By Ajay Kumar Singh
Maoists who abducted two Italians today offered to release one of them in exchange for two of their demands, even before negotiations begin with the Orissa government.
One of the two demands is the immediate release of five ultras, the senior leader of the Odisha State Organising Committee of Maoists told a television channel.
The ultras abducted the Italians — Puri-based tour operator Paolo Bosusco and tourist Claudio Colangelo — while they were trekking in Kandhamal district a week ago.
The Maoists have also sought action against police officials allegedly involved in fake encounters and rape.
Earlier, talks over the Italians’ release were stalled because of differences between the government and ultras over mediators.
Meanwhile, the Maoists extended the deadline for meeting their list of 13 demands till this evening.
Chief minister Naveen Patnaik last night announced names of three government negotiators, one of whom was a key interlocutor during negotiations for the release of an Indian captive in February 2011.
The state government has asked the three Indian Administrative Service officers, to contact former bureaucrat and social activist B D Sharma, nominated by Maoists for talks.