BHUBANESWAR, March 24 (IANS): Maoists abducted a legislator of Odisha's ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) early Saturday, police said.
About 100-150 armed rebels abducted Jhina Hikaka, 37, from a hilly area between Koraput and Laxmipur, about 500 km from state capital Bhubaneswar, police official Suryamani Pradhan told IANS.
The rebels have however left unhurt two other persons - the driver of the vehicle and a body guard who were accompanying the lawmaker. He said further details will be known after the duos are questioned.
The abduction comes at a time when the rebels have held hostage two Italians since past over a week. The government is holding talks with them through their mediators for the Italians' release.
Citing a leaflet the rebels have left at the vehicle, the police officer said it mentioned about the 13 demands the extremists have set for the release of the Italians and demanded those should be fulfilled at the earliest.
The Italians Bosusco Paolo, 54, and Claudio Colangelo, 61 were abducted from the border of Ganjam and communally sensitive Kandhamal district March 14.
The 13 demands the rebels have set for their release include a ban on the visit of tourists to the tribal areas; halt on anti Maoist operations, and release of several prisoners.
Two Maoists named mediators social activist Dandapani Mohanty and tribal expert B.D.Sharma and three senior officials representing the government were holding dialogue since Thursday to secure their release. The talks were to continue Saturday.
It is not yet known if the latest kidnapping will jeopardize the talk process. The rebels have committed the latest crime even if they had declared unilateral ceasefire before the start of negotiation.
The rebels had earlier shot dead a police sub inspector in the district of Malkangiri, a Maoists strong hold, late Thursday even as the talks were on.