New Delhi: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday made a statement in the state Assembly in which he appealed to the Maoist abductors of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA Jhina Hikaka to extend the April 5 deadline. Patnaik had earlier appealed for the MLA's immediate release, which the Maoists turned down, demanding 40 of their jailed comrades be released.
The Chief Minsiter also called upon Nachika Linga, the undisputed leader of the radical tribal outfit Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) to come and discuss the issue of release of CMAS members now in jail urgently.
"The government is ready for discussion for the release of some of the members of the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh from jail as per the demand for the release of MLA. I appeal to extend the deadline from April 5," Patnaik said.
Jhina Hikaka on Tuesday had sent a letter to Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. The MLA had requested the Chief Minister to fulfill the demands of the Maoists.
Hikaka had also told Patnaik in the letter that he was also willing to resign if required. He, however, assured the Chief Minister that his condition was fine.
The BJD MLA in his letter had also alleged that the government was not serious about his release.
This came after the Maoists released an audio tape related to the abduction of the MLA, setting April 5 as the deadline for the state government to accept their demands and release arrested comrades.
The Left-wing ultras had also promised that they would release the BJD MLA after the demands were met.
The audio tape was released to media reportedly by the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee secretary, Chandramouli.
The CMAS is active in the southern parts of the state, including in Malkangiri and Koraput, on tribal issues. Police say the organisation has Maoist support.
Hikaka, who represents Laxmipur constituency in the assembly, was abducted by the rebels from a hilly area of Koraput district March 24.