Sabyasachi Panda laments violence by southern cadres while hostage negations are underway

Speculation on the prevalence of a lack of unity and coordination among different divisions of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in Odisha, it turns out, is not baseless.

Top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda admitted before newspersons that there was lack of unity among the division that he was heading and divisions that were at work in Malkangiri and Koraput districts in the southern parts of the State.

Mr. Panda, who operates from Kandhamal and Ganjam districts, said his cadres would not indulge in violent activities in the areas under his command till the hostage crisis was over.

Mr. Panda, who holds the position of secretary of the CPI(Maoist)'s State organising committee, lamented that the Maoists operating in the southern region of the State indulged in killing and kidnapping when the negotiation for the release of the two Italian nationals — Claudio Colangelo and Paolo Bosusco — was in progress.

Mr. Panda was speaking to the visiting newspersons while releasing Mr. Colangelo on Sunday.

According to intelligence sources, there were at least five divisions of the outlawed party working in different regions of the State.

This was one of the main hurdles facing the Naveen Patnaik government since the abduction of Jhina Hikaka, legislator of the ruling Biju Janata Dal, from Laxmipur early on Saturday.

After negotiations between three government officials and two interlocutors was abruptly stopped on Saturday, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik asked the Maoists to name their new mediators to hold talks with the State government for the release of the abducted Italians and the MLA. However, there was no communication from any group of the Maoist kidnappers till Sunday night. It was also not clear whether the State government would resume the talks with the mediators, B.D. Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty.

The mediators had suggested suspension of the dialogue process, unhappy with both the Maoists and the government.

Meanwhile, the wife of the abducted legislator reiterated her appeal to the Maoists to release her husband safely.

On the other hand, agitating legislators of the Opposition Congress continued their dharna on the floor of the 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 on Saturday when the proceedings were adjourned till Monday following disruption of the proceedings by the Opposition members, who demanded the resignation of Mr. Patnaik.

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