The hostage crisis in Odisha worsened on Sunday, as the abductors of Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo responded negatively to the Naveen Patnaik government's swap offer and demanded a clarification on their 13 demands.
In an audio tape released to the media, Sabyasachi Panda, secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist), said the government should facilitate the release of all seven persons whose names he had given, and not five persons as it had announced.
Mr. Panda said that of the five names, only three figured on the list given by him. And the government should make clear how many prisoners were going to be released along with their names.
He also wanted the government to clarify before the media how many of the 13 demands had been accepted by it. Among other things, he had demanded a halt to Operation Green Hunt, lifting of the ban on various mass organisations and ending the visit of foreigners to tribal areas as tourists.
Mr. Panda's statement came as a disappointment as the negotiations between the two mediators and three government officials for the release of Mr. Paolo ended on Saturday after they reached an agreement that the government would release five of the six persons whose names were given by the interlocutors.
On the other hand, Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka remained in the hands of militants of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) of the CPI(Maoist), which on Saturday demanded the release of five more persons to free him.
Meanwhile, Mr. Patnaik held an emergency meeting to examine the demands of both the groups. Talking to journalists later, he hoped that the confusion over the names of the persons to be released for the freedom of Mr. Paolo would be cleared soon.
As for the fresh demand of the AOBSZC, Mr. Patnaik said the legal aspects were being examined. In the case of both kidnappings, the Maoists have set April 10 as the deadline for the government to meet their demands.