Bhubaneswar: The fate of abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka remained uncertain with Maoist leaders speaking in different voices, even as Odisha government initiated steps to withdraw cases against 13 jailed rebels to secure his release.

"All possible efforts are being made by Odisha government to secure the release of the Laxmipur MLA. Legal process is also being started for withdrawal of cases against 13 rebels," state Home Secretary U N Behera told reporters here.

Stating that Odisha government had long back decided to facilitate release of 25 prisoners, including eight Maoists and 17 members of Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), he said some rebels had already been granted bail while the process was on for some others.

"There are still some others who are yet to move bail petitions in the court though the state government is ready to facilitate their release from jails," Behera said.

The state government also made a fresh appeal to the Maoists to release the 37-year-old tribal legislator, abducted on March 24, as the Maoist Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC) wants a 'praja court' to decide Hikaka's fate by April 25.

Meanwhile, sharp differences among Maoists have come to the fore with some demanding release of all members of Maoist- backed CMAS from jails in lieu of Hikaka's release while others want 29 rebels to be freed.

"We demand release of all members of CMAS who are in jail now. If Odisha government is interested in freeing the MLA, it must first release all of them," Srikakulam-Koraput Committee of the CPI (Maoist) leader Daya said in a letter released to a section of the media.

Maintaining that the Maoists were opposed to the government's policies and approach, the letter in Telugu said the government was "responsible" for the delay in the release of the MLA.

On the other hand, AOBSZC spokesman Jagabandhu had in an audio message sought release of 29 prisoners and said the fate of the MLA would be decided at a 'praja court' by April 25.

(Agencies)