New Delhi, Mar.24 (ANI): Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Balbir Punj condemned the abduction of an Orissa MLA by Maoists, and called on the federal government to wage a full-fledged war against the rebels.
A large group of armed men stopped legislator Jinha Hikaka, 37, while he was being driven through a hilly area 500 km from the provincial capital of Bhubaneswar.
Speaking to reporters here on Saturday, Punj said the government is too confused about the Maoist issue, which poses the biggest threat to the integrity of the country.
"The chart of incident is a very sad incident and it is also reflection on the working of both, the state government headed by Naveen Patnaik, who has been trying to handle the situation with cricket gloves and also the central government which has been very confused on the Naxalite (Maoists) issue right from the beginning. Infact, those who tried to describe it as a socio-economic problem, they want to hide the real threat, which this movement poses to the integrity of the country and to the democratic fabric of the country. And it is really very sad and both the central government and Orissa government, they should rage a full-fledged war against naxalites in the state of Orissa," said Punj.
Italian tourists, Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo were abducted on March 17 by the guerrillas after they were spotted taking photographs of women from an indigenous tribe who were bathing in a river in Orissa.
Maoist guerrillas responsible for kidnapping two Italians in a remote region of Orissa repeated their demand for troops to halt counter-insurgency operations against them as authorities said they wanted to negotiate the men's release.
The Maoists have been waging a decades-long conflict against the central authorities. They say they are fighting for the rights of the poor and landless, and stage ambushes in eastern and central parts of India where they have a strong presence.
They are not known to have kidnapped foreigners before, but tensions over what the Maoists view as voyeuristic tourism in the area appear to have boiled over. Only a few weeks ago, a scandal erupted over what the guerrillas regard as "human safaris" and the practice of taking tourists to see naked tribes people on India's Andaman Islands and in Orissa.
There have been far fewer clashes with Maoists in recent years due to increased activity by security forces, but the government still considers the rebels to be India's main threat to domestic security.
The Italian Foreign Ministry said it was in contact with Indian police through its embassy.
The Maoists abducted two officials last year, but released them a week later after the government agreed to meet their demands.
Meanwhile, reacting on the Anna Hazare undertaking a one-day fast on Sunday (March 25), Punj said this would definitely raise awareness among public.
"Because of the massive corruption under the UPA-2 particularly and the way the government has handled it, people seem to be losing faith in this system. And when social reformers like Anan Hazare or Baba Ramdev, they take cudgels on this issue, naturally they enjoy public support and if Anna Hazare ji undertakes a fast, it will definitely help to raise public awareness on this issue," said Punj.
Noted social activist and veteran anti-graft crusader Anna Hazare is undertaking a one-day fast in New Delhi, demanding the inclusion of a strong whistleblower law as part of the Lokpal.
The Lok Pal Bill, which was passed by the Lok Sabha (lower house of Indian parliament), was taken up for a discussion and vote in the Rajya Sabha (upper house) on December 29 last year, which was also the last day of the winter session.
Multi-billion dollar corruption scandals have added to middle class frustration with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's government's record on corruption.
Recently the federal audit body, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) observed in its report that the country lost up to $210 billion in revenue by selling coal deposits for a song.
However, the CAG had later said the parts of report, which surfaced in national daily, were misleading. (ANI)
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