Talks on release of Italians held by India's Maoists suspended
Mar 24, 2012, 11:27 GMT
New Delhi - Talks on the release of two Italians kidnapped by India's Maoist rebels were suspended Saturday following the abduction of a local politician, the mediators said.
The talks could not continue while the Maoist rebels continued to carry out violent acts like the abduction and the killing of a policeman, mediator Dandapani Mohanty said at a press briefing in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of the eastern Indian state of Orissa.
The two Italians were kidnapped by a rebel group in Orissa last week. Talks over their release between two mediators named by the Maoists and three government officials began on Thursday.
While the talks were being held in Bhubaneshwar, the rebels shot dead a police sub inspector in Malkangiri district, a Maoist stronghold, late Thursday.
On Friday night, a group of over 100 armed rebels kidnapped Biju Janata Dal legislator Jhina Hikaka, 37, in the Laxmipur area, situated 500 kilometres south-west of Bhubaneshwar, local police inspector Jatin Pradhan said.
It is the same area where the two Italians were kidnapped.
Mohanty said there had been substantial progress in the talks for the release of the Italians since Thursday but the abduction of the legislator had made a mockery of the process.
'We appeal to the Maoists to release all three hostages immediately and unconditionally on humanitarian grounds,' another mediator BD Sharma said at the briefing.
'We have for now suspended discussions,' he said.
Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik also appealed to the rebels to desist from violence to facilitate the negotiations.
The Italians are the first foreign nationals to be abducted by India's Maoist rebels.
The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of tribal, landless and poor people in some of the country's most-impoverished regions.
More than one-third of India's 626 administrative districts are affected by the insurgency.
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