Bhubaneswar: Maoists holding an Italian hostage since March 14 Wednesday reiterated that he will be released only after the Odisha government fulfils its promise.
Sabyasachi Panda, a rebel leader known as Sunil, said in his latest audiomessage aired by local television channels here that his group had not received the copy of the agreement the government signed with mediators, but was aware of its content.
He said the agreement did discuss the 13 demands made by the Maoists and welcomed the government’s decision to initiate the process to free five prisoners – although he had demanded the release of seven.
He said Italian Bosusco Paolo’s release will be easy after the government fulfils its promise, but did not announce an extension of its deadline, which actually expired Tuesday evening.
The statement from Panda came a day after a court acquitted his wife Subhashree Das of involvement in a police-Maoist gunbattle in 2003. She was one of those whose release had been sought by the Maoists.
The fate of Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka who has been in the captivity of another group of rebels since March 24 also remains uncertain as the rebels are yet to react to the government’s appeal.