BHUBANESWAR: Hours after the Maoist abductors of MLA Jhina Hikaka set April 5 deadline for the Government to act, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday appealed to them to extend the deadline and not harm the legislator. He once again invited Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) leader Nachika Linga to come forward for talks directly on this urgent matter.
The hostage crisis deepened as Maoist leader Chandramouli made it clear that this was the ‘last’ deadline. In an audio tape released to the media houses here, the Andhra Odisha Border Zonal Committee (AOBZC) secretary rejected the talks offer saying there should be no legal or other hurdles in releasing the ‘comrades.’
Chandramouli demanded that cases against all the leaders and workers of CMAS be withdrawn. He criticised the Government for its dilly-dallying tactics.
Disconcerting signals also came from the kidnapped MLA who, in a letter to the Chief Minister, alleged that the Government is showing an indifferent attitude towards his life as he is a tribal. Hikaka also demanded that innocent tribals, who have been branded as Naxalites and sent to jails, should be released forthwith.
“I am safe,” the MLA said in the letter, but expressed his concern over the fact that the Government has so far not taken any initiative for his release. “If this demand (release of ‘innocent tribals’ from different jails) would be considered quickly, I will come back safe quickly,” he said.
“Unless the demands are met, I will be forced to resign as I cannot develop my area in these conditions,” he said.
In a Press note in Telugu, Jagabandhu, spokesman of the AOBZC, said all the political prisoners should be released forthwith. Criticising the State Government for its indifferent attitude towards the entire matter, Jagabandhu said if this is their reaction towards a ruling party MLA, the fate of the common people can well be imagined.
He reiterated that the Maoists do not want talks with the help of mediators as last time the Government had not fulfilled their demands. In the wake of threats from both the rebel groups holding Hikaka and Italian Paolo Bosusco hostages, the Chief Minister held an emergency meeting with top officials.
“The whole issue is being examined threadbare in order to decide the future course of action,” a senior official said, admitting that refusal by the abductors of the BJD legislator to join talks had further complicated the issue. The message from abductors of Hikaka (37) came a day after captors of Bosusco released an audio tape threatening to take extreme measures if the Government adopts a dilly-dallying approach towards their demand for immediate release of seven cadres.
Soon after the the tape was released, the State Government and the Maoist-nominated mediators held fresh negotiations on Monday night over the Italian’s release. The talks will commence on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, Mili Panda, wife of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, whose outfit has claimed to have abducted Bosusco, on Tuesday appealed to the cadres not to harm the hostage.