Abduction crisis: Maoists set Apr 5 deadline

BHUBANESWAR: Rejecting Odisha government’s invitation for talks, abductors of BJD legislator Jhina Hikaka today fixed April five as the deadline for fulfillment of their demands even as the ultras released a letter purportedly written by the captive MLA seeking his safe return.

Rejecting the state government’s proposal to join talks and nominate negotiators, the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of Maoists asked the Odisha government to fulfill its demands including release of jailed rebels latest by April five without resorting to “delaying tactics”.

A few hours later, a letter purportedly written by Hikaka addressed to Chief Miniser Naveen Patnaik was released to media saying he was safe and pleading that tribals lodged in jails on charge of being Maoists be freed at the earliest so that he could be released unharmed.

“Since I am a tribal, steps for the safety of my life are not being considered seriously,” the letter said, adding if quick steps are not taken for his release he would not be able to work for the development of his area.

“If necessary, I will be forced to resign,” it said.

The development followed another threat from the secretary of Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI(Maoist), Sabyasachi Panda whose outfit claimed to have abducted Italian national Paolo Basusco, that the hostage might come to harm if any action was launched.

“We may take the extreme step if the government launches an offensive to release the hostage,” he said.

“The government is adopting a dilly-dallying approach to our demands and also planning an operation to free the hostage. The government will be responsible if something wrong happens to the Italian,” Panda said in an audio tape released to the media.

Besides his wife, Subhasree, Panda sought release of Maoists Arati Majhi, Kamala Kanta Sethi, Jonesh Pradhan, Sujatha, Suka Nachika and Gananath Patra.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held an emergency meeting with top officials to assess the situation.

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