Maoists to free Italian if govt fulfils 3 demands

Maoist mediators threatened to pull out of talks if no response is received on the demands of the rebels.

Bhubaneswar: Alleging that the Odisha
government is indifferent towards the Italian hostage crisis,
Maoist mediators on Thursday threatened to pull out of talks if no
response is received on the demands of the rebels who said
they are ready to release the foreigner if three of their 13
conditions are met.

The state government also suffered a setback in its
effort to free abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka as the Maoists
turned down a fresh request by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik
to name their negotiators for talks to resolve the crisis.

"The state government is maintaining an indifferent
attitude towards talks for the release of the Italian. We may
say good bye to the process if the government does not respond
by tomorrow evening," Maoist-nominated mediators B D Sharma
and Dandapani Mohanty told reporters on the Italian issue.

The negotiation was suspended for the second time
yesterday after the chief minister claimed to have received
additional demands from the abductors of Puri-based Italian
tour operator Paolo Bosusco.

"We have been negotiating with the state government
for the last five days. But there had been no progress.

Finally we have sought intervention of the chief minister and
he is now taking time," Sharma pointed out.

As 54-year-old Paolo Bosusco completed a fortnight in
Maoist captivity since abduction from Kandhamal on March 14,
Dandapani Mohanty asked the state government to fulfil at
least three demands for the immediate release of the Italian.

The three demands are: assurance to initiate criminal
action against police officials involved in fake encounter,
custodial deal and rape, release of persons re-arrested by
police after being acquitted in different cases and release of
innocent persons booked on charge of Maoist activities.

"We have already informed Home Secretary U N Behera
about three basic demands of Maoists for the release of
Bosusco," Mohanty said.

"The ball is now in the government`s court," he said.

Terming as "misleading and unfortunate" the chief
minister`s claim that some additional demands had been made by
the Maoists, Sharma and Mohanty said not a single demand had
been added to the 13 conditions put forward earlier.

The chief minister had tried to mislead people at one
stage by claiming that representatives of the abductors had
pulled out of talks, Mohanty alleged.

He asserted there was no basis in the claim and that
the discussion resumed only a day after Patnaik`s `incorrect`

Both Sharma and Mohanty said the state government must
be sincere and serious about resolving the hostage crisis
instead of adopting an indifferent approach.

The state government, on the other hand, was yet to
come out with a response.

"We are not in a position to give any statement. The
chief minister is likely to make a statement on the matter in
the Assembly," a senior home department official said.

The situation was equally unclear in the Laxmipur
legislator`s abduction episode. While the state government was
waiting for the abductors of the 37-year-old Laxmipur MLA to
name their mediators, the Koraput-Srikakulam division of the
CPI (Maoist) in a letter to the media stuck to its stand of
not joining the talks through mediators to resolve the hostage

The letter asked the government to fulfil at the
earliest their demands which include a halt to all types of
anti-Maoist operation, release of the jailed rebels and
stoppage of rallies and demonstrations for the release of the
MLA, abducted on March 24.

The government would be held responsible for any
eventuality in case there was delay and attempt to buy time,
the letter, addressed to Chief Minister, wife of the abducted
legislator and several other leaders, said.

The communication came after the chief minister on
Tuesday night made a fresh request to the ultras to join the
negotiation process to resolve the issue and name
representatives quickly.

A senior official said it would be tough to settle the
complex issue without talks. "The rebels must understand that
it is a highly sensitive issue which can be settled through
face-to-face talks," he said.