The hostage crisis in Odisha worsened on Sunday with the abductors of Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo negatively responding to the Naveen Patnaik government’s swapping offer.
Blaming the State government for its approach towards the whole issue, secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist) Sabysachi Panda said the government should facilitate the release all the seven persons whose names were given by him and not five persons as it had announced.
In an audio tape released to the media, Mr. Panda further demanded that the State government should make its stand clear through the media on the 13 demands made by his outfit earlier for the release of Mr. Paolo. Among other things, he had demanded stopping of the Green Hunt operation and preventing foreigners from visiting tribal areas as tourists.
Mr. Panda’s statement came as a disappointing development as the negotiation between the two mediators and three government officials for the release of Mr. Paolo had ended on Saturday after an agreement was reached between the two sides that the government would release five of the six persons whose names were given to the government by the interlocutors.
While reiterating their appeal to the Maoists to release Mr. Paolo, the mediators had also expressed hope that the Left wing extremists will release the Italian national without much delay.
On the other hand, abducted Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka continued to remain in the hands of another group of Maoists in southern region of the State. Till afternoon, the government had not responded to the fresh demands of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the CPI(Maoist) for the release of five more persons for securing the release of the legislator.
Interestingly, in case of both the cases the Maoists had set April 10 as the deadline for the State government to respond to their demands.
Meanwhile, the fresh demands of both the groups of the Maoists were being examined by the government, according to official sources.