Chances of Italian citizen Basusco Paolo’s early release from Maoist captivity have seemed imminent.
Appreciating the Odisha government’s efforts for taking a serious view of complex issues that were plaguing the tribal areas, the two Maoist backed mediators on Saturday appealed the Maoists for his release on “basic human considerations”.
The mediators – former IAS officer and tribal rights activist BD Sharma and social activist Dandapani Mohanty – however had a piece of advice for the state government. “We will be happy if the most important chapter concerning justice begins with withdrawal of cases against those who are struggling for their legitimate rights as citizens.”
The Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI (Maoist), headed by Sabyasachi Panda, had abducted Paolo (55) and compatriot Claudi Colangelo (60) on March 14 while they had gone for a trekking expedition to Kandhamal district, about 300 km southwest of Bhubaneswar.
On March 25, Panda had released Colangelo as a “goodwill gesture”.
There was however no news about Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka (37) who was abducted by the rebels’ Andhra Odisha Border State Zonal Committee, headed by Ramkrishna in Koraput on March 24.
The Maoists abducting Hikaka have refused to nominate negotiators for talks and stuck to their stand of seeing media announcement of government’s acceptance to their demands. On Friday, however, Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik sought the intervention of leftist tribal outfit Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha as all the demands “seem to relate to CMAS”.