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No word on progress on release of Odisha hostages

Last Updated: Friday, March 30, 2012 - 20:46

Bhubaneswar: The deadline given by Maoist
mediators for resumption of talks in the Italian hostage
crisis ends Friday evening but there has been no word from the
government so far.

The situation was equally unclear about the abduction of
BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka with the state government wanting
negotiators named, while the Koraput-Srikakulam division of
CPI (Maoist) have ruled out appointing mediators.

Italian Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and
tourist Claudio Colangelo were kidnapped on March 14 from
Kandhamal district while trekking. Colangelo was freed on
March 25 as a goodwill gesture by the Maoists.

Hikaka was kidnapped by a rival Maoist group on March 24
from Koraput district when he was returning home.

Top Maoist leader, Sabyasachi Panda of the Odisha State
Organising Committee (OSOC) was believed to be behind the
kidnapping of the Italians and rival Andhra Odisha Border
Zonal Committee (AOBZC) responsible for Hikaka`s abduction.

Maoist mediators Dandapani Mohanty and BD Sharma,
mediating in the Italian hostage crisis had said the Maoists
had demanded that three of their 13 be met for the release of
the Italian.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had, however, termed
them as additional demands, following which Dandapani and
Sharma had called off the negotiations on March 28 saying this
was "misleading and unfortunate".

Mohanty and Sharma said they were waiting for word from
the government for resumption of talks to end the
fortnight-long hostage crisis.

Though the chief minister yesterday held a closed door
meeting with BJD MLAs from Koraput district, senior police
officers and home department officials, there was no word from
government on the progress made in the hostage crisis
involving the lawmaker and the Italian.

"The chief minister is likely to give a statement in the
assembly. We should not speak anything outside as the assembly
is in session," a senior official said.

The chief minister who has been briefing the assembly on
developments on the hostage crisis on a daily basis, skipped
the drill yesterday.


First Published: Friday, March 30, 2012 - 20:46

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