Bhubaneshwar: Expressing his delight over Jhina Hikaka`s release from Maoists captivity, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Thursday said he was relieved that the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA would now meet his family, who were quite distressed and anxiously waiting for him.
"I am very happy that the Jhina Hikaka is on his way to his family in Lakshmipur. Two weeks ago I was with his family in Lakshmipur in our Koraput district. And his mother, an old lady, was extremely distressed, as you can imagine and recently has been unwell. And his wife, his two small children were in great distress and very anxious," said Patnaik.
"So, all I can say is I am very glad. We are relieved, all of us, I am sure in the entire beautiful state of ours are extremely relieved that he is freed today to go back to his wife, his two sons and to his mother," he added.
Hikaka was released unharmed by Maoists earlier in the day at a village in Koraput, 33 days after he was abducted from the same district by the rebels.
Hikaka was reportedly escorted by a group of tribals to Balipeta village in Maoist-affected Narayanpatna area, where he was believed to have been produced in a Maoist ``praja`` court, which agreed to set him free.
He was handed over by the tribals to his wife, Kaushalya Majhi, and a lawyer who fights cases for the ultras and their frontal organisations, Nihar Ranjan Patnaik.
The decision to free Hikaka was taken by a people`s court on Tuesday after he gave a written undertaking that he will resign from the state assembly and also try to fulfill the Maoists`` demands.
While the Maoists had demanded release of 29 prisoners in exchange for Hikaka``s freedom, the state government decided to consider the release of 25 jailed people, including eight Maoists.
The Odisha Government has decided to withdraw cases against 13 jailed ultras, including five Maoists, apart from facilitating the release of 12 through bail, sources said.
Hikaka was kidnapped near Toyaput after a large group of armed men stopped him as he was being driven through a hilly area some 500 kilometres away from Bhubaneshwar on March 24.