As the deadline set by Maoists ended on Tuesday evening, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealed to the abductors to release Italian citizen Bosusco Paolo and legislator Jhina Hikaka unharmed and without delay.

Mr. Patnaik said certain legal procedures had to be followed to facilitate the release of 27 prisoners demanded by the Maoists.

Three senior government officials who held talks with mediators for the release of Mr. Paolo told journalists that no fresh communication had been received either from the Odisha State Organising Committee (OSOC) or the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

Mr. Paolo was kidnapped by the OSOC from Kandhamal district on March 14 and Mr. Hikaka from Koraput district by the AOBSZC on March 24.

The State government said on Monday that the 27 prisoners would have to move bail petitions in the courts concerned for their release from judicial custody.

In another development, a fast track court in Koraput district on Tuesday acquitted Subhashree Das alias Mili Panda, wife of OSOC secretary Sabyasachi Panda, for want of evidence.

The name of Ms. Das figured in the list of 27 persons whose release the State government had assured for facilitating the release Mr. Paolo and Mr. Hikaka.