Odisha hostage crisis: Talks remain inconclusive
Negotiations which started on Thursday between the government and Maoist-appointed interlocutors for the release of the two abducted Italians remained inconclusive even as the rebels allegedly killed a policeman in Odisha.india Updated: Mar 23, 2012 02:12 IST
The talks between the Odisha government and Maoist-nominated mediators for the release of two Italian nationals abducted by the Maoists, which began on Thursday, ended inconclusively.
On the other hand, suspected Maoists allegedly killed a policeman in Malkangiri district threatening to jeopardise the negotiation process.
"We have just begun," home secretary UN Behera told reporters after the day's meeting with the negotiators.
"The state government has not yet considered any of the demands and the Maoists have not released any hostages, who are in good health," one of the mediators Dandapani Mohanty, who was also a mediator during the abduction of the then Malkangiri collector R Vineel Krishna in February last year.
Mohanty and the other mediator BD Sharma, however, said they discussed all the 13 demands of the Maoists with the three government appointed representatives. They would take it up with the state government and resume discussion with them on Friday, the mediators said.
Mediators said they requested the government representatives to bring any jailed Maoist leader to Jharpada jail in Bhubaneswar for the negotiation process to expedite the release of the Italian nationals.
Behera told the Hindustan Times: "We are enquiring about what has happened (in Malkangiri)."
Mohanty condemned the incident and appealed Maoists not to indulge in violence when talks were going on for the Italian nationals' release.
He however objected to the central government supplied unmanned helicopters taking sorties over Kandhamal district.
Maoists abducted Basusco Paolo (55) and Claudio Colangelo (60) from the forests of Kandhamal, about 300 km southwest of Bhubaneswar, on March 14 when they had gone on a trekking expedition. They have asked the state government to fulfill 13 demands for the foreigners' release.
Though the Maoists had initially named three mediators, including Mohanty, to talk on their behalf on Monday, the negotiation process was derailed after one of them - Human rights activist and lawyer Biswapriya Kanungo - opted out and Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik rejected another, jailed CPI(Maoist) politburo member Narayan Sanyal, on the ground that he was convicted for several crimes.
The Maoists again proposed two names, Sharma and social activist Prafulla Samantra, but the latter too opted out of the process. While accepting Sharma as a mediator, Patnaik again urged the Maoists to propose the third mediator's name.
Though Maoists are yet to propose the third mediator's name, on Wednesday they 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.