Maoists give Odisha 96-hour deadline
ODISHA MAOIST leader Sabyasachi Panda has refused to release an Italian national taken as hostage over three weeks ago and instead has threaten the state government that his group could take extreme steps if its demands are not met.
In an audio message, Sabyasachi said that negotiations with the government were a farce; he also gave a deadline till Tuesday for the government to fulfill the demands of releasing some prisoners charged with what he alleges are false cases, action against policemen accused of rape and fake encounters, and lifting of a ban on some naxal groups.
The Odisha government has so far agreed to release 27 prisoners, including eight Naxals. But sources close to the Maoists say two organisations, the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) and the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSCZ) are unwilling to accept the release of prisoners on bail. They want the cases against them withdrawn.
The Maoists say these are mostly poor tribals who have been lodged in jails for the last two to three years and it will be difficult for them to go back and forth to court. They also say these tribals do not have the money to hire lawyers to fight their cases.
Government sources on the other hand maintain that withdrawal of cases will mean releasing over 200 prisoners.