Talks between Maoist mediators and Odisha government are expected to start soon to resolve the Italian hostage crisis, according to Dandapani Mohanty, one of the two negotiators chosen by the ultras.
Mohanty said the Maoists would not wait for another mediator for talks to start. "Talks with the Odisha government representatives will begin very soon without waiting for the third negotiator to be chosen by the abductors," Mohanty said.
B D Sharma, another rebel-nominated negotiator, is likely to arrive here shortly, he said, adding the modalities for talks would be worked out soon after his arrival.
"In the meantime, the Maoists may nominate their third negotiator if they want," Mohanty said. Talks to end the hostage crisis have failed to take off so far in view of the inability on the part of the Maoists to fix negotiators, official sources said.
They said two of the mediators, named by the rebels, had declined to be part of the process. The three negotiators to represent the state government are Principal Secretary (Home) U N Behera, Panchayatiraj Secretary P K Jena and Secretary in ST and SC Department S K Sarangi.
The Maoists last night extended their deadline by another day for a negotiated settlement of their 13 demands after their offer to free one of them elicited no response from the government.
Dandapani also suggested that the Centre be approached for bringing three jailed Maoist leaders, Narayan Sanyal, Amit Bagchi and Kobad Gandhi, lodged at the Giridih Jail, Vishakhapatanam Jail and Tihar Jail respectively, to the Bhubaneswar Jail to facilitate monitoring of the hostage crisis.
The Maoists had offered to release one of the two Italians if two of their demands, including release of some rebels, were met.
One of the demands is immediate release of five ultras, including Subhashree Das, wife of top Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda, and Gananatha Patra.