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Orissa MLA kidnapping: Chief Minister Patnaik sends ministers to negotiate with Maoists for release

Bhubaneswar, Sat, 24 Mar 2012 ANI

Bhubaneswar, Mar.24 (ANI): Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has decided to send two ministers of his government to the state's Korapur District to negotiate with the Maoists and seek the release of abducted Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka.

Patnaik also revealed that his government will continue negotiations the rebels for the release of two Italian hostages abducted eleven days ago.

Patnaik's statement on the next steps being taken on the two kidnapping episodes came after he had chaired a high level security meeting of top police and state government officials. Patnaik also said that he had informed Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on the issue.

Proceedings in the state assembly were disrupted and adjourned on Friday and Saturday over both cases of abduction by the Maoists.

BJD MP Jay Panda has termed the incidents as unfortunate and assured that the state government will take all action to secure the release of the people kidnapped.

He said: "The state government is taking it very seriously and all actions will be taken to solve these issues. From our side, we are ready to negotiate."

The abduction of Hikaka comes two days after Chidambaram issued a general alert to the Orissa Government that the Maoists might resort to a tactical counter offensive and target politicians.

Koraput Police have confirmed that Hikaka's convoy was attacked by armed men while on his way home. His personal security officer and driver, however, were released by the ultras.

"There is no confirmation on who were the people who have taken away the MLA and what do they want. We only know that some people took him away from near Koraput. We do not know who the people were and what their demands are," said Koraput Superintendent of Police Avinash Kumar.

However, the MLA's driver has said that the abductors identified themselves as Maoists.

In posters put up by the Maoists after the MLA was abducted, they have demanded an end to 'Operation Green Hunt'.

Meanwhile, the Maoists have reportedly killed two policemen in a blast in Koraput district and shot dead a sub inspector in Malkangiri district, despite Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda announcing a ceasefire.

Chief Minister Patnaik has reacted by sending a tough message to the Maoists to desist from violence and come forward for talks.

The Orissa Government and the rebels have so far had two rounds of negotiations to secure the release of the Italian nationals, but the talks have failed. A third round of talk is likely to be held on Saturday afternoon. (ANI)

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