Paola Bosusco, one of the two Italian hostages who was held hostage by Maoists in India's Odisha state, was released late Wednesday night.
Bosusco had been held hostage by the Maoists since March 14. However, there isn't any official confirmation on his release.
Bosusco (37), a Puri-based Italian tour operator, was abducted by the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) along with another Italian, Claudio Colangelo, from Kandhamal region. Colangelo (61) was later released by the Maoists.
Meanwhile, Biju Janata Dal Party legislator Jhina Hikaka is still held hostage by another Naxal group.
The hopes for the release of the Italian hostage was high Wednesday as the Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda had expressed happiness over the steps taken by the Odisha government to meet some of the demands placed by the Maoists and hinted at the release of Bosusco.
The message had come in an audio tape after the Odisha government and the Naxal-named mediators signed a joint statement and also a day after a court acquitted his wife Subhashree Das. Subhashree was arrested for her alleged involvement in a police-Maoist battle in 2003. Her name was on the list of the jailed Naxalites whose release the Maoists were seeking.
Both the Naxal groups put forward a set of demands for the release of the hostages. The demands included halting the anti-Naxal operations by the police and release of more than 30 Maoist leaders who were in different jails.
Some of these Naxalites are hardcore ultras, accused of killing several police personnel. The government said they were ready to facilitate the release but had asked the Naxal groups to approach court to secure bails for the jailed Naxals, as their release right away involved legal hassles.
Certain legal process has to be followed for 27 detenus whose names were announced five days ago, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was quoted as saying by PTI news agency.
However, the state police protested the government's move to release the hardcore Naxals. The Odisha Police Association has warned the government that they would boycott the anti-Naxal operations if the government freed the hardcore Naxalites.