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Hostage crisis: Maoist-backed mediators serve ultimatum

Orissa,Terrorism, Thu, 29 Mar 2012 IANS

Bhubaneswar, March 29 (IANS) Maoist-backed mediators Thursday threatened to withdraw from negotiations for the release of an Italian if the Odisha government did not concede three demands of the Maoists by Friday evening.


Italian national Bosusco Paolo, 54, is in captivity of the rebels since March 14 when he was abducted along with another Italian, Claudio Colangelo, 61, from a forested area on the border of state's Ganjam and Kandhamal district.


The rebels last Sunday released Colangelo in a 'good will gesture'. Three officials of the state government have been holdings talks with Maoist-backed mediators, Dandapani Mohanty and B.D. Sharma, to secure the release of Paolo.


Dandapani Mohanty said the three demands are - release of about 20-25 people already declared innocent by courts but later booked on several false charges, implementation of court order to prosecute policemen responsible for custodial deaths and release tribals booked on false charges.


"If the government does not concede to the three demands by Friday evening, we will withdraw from the negotiation. In that case the government will be held responsible for the consequences," he told reporters.


State Chief Secretary B.K. Patnaik said the government was examining the conditions placed by the Maoist-backed mediators.


Maoists have been asking the government to fulfill 13 demands for the release of the second Italian, including a ban on the visit of tourists to the tribal areas, halt to anti-Maoist operations and release of several prisoners.


In the meanwhile, the state government has not made any progress on getting the release of ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka who has been held hostage by another group of leftwing extremists in a hilly area of Koraput district since March 24.


The group which has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the legislator has made almost more or less the same 13 demands. They have refused to appoint any negotiator on their behalf.


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