Odisha steps up efforts to secure release of MLA
Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik today visited Koraput district, from where BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka was abducted by Maoists on March 24, and held a high level meeting with senior administrative and police officials to discuss the crisis relating to Hikaka’s abduction. Priya Ranjan Sahu reports.india Updated: Apr 13, 2012 22:32 IST
The Italian hostage crisis over, Odisha government stepped up its efforts to secure the release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka, still in Maoist captivity.
Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Friday visited Koraput district, from where BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka (37) was abducted by Maoists on March 24. Patnaik held a high level meeting with senior administrative and police officials to discuss the crisis relating to Hikaka’s abduction.
“The discussion focused on steps to secure Hikaka’s release and to expedite development process in the area,” scheduled caste and scheduled tribes development minister Lalbihari Himirika, who accompanied the chief minister.
Later, Patnaik met Hikaka’s family members including his mother, wife and children in Laxmipur and assured them the government was doing its best to secure his release.
Sources said Patnaik’s visit was scheduled to dispel the impression by people, especially Hikaka’s family members, that the state government had not shown sincerity to secure the young MLA’s release.
This visit is believed to have been planned to dispel the perception that the state government is not paying enough attention to the MLA hostage issue.
The government has agreed to facilitate release of 22 Maoists and activists of leftist tribal organisation Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha for Hikaka’s release. However, The Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of CPI (Maoist), which is behind his abduction, wants release of a total of 30 persons.
What has made the matters difficult is the refusal of the AOBSZC to engage mediators for talks. The rebel group has threatened to decide Hikaka’s fate in people’s court, if the government delayed the process to release the 30 Maoists and others as demanded by them.
As such, the government had opened back channels to communicate with the Maoists, but that has so far not yielded results. A district level leader said the chief minister’s visit was also meant to explore different means to seek Hikaka’s release as early as possible.
“Some of the demands of the Maoists are genuine, but at the same time they are making unreasonable demands like release of Maoists like Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, involved in murder of 55 policemen. Still, we are trying our best to secure Hikaka’s release,” he said on anoymity.
In Bhubaneswar, meanwhile, Odisha home secretary said that the additional demands of the Maoists for release of five ultras had yet to be decided by the state government.