Bhubaneswar, Apr.7 (ANI): Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday strongly refuted the claims of Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda made by him in an audio tape, arguing that the Maoists had asked for the release of six Naxals, out of which the government was facilitating the release of five.
Patnaik pressed for the immediate release of Italian hostage Paolo Basusco in return for the release of the Naxals.
Earlier on Friday, in a fresh audio tape, Panda had set a new four-day deadline for the Orissa Government to release the seven Naxals that he had named initially.
"We have given 96 hours' ultimatum to the government to release all seven Naxals. We will kill the Italian tourist if our demands are not met," Panda could be heard saying in the tape.
In an audio message, Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda described the talks with the government as a "farce", and said the Italian will be not be released.
Panda reiterated that he would kill Paolo if the state government fails to meet the fresh deadline.
The threat from Panda comes even as Patnaik had earlier agreed to fulfill the demands of the Maoists and decided to release 27 prisoners in exchange for the safe release of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka and Bosusco.
Patnaik had said, "15 Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) members and eight Maoists from Koraput would be released from jail and four Maoists as demanded by Sabyasachi Panda will also be released."
Of the 27 people to be released, 23 are from the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee, which abducted the MLA, and only four from the Sabyasachi Panda-led group that kidnapped the Italian. (ANI)
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