The hope that Italian national Paolo Basusco would soon be released after the Odisha government and the Maoists reportedly reached an agreement has been crushed at least for now with the rebels coming up with more demands.
The Maoists led by Sabyasachi Panda had reportedly agreed to release the Italian hostage after the government agreed to free five of the six people they demanded for release. Home Secretary U N Behera had said Saturday evening that the crisis had been solved.
However, in a disappointing turn around, the rebels said that all the seven people in the demand list should be released in exchange for the release of the Italian.
Panda had earlier threatened to take extreme action on the 54-year-old Italian if the government doesn't fulfill his demands within 96 hours.
Maoists abducted Paolo Bosusco along with another Italian Claudio Colangelo on March 14 while they were trekking in Kandhamal district. Colangelo was released on March 25 as a goodwill gesture.
Maoists Demand More for BJD MLA Release
Odisha government has another pain in the neck with Maoist group headed by Ramakrishnan refusing to release BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka till their demands are met.
The Maoists have sent a letter to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik stating that they would release the MLA on Tuesday if the 28 prisoners they demanded are freed. They also said that they would hand over the MLA to his wife in the presence of the two Naxal-nominated mediators - BD Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty, and with the condition that they do not bring along any police or intelligence officials.
The Maoist group headed by Ramakrishnan, who abducted Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka, issued a fresh ultimatum through an audio tape on Saturday. They have demanded the release of five more rebels by April 10 for the release of the BJD MLA. The earlier deadline was Saturday but it has been extended to April 10.
The Odisha government had earlier agreed to release 23 rebels in exchange for the release of Hikaka but the Maoists rejected the swap proposal. The rebels have demanded the release of Maoists' top cadre Chenda Bhushanam alias Ghasi and four others namely Gananath Patra, Suna Pangi, Singa Nachika and Walsi Wadeka. Ghasi, who has Rs 10 lakh reward on his head, was arrested in 2011.
However, sources said that central paramilitary forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations are not happy with decision of the Odisha government to release 27 prisoners to secure the release of the MLA and an Italian. They feel that the decision of the government to release the rebels embolden them to resort to such activities in the future.