Odisha names prisoners to be released, deadline extended

Naveen Patnaik
Bhubaneswar, Apr 5: Maoists extended the deadline for fulfilment of their demands till Apr 7 for the release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka while Odisha government today named the 27 prisoners to be freed for him and Italian Paulo Bosusco being held hostage by two separate group of Naxals.

A Maoist leader telephoned a section of the media saying the deadline, which was to end this evening, has been extended till the evening of Apr 7.

The leader of Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist) (AOBSZC), which abducted Hikaka used the MLA’s phone to inform the media about the extension of the deadline, sources said.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announced the 27 names of prisoners to be released in the assembly. The state government would take legal steps for their release.

"As you can see, the state government has made this gesture on humanitarian grounds. I hope that the Maoists will reciprocate in a similar spirit and release the MLA and the Italian national immediately," Patnaik said.

He said the eight Maoists to be released included six from Odisha and a couple from Andhra Pradesh Murla Neelam Reddy and his wife Setu Pangi.

The four to be released for freeing Italian Paolo Bosusco included Subhashree Das, also known as Mili Panda, the wife of Sabyasachi Panda, secretary of Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist).

The Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist) was behind Hikaka’s abduction while Sabyasachi Panda’s outfit was responsble for that of the Italian.

Bosusco had been kidnapped along with another Italian Claudio Colangelo while they were trekking in Kandhamal district on Mar 14. Colangelo was freed on Mar 25.

A day earlier, Hikaka was abducted from Koraput district when he was returning home.

Meanwhile, Italian Ambassador Giacomo Sanfelice di Monteforte met the Chief Minister here this evening and discussed the hostage crisis involving Bosusco, a Puri-based tour operator from his country.

With the names of those to be released announced, the twin hostage crisis appeared to be moving towards an early resolution, an official said.

Meanwhile, the statement of Subhashree Das was recorded by a fast track court at Gunupur in Rayagada district in connection with a case relating to her alleged involvement in an encounter between Maoists and the police in Gudari area.

The court fixed Apr 10 for pronouncement of the verdict.


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