Bhubaneswar: In a fresh audio message released today, Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda has said Italian hostage Paolo Bosusco, who has been in his captivity for close to a month, will be released through a "democratic process". Mr Panda also says that he has received a copy of the joint statement signed by the Odisha government and the Maoist-appointed mediators, which was one of the preconditions for the release of the Italian national.
Mr Panda's audio message comes a day after a deadline set by him for the government to meet his demands expired.
However, the other Maoist faction, which is holding Jhina Hikaka, a Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA captive, are yet to spell out their plan. They had earlier promised to release the tribal MLA if his wife reached a particular village along with all the released prisoners yesterday, however, that did not happen.
Reports say the Maoists, who are now under pressure from the local tribal people to release the MLA, may decide to set him free after a public trial.
Meanwhile, the Odisha government has issued a statement agreeing to facilitate the release of 27 Maoists detainees. The government has said that the names of the Maoists have been announced and the judicial process involved in the matter has also been clarified. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has said that whatever action will be taken will be within the law. The state government has once again appealed to the Maoists to release the hostages immediately, unhurt and in good health.
Mr Bosusco, a 51-year-old tour operator was taken hostage by the Maoists on March 14 alongwith compatriot Claudio Colangelo, a tourist. Even as Mr Colangelo was allowed to go, Mr Bosusco continued to be held captive with the Maoists remaining firm on the charter of demands.
Jhina Hikaka, the 37-year old dynamic tribal leader who was elected for the first time to the state assembly in 2009 from the Laxmipur seat, was abducted by Maoists in Koraput district of Odisha on March 24. The BJD leader was on his way back home at Laxmipur from Koraput. He was taken hostage by Maoists while his driver and personal security officer were let off.