New Delhi: Expressing happiness and relief over the release of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka after 32 days of Maoists captivity, Lok Sabha MP from Odisha Jay Panda on Thursday said he was glad that Hikaka was safe and unharmed.
"We are all relieved. We are glad that he seems to be safe and unharmed," Panda told ANI.
"During all these weeks we all have really been concerned about our colleague Jhina Hikaka. From the previous weeks Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik himself monitored this situation all day and night. Infact, everybody in the party worked for his release," he added.
Earlier, when Hikaka was asked about state government efforts to secure his release, he said neither the state government nor the legislators had helped him during his captivity.
Panda, however, said: "At this point if Jhina Hikaka has actually said that efforts were not made for his release, then I don`t wish to argue, because he has just being released from captivity. So, this is not the right time to be taking his statement into account. I thinks, time has to be allowed to him to spend time with his family."
Asked to comment on Hikaka giving a written undertaking that he will resign from the state assembly, Panda said: "We have also heard about those rumours that he may be forced to resign from his party post. If that is true, then it could be very unfortunate. Because he is somebody who was elected from a very large margin on behalf of BJD by the tribal population of his area."
According to television reports, Hikaka was released in the forests of Narayanpatna in the state`s Koraput District.
The decision to free Hikaka was taken by a people`s court on Tuesday after he gave a written undertaking that he will resign from the state assembly and also try to fulfil the Maoists` demands.
While the Maoists had demanded release of 29 prisoners in exchange for Hikaka`s freedom, the state government decided to consider the release of 25 jailed people, including eight Maoists.
The Odisha Government has decided to withdraw cases against 13 jailed ultras, including five Maoists, apart from facilitating the release of 12 through bail, sources said.
Hikaka was kidnapped near Toyaput after a large group of armed men stopped him as he was being driven through a hilly area some 500 kilometres away from Bhubaneshwar on March 24. (ANI)