Hostage crisis: Mediators may pull out

The mediators are accusing the Government of \'soft-pedaling the issue\' and not taking any firm and fast decision.

Published: 30th March 2012 05:07 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 09:50 PM   |  A+A-

MAY

BHUBANESWAR: The Maoist interlocutors on Thursday threatened to pull out if the Government did not respond to their demands by Friday evening. Accusing the Government of slowing down the talk process, they claimed that the Red rebels will release the Italian tourist guide Paolo Bosusco if three of their core demands are met.

The CPI (Maoist)’s Odisha State Organising Committee had placed 13 demands out of which the major three pertain to release of re-arrested activists, dropping of cases against those framed by the police and criminal proceedings against the security personnel involved in excesses including custodial death and sexual assault. None has yet been responded  by the Government while Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has bought more time to examine the issues bringing the negotiation process to a halt on Thursday.

"What will we do cooling our heels here? If the Government does not respond by Friday evening, we might think of pulling out,’’ mediators BD Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty said on Thursday morning. Sharma who was to leave for Mumbai today has cancelled his tickets and stayed over for another day. “They have deliberately slowed down the process apparently believing that Paolo is safe and should continue to be,” Sharma said accusing the Government of “soft-pedaling the issue.”

He said, there should be a deadline to reach the agreement instead of dragging the process on. Paolo was abducted on March 14 along with tourist Claudio Colangelo who was released on March 25.

"Both sides could debate on the policy issues later but meeting the three core demands should have been considered by the Government if it is serious in releasing Paolo,’’ Dandapani said.

The Maoists have demanded criminal action against police officials involved in fake encounters of Lalit Dehuri, Pradip Majhi, Junesh Badaraita and Katru Huika as well as rape of a tribal woman in Gajapati. They have also sought release of 14 persons re-arrested after being sanctioned relief by different courts and release of innocent persons branded as Maoists. Dandapani felt that the officers assigned to mediate may have misled the Chief Minister by stating that new and additional demands have been placed which he said was untrue.

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