Odisha: Maoists extend deadline

The Maoists on Wednesday extended their deadline by another day for negotiations on their 13 demands for the release of the two Italian hostages.

Last Updated: Mar 22, 2012, 00:36 AM IST

Bhubaneswar: The Maoists on Wednesday extended their deadline by another day for negotiations on their 13 demands for the release of the two Italian hostages after their offer to free one of them was not responded to by the Odisha government.
"I have information that the deadline set by the
Maoists which was to end this evening has been extended by one
more day," cavil rights activist Dandapani Mohanty, one of
the negotiators nominated by Maoists to hold talks with the
Odisha government, said.

Dandapani also suggested that the Centre be approached
that three jailed Maoist leaders, Narayan Sanyal at the
Giridih Jail, Amit Bagchi in Vishakhapatanam Jail and Kobad
Gandhi in Tihar Jail in Delhi, be brought to the Bhubaneswar
Jail to monitor the hostage crisis.

The Maoists also offered to release one of the two
Italians if two of their demands, including release of some
rebels, were met.

One of the demands was the immediate release of five
ultras, including Subhashree Das, wife of top Maoist leader
Sabyasachi Panda, and Gananatha Patra.

There was no response from the state government to the
offer.

The Italians Puri based tour operator Paolo Bosusco
and tourist Claudio Colangelo were taken hostage while
trekking in Kandhamal district on March 14.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that the Italian
Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelici di Monteforte spoke to him again
during the day and expressed concern about the safety and
health of the two hostages.

Making a fresh appeal to Maoists to release the hostages,
he said, "All of us are deeply concerned about the wellbeing
and safety of the hostages."

With social activist and former bureaucrat B D Sharma
also nominated by the Maoists agreeing to negotiate, the chief
minister said "He is expected to arrive in Bhubaneswar
tomorrow. He has has agreed to negotiate on behalf of the CPI
(Maoist)."

He said that since a third negotiator Prafulla
Samantara chosen by the Maoists was unwilling to take part in
negotiations "we await the third name from CPI (Maoist)".

The three negotiators to represent the state
government were Principal Secretary (Home) U N Behera,
Panchayatiraj Secretary P K Jena and Secretary in ST and SC
Department S K Sarangi.

In a related development in Delhi, the Centre said
necessary steps were being taken to ensure early release of
the two Italians and that the state government has set up a
Crisis Management Group to deal with the situation.

"We are in touch with the state government
authorities. External Affairs Minister S M Krishna has spoken
to the Chief Minister and requested him to make all efforts
for the safe release of the two Italian nationals," Foreign
Secretary Ranjan Mathai said.

Meanwhile, processions were taken out in Bhubaneswar,
Cuttack, Puri and Kandhamal by people from all walks of life
demanding release of the two hostages by the Maoists.

PTI