BJD MLA's whereabouts unknown

BJD MLA's whereabouts unknown

The whereabouts of Odisha BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka, who has been in Maoists’ captivity for the last 26 days, still remain unknown.

The Left wing extremists reportedly held a “praja court” (people’s court) deep inside the forests near Narayanapatna in Koraput district on Thursday to decide the fate of the abducted tribal legislator.

The steps initiated by the state government to fulfill the Naxals’ demands including withdrawal of cases against some of the imprisoned Maoist cadres and their associates seem to have failed to impress the red rebels so far.

The government on Thursday confirmed that it was aware of the people’s court being organized by the Maoists in Koraput district and said it was waiting for the outcome of the development.

“At the moment we have no new information about the abducted MLA. A praja court by the Maoists is on. We will decide our future course of action once we know what happened there,” Chief Secretary Bijoy Patnaik said.

Chief minister Naveen Patnaik made a fresh appeal to the Maoists to release Hikaka, as early as possible. “The government has already initiated steps to implement their main demands. Therefore, they should free the MLA as early as possible”, he told reporters here.

It may be recalled that the former Malkangiri Collector Vineel Krishan, who was kidnapped by the Maoists last year, was set free after a similar “people’s court”.

Meanwhile, in a separate development the state government on Thursday reacted to the Supreme Court’s decision to send notices to the Odisha government as well as the Centre on the release of jailed Maoists in exchange for the abducted MLA’s freedom.

The apex court has asked both the Centre and state to file their responses within the next two weeks while responding to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) challenging the government’s decision to set free imprisoned Maoists to get the kidnapped MLA released. The PIL was filed by a retired major general of the Indian army.

“We will go through the Supreme Court order and furnish our response within the stipulated time that is two weeks,” Home Secretary U N Behera said.

Chief minister Patnaik also indicated that the Supreme Court development would not affect the ongoing process to secure the release of the abducted MLA.

“The Supreme Court has not issued any stay on the government’s decision to facilitate bail for the Left wing extremists,” he said.

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