Odisha govt examining demands of Hikaka`s abductors

The Odisha government is examining the demands made by abductors of ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikakaka, which includes release of jailed ultras.

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government is examining the demands made by abductors of ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikakaka, which includes release of jailed ultras, amid indication that talks with Maoist mediators for release of the second Italian will soon yield positive results.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today held an emergency
meeting with top officials to review the two cases of
abduction, particularly that of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka in
Koraput district on March 24 by the Maoists.

The meeting was held after 37-year-old Hikaka`s
kidnappers placed demands through a statement from the
Koraput-Srikakulum division of the CPI (Maoist) and a letter
addressed to Patnaik, a senior official said.

"The matter is being examined. A careful approach has to
be adopted as the rebels have refused to name mediators to
hold talks with the government to resolve the issue," he said.

"Talks for the release of the second Italian in Maoist
captivity 54-year-old Puri-based tour operator Paulo Bosusco
are likely to bear fruit soon," he said.

The two Maoist-chosen negotiators B D Sharma and
Dandapani Mohanty also expected the talks to conclude soon.
"We hope for some positive outcome very soon," they said,
adding the second Italian hostage was in good health.

While the extremists freed Italian tourist Claudio
Colangelo as a "goodwill gesture" on Sunday, his compatriot
Bosusco is still in their captivity. The two were abducted in
Kandhamal district on March 14.

The kidnappers of Hikaka in their statement yesterday
warned that the life of the tribal MLA would be in danger if
then government attempts to search or secure his release
through any operation by security forces.

The statement couched in Telugu listed demands including
halt to combing operation and release of several rebels and
tribals lodged in jails in Koraput, Malkangiri and Berhampur.

Refusing to hold talks through mediators on their
demands for release of Hikaka, it asked the Odisha government
to make known its stand through media.

The communication bearing the name of the abducted
legislator and demands of the ultras had been received late
last evening.

While the state government is yet to respond to the
demands of the Maoist group which has abducted the MLA, talks
were held with mediators engaged by another rebel group
holding Bosusco captive.

Normalcy returned to the state Assembly on Tuesday with the
Speaker admitting an adjournment notice by opposition Congress
on the issue of the MLA`s abduction.

As the notice for adjournment motion on "MLA abducted,
does government exist?" had not been entertained earlier, the
House was paralysed on Saturday and yesterday and witnessed
uproar with Congress members storming the well shouting
slogans against the BJD government.

The Congress leaders alleged that the ruling BJD had
entered into a "secret agreement" with Maoist-backed outfit,
Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha for the zilla parishad chairman`s
election in Koraput.

They further alleged that the MLA was abducted as demands
of the rebel-backed outfit, contained in the agreement, were
not fulfilled.

Meanwhile, after being released by the Maoists, Claudio
Colangelo left yesterday for Delhi along with Italian Consul
General Joel Melchiori on way to his country, sources said.

Sharma said talks for 54-year-old Bosusco`s release were
held in a cordial atmosphere and "there are certain issues
which need to be finalised".

Talks for ending the Italian hostage crisis had been
suspended after the abduction of the BJD MLA in Koraput on
March 24 and the process was resumed yesterday.

Besides U N Behera, Odisha government was represented by
Panchayati Raj secretary P K Jena and ST & SC secretary S K
Sarangi at the negotiation with rebel mediators.

As MLA Hikaka was abducted by a separate rebel outfit in
Koraput district, the matter relating to his release was not
discussed with mediators Sharma and Mohanty.

Moreover, the abductors of Hikaka while refusing to hold
any talks through negotiators want the state government to
implement their demands.

However, Mohanty said there was information that the
abducted legislator was "safe and secure".