Hostage row: Deadline ends, logjam continues

Bhubaneswar/Narayanpatna/Daringbadi: Top naxal leader and Secretary of the State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist),Sabyasachi Panda today evening refuted having received any communication regarding the joint statement by the three government officials and the two Maoist-named mediators on the release of prisoners to facilitate the release of Italian national Paolo Bosusco held in captivity since March 14.

In an audio statement Sabyasachi said that the Maoists were not clear if the government took any decision regarding the release of seven prisoners as part of the 13-point charter of demands raised by the CPI(Maoist). However, the Maoist leader was non-committal about the deadline to release Paolo Bosusco which came to an end today evening.

Earlier in the day, the three government officials who took part in the dialogues with the two Maoist-appointed negotiators said in a joint press conference in the state capital that "action will be taken within the framework of law" to facilitate the release of 27 detainees of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh(CMAS) and CPI(Maoist) as announced by the Chief Minister. The government had announced to facilitate the release of the 27 detainees to secure the twin release of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka and Italian tour operator Paolo Bosusco held hostage by two separate factions of the CPI(Maoist). The deadline set by both the factions ended today evening. "The state government have not received any further communication from either the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee(AOBSZC) or the Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist) today," the officials stated.

The Chief Minister and the three officials today once again appealed to the abductors of Jhina Hikaka and Paolo Bosusco to release them immediately, unhurt and in good health.

Heavy police bandobusts were made in Daringbadi and Narayanpatna in the wake of the end of the deadline set by the Maoists. The AOBSZC had asked the two Maoist mediators, one lawyer and the wife of Jhina Hikaka to come with 30 released prisoners to village Balipeta under Naraynpatna block where they would have handed over the abducted tribal MLA. Italian national Paolo Bosusco has been held in captivity for the last 26 days while the MLA has been held hostage for 17 days.