Bhubaneswar(IANS): Maoists who abducted two Italians five days ago Monday made further demands, ignoring Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s appeals to free the two.
India meanwhile assured Italian Foreign Minister Guilio Terzi that all efforts were on to free Bosusco Paolo, 54, and Claudio Colangelo, 61.
The abduction became known only Saturday.
The Orissa Police said they had intensified their search for the Italians, but there was no clue where they were being held.
Patnaik said his government was examining a pamphlet in which the guerrillas had raised fresh demands, raising the total number of demands to 13.
The pamphlet was issued in the name of Sunil, secretary of the Odisha State Organising Committee of the Communist Party of India-Maoist. “This pamphlet is being examined,” Patnaik said in the assembly.
“The Maoists have not yet nominated their representatives to discuss the matter with the government. When such a communication is received, further steps will be taken,” he added.
He urged the rebels to release the hostages unharmed, adding that his government was ready to talk to the abductors.
Police and other officials held a series of meetings Sunday and Monday.
“We have so far not received any communication from them (Maoists),” Home Secretary U.N. Behera told IANS.
Asked if search operations were on, Behera said: “I will not be able to tell you that.”
The government had earlier said the Italians were abducted Saturday at the border of Ganjam and Kandhamal district.
Paolo and Colangelo had gone with two Indians, Santosh Moharana and Kartika Parida, both residents of Puri, to Kandhamal district March 12 on a four-day trekking trip.
On March 14 morning, six to seven people came with guns when they were near a rivulet. The rebels forced the four to a nearby forest after tying their hands and blindfolding them.
The Indians were released March 16.
Puri District Superintendent of Police Anup Kumar Sahu said the witnesses’ statements were recorded and a case had been registered against the abductors.
Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, in an audio message sent to media Sunday, said the tourists were seized after they took ‘objectionable’ photographs of some tribal women near a rivulet.
He asked the government stop its anti-Maoist operations.
The Maoists want the government to fulfil a charter of 13 demands including those it promised last year.
These include halting anti Maoist operations, scrapping accords with MNCs for land transfer, compensation to families of Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody and release of about 600 prisoners.
In the latest demands, they wanted tourists to be kept away from tribal areas and those arrested for opposing industrial projects, including Posco and Vedanta, to be released.
It is the first time foreigners have been abducted by Maoists in Orissa.
Maoists are active in more than half of the state’s 30 districts.
In New Delhi, visiting Italian foreign minister was told by his Indian counterpart S.M. Krishna that India was equally concerned about the seized Italians.
“India assures Italy that all efforts are being made to secure release of Italians kidnapped in Odisha,” external affairs ministry spokesman Syed Akbaruddin said.