Maoists struck in Odisha again on Saturday, kidnapping BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka from Koraput district and prompting two negotiators mediating in an earlier abduction of two Italian nationals to pull out.
About 100 armed Maoists waylaid and abducted Hikaka, the 37-year-old Laxmipur MLA, from the Koraput-Laxmipur road past midnight.
Police said the Maoists allowed Hikaka’s driver and personal security officer to go and left behind leaflets that said all their 13 demands should be fulfilled.
The kidnapping blocked efforts to free Italians Bosusco Paolo, 54, and Claudio Colangelo, 61, who were taken hostage on March 17 in Kandhamal.
Maoist-backed mediators BD Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty suspended talks with the government negotiators, calling it a “mockery”.
But chief minister Naveen Patnaik said the talks would continue. “The Maoist negotiators have withdrawn after the abduction of the Laxmipur MLA and other violent acts by the Maoists,” he said.
“We expect the Maoists to nominate new mediators for the release of the two Italians as well as for Hikaka,” Patnaik said.
In a fresh audio tape, Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, who abducted the Italians, alleged the Odisha government was
violating the dialogue by continuing with security operations.
Sources said the union home ministry views the two abductions as a power struggle between the Maoists. Hikaka was kidnapped by the Andhra Odisha border special zonal committee headed by Ramakrishnan to snub Panda.
March 12: Two Italian nationals, Basusco Paolo (55) and Claudio Colangelo (60), go for a trekking expedition to Daringbadi in Kandhamal district from Puri along with two local youth.
March 14: Maoists abduct them at gun point from a forest about few kilometres from Daringbadi.
March 17: Puri youth are freed.
March 18: Maoists announce Italian nationals’ abduction through media and make 13 demands almost similar to demands conceded by the state during the then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna’s abduction.
March 19: Maoists announce three mediators for talks. The mediators are social activist Dandapani Mohanty, who mediated during Krisha’s hostage crisis, Bhubaneswar based lawyer Biswapriya Kanungo and CPI (Maoist) politburo member Narayan Sanyal now in jail in Girdih in Jharkhand.
March 20: Kanungo shows reluctance to be a mediator. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik accepts Mohanty but rejects Sanyal as a mediator on the ground that he was convicted for several crimes. Maoists name two more mediators – social activist Prafulla Samantra and former IAS officer and tribal rights activist BD Sharma. Chief minister announces three IAS officers – home secretary UN Behera, panchayatiraj secretary PK Jena and SC-ST development Secretary SK Sarangi to represent government in talks.
March 21: Samantra also backs out. Patnaik says Sharma will be mediator and asks Maoists to provide another name as an alternative to Samantra.
March 22: Talks between government negotiators and two Maoist backed mediators start. Maoists shoot dead a policeman in Malkangiri.
March 23: All negotiators say talks progressing. Mediators say issue will be resolved by Saturday evening.
March 24: Maoists abduct Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka. Maoist backed mediators suggest suspension of talks.NSG Commandos on standby | MLA abducted | Maoists on rampage