New Delhi: Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Wednesday refuted charges made by Odisha Chief Minister that the Centre was not helping it in resolving the Italian hostage crisis.
Speaking to reporters in the Parliament premises, Chidambaram said, “So far we have not received any specific request, whatsoever, for any assistance from the government of Odisha in this regard. We are ready to help them and provide whatever assistance they need in resolving the hostage crisis.”
Home Minister’s statement comes a day after Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik blamed the Centre for not helping the state in the Italian abduction case.
He said that the central government did not do anything to end the hostage crisis.
"Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Union Home Department are not displaying urgency in the hostage crisis issue. SM Krishna did not even attend to my call initially when the Italian tourist abduction took place," he was quoted as saying to a TV news channel.
However, he claimed that the two abducted Italians are safe and unharmed.
Meanwhile, the Maoist rebels, who have kidnapped two Italian nationals since March 14, today made a fresh offer to release one of the hostages if the government agrees to their demands.
The Maoists have reportedly made the fresh offer in an audio tape send to a TV news channel.
While efforts were being made by the Odisha government to start negotiation with the home-grown rebels, the Maoists yesterday extended their deadline by another day.
The Maoists last night nominated Narayan Sanyal, politburo member of CPI (Maoist) currently lodged in Giridih jail, and civil rights activists Dandapani Mohanty and Biswapriya Kanungo to hold talks on the six-day long hostage crisis.
However, Narayan Sanyal`s name is not acceptable to the state government as several cases have been slapped against him.
Importantly, the Odisha government today made a fresh appeal to the Maoists to start negotiations to end the hostage crisis at the earliest.
The Italians-- Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and tourist Claudio Colangelo-- were abducted while trekking in Kandhamal district on March 14.
The Maoists are demanding the withdrawal of cases against the ultras and release of some rebels.