Maoists propose fresh names for negotiations

Bhubaneswar: The CPI (Maoist) has proposed the names of social activist Prafulla Samantray and B D Sharma as the two alternatives in place of Narayan Sanyal and Biswapriya Kanungo as negotiators to have dialogues with the government following chief minister Naveen Patnaik`s appeal to the red rebels to release the two abducted Italian nationals and replace two of the three negotiators. Top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda told OTV from an undisclosed hideout that the Maoists too had extended the deadline by another 24 hours.

However, social activist Prafulla Samantray has expressed his unwillingness to take part in the negotiations as a representative of the CPI(Maoist). Prafulla Samantray explained that the Maoists had not established any contact with him before announcing his name as an alternate negotiator. The ball, it seems, is again back in the court of the CPI(Maoist).           

Earlier in the evening chief minister Naveen Patnaik called upon the CPI(Maoist) to release the two Italians kidnapped from Daringibadi in Kandhmal district since"their families in Italy are distraught by their disappearance." Dwelling upon the reasons for urging the naxalites to suggest two alternative names for negotiations, Naveen said that "Narayan Sanyal has been convicted for life imprisonment and was in Chhatisgarh jail and it was, therefore, not possible to accept him as a mediator in the discussion process" The chief minister said that it was learnt from media reports that "Biswapriya Kanungo was not willing to participate in the discussion as a representative of the CPI(Maoist)." He categorically stated that the government had no reservations about the participation of Dandapani Mohanty in the dialogue process.

The chief minister announced the names of the three top level government officials picked up for holding negotiations with the mediators appointed by the Maoists to end the hostage crisis. The three negotiators from the government side were, U N Behera, Principal Secretary, Home Department, P K Jena, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Panchayat Raj Department, S K Sarangi, ST & SC Commissioner-cum-Secretary, ST & SC Development Department.

Earlier in the day, the Italian hostage crisis issue figured in the assembly for the second day today with Opposition Congress alleging failure of intelligence system as the incident came to light through media four days after the foreigners were abducted by Maoists.

Though the two Italians were abducted by Maoists on March 14, chief minister Naveen Patnaik told the assembly Monday that the government came to know about the incident from media only on March 17, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh said in the house. It showed the whole intelligence system of the state police had failed to discharge its duty as such a serious matter came to the notice of the government through media, he alleged.

Singh said the deadline set by the abductors was approaching and the government must spell out what steps it was taking to ensure safe release of the hostages. Another matter of worry was that one negotiator had expressed his reluctance to be part of the discussion to end the hostage crisis, he said.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raghunath Mohanty said no detail discussion on the hostage crisis was necessary as the chief minister would inform the house regularly on its developments.