CM asks ministers, officials to visit abduction area

Bhubaneswar: Chief minister has rushed state Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro and ST and SC Development Minister Lal Bihari Himirika to the area from where suspected Maoist ultras abducted the Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka in the wee hours of today.

Amid uproar by opposition members protesting the abduction in the state assembly, chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who reviewed the situation at a high level meeting with top officials including the chief secretary and the Director General of Police, said in a statement in the House that “At approximately 1 AM this morning, MLA from Laxmipur Jhina Hikaka was abducted near Toyaput on Koraput-Laxmipur road.”

“While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, it is suspected to have been done by Maoists,” he said, adding “senior police officials have rushed to the spot.” The chief minister also said that while he spoke to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram about the abduction of the MLA, the chief secretary spoke to the Union Home Secretary.

The abducted MLA`s wife, Kaushalya has appealed to the kidnappers to release her husband unharmed, saying he had been working for the welfare of tribals.

On the Italian hostage crisis, the chief minister said the negotiations would continue to resolve the issue. “However, we will be urgently handling the abduction of the MLA that took place this morning,” he said.

Meanwhile, government officials and the representatives of the CPI(Maoist) began talks at the State Guest House in the capital for the third consecutive day to bring an end to  the Italian hostage row.