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Maoist mediator happy with steps to free hostages

Bhubaneswar: While the Odisha government was grappling with the twin abductions involving an MLA and a foreigner, one of the mediators nominated by Maoists today said the state responded `reasonably well` to naxal demands.

“Keeping in view the prevailing situation, Odisha government is responding reasonably well and properly to the demands of the abductors,” Dr B D Sharma told PTI over phone after leaving the state capital on conclusion of the 15-day long negotiation with the government. Sharma and another Maoist-nominated mediator Dandapani Mohanty signed in a joint statement here.

Sharma, a prominent tribal rights activist, was one of the two engaged by ultras to negotiate on release of Italian national Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo. Both the Italian nationals were abducted by Maoists on March 14 while they were on a trekking expedition in Kandhamal district. While Colangelo was released on March 25, Basusco continued to remain in Maoist captivity till this date.

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“We have been appealing to the Maoists to immediately release the lone Italian as the government has already decided to release certain persons and assured to take steps on the other demands of the naxals,” Sharma said. Sharma pointed out that the state had agreed to consider implementation of the Excise Policy in tribal areas, raise level of administration in Scheduled Areas, take steps for rehabilitation of mass displacement affecting people and some other issues relating to governance in scheduled area including land issues.

The former bureaucrat said that the state government had already announced its decision on facilitating release of 27 persons including eight Maoists from different jails. The government have agreed to facilitate release of five persons for release of Italian national, he said.

Asked about Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI(Maoist) secretary Sabyasachi Panda`s demand for release of another person and clarification on other demands, Sharma said, “They should release the hostage immediately without further delay.”

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