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Maoists to release Odisha legislator Thursday, says lawyer

Wednesday April 25, 2012 11:40:18 AM, IANS

Bhubaneswar: Maoists have decided to release Odisha legislator Jhina Hikaka Thursday after he promised to resign from the assembly if the rebels' demands were not fulfilled, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, who is based in Koraput district and fights cases for the rebels, told a TV channel that the Maoists will set Hikaka free by 10 a.m. Thursday. The Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator has been held hostage for over a month.

The Maoists will hand him over to Patnaik and Kaushalya, the wife of the abducted Biju Janata Dal legislator, in Narayanpatna area of the district, the lawyer said quoting a Maoist leader.

Patnaik also said the rebels took the decision after the legislator gave them in writing that he would resign from the membership of the assembly if the government did not fulfil their demands.

However, there is still no official confirmation of the development. No audio tape has been released by the rebels.

The left-wing extremists, who kidnapped 37-year-old Hikaka from Laxmipur in Koraput March 24, had announced they would hold a 'people's court' Wednesday where his fate would be decided.

"There was no information if they conducted this people's court," a senior state home department official told IANS.

He said the legislator should be released unharmed as the government had already accepted their demand.

The rebels had been demanding the release of 29 prisoners, mostly members of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS), which works mainly in the southern parts of the state, including Malkangiri and Koraput districts, on tribal-related issues.

The state government has agreed to release 25 of them but the guerrillas rejected the offer and announced that Hikaka's fate would be decided in a people's court April 25.

The worry of the government had increased after a rebel leader few days ago said they wanted the authorities to release all members of CMAS.

The left-wing extremists did not specify how many members of the organisation have been languishing in state jails; similarly the government was also reluctant to disclose the figure.

State Home secretary U.N. Behera said the names of 25 people, including eight Maoists, had been shortlisted by the government for release.





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