Maoists release Italian hostage

Maoists release Italian hostage

Odisha abduction : No word yet on fate of MLA Jhina Hikaka

Maoists release Italian hostage

After weeks of tedious parleys with the Odisha government, the Maoists released Italian national Paolo Bosusco early on Thursday. 

The left-wing ultras set free the foreign hostage after keeping him in captivity for nearly a month. Sabyasachi Panda, the secretary of Maoists’ Odisha state committee who was responsible for the abduction handed him over to Dandapani Mohanty, one of the two interlocutors who negotiated with the state government on behalf of the red rebels to defuse the hostage crisis, in deep forests near Raikia in Kandhamal district around 5 am.

After coming out of the forests, Mohanty along with Basusco drove straight to capital Bhubaneswar to hand over the latter to the state authorities in the Odisha government guest house here.

Immediately after Bosusco’s arrival, the Italian ambassador to India Giacomo Sanfelice Di Monteforte who was camping here for more than a week  rushed to the guest house to meet him. Later talking to media, the ambassador thanked the government of India as well as government of Odisha authorities for their efforts to release his countryman.

Bosusco too expressed his gratitude to the authorities besides the people of the state. “I have been a part of the state for last 22 years. I love Odisha and its people who would always remain in my heart”, the visibly happy Italian, who was running a travel business in the temple town of Puri before his kidnapping, said. 

He said he would be flying back to Italy as early as possible to meet his family. He also indicated that he may not return to India again. Bosusco also spoke briefly about his experience in the Maoists’ captivity and said the rebels had treated him well. “I was treated well by them. During my stay (with the Maoists) I also tried to understand about their activities and the purpose for which they have turned rebels”, he said.

Demand charter

The Maoists had come out with a 13-point charter of demands to set free the two Italians which included release of nearly 20 of their imprisoned colleagues and associates. They had subsequently reduced the number to seven. Though they had freed Colangelo, the rebels had made it clear that they would not let go of Bosusco unless their demands were met. At one point of time they had even threatened to kill him.

Finally, the state government had agreed to set free six of the Maoists’ associates and promised to begin the process immediately. The government also agreed to look into their other demands. One of the six, Subhasree Panda, wife of Sabyasachi was released from jail on Tuesday after a court acquitted her in a Naxal-related case. 

The Maoists’ decision to finally free Bususco on Thursday came as a great relief for the state government, especially Chief Minister Patnaik, as the incident had already attracted international attention. Never before since the beginning of the Maoists’ movement in India more than three decades back, the left-wing ultras had kidnapped foreign nationals and kept them as hostages.

“It is certainly a great relief for all of us. The Italian ambassador had already spoken to me after the release of Bosusco”, a visible happy Patnaik told reporters here.

However, his problem is half over as the ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka who was kidnapped by another faction of the Maoists still remains in their captivity. The chief minister once again appealed the MLA’s captors on Thursday to set free the yong tribal legislator unharmed. 

 

 

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