BHUBANESWAR: After days of silence, the CPI (Maoist) on Sunday set April 18 as the fresh deadline for the release of abducted Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka in exchange for prisoners.
In a fresh audio tape, Maoist leader Aruna has said on behalf of Jagabandhu, the spokesman of the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), that the kidnapped MLA will be safely handed over near Balipeta village in Maoist affected Narayapatna block by 5 pm on Wednesday in lieu of the prisoners.
Jagabandhu also released a press note containing more or less the same demands.
The Maoists have softened their stand by dropping the demand for the release of Cheda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, the hardcore naxalite involved in several incidents of violence, from the swap deal.
The audio tape said that the prisoners should be accompanied by Nihar Patnaik, the lawyer of the CMAS and the CPI (Maoist). Aruna said that the MLA will be handed over to the wife of the abducted MLA, Kaushalya Majhi, who should be accompanied by advocate Patnaik. Aruna has warned that no police or intelligence officials should accompany Patnaik or the wife of the abducted MLA. She said that the filing of bail on behalf of the prisoners should be arranged by the state government. Home secretary U N Behera on Sunday told mediapersons that the state government has announced that it will facilitate the release of 25 persons, 17 prisoners of the CMAS and 8 from the CPI (Maoist).
While 23 persons were announced to be released in the swap deal for Hikaka, two CMAS activists Suka Nachika and Chakra Tandingi were to be set free for Italian national Paolo Bosusco. Behera said that the AOBSZC has released another audio tape saying that they no longer insist on release of Ghasi. A CPI (Maoist) representative has asked the wife of the MLA and advocate of CMAS to go to Balipeta on April 18 along with the people released from jail, he said.
“It is necessary that the bail petitions on behalf of 15 members of the CMAS and 8 Maoists are filed immediately, so that their release can be facilitated,” he said.
The home secretary renewed his appeal for the release of Hikaka immediately while the process of release of 15 members of CMAS and 8 Maoists are on. Behera said that the demand of AOBSZC to release four more activists of the CMAS is still being examined by the state government. Referring to the demand of the Maoists, he said, “the process will be expedited if we go through bail applications.”