Cong seeks clarification on alleged ransom payment to Maoists

Bhubaneswar: Seeking a clarification from the Odisha government on alleged payment of ransom to Maoists during the hostage crisis, opposition Congress on Monday demanded a probe by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

The issue was raised in the assembly by the opposition chief whip Prasad Harichandan during zero hour.

"One of the mediators engaged in negotiation with the state government has claimed that Rs six crore was paid to the Maoists to ensure safe release of then Malkangiri district collector and a ruling BJD MLA," Harichandan said.

While the state government had paid Rs 4 crore to Maoists for release of Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna in 2011, Rs 2 crore was spent to free BJD MLA Jhina Hikka in 2012, Harichandan alleged quoting Dandapani Mohanty, the mediator.

Harichandan said, "Both ransom taker and giver are guilty in the eyes of law. As the state government has given ransom, it is guilty."

"Names of some ministers were also being taken by the mediator in the alleged deal. Therefore, the government must clear the doubts," the Congress chief whip said, adding, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was in charge of home department when the abductions took place in the state.

The treasury bench members, however, rejected the allegation and raised questions on the intention of Congress behind raising the matter in the assembly.