Bhubaneshwar: The Maoists on Wednesday offered to release one of the two Italians in their custody. In return they want the Odisha government to meet some of their 13 demands.
Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda said, "The government is taking the position as we hear from the media that the demands made by us are not within the ambit of the law and are difficult to fulfill. What we're demanding is - fulfill at least those conditions immediately which are within the law and we will release one of the Italian hostages. After that further negotiations might continue."
This offer, sources say, by the top Maoist leader may be because one of the two Italian tourists is ill.
In an interview to CNN -IBN one of the two released Indian hostages abducted along with the two Italians said that 60-year-old Clavdio Colangelo was under medication for Malaria.
The released Indian hostage Santosh Maharana said, "Though the Maoists are taking good care of the two Italians, one of them Clavido is taking medicines for Malaria, though he seemed fine then."
It has been eight days since the two Italain tourists were abducted by the Maoists and it seems pressure is building up not just on the three top bureaucrats nominated by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to negotiate on behalf of the government, but also on the Maoists.
With reports of faction in the top Maoists leadership in the state and with atleast two mediators named by the Maoists refusing to negotiate on their behalf, it seems all is not well with the Maoists.
Meanwhile the government has denied that the Centre was slow to respond to the hostage crisis after Patnaik's outburst. He said that the central government did not do anything to end the hostage crisis.
"Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Union Home Department are not displaying urgency in the hostage crisis issue. SM Krishna did not even attend to my call initially when the Italian tourist abduction took place," said Patnaik.
Reacting to Patnaik's allegations, Home Minister P Chidambaram said, "If Patnaik has said that then I am very disappointed. I spoke to him on Sunday and he didn't make any specific request for the Centre's help. The Home Secretary has spoken to the Chief Secretary twice and the DGP once and no such request came forth. I don't think the Chief Minister of a state should make such statements."