Bhubaneswar: Even as Maoists in Odisha freed Italian national Paolo Bosusco after keeping him captive for nearly a month yesterday, the hostage crisis is still far from over with abducted tribal MLA Jhina Hikaka continuing to be held captive by another faction of the Maoists. (Read: Happy being a free man, says Italian Paolo Bosusco after being released by Maoists)
Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is visiting Koraput today to hold a high-level meeting with senior officials from the administration and the police on the abduction of Mr Hikaka. After the meeting the chief minister will visit the MLA's home in Laxmipur, 50 kilometres away, to meet with his wife Koushalya Majhi and other members of his family. This visit is believed to have been planned to dispel the perception that the state government is not paying enough attention to the MLA hostage issue.
Yesterday, Mr Hikaka's wife appealed to the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), the faction holding him hostage, to release him safely.
"The Maoists didn't have any personal enmity with my husband. They have taken him so that their demands are met, I want to tell them that he is an honest man and they should free him and send him back safe and sound, I have my trust in the state government, they are trying their best... the Chief Minister has assured me that my husband will be brought back safely," she said.
Mr Patnaik, yesterday, had also appealed to the Maoists to release the MLA at the earliest. "I plead the Maoists to release our MLA immediately...his entire family is waiting for him."
Mr Hikaka, a legislator from the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), was kidnapped on March 24 from the Koraput district when he was returning home to Laxmipur. The group holding him hostage has demand the release of 30 rebels, including one accused of killing 55 policemen.
A three-page letter in Telugu by the AOBSZC on Wednesday 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.