New Delhi: The Italian hostage crisis in Odisha enters 21st day on Wednesday posing a big trouble for the BJD ruling government and the Centre as well.

Issuing afresh deadline on Tuesday, Maoists on Tuesday released an audio tape to the media in which they have set April 5 as the deadline for the state government to fulfill their 13-point demands. According to the released audio, Maoists have accused the Naveen Patnaik government of arresting several activists of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) on false charges in Koraput and Malkangiri districts and asked the state government to release all the people.

(The CMAS is an organization working in the southern parts of the state, including in the districts of Malkangiri and Koraput on tribal related issues. Police say the organization has Maoist support.)

Description of the released audio:

‘We (Maoists) are giving the government April 5 deadline,’ the audio reportedly said.

The response from the rebels came two days after two Maoist-backed mediators appealed to them to release the Italian.

Sabyasachi Panda, a rebel leader known as Sunil and who has claimed responsibility for the abduction of the Italians, on Monday night demanded release of some people arrested for Maoist activities. In a separate audio message that was aired by television channels he cited several names which include his wife Subhashree Panda, Gananath Patra, a leader fighting for tribal rights, and a tribal woman Arati Majhi who the rebels say was raped by security forces two years ago.

Earlier on March 14, two Italian nationals, Bosuscu (54) and Claudio (61) were abducted by Maoists on the excuse that they were believed to have taken objectionable photographs of tribal women in Kandhamal-Ganjam border area. However, on March 25, the rebels released Claudio in a good will gesture but Bosusco remained in the captivity of Maoists.

Maoists want state to initiate dialogue?

If sources are to be believed, Maoists want the state government to stop all combing operations and initiate dialogue with them. The Maoists have demanded the state government to act on the 13-point charter of demands, which includes the release of its political prisoners and halting of Operation Greenhunt.

On the abduction of the MLA, Maoists have made a declaration that the he would be kept hostage until the demands for a halt to anti-Naxal operation are not met as promised by the government after the release of the then Malkangiri district collector in February, 2011.

On March 24, Maoists abducted Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka while he was returning home from Koraput district. The kidnapping of the MLA led to abrupt suspension of talks between Maoist negotiators and the state government.

Maoists have been insisting the government to fulfill 13 of their demands for the release them.