The tribal BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka was kidnapped from Koraput district which was preceded by the gunning down of a police sub-inspector in Malkangiri on March 22 and the killing of two policemen in a landmine blast in Koraput on March 18.
"These incidents took place during talks between the state government and Maoist negotiators to end the Italian hostage crisis. A ceasefire had also been declared by them. It brings to the fore rivalry among Maoist factions," a senior
police officials said.
A senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity that top Maoist leader, Sabyasachi Panda, who appeared to have been sidelined in the higher hierarchy of rebel leadership, might be behind the March 14 abduction of the two Italians Paolo Basusco and Claudio Colangelo in a bid to assert his command in the region.
In an attempt to counter Panda's move and expose his limited control, the Andhra Odisha Border Zonal Committee (AOBZC) probably may have engineered the abduction of the legislator.
The same group, active in undivided Koraput and adjoining areas of Andhra Pradesh, was also believed to be behind the killing of sub-inspector KC Rath at Khairput in Malkangiri district on March 22, he said.
In Odisha, the Maoists operate under two groups - Odisha State Organising Committee (OSOC) and AOBZC having control over different divisions of ultras.
While OSOC functions in several districts including Kandhamal, Nayagarh, Ganjam and Gajapati, AOBZC has been operating in tribal dominated Malkangiri, Koraput and adjoining districts of the state, said a researcher in the ultra left movement.
While OSOC has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the two Italians and conveyed their demands through the media, no outfit has so far owned responsibility for the kidnapping of the MLA though it is suspected to have
been enacted by AOBZC.