33 days on, Maoists free Odisha legislator Hikaka (Fourth lead)April 26th, 2012 - 5:57 pm ICT by IANS
Balipeta (Odisha), April 26 (IANS) Thirty-three days after he was kidnapped by Maoists, Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka was Thursday freed from captivity and walked into a crowd of people amid tears and jostling camera crews.
Emotions ran high as the 37-year-old, wearing a green kurta, hugged his wife Kaushalya and, seconds later, both broke down. He said he was in good condition and the rebels had treated him well.
Reporters and photographers surrounded Hikaka, who appeared relieved and healthy, as he came with a group of villagers to a mango garden at Koraput district’s Balipeta, over 500 km from Bhubaneswar, at about 10.30 a.m.
Replying to a question from a reporter at the site on whether he had given an undertaking to the rebels that he would resign from the assembly and from the BJD, Hikaka said, “You will come to know about it.” Hikaka also said he was at this moment mentally upset.
“I am very glad they have released Hikaka. Two weeks ago I met his old mother. The family was in great distress. His mother was ill. The entire state is now relieved,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik.
Party colleague and MP Baijayant Panda told reporters, “We’re glad that he is safe and unharmed.”
The leftwing extremists, who kidnapped Hikaka from Laxmipur in Koraput March 24, had Wednesday announced that a people’s court had decided to release him after he apologised to the rebels and local villagers.
A Maoist leader calling herself ‘Aruna’, in an audio message aired by a local television channel here, had said the decision to release him was taken after he promised to resign from the assembly and the primary membership of the ruling BJD.
The rebels had been demanding the release of 29 prisoners, mostly members of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), which works mainly in the southern parts of the state, including Malkangiri and Koraput districts, on tribal-related issues.
The state government had agreed to release 25 of them but the guerrillas rejected the offer. The government’s worries had increased after a rebel leader a few days ago said they wanted the authorities to release all members of the CMAS.
The leftwing extremists did not specify how many members of their outfit have been jailed in the state. The government also was reluctant to disclose the figure.
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Tags: audio message, bhubaneswar, camera crews, captivity, chasi, chief minister, cmas, colleague, crowd of people, janata, kurta, leftwing extremists, legislator, maoist, maoists, old mother, panda, rebels, state government, television channel