With a little more than 24 hours to go before the deadline set by Maoists expires for abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka, the rebels this morning sent another warning to the government, asking it to declare its intention on the release of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh activists by this evening.
In a telephonic message to CMAS lawyer Nihar Patnaik in Koraput, commander of Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee, Aruna said the government by 5 pm should make its intention clear through the media about the steps it was taking for the release of 28 Maoists and CMAS activists – CMAS advisor Gananath Patra – lodged in different jails of the state.
“We can’t extend the deadline anymore. It seems the government is making a mockery of our patience. The government will be responsible if anything happens to the MLA afterwards,” she said.
Soon after Aruna called up Patnaik, the abducted MLA purportedly called him saying he was frightened of the developments. “He told me the government should take necessary steps for the release of jailed CMAS activists and Gananath Patra. He asked me to speak to Koraput collector and deputy inspector general of south-western range on the steps taken by the government so far. He said he would be in serious trouble if the government plays with Maoists’ demands,” said Patnaik, adding Hikaka appeared to be under stress.
Though Maoists had earlier demanded the release of dreaded rebel Chenda Bhushanam alias Ghasi from Koraput jail, they dropped their demand after government said it was not possible. However, the Maoists today made it clear that Gananath Patra, the 72-year-old advisor of the CMAS, had to be released with the 27 others. Earlier, the government had agreed to the release of 25 people, including 8 Maoists. Hikaka has been in Maoist captivity since March 23 night.
The 28 whom Maoists want released are:
Narsi Kendruka; Joruka Kendruka; Deba Madhi; Ganga Sodi; Bhima Padiami; Mangaraj Durua; Murla Neelam Reddy alias Arjun; Setu Pangi alias Sunita; Suno Pangi; Gananath Patra; Wadeka Walsi; Singa Nachika; Rupuni Sirika; Miniaka Sandal; Miniaka Jama; Saura Kartasia; Nachika Suba; Wadeka Diba; Rabi Tadingi; Bijay Tadingi; Ina Tadingi; Dhana Hantal; Dora Hantal; Ramesh Nachika; Huluku Kesaba; Rupana Huluka; Argu Sirika; Suka Nachika.
While the first 9 names are of Maoist cadres, the rest are CMAS activists of Narayanpatna block, Koraput.
Sources said Maoists seems to have backed down from their earlier demand of physical swapping of prisoners at Balipeta village, now want just a commitment that the prisoners will be released. “The Maoists perhaps want some of them to be released on bail immediately and an asurance from the government that cases against them will be withdrawn in a timely manner,” said Nihar Patnaik, CMAS lawyer.