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Patnaik approaches Maoist-backed tribal group to resolve Orissa MLA hostage crisis

Bhubaneswar , Sat, 31 Mar 2012 ANI

Bhubaneswar, Mar 31 (ANI): Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has invited the Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) tribal group to act as a mediator in the abduction case of Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka.

"These demands seem to relate to the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) tribal group, our state government is open to dialogue with the members of this Sangha. Therefore, we invite the Sangha to nominate their representative for talks," Patnaik told media here.

Patnaik urged Maoists to release the legislator and another Italian national who are still in rebel captivity.

"I appeal to the abductors of the young tribal MLA and also to the abductors of the Italian national to release these two persons immediately unharmed and in good health," said Patnaik.

Meanwhile, Maoist negotiator, Dandapani Mohanty said it is for the group to decide to respond to Patnaik's request or not.

"The Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) is fighting for their rights and have said that they are not behind the abduction. However, our chief minister earlier said that he is open for communication with the appointed negotiators. It is for their committee members to decide whether they want to talk to the chief minister or not. I do not want to comment any further on this issue," said Mohanty.

Hikaka was kidnapped near Toyaput after a large group of armed men stopped him as he was being driven through a hilly area some 500 kilometres away from Bhubaneswar on March 24.

Hikaka's kidnappers have warned that the life of the tribal MLA could be in danger if the government attempts to search or secure his release through a security operation.

The statement in Telugu listed demands, including a halt to combing operations and release of several rebels and tribals lodged in jails in Koraput, Malkangiri and Berhampur. Refusing to hold talks through mediators on their demands for release of Hikaka, it asked the state government to make known its stand through media.

The communication bearing the name of the abducted legislator and demands of the ultras was received late on Monday night. (ANI)

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