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Updated: March 31, 2014 00:50 IST

Italian freed by Maoists two years ago recalls harrowing experience

Santosh Patnaik
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Claudio Colangelo
The Hindu Claudio Colangelo

On thanks-giving trip to India, Claudio Colangelo (63) rewinds to those days of tension and suspense

For 63-year-old Claudio Colangelo, one of the two Italians who were kidnapped in the Kandhamal forest of Odisha nearly two years ago by Maoists, the experience in captivity had all the ingredients of a Hollywood thriller — tense moments, anxiety, suspense.

It was an escape from the jaws of death though the 12-day abduction gave them the experience of real adventure.

“I had gone to the dense forest area with Italian tourist operator Paulo Bosusco based in Puri on a jungle-trekking adventure. But both of us were kidnapped by the Maoists,” he said. He was here in connection with treatment of a tribal youngster whom he met a day before his kidnap in the forest.

Food inadequate

The woefully-inadequate and sometimes inedible food they served, the constant change of hideouts in the thick terrains and the threat to shoot them if they tried to escape gave tense moments to the duo.

“The treatment meted out to us was not rough. A few days after our kidnapping, the Maoists felt that we were not police officers in search of them. Due to the intervention of some senior journalists and local NGO Jagriti, we were finally let off,” he told The Hindu on Sunday.

On a thanks-giving trip to India, Mr. Colangelo could not visit Kandhamal due to Maoist threat in the area. He, however, met former NDTV correspondent Sampad Mahapatra and Jagriti activist Dandapati as well as Salman Pradhan (21), the Kui Kondh from Daringibadi area with whom he came in contact a day before his kidnap, in Bhubaneswar.

Salman, who became immobile due to TB in the spine, was brought here on several occasions over the past one year due to the initiative of Mr. Colangelo and his treatment is taken care of by former Governor of Rotary District 3020 Ch. Kishore Kumar and others.

“My dream is to take up a small project to help 300 to 500 tribals in India by training them in agriculture practices and animal breeding,” Mr. Colangelo, a retired corporate executive, said.

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