The whereabouts of Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka and the two Italian citizens abducted by Maoists in Odisha were not known till Sunday afternoon.
The hostage crisis had deepened after the abrupt suspension of the negotiation between three senior officials of the State government and the two interlocutors on Saturday.
As the police remained clueless about the fate of the hostages, the bureaucrats at the State Secretariat kept waiting for the names of new mediators from the Maoists to start the process of negotiation afresh for the release of the three abducted persons.There were strong rumours about the release of the two Italians on Saturday night, but the administration did not confirm the same.
The talk between the government officials and mediators, B.D. Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty was stopped after the mediators suggested suspension of the dialogue process by blaming both the Maoists and the government in the wake of the kidnapping of Mr. Hikaka early on Saturday.
Hours after Mr. Sharma and Mr. Mohanty suspended the talk process, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had informed the media that the mediators had withdrawn from the negotiation, and asked the Maoists to suggest names of their new mediators to the government to start the negotiation again.
However, there was no communication from the Maoists till Sunday afternoon about the names of the new mediators.
Meanwhile, senior officials of the State police were camping in Koraput district and visiting Laxmipur, the home constituency of Mr. Hikaka and making efforts to trace the abducted tribal legislator.
On the other hand, agitating legislators of opposition Congress continued their dharna on the floor of the State Assembly demanding imposition of President's Rule in the State in view of the deteriorating law and order situation.
The legislators had stayed back in the House after the proceedings were adjourned till Monday following disruption of the proceedings by the opposition members demanding resignation of Mr. Patnaik as Chief Minister and imposition of President's Rule in the State.
What was the most disturbing aspect of the ongoing hostage crisis was that the kidnappers of the Italian nationals and the legislator seemed to belong to different factions of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).
While the Kandhamal-based kidnappers of the two Italian citizens were involved in the process of negotiation with the government through the two mediators, the incidents of killing of a police Sub-Inspector and abduction of Mr. Hikaka was reported from Malkangiri and Koraput districts respectively.
In such a situation, the government was searching for a route to reach out to the Maoists as the people were busy discussing the hostage crisis day in and day out.