Bhubaneswar: Maoists holding BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka on Wednesday refused to free him unless 30 rebels, including one accused of killing 55 policemen, were released, while another group which abducted Italian Paolo Bosusco said it was awaiting the agreement struck with the government.
After a day's silence, the Maoist Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) in a letter to the media said that Hikaka would not be released unless 30 ultras, including Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi involved in 41 major incidents of violence, were freed.
The three-page letter in Telugu warned that the 37-year- old tribal legislator would be produced before a 'praja court' to decide his fate if the state government delayed further in releasing the 30 ultras.
Stating that Koraput MP Jayram Pangi, Koraput MLA Raghuram Podal and Jeypore MLA Rabi Narayan Nanda, all belonging to the ruling BJD were on its hit list, the group claimed that only three of those the government was offering for release were Maoists and rest belonged to its front organisation, Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha.
The letter arrived a day after the deadline set by the two groups holding the MLA and Italian hostage, ended yesterday.
Home Secretary U N Behera, however, maintained that the government was unaware of the fresh letter from the AOBSZC.
Behera pointed out that the government had on April 5 agreed to facilitate release of 23 people, including 15 from the CMAS.
"Some bail petitions on behalf of these persons are learnt to have been filed in the courts concerned and that process is on," he said.
On the demand for release of more prisoners, Behera said the matter was being examined and police and legal opinion had been sought.
Regarding the Italian, he said from a new audio message from the Secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee, Sabyasachi Panda, it appeared that he was waiting for copy of the joint statement signed by government representatives and mediators nominated by him.
"Since the issues raised by him in his pamphlet have been addressed in the chief minister's statements in Assembly and the joint statement of government representatives and two mediators, he should release Bosusco immediately," the Home Secretary said.
"The mediators nominated by the Maoists holding Bosusco hostage have also conveyed this message to Sabyasachi Panda," Behera said.
He said that in view of these developments, the AOBSZC and Panda were requested to release Hikaka and Bosusco immediately and in good health.
Meanwhile, the family members of 15 CMAS activists whose release the state government has decided to facilitate were waiting for them to emerge from jail at Balipeta in Maoist-hit Narayanpatna area of Koraput district since yesterday.
The AOBSZC had demanded that the hostage-prisoner swap take place at Balipeta yesterday.
Earlier in the day, Panda said in an audio message that though the contents of the joint statement for Bosusco's release were known the document was yet to be received.
Panda's message came a day after the release of his wife Subhashree Das alias Mili Panda from jail following her acquittal by a court.
Panda had also condemned the police opposing the release of hardcore Maoists.
The Odisha Police Association and the Havildar and Constable Mahasangh had said they would boycott anti-Maoist operations if hardcore Naxals were freed.
Bosusco, a Puri-based Italian tour operator was kidnapped along with another Italian Claudio Colangelo by Maoists while trekking in Kandhamal district on March 14.
Colangelo was released on March 25 as a "goodwill gesture" by the Maoists.
Hikaka was taken hostage in Koraput district on March 24 when he was returning home to Laxmipur.
Story first published:
April 12, 2012 02:16 IST