Hostage crisis: Maoists name 3 persons for talks

Last Updated: Monday, March 19, 2012 - 23:39

Bhubaneswar/New Delhi: Maoists on Monday night named
three negotiators to talk to the Odisha government on the
Italian hostage crisis even as they set a fresh 24-hour
deadline for acceptance of 13 demands including withdrawal of
cases against the ultras.

Responding to Odisha government`s offer for talks to end
the five-day long hostage crisis, the left-wing extremists
named Narayan Sanyal, Politburo member of CPI (Maoist)
currently lodged in Giridih jail, and civil rights activists
Dandapani Mohanty and Biswapriya Kanungo as their
representatives.

"Three of us have been nominated by the kidnappers to
hold negotiation with Odisha government for safe release of
the two Italian hostages," said Mohanty, who was also one of
the three mediators during talks with the government after
abduction of the then Malkangiri collector last year.

The names of the negotiators chosen by Maoists had
been conveyed through the media and now the state government`s
response was awaited, Mohanty, convenor of Jana Adhikar
Manch (JAM), said.

The development was seen as a positive sign towards
resolution of the crisis since Puri-based tour operator Paolo
Bosusco and Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo were abducted
while trekking in Kandhamal on March 14.

Selection of mediators came shortly after Chief Minister
Naveen Patnaik asked the abductors to nominate their
representatives without any further delay and announced halt
to coercive action by security personnel if Maoists stop
violence.

Maoists have extended their deadline, which ended
yesterday, till tomorrow evening for acceptance of their
demands including immediate halt to combing operations by
security forces and release of their leaders and some tribals,
said Mohanty.

Italian Foreign Minister Giulio Terzi spoke to his Indian
counterpart S M Krishna who assured him that the Odisha
government was taking all steps to secure their early release.

On his part Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik made a fresh
appeal to the Maoists to release the hostages immediately and
see that they are unharmed.

"There will be no coercive action by security forces
as long as Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist)
does not indulge in any violence and other unlawful
activities," the chief minister told the state assembly in the
wake of the opposition alleging failure in tackling the
situation.

Patnaik also invoked humatarian aspect to urge the
ultras to free the foreigners in view of concerns expressed by
their families in the cities of Rome and Turin in Italy.

Meanwhile, Italian Consul General Joel Melchiori for
the second consecutive day met the home secretary apprising
his government`s concern over the development. "We are hopeful
that the matter will be resolved soon," Melchiori told
reporters.

"A pamphlet in the name of `Sunil`, Secretary of Odisha
State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist), containing 13
their demands has been received and is being examined",
Patnaik said.

The Italians were taken hostage on March 14 but the
Maoists had reported it late on March 17 through the media.

Bosusco has been staying in India for the last 19
years in Puri and was running a travel agency named `Odisha
Adventurous Trekking` which has been organising trips to
different parts of the state for tourists, while Colangelo was
a tourist from Italy, Patnaik added.

The two Italians had driven down from Puri and entered a
forested area inspite of being warned by Daringibadi police
about Maoists.

A driver and cook who were accompanying them and their
vehicle were released by the Maoists subsequently.
A report from Puri said that the driver, Kartik Parida,
and cook, Santosh, were interrogated by police.

Stating that tribals were not "objects" of tourist
amusement, the Maoists demanded arrest of the persons involved
in taking objectionable photographs of the "adivasis".

They also demanded halt to "green hunt" operation,
lifting of ban on CPI(Maoist) and its sister organisations,
action against erring police personnel involved in `fake
encounters`, release of Subhasree Das (wife of Maoist leader
Sabyasachi Panda), Gananath Patra and other tribals arrested
on charge of being part of the Maoist groups.

PTI



First Published: Monday, March 19, 2012 - 23:39

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