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Hostage crisis: Orissa on right track in talking to Maoists, says Chidambaram

New Delhi, Sat, 31 Mar 2012 ANI

New Delhi, Mar 31 (ANI): Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Saturday said the Orissa government is on the right track in talking to the Maoists to secure the safe release of an abducted Italian tourist and Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka.

Addressing media after presenting his ministry's monthly report for March 2012, Chidambaram said: "There are two people in captivity, so the state government is right in appointing interlocutors to talk to the CPI (Maoists) or any other group that may have abducted the persons."

Chidambaram further informed that he and Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik have spoken to each other several times and Home Ministry officials are in regular touch with the Orissa government officials to ease the situation.

On being asked whether it was not contrary to the government's stand that it would talk to the extremists once they abjure violence by engaging with the Maoists now, Chidambaram said: "It is not that we don't speak until they abjure violence."

"The only condition is that while we talk, they should not indulge in violence. They have rejected that offer. I think, the onus is upon them to say that while we welcome the talks, while we are talking, there should not be any violence. Is that an unreasonable stipulation? While the Government of India or state government engages the CPI (Maoists) in talks, surely there should be no violence," he said.

BJD MLA Hikaka was kidnapped near Toyaput after a large group of armed men stopped him as he was being driven through a hilly area some 500 kilometres away from Bhubaneswar on March 24.

Hikaka's kidnappers have warned that the life of the tribal MLA could be in danger if the government attempts to search or secure his release through a security operation.

The statement in Telugu listed demands, including a halt to combing operations and release of several rebels and tribals lodged in jails in Koraput, Malkangiri and Berhampur. Refusing to hold talks through mediators on their demands for release of Hikaka, it asked the state government to make known its stand through media.

The communication bearing the name of the abducted legislator and demands of the ultras was received late on Monday night. (ANI)


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