New Delhi: The Centre is keenly observing the hostage situation in Odisha and is believed to be against any swap of prisoners with an abducted MLA and an Italian tour guide. The Home Ministry is not involved in any way with the negotiations between the Maoists and the Odisha government as the latter has not sought any help, but it is in regular touch with the state government.
Ministry officials feel that due to the inability of the Odisha government to take tough stand against the Naxals, the extremists keep abducting prominent people to free their cadres or sympathisers from jails.
Reports from Bhubaneswar suggested that the Odisha government decided to release 27 jailed people in return for the release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka and Italian Paolo Bosusco taken hostage by two separate Naxal groups.
Home Ministry officials feel the Odisha government is unable to take a tough stand against the Naxals.
"The Maoists are taking full advantage of the fact that the Naveen Patnaik government easily succumb to pressure and it is very easy to get someone released from a jail in Odisha through kidnapping," an official said.
When the Naxals kidnapped then Malkangiri collector R Veenel Krishan along with a junior engineer last year, the Orissa government agreed to fulfill all 14 demands of the rebels including withdrawal of cases against top CPI (Maoist) leaders Prasadam, Padma and Eswari to facilitate their release from jails.
Adequate central security forces are stationed in Odisha, yet the state government has hardly launched any full scale operations against the Maoists leading to the free-run of the rebels in many parts of the state.
"Time has come for the Odisha government to stand up and act tough against the Naxals, else it will have to succumb to their (Maoists) pressure again," the official said.