Abductors of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka on Tuesday fixed April 5, 2012 as the deadline for fulfilment of their demands and rejected the Odisha government’s invitation for talks, a day after a similar threat was issued by another Maoist group holding an Italian hostage.
In an audio message to a section of media, Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of Maoists asked the Odisha government to fulfill their demands including release of jailed rebels latest by April 5 for setting free the Laxmipur MLA unharmed.
Rejecting the State government’s proposal to join talks and nominate negotiators, the ultras said in the message that their demands should be met by the set deadline without any “delaying tactics.”
In the wake of threats from both the rebel groups holding Mr. Hikaka and Italian Paolo Bosusco, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held an emergency meeting with top officials to take stock of the situation and find ways to resolve the twin hostage crises.
“The whole issue is being examined threadbare in order to decide the future course of action,” a senior official said admitting that refusal by the abductors of the BJD legislator to join talks had further complicated the issue.
The message from abductors of 37-year-old Hikaka came a day after captors of Bosusco released an audio tape threatening to take stringent action against the hostage if the government adopts a dillydallying approach towards their demand for immediate release of seven ultras.
Soon after the tape was released, State government and Maoist-nominated mediators held fresh negotiations last night over the Italian’s release.
While the government was represented by Home Secretary U.N. Behera, SC-ST Secretary S.K. Sarangi and Panchayat Raj Secretary P.K. Jena, the Maoist mediators’ were Dandapani Mohanti and B.D. Sharma.
Mr. Hikaka was abducted in Koraput district on March 24, Italians Paolo Bosusco (54) and Claudio Colangelo (61) had been taken hostage on March 14 while trekking in Kandhamal.
The Maoists had on March 25 released Colangelo as a “goodwill gesture”.