Even as the two Italian nationals, Basusco Paolo (55) and Claudio Colangelo (60) remained in Maoist captivity for the ninth day, the Odisha assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution appealing the red brigade to release the foreigners.
Maoists abducted Paolo and Colangelo from the forests of Kandhamal, about 300 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, when they had gone on a trekking expedition. They have asked the state government to fulfill 13 demands for the foreigners’ release.
One of the Maoist suggested mediators, tribal rights activist BD Sharma, reached Bhubaneswar on Thursday to join another mediator Dandapani Mohanty, who was a mediator during the abduction of the then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna in February last year.
The state government has directed three IAS officers to hold negotiations on its behalf and asked the Maoists, to suggest another name as mediators.
The Maoists have yet to suggest the name of the third mediator. They are facing difficulties in finding mediators as earlier two mediators who had been proposed them – Biswapriya Kanungo and Prafulla Samantra – backed out and chief minister Naveen Patnaik rejected another, Narayan Sanyal, on the ground that he was convicted for criminal activities.
The Maoists on Wednesday made a conditional offer to release of one the two Italians in their custody in exchange of release of five persons including Subhashree Das, wife of top Maoist Sabyasachi Panda, and action against police officials allegedly involved in fake encounters and rapes.