Bhubaneswar: From security forces to former policemen, nobody seems to agree that the decision by Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to release Naxals to secure the return of the Italian hostage Paolo Bosusco is a good one.
Swaranjit Sen, former DGP, Andhra Pradesh, said, "It's like history repeating itself without any lessons being learnt. Talks have only benefited the Maoists. This new deadline of 96 hours for releasing 7 Naxals without any reassurance... This is a mess. Naveen Patnaik has set a very bad precedent. This is no way of dealing with a problem that has been termed as the biggest threat to internal security."
Even the security-men of the India Reserve Battalion at its base camp in Kandhamal were not too happy with the state government's decision. Although not admitting anything in front of the camera, the security personnel said off the record that the mood at the base camp was that of absolute frustration.
The reactions poured in after Patnaik seemingly succumbed to Maoist pressure after their leader Sabyasachi Panda threatened to kill off Bosusco if his demands to release seven Naxals were not met.
Panda upped his demands again on Friday. In a fresh audio tape, he set a new four-day deadline for the Odisha government to release 7 Naxals that he had named initially.
"We have given 96 hours' ultimatum to the government to release all seven Naxals. We will kill the Italian tourist if our demands are not met," Panda is heard saying in the tape.
The base camp of the India Reserve Batallion in Kandhamal has lost many of its men in the last couple of years fighting Naxals in Panda's stronghold. As the news of the government agreeing to the release of the Naxals spread, the securitymen were shattered.
This is the second time the Odisha government has succumbed to Maoist pressure. Experts say while this is definitely affecting the morale of the security forces, it is also emboldening Maoists, thus setting a bad precedent.