Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday made it clear that the state government was ready to talk with the Maoists to secure the release of the Italian nationals once the latter nominated mediators to hold discussion with the government on their behalf.
In a statement in the Odisha assembly, Patnaik said the state government received a pamphlet from Sunil (Sabyasachi Panda), Secretary, Odisha State Organising Committee of the CPI (Maoist) containing 13 demands and was examining it. “The Maoists have not yet nominated their representatives to discuss the matter on their behalf with the government. When such a communication is received, further steps will be taken,” Patnaik said, once again appealing the Maoists to release the Italian nationals immediately on humane grounds and to see that they were unharmed. List of demands
Targeting foreigners for the first time, Maoists reportedly abducted Italian nationals, Basusco Paolo (55) and Claudi Colangelo (60), from the forests of Kandhamal district, about 300 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, on March 14. They claimed about their abduction on Sunday through an audiotape to the media.
Paolo and Colangelo had reportedly gone to Kandhamal from Puri on March 12 along with two others on a trekking expedition.
The Maoists made 13 demands and set Sunday evening as the deadline for the state government to meet their demands in exchange for the release of the foreigners. The demands are almost the same as raised during the February 2011 abduction of the then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna.
The state government has been holding hectic parleys since then to defuse the crisis. Patnaik reviewed the matter on Sunday at a high level meeting in the state secretariat and spoke to both union home minister P Chidambaram and external affairs minister SM Krishna about the development. He also apprised the situation to the Italian Ambassador to India.