Nearly a month in Maoist captivity has not dimmed Paolo Bosusco's "special love for Odisha", but the 55-year-old Italian is a tired man heading to his country for rest and is undecided on returning.
"I am happy being a free man now. I am tired and need some rest," he told mediapersons in the state capital on Thursday, free after spending 29 days as a rebel hostage. "I will go to Italy to meet my father and sister who is in hospital."
"I am fine. I was treated well," said Bosusco, who arrived at the state guesthouse around 11am with Maoist-nominated mediator Dandapani Mohanty after being released in south Odisha's Kandhamal district.
After a "great" bath and a "satisfying" meal, he strolled in the balcony and waved at journalists and blew kisses.
Coming down about three hours later, Bosusco said in broken English and Odia, "I have spent about 22 years in Odisha and have got the love, kindness and friendship of the people. I have a special place in my heart for Odisha, which I will cherish, despite this difficult period."
The Italian, who ran a tour and travel agency in Puri, took foreigners, mainly Italians on trekking expeditions to tribal districts such as Kandhamal, Rayagada and Koraput in south Odisha.
Paolo said during his captivity he came to know about the case of tribal girl Arati Majhi, whose release was demanded by his abductors. "I felt bad after hearing about Majhi's plight. I will be happy if she is released."
A few hours earlier, a court in Gajapati district had rejected Majhi's bail plea. Police personnel had allegedly raped Majhi before arresting her.
Maoists maintain Majhi — who has spent more than two years in jail — is not involved in their activities.
Bosusco said he had heard about injustice meted out to poor tribals. "I am not a political person. But I hope no one faces injustice."