In a major development in Odisha hostage crisis case, the Chief Minister of Odisha Naveen Patnaik on Thursday night announced the names of 27 people whose release will facilitate the freeing of an Italian tourist and a Biju Janta Dal legislator being held captive by Maoists.
Maoists on the other hand, have extended the deadline from April 05 to April 07 in order to ask more demands to the government, the media agencies cited as interlocutors quoted to the government.
Releasing the name of 27 persons, Naveen Patnaik said, "The government will take necessary legal steps of facilitating the release of these 27 persons."
"The government has made this gesture on humanitarian grounds. I do hope the Maoists will reciprocate in a similar spirit," added CM in a statement in the state assembly.
Among those to be released is Subhashree (Mili) Panda, the wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda. She is facing trial in a number of cases for alleged Maoist activities and also facing the charge of sedition.
Sabyasachi is the secretary of the state unit organizing committee of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist). His group has kept Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo hostage since March 14.
Patnaik had late Wednesday announced to facilitate the release of 23 people, including eight Maoists, in exchange for legislator Jhina Hikaka, who has been held captive by another group of Maoists since March 24.
Patnaik had also announced the release of four other people to secure the release of the Italian.
While the two mediators backed by the abductors of the Italian refused to comment on the announcement saying it was premature, the group holding the legislator announced the extension of deadline to Saturday for fulfilment of all their demands. Earlier they had set a Thursday deadline.
--With IANS Input--
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