Demands snag hostage release

Demands snag hostage release

The ongoing dialogue to secure the release of Bosusco Paolo, the Italian who is still in Maoists’ captivity even two weeks after his abduction from Odisha’s Kandhamal district, got more complicated on Wednesday evening after the state government and the two interlocutors appointed by the left wing extremists came out with  contradictory statements on the issue.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said, the Maoists had come out with a few new demands through their mediators. “The Maoist interlocutors have given us some additional demands which are being examined by the government”, he said in a statement indicating that the dialogue process may be dragged on for some time more.

Home secretary U N Behera, who is leading the three-member team of negotiators from the government side, confirmed the Maoists’ new stand after a fresh round of discussions at the state guest house here. The meeting lasted only half an hour.

Dandapani Mohanty and Dr B D Sharma, the two negotiators from the naxals’ side, immediately came out with a contradictory statement denying the government’s version. “No new demands have been made to the state government”, Mohanty told reporters.

Indirectly blaming the government, Mohanty said the state government would be responsible if something happened to the Italian hostage.

He also maintained that the 13 point charter of demands presented by the Maoists to release the Italian hostage should be debated in the state assembly.

That things were going wrong in the dialogue process had come to the fore late on Tuesday evening when the two Maoist interlocutors, after their meeting with government representatives, decided to send a letter to the chief minister on the progress made so far on the discussions. If the government sources are to be believed, the letter carried the new demands of the Maoists.

A copy of the letter handed over to the chief minister was also sent to Sunil alias Saby­asachi Panda, the secretary of Maoists’ Odisha state committee who had masterminded the Italians’ kidnapping.

Two Italians - Bosusco Paolo and Cloudious Colangelo - were kidnapped by the Maoists from near Daringibadi in Kandhamal district on March 14. The left ultras had released Colangelo on March 24 night as a “goodwill gesture” while Paolo continues to remain in captivity.

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