Bowing down to the pressure from the Srikakulam-Koraput Divisional Committee (SKDC) of the Maoists, the Orissa government on Wednesday decided to release 27 of their cadres lodged in various jails in the state.
The SKDC has taken Mr Hikaka hostage since March 24 demanding fulfilment of their seven-point charter of demands.
The 27 persons to be released include 15 members of the Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) and eight Left-Wing Extremists lodged in Koraput and Malkangiri jails.
Besides, the government agreed to release four persons from the list of 30 persons given by the Orissa State Organising Committee (OSOC) of the CPI Maoists led by Sabyasachi Panda.
Italian national Basuco Paolo is in the captivity of OSOC since March 14.
“Considering the safety of MLA Jhina Hikaka, it has been decided by the state government to release 15 members of the CMAS and left-wing extremists,” chief minister Naveen Patnaik announced in the Assembly late on Wednesday evening. The announcement came after a marathon state Cabinet meeting held in the evening.
The chief minister said the names of the persons to be released will be announced on Thursday.
Sources said CMAS adviser Gananath Patra and Subhashree Pana, wife of Orissa’s top Naxal leader Sabyasachi Panda, have found place in the “mutually-agreed” negotiation list.
There were, however, no immediate reactions from the Maoists groups on the CM’s announcement. Till reports last came in, negotiations were still going on in the state guest house between the state government’s designated officials and two Maoist interlocutors — B.D. Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty — on the demands of the OSOC.
Apart from the release of their cadres, the rebels have demanded dropping of “false” charges against their cadres and halt in anti-Naxal Green Hunt Operation on which the CM made no mention.
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