Even as abducted Italian citizen Bosusco Paolo and legislator Jhina Hikaka continued to remain in the hands of the Maoists in Odisha, a fast track court on Tuesday acquitted Subhashree Das alias Mili Panda, wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda for want of evidence.
The name of Ms. Das had appeared in the list of 27 persons which was announced by Chief Minister to ensure the release of Mr. Paolo and Mr. Hikaka.
Ms. Das was released from Gunupur jail in Koraput district after the Additional District Magistrate (Fast Track) ordered for her acquittal in a case pertaining to an encounter between Maoists and security personnel in the region way back in 2003.
Talking to journalists after the court order, Ms. Panda thanked the court for providing her justice. “The government has nothing to do with my release from jail,” she said.
She also expressed apprehension that the police might arrest her once again in some other case.
Ms. Panda was first arrested from a place near Bhubaneswar in January 2010 on the charges of helping Maoists. That case against her, however, was quashed by the High Court subsequently.
She, however, was released from judicial custody after the High Court order as she was arrested in the encounter case.
The police had given a list of 18 witnesses against Ms. Das in the encounter case. Of them, 13 were examined by the court and the rest did not turn up to be examined. But the charges against her could not be proved, the court observed.
On the other hand, there was no communication from the Maoists groups that had kidnapped Mr. Paolo and Mr. Hikaka.
While Mr. Paolo was kidnapped by the Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist) from Kandhamal district on March 14, Mr. Hikaka was kidnapped from Koraput by the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist) on March 24.