Hopes of abducted Italian Basusco Paolo’s early release thinned on Monday as Maoists issued an audiotape that said the Odisha government would be reponsible if anything “happened” to him.
“The state government will be blamed if anything happens to the hostage,” Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda warned in the audiotape released to the media.
Panda also said though the government was saying it was examining the three demands given by the Maoist-backed mediators, it had not made it clear which of those it had acceded to.
He asked the government to release those jailed on “fabricated” charges and re-arrested after being released by the courts. He wanted a written agreement for the release of Paolo, 55.
The Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist), headed by Panda, had abducted Paolo and compatriot Claudi Colangelo (60) on March 14 when they were trekking in Kandhamal district, about 300 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.
The government started talks with two mediators — former IAS officer and tribal rights activist BD Sharma and social activist Dandapani Mohanty – for their release on March 22.
On March 25, Panda had released Colangelo as a “goodwill gesture”.
But since then the negotiations have lost direction. On Saturday, the mediators backed out of the talks after sending their views on three of the 13 demands of the Maoists, while appealing the rebels to release Paolo.
The three demands includes releasing more than 30 persons.
On another front, there has been no movement on abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka as the Maoists who captured him have refused to nominate negotiators for talks. They have stuck to their stand that there should be a media announcement of the government’s acceptance of their demands.
Hikaka was abducted on March 24 in Koraput district.
The offer by Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik to the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, a leftist tribal outfit, on Friday for its intervention in securing Hikaka’s release has gone unheeded.