Maoist rebels in In­dia is­sue de­mands for two hostages

Seek re­lease of 14 in ex­change for Ital­ians

The Washington Times Daily - - World - BY SU­JOY DHAR

BHUBANESWAR, IN­DIA | Maoist rebels in east­ern In­dia on Mon­day is­sued a list of de­mands for se­cur­ing the re­lease of two Ital­ian tourists whom the rebels had kid­napped last week.

The de­mands in­clude the re­lease of at least 14 Maoists, in­clud­ing sev­eral po­lit­i­cal pris­on­ers and three se­nior lead­ers, from jails and pris­ons around the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to a copy of the list ob­tained by The Washington Times.

The rebels said they would not re­lease their hostages un­til their de­mands are met. They kid­napped the Ital­ian tourists, iden­ti­fied as Clan­dio Colangilo and Boscusco Polo, in the east­ern state of Odisha on Wed­nes­day.

Naveen Pat­naik, chief min­is­ter of Odisha, said his gov­ern­ment re­ceived the list from a leader of the Odisha State Or­ga­niz­ing Com­mit­tee of Com­mu­nist Party of In­dia (Maoist) who iden­ti­fied him­self as “Su­nil.”

“This [list] is be­ing ex­am­ined by the state gov­ern­ment,” Mr. Pat­naik said Mon­day.

The chief min­is­ter said the gov­ern­ment will seek to dis­cuss the de­mands with the Maoists af­ter the rebels se­lect their rep­re­sen­ta­tive. “When such a com­mu­ni­ca­tion is re­ceived, fur­ther steps will be taken,” he said.

The Odisha gov­ern­ment and In­dia’s Home Min­istry have been scur­ry­ing to free the hostages since news broke about their ab­duc­tion on Sun­day. The coun­try’s Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs Min­istry has been as­sur­ing Ital­ian of­fi­cials about res­cue ef­forts.

“I once again make a strong ap­peal on hu­mane grounds . . . to re­lease the two Ital­ian na­tion­als im­me­di­ately and to see they are un­harmed,” Mr. Pat­naik said in an ap­peal to the kid­nap­pers.

Maoist rebels in this min­eral-rich re­gion of In­dia have long fought to over­throw the gov­ern­ment, of­ten launch­ing deadly at­tacks against po­lice and po­lit­i­cal fig­ures in on­go­ing guer­rilla war­fare in largely tribal ar­eas in the re­gion.

In the east­ern state of Jhark­hand, rebels killed 13 po­lice of­fi­cers in a land-mine at­tack in Jan­uary, and 10 po­lice of­fi­cers and an 8-year-old boy in a sim­i­lar at­tack in De­cem­ber.

Prime Min­is­ter Man­mo­han Singh has called the Maoists the coun­try’s big­gest in­ter­nal threat.

In their list of de­mands, the rebels call for the state gov­ern­ment to halt tourism in tribal ar­eas, say­ing that tourists of­ten treat tribal peo­ple as com­modi­ties and take ob­jec­tion­able pho­to­graphs of tribal women.

The hostage iden­ti­fied as Boscusco Polo re­port­edly owns a travel com­pany that has pro­vided tours of tribal ar­eas for Ital­ian trav­el­ers for about 19 years. His tourism busi­ness op­er­ates at the sea­side Hindu tem­ple town of Puri in Odisha.

The rebels also de­mand the end of po­lice op­er­a­tions against them. “Halt op­er­a­tion green hunt and with­draw all po­lice camps im­me­di­ately, cre­at­ing a con­ducive am­bi­ence for peace talks,” they said.

They also call for the end of a po­lice crack­down on anti- land- ac­qui­si­tion ac­tivists in Odisha, which is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing rapid in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion via min­ing and steel-mak­ing projects.

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