Ultimatum on Italian, Maoists threaten to execute hostage

Bhubaneswar, Apr 6: In a grim turn to the three-week old hostage crisis, Maoists today issued a fresh ultimatum threatening to execute the abducted Italian if their demands are not met within 96 hours.

The Maoists holding 54-year-old Paolo Bosusco hostage since Mar 14 rejected the list of 27 prisoners who were offered to be freed by the Odisha government in a swap deal for the release of the Italian, saying it does not contain the names of those they wanted to be released.

Piling up pressure on the state government, the left-wing extremists threatened to take the 'extreme step' if their demands were not met within 96 hours.

There was also no response to the government offer from another group of Maoists who are holding 37-year-old BJD rpt BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka hostage since Mar 24. In an audio message to a section of the media, top leader of the Maoist Odisha State Organising Committee Sabyasachi Panda said the list of prisoners proposed to be freed for securing the release of Italian Paolo Bosusco was unacceptable and gave the 96-hour ultimatum.

Panda had demanded immediate release of seven persons, including his wife Subhashree Das alias Mili Panda for Bosusco's release.

But he said the government's list excluded many whose release had been demanded. Subhashree's name figured in the list of persons proposed to be freed by the government.

Panda also sought a written agreement on fulfillment of the demands. Accusing the Naveen Patnaik government of adopting delaying tactics, he said its talks with Maoist-nominated negotiators BD Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty was a "farce" as no clear-cut decision had been taken on the 13 demands made for the release of Bosusco.

The ultimatum came a few hours after the government and Maoist mediators held talks on the Chief Minister offer to free 27 persons, including eight Maoists, in return for the release Hikaka and Bosusco. 


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