Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government is in a fix over how to diffuse the hostage crisis. The deadline set by Naxals for the state government to free 30 jailed cadres in exchange for BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka ends on Tuesday.
The government had agreed to free over 27 jailed Naxals in return for the MLA and Italian tourist Paolo Boscusco who is being held captive by another Naxal faction in Kandhamal.
But the state police has come out strongly against the government, threatening to boycott all anti-Naxal operations if all those arrested are released.
CNN-IBN had earlier reported that the security forces were unhappy over the decision of Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to fulfill the demands of the Maoists.
CNN-IBN had visited a base camp of the India Reserve Battalion in Kandhamal to gauge the mood and found that several groups of security personnel might go on protest against the decision once the hostages were released.
The Odisha government, meanwhile, "advised" the two Naxal groups to move bail pleas for quick release of the Naxals sought.
Since their release from jail involves judicial process of grant of bail by concerned courts, the detainees have to file their bail applications, Home Secretary UN Behera, who had led the three-member government side in talks with Maoist-named mediators for release of Boscusco, said on Monday night.
Referring to Maoists' suggestion that the MLA's wife should go to Balipeta village in Koraput district with the detainees of CMAS and CPI (Maoist) for hand over of Hikaka, Behera said "it is advised that steps be taken on behalf of the 23 detainees to file their bail petitions."
Bail petitions in respect of those who are to be released from jail for Italian's freedom may also be filed.
Meanwhile, with the abductors of Hikaka demanding release of hardcore Naxal Chenda Bhusanam alias Ghasi, an accused in the killing of at least 55 security personnel, the Odisha government has sought opinion of the state police on the matter.
"We have sought opinion of the police on whether the fresh demands made by the abductors of the MLA could be met," Chief Secretary BK Patnaik told reporters in Bhubaneswar adding that the legal aspects need to be verified before taking any decision.
The Naxals holding MLA Jhina Hikaka captive had sent a letter to Patnaik agreeing to free him on Tuesday if 28 prisoners were handed over to them. They said will hand over the MLA to his wife in the presence of mediators.
The letter, bearing the name of a senior Naxal leader and addressed to the media, said the MLA's wife should also be accompanied by the two Naxal-nominated mediators - BD Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty - engaged in the Italian hostage crisis and Koraput-based lawyer Nihar Patnaik.
The Maoists said they would hand over the abducted 37-year-old Laxmipur MLA to them provided they do not bring along any police or intelligence officials.
Meanwhile, Naxal leader Sabyasachi Panda who has held Italian tourist Paolo Boscusco captive has said that the government must release all seven Naxals mentioned on his list of demands.
In the last five years, more than 160 security men have died, fighting Naxals in the Naxal-infested areas. Now with the deadline set by the two Naxal groups, ending on Tuesday, it remains to be seen whether the Odisha government will yield to the fresh demands or take a tough stand.
(With additional information from PTI)