Bhubaneswar: Odisha government, grappling with the hostage crisis, on Tuesday said some demands made by Maoists like halt to combing operations, have been conceded as prospects of the release of the lone Italian national seemed to have brightened.

The state government has said there would be no coercive action as long as Maoists did not indulge in violence, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told the assembly while making a fresh appeal for the release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka kidnapped by Maoists from Koraput district on March 24.

Referring to halt to combing operations as demanded by Maoists, Patnaik, however, pointed out that a police sub-inspector was gunned down in Malkangiri district and two policemen were killed in a landmine blast in Koraput district before Hikaka's kidnap.

On the release of jailed Maoists, Patnaik said cases against 83 activists of the ultra-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS) have been withdrawn.

Talks for the release of the second Italian in Maoist captivity 54-year-old Puri-based tour operator Paulo Bosusco are likely to bear fruit soon, he said.

The two Maoist-nominated negotiators, B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty, also said a positive outcome is likely to emerge very soon.

While the extremists freed Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo as a "goodwill gesture" on Sunday, his compatriot Bosusco is still in their captivity. The two were abducted in Kandhamal district on March 14.

The chief minister said the state government has recommended to the Centre for inclusion of Nookadora and Konda Reddy communities in the tribal list as demanded during the release of the then Malkangiri Collector Vineel Krishna.

Similarly, on restoration of tribal land, a high-level committee headed by member of board of revenue has been set up to address the issue, he said adding stringent action would be taken against illegal occupants of tribal land.

As the Maoists refused to have any mediator for the release of Hilkaka, Patnaik asked them to join negotiations saying a peaceful settlement could be assured.

"We are ready for talks to resolve the MLA hostage crisis," he said replying to an adjournment motion on the abduction of the legislator.

The chief minister held an emergency meeting with top officials to review the two cases of abduction, particularly that of Hikaka.

The meeting was held after the Koraput-Srikakulum division of the CPI (Maoist) sent a letter addressed to Patnaik, a senior official said.

The Maoists behind the abduction of Hikaka, first-time BJD MLA legislator, have warned Odisha government not to buy time or use the police and made it clear that they did not want negotiators.
"They have cautioned the government not to buy time or use the police to harm them," the chief minister told the assembly.

A letter purported to have been signed by the MLA addressed to the chief minister was also received, with the Maoists seeking immediate fulfillment of their demands and that they did not want negotiations through mediators, the chief minister said.

The letter listed seven main demands, including stopping of combing operations and of intelligence gathering, withdrawal of all police camps, stopping of Green Hunt operation and halt to rallies and demonstrations for the release of the MLA, Patnaik said.

The letter also demanded unconditional release of the members of Maoist-backed CMAS other ultras in Koraput and Malkangiri jails, no police action in the name of anti-Naxal operation and implementation of all the demands made at the time of release of former collector of Malkangiri.

Meanwhile, normalcy returned to the Assembly with the Speaker admitting an adjournment motion by opposition Congress on the issue of the MLA's abduction.

Congress mambers alleged ruling BJD had entered into a "secret agreement" with Maoist-backed CMAS for zilla parishad chairman's election in Koraput.

Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan alleged the MLA was abducted as demands of the rebel-backed outfit, contained in the pact, were not honoured.