Deadline over; hostages not freed

Deadline over; hostages not freed

Maoist leader says he is yet to receive GO on release of comrades

Deadline over; hostages not freed
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik repeated his appeal to the two Maoists factions responsible for the kidnapping of ruling BJD legislator Jhina Hiakaka and Italian national Paolo Bosusco to release both hostages even as the deadline fixed by the two groups ended Tuesday evening.

“As the state government has already initiated steps to fulfill their demands, I appeal to both Maoists factions to release the two hostages immediately unharmed and in good health,” Patnaik said in a statement.

At the time of filing the report, there was no response from the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) which abducted MLA Hikaka. “We have received no communication from the group yet,” said Home Secretary U N Behera.

However, Sabyasachi Panda, the leader of the Maoists’ Odisha state Committee which was responsible for Bosusco’s kidnapping, spoke to a section of the local electronic media on Tuesday evening seeking more clarification from the state government on the release of his jailed associates.
 
“There is still no clarity in the government’s move. It must clearly state what steps were being taken for the release of the imprisoned persons,” the top Maoist said. He was yet to receive the written copy of the agreement reached between his interlocutors and the state government.

On Panda’s statement, the home secretary said the document had already been sent.

“He would get it. In fact, he might have already received it by now,” Behera said.
Behera said the government was committed to releasing 27 imprisoned persons - 23 demanded by the AOBSZC and four sought by Panda’s faction. He reiterated that the 27 persons had been asked to file for bail with courts wherein their cases were pending.

However, by Tuesday evening none of the 27 moved the court with their bail pleas. One in the list, Gananath Patra, an advisor to the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha(CMAS), a Maoist front organisation, has already made it clear that he would not be applying for bail. “I have already spent two and half years in prison. Why should I go on bail”, the septuagenaran said to reporters in Jaypore in Koraput district, while appearing in a local court in connection with a case against him.

In a separate development, a lower court in Gunpur in Koraput district on Tuesday acquitted Panda’s wife Subhashree alias Mili Panda in a 2003 Naxal-police encounter case. After the court’s judgment, she was released from prison. Observers believe that the development is likely to have an impact on Italian national Paolo’s release from the Maoists’ captivity. After her release, Mili told newsmen that the police had falsely implicated her in the case.

“I had tremendous faith in the court of law and the country’s justice system. I have been proven right”, she said.

Sources said after her release she, accompanied by her father and brother, headed straight to her home in coastal Puri district. 

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