“The demands made by the abductors of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka have come out in the media. As the demands seem to relate to CMAS, the state is open for dialogue with the members of the Sangh,” Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik said in a statement in the state assembly.
“Therefore, we invite the Sangh to nominate its representatives for talks,” Patnaik said, a day after Maoists turned down a request by him to join negotiations and name mediators for freeing 37-year-old Hikaka. The CMAS has made it clear earlier that it had no role in the abduction of Hikaka.
On Italian Paolo Bosusco being held by the Maoists, the chief minister said that the state government had seen the recent demands of the two negotiators nominated by ultras.
“Since these demands involve further examination, a little more time is required by the state government,” Patnaik said making a fresh appeal to the Maoists to release both Hikaka and Bosusco unharmed.
The chief minister's statement coincided with the deadline given by Maoist mediators B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty for resumption of talks for the release of Bosusco.
A senior official hoped talks would resume soon and that Maoist mediators would wait a little more time.
Mohanty and Sharma had wanted three of 13 demands of the Maoists be met for the release of the Italian.
Italian Puri-based tour operator Bosusco and tourist Claudio Colangelo were kidnapped on March 14 from Kandhamal district while trekking. Colangelo was freed on March 25 as a goodwill gesture by the Maoists.
Hikaka was kidnapped on March 24 from Koraput district when he was returning home at Laxmipur from Koraput after a political meeting.
The hostage crisis also figured in the assembly with Opposition Congress and BJP lashing out at the BJD government's ‘silence' on the abductions.
Opposition MLAs alleged that the chief minister was indifferent towards kidnapping of the tribal MLA and the Italian.
Raising the issue of the abduction of Hikaka during zero hour members cutting across party lines expressed concern and demanded steps for his release.
Alleging that tribals were treated as ‘sacrificial lambs' by the BJD government, senior Congress member and former minister Dambaru Ullaka, said the state government had not taken any step for the release of the MLA.
Noting that the same government was prompt in acting for the release then Malkangiri District Collector R Vineel Krishna from Maoists last year, Congress MLA Bhujabal Majhi alleged that the chief minister had left the fate of Hikaka and Basusco in the hands of god.
“The state government's way of handling the crisis is not yielding result. The chief minister is not taking either the opposition into confidence or convening an all party meeting to solve the issue,” Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan said.
BJP legislature party leader K V Singhdeo too slammed the government for allegedly keeping the assembly in dark over hostage crisis.