The Odisha government and Maoist-backed mediators on Monday inched closer to freeing Italian Basusco Paolo, even as the rebels ended their silence on ruling Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka’s abduction and claimed responsibility.
"We hope to resolve the Italian hostage crisis soon," Maoist-backed mediators — social worker Dandapani Mohanty and former IAS officer BD Sharma — said after talks with government negotiators.
They urged the government to reciprocate the gesture of Maoists who had freed Paolo’s countryman Claudio Colangelo on Sunday.
Amid the signs of a breakthrough, the Andhra Odisha Border Zonal Committee of the Maoists said it had abducted Hikaka.
The rebels released letters, including one from Hikaka addressed to CM Naveen Patnaik, demanding the government stop anti-Maoist operations and fulfil other demands.