Odisha hostages: Maoists yet to respond to swap offer

April 6th, 2012 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Bhubaneswar, April 6 (IANS) Two mediators Friday sought clarification from the Odisha government on its swap offer to secure the release of an Italian and a state legislator from Maoist captivity and also said the rebels had not responded to it yet.

The interlocutors sought the clarifications a day after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik named 27 people, including a Maoist leader’s wife, who would be swapped in exchange for the freedom of the Italian and the legislator.

Dandapani Mohanty, one of the Maoist-backed mediators, said it was not clear how the government was going to facilitate the release. “We have asked them (officials representing the government).

“They said they will reply,” Mohanty told reporters after holding talks with three senior officials representing the government at the state guest house here.

Mohanty also said the mediators don’t have any information from the Maoists on whether they would release the Italian hostage on the basis of the chief minister’s announcement.

“At this moment, we don’t have any suggestions or objections. The Maoists have to respond,” he said.

The Maoists have held hostage Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo and Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka since March 14 and March 24, respectively.

While the Italian was abducted by the Odisha unit of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Kandhamal district, the legislator was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee from Koraput district.

Both the groups have been asking the government to fulfil 13 demands, including the release of several prisoners, who they claimed are languishing in state jails on false charges.

Mohanty and tribal expert B.D. Sharma have been holding talks with the government for the past several days to secure the release of the Italian after the abductors announced their names.

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