MLA hostage row: Maoists, CMAS toughen stand

Koraput: Eighteen prisoners whose names figured in the list of jailed persons to be freed to facilitate the release of abducted Laxmipur MLA have denied to apply for bail applications while the Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh(CMAS) has demanded that the government should better withdraw cases against its members. The government had agreed to facilitate the release of 23 prisoners including 8 Maoists and 15 members of the CMAS in exchange of the release of the tribal legislator from the ruling Biju Janata Dal.

The Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka was abducted by the cadres of the Andhra-Odisha-Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) on March 23 in Koraput and everybody was still groping in the darkness regarding his whereabouts. The denial by the CMAS to apply for bail applications has increased the headache for the government. The 18 prisoners who have refuted to move personal bail applications included four Maoists and 14 CMAS members.

The legal counsel of the CMAS, Nihar Ranjan Patnaik has claimed that the Maoist-backed outfit demanded that the government should instead withdraw cases against the prisoners to secure the release of Hikaka. Nihar Ranjan argued that the legal process could be expedited if the government advocates approached the courts under the provisions of Article 321 of the Indian Penal Code(IPC)."That would help expedite the sanctions of bail applications,"said Nihar Ranjan Patnaik.

The AOBSZC has demanded the release of 28 prisoners in two phases while the government has announced to facilitate the release of 23 persons. The Home Secretary on Friday had said that the government had already started taking legal measures to expedite the release of 23 persons while it was non-committal about five others. Twenty one days have passed since the abduction of the Laxmipur MLA. Yet there has been no respite from the problem.