Bhubaneswar: Odisha MLA Jhina Hikaka has been released by his Maoist abductors after 32 days in captivity. His party, the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) is worried that he might be suffering from the Stockholm Syndrome, where a hostage seems sympathetic towards his captors.
Mr Hikaka was freed this morning and handed over to his wife Koushalya Majhi and a Koraput-based lawyer, in Balipeta near Narayanpatna. At 10.30 am, as crowds gathered for the release announced yesterday, the Laxmipur MLA suddenly appeared in a green shirt, looking expectedly beleaguered as he jostled his way through a crowd of mediamen and other people gathered for his release.
The Maoists have said they agreed to release their hostage on an undertaking from him that he will resign as an MLA, snap all ties with the BJD and will work for the tribals in his area. Mr Hikaka had won his Laxmipur seat by more than 28,000 votes.
After his release, Mr Hikaka said the state government had been apathetic to his plight and had not made enough effort to free him. BJD MP Jay Panda said that Mr Hikaka was traumatised and that "We have all been very concerned about our colleague Jhina Hikaka. The CM has himself been monitoring the situation...we have been working towards his release but at this point if Jhina Hikaka has actually said something to the effect that efforts were not made for his release then I don't wish to argue because he is somebody who has just been released from captivity. We are also aware about the Stockholm Syndrome where people in captivity develop sympathy for their captors and so this is not the right time to be taking his statements seriously into account."
Mr Panda said it would be "sad if he quits the party."
In an audio message sent yesterday, Mr Hikaka's Maoist abductors said a "praja court" or people's court of 150 had decided that the MLA should be released after he gave the written undertaking that he would resign. Law makers in Odisha say it is telling that a democratically elected leader has been subjected to "trial by a praja court".
Mr Hikaka was kidnapped by Maoists in his home district of Koraput on March 24. They then demanded that 29 prisoners in Odisha jails be released in exchange for the MLA's freedom. Among the people that they wanted released was Gananath Patra, the ailing 70-year-old leader of Maoist-backed tribal organisation Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh, who has been in Koraput jail for nearly two years.
The Maoists have been demanding Mr Patra's unconditional release since February last year when they had abducted the-then Collector of Malkangiri, R Vineel Krishna. Sources close to the Maoists had earlier told NDTV that the MLA could walk free whenever the state government decided to free Mr Patra and announced an expeditious trial by a fast track court of all cases pending against imprisoned CMAS members.
Story first published:
April 26, 2012 10:42 IST