Abductors hail steps taken by Odisha to fulfil their demands

The chances of release of Italian hostage Bosusco Paolo from the Maoists' hands brightened on Wednesday with the abductors welcoming the steps initiated by the Naveen Patnaik government to fulfil their demands.

In a fresh audio message issued to a section of the media, secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) Sabyasachi Panda said that he had come to know about the contents of the joint statement signed by three officials of the State government and two mediators who held talks for Mr. Paolo's release.

Mr. Panda said Mr. Paolo could be released if the decisions contained in the joint statement were implemented in a democratic way. He, however, did not indicate when he would release Mr. Paolo, who was kidnapped from Kandhamal district on March 14.

The Maoist leader's wife, Subhashree Das, was released from jail on Tuesday after a fast track court acquitted her in a case. She was one of the 27 persons the government had agreed to release in return for Mr. Paolo and Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka.

Meanwhile, the State government reiterated its appeal to the Maoists to release Mr. Paolo and Mr. Hikaka without delay as the process for the release of 27 persons had started in different courts of law.

Hikaka? Not now

On the other hand, hopes for the early release of Mr. Hikaka were shattered yet again with the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI(Maoist) issuing a communication to the media in Koraput district stating that it would not release the legislator until the 30 persons whose release it had demanded came out of different jails.

The Maoists, however, did not set any deadline for the government to fulfil their demands.