The confusion began after the State government asked Maoists to give two alternative names of interlocutors in place of the names suggested by them, and the names of the interlocutors were not clear

The fate of the two Italians taken hostage by Maoists in Odisha remained uncertain as the process of negotiations for their release could not be started till late on Tuesday owing to a delay in finalising the names of interlocutors.

The confusion began after the State government asked Maoists to give two alternative names of interlocutors in place of the names suggested by them, and the names of the interlocutors were not clear

Sanyal in jail

Making a statement in the Assembly, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said that from among the three names suggested by Maoists on Monday, Narayan Sanyal was in jail in Jharkhand serving a life sentence and Biswapriya Kanungo, a local lawyer, had expressed his unwillingness to represent Maoists.

Mr. Patnaik made the statement after a marathon meeting of officials at the State Secretariat on the issue.

Names officials

The Chief Minister also announced the names of three senior officials of the State government who would hold talks with the interlocutors named by Maoists.

The officials are Home Secretary U.N. Behera, Panchayti Raj Secretary Pradeep Kumar Jena and ST & SC Development Secretary Santosh Kumar Sarangi.

Mr. Patnaik also reiterated his appeal to Maoists to release the Italians, saying their family members in Italy were worried.

Meanwhile, Dandapani Mohanty, interlocutor named by Maoists, said he was willing to act as one of the interlocutors.

He, however, clarified that the interlocutors should not be described by the State government as representatives of Maoists.

Late in the evening, Maoists suggested the names of B.D. Sharma and Prafulla Samantara, both social activists, in place of Mr. Sanyal and Mr. Kanungo.

Mr. Samantara, however, said he was not the suitable person as he had no idea about the views of Maoists and the State government had little respect for him as an activist.

‘They are safe'

Earlier in the day, Chief Secretary B.K. Patnaik told reporters that as per their reports, the Italians were safe and unharmed.

Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo were kidnapped on March 14 when they were visiting the hilly areas of Daringbadi in the Kandhamal district.