Government mediators addressing media on Monday
Government mediators addressing media on Monday
Bhubaneswar: The State Government is yet to decide on the latest Maoist demands for the release of an Italian and a legislator being held captive by the rebels since last month, even as the deadline given by the abductors ends Tuesday.

“We have yet to decide on their fresh demands. Legal aspects are being examined,” a senior state home official told IANS.

On the government’s promise to release 27 prisoners in a swap, the official said it involves judicial process. He said the detainees named will have to file their bail petitions in the respective courts.

The group which kidnapped the Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka on March 24 has demanded the release of five more prisoners, including Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, a rebel leader facing charges of killing more then 50 security personnel.

The group has also said Hikaka’s wife should come along with all the prisoners named by them to Balipeta village in Koraput district Tuesday along with the two Maoist-backed mediators, Dandapani Mohanty and B.D. Sharma and a local lawyer, Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, to receive the legislator.

“There should be no involvement of police and intelligence wings in this process,” Jagabandhu, a leader of the group, had said Sunday.

Similarly, the group holding captive Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo since March 14 has demanded the release of three more prisoners and asked the government to clarify its stand on their 13 demands.

The latest rebel demands come even as the government a few days ago announced to facilitate the release of 23 prisoners, including eight Maoists, to secure the release of Hikaka, and four other prisoners in exchange for the release of the Italian.

Meanwhile, the Odisha police officers’ association has objected to the release of any hard core Maoist.

Its president, Sabarmal Sharma, said police may decide on non-cooperation with the government in anti-Maoist operations if any such move is taken.

Paolo was abducted by the Odisha unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Kandhamal district. Hikaka was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee from Koraput district.

Both the groups have asked the government to fulfill 13 demands, including a ban on tourism in tribal areas, a halt on the state’s operations against Maoists, and the release of several prisoners. They have set Tuesday as the deadline for the government to decide on their demands.

Source: IANS