Halt to talks on hostage row

Bhubaneswar: The talks between the government and the Maoist-nominated negotiators to facilitate the release of the two Italians held hostage by the ultras since March 14 was today put off temporarily adding a dramatic twist to the 10-day-old incident. The discussions between the three higher government officials and two CPI (Maoist) representatives which began on Thursday evening took a dramatic turn after the kidnapping of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka by the left wing extremists in Koraput today.

"Talks have been suspended on the proposal of the two negotiators,"said Home Secretary Upendra Nath Behera as he came out of the meeting. "The Maoists have not stopped violent activities despite ceasefire," rued Behera. The Home Secretary told the media that the government was waiting to know from the Maoists about the demands and conditions for the release of the abducted MLA.  

The two interlocutors nominated by the CPI(Maoist), B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty have asked the naxalites to first release the three hostages including Jhina Hikaka for continuation of the dialogue between the two sides. The two negotiators also condemned the kidnaping of Laxmipur MLA. "The talks have not failed but suspended temporarily," claimed Dandapani Mohanty after suspension of the negotiations.