abduction rocked the state assembly with opposition Congress members storming the well demanding details about the episode. As the din continued, the house was adjourned for 30 minutes.
While the state government was waiting for some kind of a response from the abductors of the legislator, Maoists in Koraput told local journalists in the southern Odisha district that they had kidnapped Hikaka and their group would soon place their demands for his release.
Sources said the state government was also exploring back channel negotiations with the Maoists as well as leaders of Naxal-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) in order to secure safe release of Hikaka.
Top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda told a TV channel that a different group was behind the kidnapping of Hikaka and the gunning down of a police sub-inspector in Malkangiri.
Panda had made it clear that the second Italian hostage, will not be released till the state government responds to their demands. He said the hostage will not be harmed.
The abduction of the BJD MLA on March 24 was preceded by the gunning down of a police sub-inspector in Malkangiri on March 22 and the killing of two policemen in a landmine blast in Koraput on March 18.
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