Within hours of Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik announcing the names of six Maoists to be released by his government, the rebels who have abducted Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka, released a fresh audio tape on Saturday demanding the release of five more Naxals from jail.
They also set a fresh deadline of April 10.
The Maoists have now demanded the release of their top leader Chenda Bhushanam alias Ghasi, who carries a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head. Ghasi was arrested in 2011.
Apart from Ghasi, the Maoists also demanded the release of four other CMAS members-Gananath Patra, Suna Pangi, Singa Nachika and Walsi Wadeka.
The fresh ultimatum comes from a rival group that does not accept Maoist ultra Sabyasachi Panda, who has abducted Italian national Paolo Bosusco, as its leader.
Earlier, Patnaik had strongly refuted Panda's audio tape claims of demanding the release of six Naxals, out of which the government was facilitating the release of five.
However, later in the day, he announced the names of six Maoists in exchange for the immediate release of Italian hostage and tour operator Paolo Basusco.
Panda had on Friday set a new four-day (96 hour) deadline for the Orissa Government to release seven Naxals that he had named initially.
On Saturday, Patnaik said: The negotiators from the Maoist side, that is the mediators for the Sabyasachi (Panda) Group of Maoists had sought for the release of six persons. Again I will repeat for you, those six persons. Firstly Miss Arti Majhi, secondly Mr. Manmohan Pradhan, number three Mr. Suka Nagchika, number four Mr. Chakra Tatdingi, number five Mr. Bijay Tatdingi and number six, the last name, Mrs. Subhashree Das, who as you know is Mili Panda, the wife of Sabyasachi Panda of the Maoists."
Patnaik further mentioned that five out of the six persons named by the mediators would be released. He, however, said that the legal process would take some time, and as such, the Maoists must reciprocate by releasing the Italian hostage.
"As far as the facilitating of the release of the five persons concerned, our state government, the government of Orissa is taking the appropriate steps, the necessary steps in this matter. But as it involves our judicial system, the judicial system of our country India, the democratic law of India, and also naturally with the judicial system there is legal processes that take place, it will take a little time. It will take some more time," Patnaik said.
While stating that the Maoists should appreciate the efforts of his government, Patnaik also made an appeal for the release of kidnapped Biju Janata Dal MLA Jhina Hikaka.
"I appeal again to the CPI-Maoists to release the Italian national Mr. Paolo Busosco immediately and unharmed. I think all of you know that the Ambassador of Italy and also the Consul General of Italy are here in Bhubaneswar, here in Orissa, anxiously awaiting the release of their countryman Mr. Busosco. And again before you in the media, I appeal for the release of the honourable MLA of Lakhmipur unhurt and in good health," said Patnaik. (ANI)