This development comes in the wake of abduction of BJD legislator
Attempts to negotiate the release of two Italian nationals from the Maoists' clutches suffered a setback on Saturday after the interlocutors — B.D. Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty — suspended the talks blaming both the State government and the Maoists.
The development came in the wake of the kidnapping of Jhina Hikaka, a Biju Janata Dal legislator from Lakshmipur constituency, early in the day. Mr. Hikaka was abducted while he was returning from Koraput to Lakshmipur.
The State government, however, claimed that the two interlocutors had withdrawn from the mediation process. Chief Minister Navin Patnaik expressed the hope that the Maoists would soon nominate new mediators for negotiating the release of the two foreign nationals as well as the MLA.
Reacting to the government's stance, Mr. Mohanty said that it did not appear keen to resolve the hostage crisis.
“After the abduction of the Italian tourists, the Odisha State Committee of the CPI (Maoist) had declared a ceasefire and the government had declared that there shall be no coercive action by the security forces as long as there was no violence from the Maoists' end. But the fact remains that while we were discussing peace in Bhubaneswar, unfortunate incidents continued in many parts of the State, disrupting peace. We feel this is a mockery of peaceful talk and negotiations,” the negotiators said in a joint statement. They also appealed for the adoption of the benevolent humanitarian path.
The interlocutors said Mr. Hikaka had played a crucial role in the election of the chairman of Koraput's zilla parishad.
The Maoists have made similar demands for the release of Mr. Hikaka as in the case of the two Italian nationals. In the posters they left at the site of the kidnap, the Maoists said Mr. Hikaka would be held hostage until their demands such as complete withdrawal of the ‘Green Hunt' operation and the release of political prisoners were fulfilled.
The talks started on Thursday, with Mr. Sharma and Mr. Mohanty discussing the 13 demands put forth by the Maoists with three senior officials of the State government. The talks had made substantial progress, according to the negotiators.
The two Italians, Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo, were kidnapped from Daringbadi area of Kandhamal district on March 14. While Mr. Paolo had been staying for the past 19 years in Puri where he was running a travel agency named Odisha Adventurous Trekking, Mr. Colangelo was a tourist.