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'Talks for release of Italian making progress'

india Updated: Mar 26, 2012 23:56 IST
Hindustan Times
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Progress marked the negotiation on Monday between the Odisha government and Maoist backed mediators on the release of the second Italian citizen, Basusco Paolo (55), from Maoist captivity.

The Maoists freed one Italian citizen Claudio Colangelo (60), on Sunday. The red brigade had abducted both the Italian citizens on March 14 from Kandhamal district when they had gone on a trekking expedition. Announcing their abduction on March 17, the ultras had made 13 demands for their release.

The negotiators, however, are waiting for response from the Maoists who abducted Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka (37) from Koraput on Saturday.

After the talks till lunch break, home secretary UN Behera, who headed government negotiators, said they had resumed the talks with Maoist backed mediators and hoped to resolve the issue (of Italian hostage) soon.

“Chances of the release of Italian citizen has brightened,” social activist Dandapani Mohanty, one of the Maoist backed mediators, told Hindustan Times.

Mohanty and former IAS officer and tribal rights activist BD Sharma had suspended talks following abduction of Hikaka but resumed talks after release of Colangelo.

Earlier in the day, the Odisha assembly witnessed uproarious scenes on the issue of Hikaka’s abduction with the opposition alleging that the ruling party MLA was abducted due non-fulfillment of promises made by BJD to the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) – a leftist outfit – during the recent zilla parishad elections in Koraput district.

Amidst noisy scenes, chief minister Naveen Patnaik said that there was no words yet from the abductors of Hikaka (37).

‘The chief minister is misleading the country. We demand a CBI probe into circumstances under which Hikaka was abducted,” leader of the opposition Bhupinder Singh said.

Congress members alleged the BJD had reached an agreement into CMAS for the post of Korapur zilla parishad. Because of BJD’s assurance, an Independent candidate backed by CMAS voted for BJD presidential candidate, a vital issue ignored by Patnaik in his statement on hostage crisis, they said.

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