Italian hostage freed, MLA still held
AGENCIES NEW DELHI MAOISTS on Thursday released Italian tour operator Bosusco Paolo after keeping him in captivity for nearly a month, while the fate of another hostage, Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) legislator Jhina Hikaka, continued to remain uncertain.
Dandapani Mohanty, a Maoist-backed mediator, received the Italian hostage from the Maoists in a forested area of Kandhamal district, around 200 km from Bhubaneswar.
Signs of freedom were clearly visible on his face as Bosusco came out of one of the rooms on the first-floor of the two-storeyed State Guest House building on Thursday afternoon and waved his hand at the journalists waiting on the lawns below.
“I am fine, thank you,” said Bosusco as he went inside the room to talk to the Italian embassy officials in New Delhi. He said this after wishing good morning in chaste Odia language.
Dandapani Mohanty, one of the interlocutors who held talks with the Odisha government and Maoists on Bosusco’s release, told journalists that Paolo was fine and had not faced any problem while being kept as a hostage since March 14.
Paolo had been living in Puri town for the past 19 years and was running a travel agency named Odisha Adventurous Trekking.
Bosusco, along with Mohanty, reached Bhubaneswar in a taxi around 11 am from Raikia area of Kandhamal district.
Sabyasachi Panda, Secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) had handed over his custody to Mohanty at a place near Raikia at 5 am.
Mohanty said that while releasing Bosusco in the presence of a television channel team, Panda expressed hope that the State government will honour its commitments and fulfill their demands that include release of several “innocent” tribals.
Among other things, the Maoist leader had demanded release of seven persons, but the State government had agreed to facilitate the release five persons and had assured to take steps to fulfill their other demands.
Mohanty further informed that Bosusco would go with the Italian Embassy officials after a medical examination and completion of police formalities.
The Italian has been kidnapped by the Maoists from the Daringbadi area of Kandhamal district on March 14 along with an Italian tourist, Claudio Colangelo.
The abductors had released Colangelo on March 25 as a goodwill gesture even as they demanded a swap of detained Maoists for the release of Bosusco.
Jagabandhu, the spokesperson of the group, said in a statement written in Telugu and sent to reporters in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday: “We will not release Hikaka unless the government releases all the 30 persons we demanded.” While Paolo was abducted by the Odisha unit of the Communist Party of India- Maoist (CPI-Maoist) from Kandhamal district, Hikaka was kidnapped by the Andhra-Odisha border special zonal committee from Koraput district.