A decision on his release may take another day, says Maoist counsel

The fate of abducted Odisha legislator Jhina Hikaka of the Biju Janata Dal continued to remain uncertain as the possibility of his release faded on Thursday with the Maoists failing to take a final decision on freeing him.

As decided by them earlier, the Maoists organised a Praja Court (people's court) at an undisclosed location in Koraput district during the day and Mr. Hikaka was brought there.

“A decision on the release of Mr. Hikaka may take another day,” said Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, counsel for several Maoists and many activists of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha.

Mr. Patnaik told The Hindu that the Maoists had not come to a decision on releasing Mr. Hikaka.

Stating that the Maoists had not sent any message to him after the Praja Court proceedings till late in the evening, Mr. Patnaik pointed out that the State government had not sent any communication about it to the Koraput district administration during the day.

As per the announcement made by the Maoists, Mr. Patnaik was to go to the Maoists hideout along with Mr. Hikaka's wife Kaushalya Majhi to get custody of the legislator.

The State government had on Wednesday agreed to withdraw cases against 13 persons bowing to the demands of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) on Wednesday after the abductors said they had no faith in the regime and the fate of Mr. Hikaka would be decided in a people's court on Thursday.

The Maoists had also said that they had already extended the deadline four times and there would be no more extension.

Mr. Hikaka has been in the hands of the Maoists since he was kidnapped from Koraput district on March 24.

The State government had earlier given an assurance that steps would be taken for withdrawal of cases pending against 25 persons if the hostage was released by Wednesday evening.

The government had responded after the Maoists issued a communication asking it to spell out the steps that it had taken to free 29 undertrial prisoners to pave the way for Mr. Hikaka's release.