The Maoists who have kept MLA Jhina Hikaka hostage on Wednesday threatened to decide his fate in a “people’s court” even as the Odisha government said it would take steps to withdraw prosecution against 13 rebels.
The red brigade refused to extend the April 18 deadline they set for the Odisha government to release 29 Maoists in exchange for freeing Hikaka.
Their earlier deadlines were April 5 and 10.
“We have no faith in the government. We will decide Hikaka’s fate in a people’s court.”
Odisha home secretary UN Behera told reporters: “We have yet to receive the Maoists’ communication. But the proactive gesture of the government relating to the withdrawal of cases will hopefully satisfy them.”
Behera said seven detainees of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), a leftist outfit, had applied for bail. Of the seven, two have got bail.
“It is hoped that the bail petitions in respect of the remaining persons shall be filed very soon,” he said.
Observers said the government’s decision to withdraw prosecution might be a key to Hikaka’s release though the process could take long.
The government had earlier agreed to facilitate the release of 25 persons including 17 members of the CMAS (that includes two from the list for Italian Paolo Bosusco’s release as well) and asked the rebels to apply for bail in courts.
The rebels earlier had demanded the release of 30 prisoners including Chenda Bhushanam alias Ghasi, who is alleged to be involved in the killing of 55 policemen in Odisha and Andhra Pradesh. But later they struck Ghasi off their list.