New Delhi: After a day’s break, negotiations for the release of Italian national and ruling party MLA in Odisha hurriedly resumed on Wednesday. Home Secretary UN Behera led a three-member team of government representatives in talks with Maoist-named mediators B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty.

Fresh rounds of talk began on Monday night to resolve the Italian hostage crisis after the state government received an audio tape from the Maoist in which they (Maoists) have set April 5 as the deadline for Naveen Patnaik government to fulfill their 13-point demands. They have also threatened that they may take the extreme step if the government launches a drive to release the hostage.

If the government considers carrying out offensive action against the Maoist camp, it will proved to be suicidal, a senior state government official said.

According to sources, discussion on the demands raised by the Maoists in the audio tape will take place during Wednesday’s meeting.

The audio, which was released by the Maoists, accused the Naveen Patnaik government of arresting several activists of Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh (CMAS) on false charges in Koraput and Malkangiri districts. The Maoists have also asked the state government to release all their 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.)

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

Maoists demand release of their cadre

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.

The Chief Minister said, "Our government is prepared to hold discussion on the release of certain CMAS members as per their demands."

CM urges Maoists to release MLA

Patnaik said, "I have often requested Maoists to begin negotiations urgently for the release of the MLA." However, the state government received a message from the rebels that they are not prepared to negotiate, he added.

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.

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 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.

Meanwhile, a letter purportedly written by Hikaka to the Chief Minister was released to the media which stated that he is safe and pleaded that tribals lodged in jails on the charge of being Maoists be freed soon so that he could be released unharmed. "Since I am a tribal, steps for safety of my life are not being considered seriously," the letter bearing Hikaka's name said, adding if quick steps are not taken for his release he would be unable to work for development of his area. "If necessary, I will be forced to resign," it said.