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Odisha hostage crisis: Talks suspended over legislator's abduction

Orissa,Terrorism, Sat, 24 Mar 2012 IANS

Bhubaneswar, March 24 (IANS) Talks to secure release of two Italians kidnapped by Maoists in Odisha were suspended Saturday after the kidnapping of a legislator of the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and the killing of a police officer by the rebels in the state.


After holding several hours of discussion for the third consecutive day Saturday, both the government-appointed mediators and the Maoists-interlocutors announced the suspension of dialogue but said it was temporary.


However, they did not specify when talks will resume.


Social activist Dandapani Mohanty and tribal expert B.D. Sharma, who were named by the rebels to mediate, blamed both the government and the Maoists for the disruption.


The two told reporters that after the abduction of the Italian tourists by Maoists, the state committee of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist declared a ceasefire and the government assured that there will be no coercive action by the security forces as long as there is no violence from the Maoists.


"But the fact remains that while we are discussing in Bhubaneswar, unfortunate incidents of disrupting peace continued in many parts of the state. We feel that this is a mockery of peaceful talks and negotiations," they said.


"We, therefore, suggest that the negotiation be kept under suspension," they added.


State Home Secretary U.N. Behera, who is one of the negotiators from the government's side, said the decision to suspend the negotiations was taken on the request of the Maoist-named mediators.


Maoists kidnapped BJD lawmaker Jhina Hikaka, 37, early Saturday even as the government was holding dialogue with the rebels through their mediators for the release of two Italians abducted 10 days ago.


The Italians Bosusco Paolo, 54, and Claudio Colangelo, 61 were abducted from the border of Ganjam and communally sensitive Kandhamal district March 14.


The rebels have set 13 demands for their release including a ban on the visit of tourists to the tribal areas, halt of anti-Maoist operations, and release of several prisoners.


The rebels had earlier shot dead a police sub-inspector in Malkangiri, a Maoist stronghold, late Thursday even as the talks were on.


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