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Odisha hostage crisis: CM holds meeting with top officials

Orissa,Terrorism, Sun, 25 Mar 2012 IANS

Bhubaneswar, March 25 (IANS) Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Sunday held a meeting of top state police and administrative officials here as uncertainty continued over the fate of the two Italians and a legislator taken hostage by Maoists in Odisha.


The rebels have so far not responded to the chief minister's request to name new persons to re-start the negotiations after their two mediators quit the talks Saturday.


"Maoists have not responded to the chief minister's proposal. We are waiting for them to announce new mediators," a senior state home official told IANS.


The guerillas abducted Italians Bosusco Paolo, 54, and Claudio Colangelo, 61 from a forested area on the border of state's Ganjam and Kandhamal district March 14.


On Saturday, the rebels kidnapped ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator and a popular tribal leader Jhina Hikaka, 37, in Koraput district.


The kidnapping of Hikaka took place even as the government was holding dialogue with the rebels through their mediators for the release of the Italians.


Social activist Dandapani Mohanty and tribal expert B.D. Sharma, who were named by the rebels to mediate, withdrew from negotiation after holding dialogue with the three officials represented by the government for three days. They blamed both the government and the Maoists for the disruption in talks.


The two told reporters that after the abduction of the Italian tourists, the state committee of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist declared a ceasefire.


The government also promised that there would be no coercive action by the security forces as long as there is no violence from the Maoists.


"But the fact is that while we are discussing in Bhubaneswar, unfortunate incidents of disrupting peace continued in many parts of the state," they said. "We feel that this is a mockery of peaceful talks and negotiations."


The rebels have set 13 demands for the release of hostages including a ban on the visit of tourists to the tribal areas, halt to anti-Maoist operations, and release of several prisoners.


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