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Odisha hostage crisis enters ninth day, talks in progress for release

Bhubaneswar, Fri, 23 Mar 2012 ANI

Bhubaneswar, Mar 23 (ANI): Talks have begun for the safe release of two Italian nationals abducted by the ultras in Odisha and the State Government is making all efforts to get the hostages released.

The Odisha Government on Thursday evening began talks with two of the Maoist nominated mediators, Dandapani Mohanty and BD Sharma, for the safe release of two Italian nationals abducted by the ultras.

Mohanty and Sharma met Home Secretary UN. Behera, Panchayatai Raj Secretary Pradeep Jena, and Scheduled Tribe Development Secretary Santosh Sarangi from the state government side last evening to decide on the future course of action.

Mohanty, one of the interlocutors, after holding the first round of talks with state government officials said: "The Central Government has supplied some helicopters and the helicopter is moving through the Kandhamal district and other parts. When the discussion process is on, these type of activities should not be done."

" I appeal to the Maoist parties, Orissa state committee, also I appeal Andhra Orissa border committee and also I appeal Mangpur division committee, in a capacity given by the Maoist party Orissa state organising committee, I appeal the entire Maoist committees working under Orissa jurisdiction that they should not indulge in any violence and provocative activities. Try to understand the two hostages, they are our country's guests," he added.

When asked whether the Maoists have agreed to release one hostage if the state government accepted two demands of the ultras, Mohanty said that Maoists continue to hold custody of both the tourists who currently are hale and hearty.

"Perhaps this is a propaganda, government has till now not considered any demand and Maoists have also not released any one. The two persons are in Maoist custody and their health condition is very nice . We have discussed with government representatives and our position (stand) has been submitted very humbly before government representatives and they have gone and they will discuss with government and again negotiation will be started," he said.

Another interlocutor representing the Maoists, B.D Sharma, said : "There is total understanding between us and the government on the issue that tribals can not be made treated as idols or something like that for recreation, that is the first basic issue on which we had started.

Sharma, a retired bureaucrat, after the meeting said the 13 points put forward by the Maoists were reviewed.

Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had also appealed for safe and early release of the two hostages.

"The negotiators from the CPI- Maoists side have informed that two hostages are unharmed and in good health. I repeat our plea to the CPI Maoists to release the two Italian hostages immediately," he said.

Bosusco Paolo, 54 and Claudio Colangelo, 61 were taken hostage on March 14 on the excuse that they were believed to have taken objectionable photographs of tribal women in Kandhamal-Ganjam border area of Orissa.

It is reported that the Maoists want the State Government to stop all combing operations and initiate dialogue with them.

The Maoists have demanded the state government to act on the 13-point charter of demands, which includes the release of political prisoners and the ending of Operation Greenhunt. (ANI)

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