Odisha Maoists yet to respond to mediators' appeal
Bhubaneswar, April 2 (IANS) Maoists are yet to respond to the appeal made by their mediators two days ago to release an Italian held hostage by them in Odisha since March 14, an official said Monday.
"There has been no response from the Maoists so far," a state home department official told IANS on condition of anonymity.
The government also did not have any further update on the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka, who was held hostage by another group of leftwing extremists in a hilly area of Koraput district since March 24, he said.
Dandapani Mohanty and B.D. Sharma, the Maoist-backed mediators, ended their talks with the government Saturday and appealed to the rebels to release the Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo, 54 on humanitarian grounds.
The mediators also urged the government to begin the process of withdrawal of cases against some people, which the rebels claimed were made on false charges.
Paolo was abducted along with another Italian, Claudio Colangelo, 61, from a forested area on the border of Ganjam and Kandhamal districts. The rebels March 25 had released Colangelo in a 'goodwill gesture'.
The rebels were insisting the government fulfil 13 demands for the release of Paolo, including a ban on the visit of tourists to tribal areas, a halt to anti-Maoist operations and the release of several prisoners. It is not clear if the government has agreed to fulfil any of the demands.
The group which has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the legislator has made more or less the same demands. They have refused to appoint any negotiator on their behalf.
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