Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka, who was abducted by Maoists on March 24, may have to spend a few days more in Maoist captivity. The rebels on Friday issued fresh audiotapes to the media saying they had yet to put Hikaka on trial in the “people’s court” (praja court), which might take a final decision within the next five days.
Speaking on behalf of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the CPI (Maoist), rebel leader Aruna said in the audiotape: “We are yet to hold the praja court. We have to take our own time when the government is taking so much time to take decisions.”
Aruna said the “people’s court” would be held on any day in the next five days and take a final decision (on Hikaka’s fate), which would be intimated to the media by April 25 (Wednesday). Aruna added the Maoists also had given a call for shut down on Friday and Saturday and decided to observe a protest week beginning Tuesday(April 24) to oppose ‘operation green hunt’ and recent heavy deployment of central forces in neighbouring Chhatisgarh.
On Wednesday, refusing to extend the deadline they set for the Odisha government to release 29 persons, the rebels had threatened to “decide Hikaka’s fate” in a “people’s court” as they had no faith in the government.
The rebels earlier had demanded the release of 30 prisoners including Chenda Bhushanam alias Ghasi, who is alleged to be involved in the killings of 55 policemen in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. But they later struck Ghasi off their list and asked the release of the rest, who,they said, were mostly members of the leftist tribal outfit Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha or just apolitical people.
On Thursday, Odisha government had appealed to the rebels to release Hikaka “immediately, unhurt and in good health” as the government had taken a decision to facilitate the release of 25 persons as demanded by them including withdrawal of prosecution against 13 of them.