Maoists to put MLA on trial in ‘people`s court’

Maoists holding BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka hostage said his fate would be decided at the people`s court as they did not have faith in the Odisha Government.

Bhubaneswar: Maoists holding BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka hostage on Wednesday refused to extend the deadline which expired at 5:00 pm for meeting their demands and said his fate would be decided at the people`s court as they did not have faith in the Odisha Government.

In a message to the media, a leader of CPI (Maoist) Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) said the fate of the 37-year-old tribal MLA from Laxmipur would be decided by the `praja` court.

Stating that it had no faith in the state government, the message claimed that it was not serious about the release of the legislator by freeing jailed rebels as demanded.

The message said the deadline had been extended four times in the past and there would be no further extension.

A Koraput-based lawyer Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, who fights cases of Maoists and their front the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), said the praja court was likely to be held tomorrow and time and venue would be decided later.

The Maoists had demanded that cases of those to be released should be withdrawn and had declined to seek bail.
The ultras had dropped the name of Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, accused in the killing of 55 policemen, from the list of rebels sought to be freed in exchange for the legislator who was kidnapped on March 24 from Koraput district.

They wanted the lawyer and the MLA`s wife Kaushalya to accompany the freed rebels to Balipeta to Narayanpatna area in Koraput district for a hostage-prisoner exchange.

Hikaka had yesterday spoken to Chief Secretary B K Patnaik and Koraput district Collector J S Ramachandra and informed them that he was in good health.

He had also spoken over telephone with BJD MP from Koraput, Jayaram Pangi.

The MLA`s wife made a fresh appeal to the Maoists to free Hikaka without harming him. Appeals were also made by the government.

The message from the Maoists came shortly after the chief secretary expressed hope that the Maoists would set free Hikaka as the government was in the process of facilitating the release of prisoners as demanded.
The AOBSZC in a message yesterday had asked the state government to make its stand clear on the release of prisoners in exchange for the freedom of the MLA.

Panchayati Raj Secretary P K Jena, on the other hand, had said if the MLA was released by the 5:00 pm deadline today, the government would seriously consider withdrawal of prosecution in `suitable cases`.

The government had agreed to facilitate the release of 25 persons including 17 members of the CMAS.

Meanwhile, a retired army officer approached the Supreme Court during the day to restrain the Odisha government from meeting the demand of Maoists for releasing jailed rebels.

Major General (retd) Gangurdep Bakshi, a counter-terrorism operations expert, pleaded with the apex court that the state government should be restrained from releasing the Maoists captured by the security forces, who had risked their lives to nab them.

Bakshi submitted that his petition be given urgent hearing as the deadline set by the Maoists would end today. The matter will come up tomorrow.