BHUBANESWAR: The hostage crisis continued with the State Government renewing its appeal to the two groups of Maoists to release the abducted Italian tour operator Paolo Bosusco and Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka even as the ultras seem to be buying time by issuing fresh audio tape and Press note.
Though the exact time is yet to be announced, the possibility of release of the Italian national has brightened with secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI(Maoist) Sabyasachi Panda welcoming the Government’s decision to facilitate the release of five prisoners, as demanded by him.
Of the five, Sabyasachi’s wife Milli Panda alias Subhashree Das was acquitted in a case by the Gunupur fast track court on Tuesday.
Sabyasachi has said the process of setting Bosusco free will start after the Government fulfils other demands, including release of four other prisoners.
The prisoners include Arati Majhi, who was allegedly raped by security forces and framed as a Naxalite.
Sabyasachi said in the audio tape that he asked Bosusco when he wanted to be released by the Maoists.
The Italian said he wanted to be freed only after Arati Majhi was released from jail.
“What more indictment of police and security forces is required,” he asked.
The Maoist leader condemned the police association for its statement opposing the swap deal.
Sabyasachi, however, said he is yet to receive the joint statement by the State Government mediators and Maoist interlocutors.
Home Secretary U N Behera said Sabyasachi must have been waiting for the signed copy of the joint statement of the Government mediators and interlocutors appointed by him.
It must have reached him by now, Behera said.
Since the issues raised by Sabyasachi in his pamphlet have been addressed by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik while making a statement in the Assembly and the joint statement, he should release the Italian national immediately.
The mediators have also conveyed the message to Sabyasachi, he said.
But uncertainty persists over the release of MLA Jhina Hikaka.
Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) spokesman Jagabandhu said on Wednesday that the legislator will be released only after 30 prisoners are freed.
The Government, however, stuck to its announcement of releasing 23 prisoners in exchange for the release of Hikaka.