BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Thursday announced the names of 27 people whose release will facilitate the freeing of an Italian and a legislator being held captive by Maoists.
Patnaik said the decision to facilitate the release was taken on humanitarian grounds and he expects the rebels will reciprocate and release the hostages unharmed at the earliest.
Among those to be released is Subhashree (Mili) Panda, the wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda.
Subhashree is facing trial in a number of cases for alleged Maoist activities. She is also facing the charge of sedition.
Sabyasachi is the secretary of the state unit organizing committee of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). His group has kept Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo hostage since March 14.
Patnaik had late Wednesday announced to facilitate the release of 23 people, including eight Maoists, in exchange for legislator Jhina Hikaka, who has been held captive by another group of Maoists since March 24.
Patnaik had also announced the release of four other people to secure the release of the Italian.