Odisha Cong demands probe into hostage release

Bhubaneswar: Amid allegation of payment of ransom to Maoists to secure release of hostages in state, Congress on Sunday demanded investigation into the matter by National Investigation Agency (NIA) and resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.

"A mediator has reportedly claimed ransom was paid for release of the then Malkangiri district Collector who was abducted by Maoist," Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh and Congress Chief Whip in assembly Prasad Harichandan told reporters.

While Maoist mediator Dandapani Mohanty has told the media that Rs four crore had been paid for release of then Malkangiri Collector R Vineel Krishna last year, it was also alleged that Rs two crore was paid to free BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka from naxal captivity early this year.

"Since this is a very serious allegation, the matter should be immediately handed over to NIA for investigation," Singh and Harichandan said, recalling Congress had raised matters relating to alleged link between leaders of ruling BJD and Maoists in the assembly.

"Now Mohanty, who played a key role during negotiations for release of the hostages, has made this claim.

Therefore, we will write to the NIA to seek a probe by it into charges of ransom being paid to Maoists," Harichandan said.

Stating payment of ransom amounted to encouragement to Maoists, Singh said Naveen Patnaik has no moral right to remain the Chief Minister and he should resign from the post forthwith.

Referring to some CAG reports including one on general and social sector in Odisha, Singh said all allegations made by Congress on irregularities in purchase of pulses, central subsidy, implementation of Integrated Action Plan (IAP) and MoU signed for development of ports have now been proved.

Describing revelations in CAG report as only a "tip of the iceberg", both Singh and Harichandan said there are more serious irregularities which would be exposed by Congress with facts and evidence.