Maoists to free Odisha MLA Hikaka today: Reports

Maoists holding BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka for over a month announced that a `praja` (people`s) court has decided that he would be released on Thursday.

Bhubaneswar: In a major relief to the Odisha government, Maoists holding BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka for over a month today announced that a `praja` (people`s) court has decided that he would be released on Thursday after giving an undertaking that he would resign from the state Assembly.

"Hikaka will put in his papers after his release and has given a written undertaking to this effect in the `praja` court. He is all right and in good health," an audio message to the media from the Maoist Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) said.

The 37-year-old MLA would be handed over to his wife Kaushalya and Koraput-based lawyer Nihar Patnaik tomorrow morning in Balipeta near Narayanpatna in Koraput district, the message from a senior leader of the AOBSZC, which kidnapped the MLA on March 24 from Koraput district, said.

The MLA reportedly told the `praja` court held on April 23 and 24 that he would resign as MLA and also snap all ties with BJD and live as an ordinary citizen and work for the people.

Hikaka, according to the message, alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik did not take any active steps for his release because he was a tribal. (More) PTI AAM SKN PC SC

The message in Odia language said that people claimed
that Hikaka as the local MLA had failed to stop `anti-people` measures of the government, which was `admitted` by him.

It said that the `praja` court also discussed `Operation Greenhunt`, police operations and alleged excesses and atrocities against innocent people.

The Maoists had earlier informed their Koraput-based lawyer Nihar Patnaik, who fights cases for rebels, and their front organisatiom Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), about the `praja` court`s decision.

Though the Maoists had initially placed a tough condition that 29 freed rebels be produced at Balipeta along with MLA`s wife and the lawyer for hostage-prisoner exchange, they softened their stand later.

The chief minister and some BJD leaders including Koraput MP Jairam Pangi had appealed for Hikaka`s release.
Before Hikaka`s abduction, another Maoist group, Odisha Stage Organising Committee had kidnapped two Italian nationals Claudio Colangelo and Paolo Bosusco on March 14 in Kandhamal district.

While Colangelo was released on March 25, Bosusco was freed on April 12.

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