Bhubaneswar: The Naveen Patnaik government in Odisha has come under attack with experts saying it must stop giving in to the demands of the Naxals. The hostage crisis continues, with Naxals pressing for the release of some hardcore rebels.
Ajai Sahni of the Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management said, "I think it is very obvious that they have been giving in to the escalating demands. At some stage, I think they will have to put the breaks on and I would assume that the stage is now being approached because the demands have escalated to including extremely hardcore terrorists."
BJD leader BJ Panda, "I don't think the popular sentiment in India is at either extreme. I think it seeks to find a balance between taking a tough line and also being open to negotiations."
Former Intelligence Bureau chief AK Doval, however, said, "If the security agencies have the capacity to strike and get the hostage situation evacuated, no politician will say don't do it."
The ruling BJD, however, has blamed the deadlock on the Centre's 'disinterest'.
The Naxals' deadline for the government to release 30 jailed cadres in exchange for abducted MLA Jhina Hikaka and Italian tourist Paolo Boscusco ended on Tuesday. The faction that has held Hikaka hostage has not responded, though Naxal leader Sabyasachi Panda who has held the Italian hostage released a new audio tape, saying there was no clarity on the seven prisoners he wants released.
Meanwhile, the Home Secretary in a press conference in Bhubaneswar made it clear that the Odisha government was committed to the release of the 27 prisoners that the government has promised, but for that due judicial process has to be followed and everything has to be within the framework of the law. Whether this is acceptable to the Naxals or not is not yet clear and the fate of the two hostages still hangs in balance.