Bhubaneswar: The two abducted Italians are
safe and unharmed, the Odisha government claimed today, a day
after the Maoists named three negotiators to hold talks with
the authorities on the six-day-long hostage crisis.
"We have information that the two Italians abducted by
the Maoists are safe and unharmed," Chief Secretary B K
Patnaik told reporters after the hostage crisis was reviewed
at a high-level meeting here.
The names of Maoist-nominated negotiators are available
with the government and that the matter is being examined
threadbare before proceeding further, he said.
The Maoists had last night nominated Narayan Sanyal,
politburo member of CPI (Maoist) currently lodged in Giridih
jail, and civil rights activists Dandapani Mohanty and
Biswapriya Kanungo to hold talks.
However, Kanungo was reluctant to join the negotiation
Voicing doubts over the sincerity of the government
towards meeting the 13 demands of the ultras, Kanungo said,
"Experience shows that the state government has failed to keep
its word in the past. It will be pointless to be part of talks
if the government backtracks later."
Kanungo said he was reluctant to act as an interlocutor
because the mediators who negotiated during abduction of the
then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna in February last
year had accused the government of failing to implement the
demands it had accepted.
Moreover, no one had consulted me before nominating me
as a negotiator, he said.
While naming the negotiators, the Maoists announced a
ceasefire and extended its deadline by a day for acceptance of
its 13 demands including withdrawal of cases against the
ultras and release of some rebels.
The move came in response to the Odisha government`s
offer for talks to end the crisis.
The names of the negotiators chosen by Maoists had
been conveyed through the media and now the state government`s
response was awaited, said Mohanty, convenor of Jana Adhikar
Manch, who was among the three mediators engaged to resolve
last year`s Malkangiri abduction crisis.
While a senior official hoped a clear picture would
emerge soon, the development was seen as a positive sign
towards resolution of the crisis.
Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and Italian
tourist Claudio Colangelo were abducted while trekking in
Kandhamal on March 14.