Maoist killing casts shadow over hostage talks

Gunning down of a police official by Maoists in Malkangiri district has cast a shadow over talks to end the nine-day-old Italian hostage crisis.

Bhubaneswar: Gunning down of a police official by Maoists in Malkangiri district has cast a shadow over talks to end the nine-day-old Italian hostage crisis with a senior official saying the killing has put a question mark on the sincerity of the ultras.
A police sub-inspector was killed yesterday at a busy market place in broad day light by the ultras at Khairput in Malkangiri district.

A senior government official on Friday said the killing has
raised many questions over the "sincerity and intention of the
Maoists to resolve the crisis when talks were going".

Maoist mediators also condemned the killing of the police
officer during the ongoing negotiation process. They asked the
rebels to refrain from violence as it could affect the
progress of talks.

As all the 13 demands of the ultras came up for
discussion during the first phase of talks last evening, the
Maoist mediators claimed that the two abducted Italians were
in good health and safe.

The negotiators nominated by the ultras are former
bureaucrat and social activist B D Sharma, and Dandapani
Mohanty, while Odisha government was represented by Home
Secretary U N Behera, Panchayatiraj secretary P K Jena and ST
& SC Secretary S K Sarangi.

Modalities for safe release of Puri-based tour operator
Paolo Bosusco and tourist Claudio Colangelo, who were taken
hostage on March 14 from Kandhamal district while trekking,
are likely to be worked out soon, Mohanty said.

"All 13 demands made by the abductors were discussed
threadbare as the three government negotiators showed a
positive approach during talks," Mohanty and Sharma said.

The demands put forward by the Maoists included release
of some rebels, including Subhashree Das, wife of top Maoist
leader Sabyasachi Panda, and Gananath Patra and action against
police officials allegedly involved in fake encounter.

The Maoists also demanded that tribal’s must not be used
as objects for promotion of tourism.

They also suggested that steps be taken to bring one of
the three jailed Maoist leaders, Narayan Sanyal, Amit Bagchi
and Kobad Gandhi, lodged in jails at Giridih, Vishakhapatanam
and Tihar to Bhubaneswar to monitor talks.

The state government is likely to convey its views on
this shortly, Mohanty said. The rebel mediators stressed that one of the Italian hostages could be released if two of their demands were met.

The two demands include release of some ultras including
Subhashree Das and action against police officials allegedly
involved in fake encounters.

The other Italian would be released when all the 13
demands are settled, they said.

On the release of the hostages, Sharma and Mohanty said
the modalities would be discussed and decided at the
appropriate level."A clear picture will emerge when talks proceed further,"
Sharma said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that Italian
Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelici di Monteforte had spoken to him
again and expressed concern for the two hostages.

"He spoke again of the anxiety and distress of the
families of the two Italian nationals," Patnaik said asking
the Maoists to release the two immediately.

The Odisha Assembly in a resolution also appealed to the
abductors to release the two Italians held captive by them
since March 14.

Rallies and processions were held in different parts of Odisha by people belonging to various sections of society asking the Maoists to release the hostages.


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