By Sudarsan Sahoo

Odisha Hostage Crisis
Odisha Hostage Crisis

“Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,”

Bhubaneswar: The existing situation in Odisha is almost synonymous with the above lines from “The Second Coming” by W.B. Yeats with the ongoing hostage crises. Government of Odisha is still struggling to get solutions to free the foreigner and the MLA. The extremists are on the verge of extreme action against the hostages with the delayed response to their demands by the state government.

The audio tape issued by Mr. Sabyasachi Panda, Secretary, Odisha State Organising Committee for CPI (Maoist) warns the Government to be responsible for the termination of the Italian tour operator, Basusco Paolo. Things may fall apart with the careless handling of the situation which will affect the foreign affairs with Italy. On the other hand the letters from the the abducted MLA, Jhina Hikaka and the refusal of appointing any negotiator by the abducting group on their behalf, drive the Government crazy to find out middlemen to talk to the other group of the extremists. Now the govt cannot hold the issue any more. It is out-reached.

Generally the abduction or kidnapping cases by Maoists has two reasons. First, they do it to attract media attention for their cause and to show their strength. They abduct Government officials, policemen and foreigners to seek release of imprisoned comrades or to demand a pause in security operations. Last year, R V Krishna, the District Collector of Malkangiri, Odisha was kidnapped and was set free after the release of Ganti Prasad, a senior Maoist leader. The recent case of abduction of two Italian tourists and one MLA of ruling BJD party of Odisha would also fall into this category. The other reason is to earn money by kidnapping businessmen or any high profile personality. Day by day the blurred Maoist ideology has been morphed with criminology and some of them use their power to satisfy their own interest.

Usually, the naxalites don’t target foreigners. They even refuse to meet foreign journalists and academicians. So the recent kidnapping case of the two Italian tourists indicates a change in Maoist strategy or a reaction against any specific action of them. However the Maoists claim the second one to be the reason behind as the two foreigners have treated tribal people like animals just two days before the abduction.

The demand to stop human safaris in the tribal regions of Odisha by the extremists is now being seen as a public relation exercise to regain their lost fame. Because the incident of abduction of the two Italians has become a boomerang to them. Even some of their hard core supporters are also raising their voice against them. Hence, lost in difficulties they have used the human safari issue as a cover.

Because of this unrest, thousands of foreign and domestic visitors have cancelled their trips to Odisha. Despite the fact that places like Puri, Konark and Bhubaneswar are far away from the Maoist affected areas, some tourists are cancelling their trips to these destinations.

Another motive may be the extremists are trying to pull international attention by kidnapping foreigners to put a greater impact on the Government to respond to their cause. On the other hand, Government’s policy is not clear about Maoists. Sometimes Maoists are treated as rebellers and sometime as terrorists. The debate is going on – whether the Maoists are the gravest national threat or they are “Gandhians with guns”. However, let’s hope that the tussle between the Maoist and the Government would not bring a tragic end to any of the captives. They should come back to the main stream as soon as possible.

“Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.”