Bhubaneswar: A day after Maoists reached an agreement with the Odisha government for the release of the abducted Italian national Paolo Basusco, the hope for his release has brightened.
"We have reached an agreement and concluded the fortnight-long negotiations with mediators nominated by CPI (Maoist) for the release of Italian Paolo Bosusco," Odisha Home Secretary UN Behera told reporters as both sides released a signed joint statement after the talks.
Behera, who led the three-member state government side at the negotiations, said the joint statement was signed by both sides.
As already stated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in the Assembly, negotiators from both sides agreed that the state government would facilitate the release of five of the six persons whose release the Maoists had demanded, Behera said.
The Maoist mediators, BD Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty, after concluding the agreement, appealed to the Maoists to release Bosusco immediately and in good health.
Patnaik earlier said in a statement in the Assembly, "the Maoists have sought release of six persons. The state government has decided to facilitate the release of five of the six."
Both sides expressed the hope that the Maoists would immediately release Bosusco unharmed in view of the joint signed statement.
Bosusco, a Puri-based tour operator, was abducted with another Italian Claudio Colangelo on March 14 while they were trekking in tribal dominated Kandhamal district.
Colangelo was freed on March 25 as a "good will gesture" by the ultras while Bosusco continued to be in Maoists` captivity.
Meanwhile, another Maoist group, which had abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka, extended its deadline to April 10 demanding release of five more people whose names were not on the list of 27 who were offered to be released by the state government in a swap deal.
Hikaka was abducted in Koraput district on March 24 while he returning home to Laxmipur.