Bhubaneswar, April 21 (IANS) Maoist rebels holding Odisha legislator Jhina Hikaka hostage for more than three weeks Saturday demanded the release of all members of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) in exchange for his release.
The rebels had earlier sought the release of 29 prisoners, mostly members of the CMAS, which works mainly in the southern parts of the state, including Malkangiri and Koraput districts, on tribal-related issues.
The state government agreed to release 25 of them but the guerrillas rejected the offer and announced to decide the fate of Hikaka in a peoples' court April 25.
Expressing anger over the way the state had responded to their demand, rebel leader Daya, in a statement, said that the government had done nothing that could help arrive at a solution.
"If the state government is interested in freeing the MLA (member of the legislative assembly), they must first release all of them (members of CMAS)," he said in the statement written in Telugu and received by some reporters here.
"We oppose the government's policy and approach. We also condemn the delay caused by the government in the matter of releasing the prisoners," he said.
He also demanded a complete halt on the operations against the Maoists.
Hikaka, who represents Laxmipur constituency, was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee of the Communist Party of India-Maoist in his home district of Koraput March 24.
A CMAS leader said around 150 members of the organisation were languishing in jails of both the districts since past several months and facing trial.
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