No money paid for releasing hostages, say Maoists

Members of the CPI (Maoists) in Odisha have strongly rejected allegations that the state government had paid money for the release of former Malkangiri Collector R Vineel Krishna and Biju Janata Dal MLA Jihna Hikaka.

While Krishna, now in New Delhi on Central deputation, was kidnapped by the Maoists last year, Hikaka was abducted early this year in the neighbouring Rayagara district. Both were released after prolonged negotiations between the state government and the rebels.

“No money was exchanged for their release. The allegation is baseless. An attempt is being made to defame the CPI (Maoists) organisation”, the outfit’s Malkangiri division has said in a statement released to the local media.

BJD rebel and Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra had recently alleged that the state government had paid Rs 6 crore to the Maoists for the release of Krishna and Hikaka.

While Rs 4 crore was paid for the former collector’s release, the government had coughed up Rs 2 crore for Hikaka, Mohapatra had claimed. His allegation was based on a similar remark, reportedly made by activist Dandapani Mohanty who had acted as the mediator between the state government and the Maoists during the parleys.

The Odisha unit of the Congress, the principal opposition party in the state, had recently demanded a detailed investigation by the National Investigating Agency (NIA) into both kidnappings.“As allegation of payment of ransom in both cases have already surfaced, there should be an independent investigation by the NIA,” the party had demanded. The Congress legislators had also raised the issue in the just-concluded winter session of the state Assembly. The Odisha government has denied the charges.

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