BHUBANESWAR: The State Government’s announcement that it would initiate steps for withdrawal of prosecution against 13 prisoners is likely to facilitate the release of abducted MLA Jhina Hikaka.
Nihar Patnaik, the Koraput-based lawyer of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) and the CPI Maoist, said the announcement would be discussed at the praja court, most likely to be held by the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) on Thursday. Patnaik had a telephonic conversation with Hikaka on Tuesday and said the latter’s health was good.
The 13 prisoners against whom the Government would consider withdrawal of prosecution after the release of Hikaka are, Argu Sirika, Roopana Huluka, Dora Hantal, Dhana Hantal, Wadeka Diba, Nachika Suba, Rabi Tandingi, Huluka Kesaba (all CMAS activists), Setu Pangi, Mula Neelam Reddy, Deba Madhi, Ganga Sodi and Bhima Padiama (all Maoists).
The AOBSZC had demanded unconditional release of 29 prisoners for setting the MLA free. Responding to the demand, the Government had announced that it would facilitate the release of 25 prisoners and asked them to apply for bail.
The Maoists had declined to seek bail demanding withdrawal of cases against them. The ultras had dropped the name of Cheda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, involved in Maoist violence, from the list of rebels sought to be freed in exchange for the legislator who was kidnapped on March 24 near Laxmipur in Koraput district.
They wanted the lawyer and the MLA’s wife Kaushalya Majhi to accompany the freed rebels to Balipeta in Narayanpatna area of Koraput district. However, the deadline passed at 5 pm on Wednesday.
Maoist leader Aruna has said, in a fresh audio tape, that there would be no further extension of the deadline. The audio tape from the Maoists came shortly after the Chief Secretary expressed hope that the Maoists would set free Hikaka as the Government was in the process of facilitating the release of prisoners as demanded.
The AOBSZC in a message on Tuesday had asked the Government to make its stand clear on the release of prisoners.
Meanwhile, the MLA’s wife made a fresh appeal to the Maoists to free Hikaka unharmed. Appeals were also made by the Government.