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No word on progress on release of Odisha hostages

Bhubaneswar:  The deadline given by Maoist mediators for resumption of talks in the Italian hostage crisis ends this evening but there has been no word from the government so far.

The situation was equally unclear about the abduction of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka with the state government wanting negotiators named, while the Koraput-Srikakulam division of CPI (Maoist) have ruled out appointing mediators.

AP

Italian Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and tourist Claudio Colangelo were kidnapped on March 14 from Kandhamal district while trekking. Colangelo was freed on 25th March as a goodwill gesture by the Maoists.
Hikaka was kidnapped by a rival Maoist group on 24th March from Koraput district when he was returning home.
Top Maoist leader, Sabyasachi Panda of the Odisha State Organising Committee (OSOC) was believed to be behind the kidnapping of the Italians and rival Andhra Odisha Border Zonal Committee (AOBZC) responsible for Hikaka's abduction.

Maoist mediators Dandapani Mohanty and B D Sharma, mediating in the Italian hostage crisis had said the Maoists had demanded that three of their 13 be met for the release of the Italian.

Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had, however, termed them as additional demands, following which Dandapani and Sharma had called off the negotiations on March 28 saying this was "misleading and unfortunate".
Mohanty and Sharma said they were waiting for word from the government for resumption of talks to end the fortnight-long hostage crisis.

Though the chief minister yesterday held a closed door meeting with BJD MLAs from Koraput district, senior police officers and home department officials, there was no word from government on the progress made in the hostage crisis
involving the lawmaker and the Italian.

"The chief minister is likely to give a statement in the assembly. We should not speak anything outside as the assembly is in session," a senior official said.
The chief minister who has been briefing the assembly on developments on the hostage crisis on a daily basis, skipped the drill yesterday.

PTI

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