Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday appealed to the Maoists to free the two abducted Italian tourists on humanitarian ground.
Patnaik said the state government is ready to talk to the Maoists.
Earlier in the day Patnaik convened an emergency meeting of top officials and discussed how to tackle the hostage crisis. State chief secretary BK Patnaik, home secretary UN Behera and Director General of police MM Praharaj were among other who attended the meeting.
Two Italian tourists have been taken hostage by Maoists from the tribal-dominated Kandhamal-Ganjam border in Odisha.
Meanwhile, the Odisha government is also in touch with the Union Home Ministry on the ongoing crisis.
Indian government is in touch with Italy to facilitate assistance through authorities concerned in connection with the kidnapping of two Italian tourists.
Maoists claimed about the abduction of the two Italian tourists in an audio release sent to private TV channels in the state. The audio reportedly contains the voice of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda.
In the audio release, the Maoists have issued a deadline to the state and central government to stop all combing operations in the state by this evening.
In the audio release, the Maoists have listed 13-point charter of demands and wanted the state government to act on those demands for release of the hostages. The demand includes the release of “political prisoners” and a halt to Operation Green Hunt.
The audio tape issued by Maoists alleges that the two Italian tourists were clicking objectionable photographs of Tribals in interior areas despite a ban by the state government on such activities.
This is the first ever abduction of foreign tourists by Maoists.
The abduction came more than a year after the left ultra abducted then Malkanagiri collector R Veenel Krishan along with a junior engineer from a remote area of the district. Krishna was subsequently released a week after his kidnapping when the Orissa government fulfilled certain conditions set by Maoists.
Meanwhile, Convener of the Jana Adhikar Manch Dandapani Mohanty has appealed to the Maoists not to set any deadline for fulfilment of their demands. Mohanty was one of the mediators who negotiated with the government for securing the release of then Malkanagiri collector.
Mohanty has also appealed to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to immediately intervene in the matter.