Bhubaneswar: Grappling with the twin hostage crisis involving a BJD MLA and an Italian, Odisha government was on Thursday tightlipped despite an ultimatum by Maoist mediators to pull out of talks if no response is received on the demands
of rebels who said they are ready to release the foreigner if 3 of their 13 conditions are met.
Though Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held closed door
meetings 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 a lawmaker and an Italian.
"The chief minister will give a statement in the
assembly tomorrow. We should not speak anything outside as the
assembly is in session," Chief Secretary B K Patnaik told
reporters after a four-hour meeting.
The state government suffered a setback in its effort
to free abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka as Maoists turned down a
request by chief minister to name their negotiators for talks
to resolve the crisis.
While the government had no information on the fate of
the Laxmipur MLA abducted on March 24, Italian Paolo Basusco
continued to remain in Maoist captivity since March 14.
The chief minister, who had been briefing the assembly
on developments on the hostage crisis on daily basis, skipped
the drill today, while no one raised the issue in the house.
Accusing Odisha government of being indifferent
towards the Italian hostage crisis, Maoist mediators
threatened to withdraw from talks if no response is received
on the demands of the rebels by tomorrow evening.
"The state government is maintaining an indifferent
attitude towards talks for the release of the Italian.
We may say goodbye to the process if the government does not respond
by tomorrow evening," Maoist-nominated mediators B D Sharma
and Dandapani Mohanty told reporters on the Italian issue.
The negotiation was suspended for the second time
yesterday after the chief minister claimed to have received
additional demands from abductors of Puri-based Italian
tour operator Paolo Bosusco.