Odisha govt toughens stand on abductors` demands

The Odisha government seemed to have toughened its stance vis-a-vis the deadline set by two Maoist groups.

Bhubaneswar: As the deadline set by two
Maoist groups in the twin hostage crisis ends on Tuesday, the
Odisha government seemed to have toughened its stance
vis-a-vis their new demands.

The pitch has been queered further by the threat of
the state police to boycott anti-Naxal operations if hardcore
ultras are freed by the government as per a deal to release
BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka and Italian Paolo Bosusco.

Meanwhile, Panda`s wife Subhashree Das alias Mili
Panda, whose release the abductors of Bosusco had demanded and
the government also agreed to, was acquitted by a Gunupur fast
track court in a case relating to an encounter between Naxals
and security men at Kutinguda forest in Rayagada district.

Subhashree was set free soon after being acquitted by
the court due to lack of evidence, her lawyer Brahmananda
Patnaik said.

The fresh demand made by the abductors of Hikaka is
immediate release 30 prisoners in exchange for the MLA`s
freedom, while the captors of Bosusco wanted a clarification
on the number and names of rebels to be freed.

The state government, however, refused to buckle and
toughened its approach as it asked both Maoist groups to move
bail pleas for quick release of detenus instead of seeking
their immediate release and physical presence for executing
the prisoner-hostage swap.

Home Secretary UN Behera said last night that the
government has agreed to facilitate the release of 23 persons,
including 15 members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), in
exchange of MLA`s freedom.

Since their release from jail involved a judicial
process of grant of bail by courts concerned, the detainees
have to file bail applications, said Behera, who had led
the three-member government side in talks with Maoist-named
mediators for release of Bosusco.

On the Maoists` suggestion that the MLA`s wife should
go to Balipeta village in Koraput district with the detainees
of CMAS and CPI (Maoist) for hand-over of Hikaka, Behera said,

"It is advised that steps be taken on behalf of the 23
detainees to file their bail petitions."


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