ASIA NEWS REPORT:
by Nirmala Carvalho
news confirmed by Indian police, anda few hours after Italian Foreign Ministry.
Only certainty is revolutionarygroup's demands for release of political
prisoners are freed and an end to thehunt for Maoists. It would bethe first time
that the Communists kidnap foreigners. Government representative to AsiaNews:
"We are doing everything possible for their release."
Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Two Italian tourists were abducted by a group of Maoists
inOdisha, in the district of Kandhamal, in Orissa. In exchange for the release,
the revolutionary groupwants the army to call off its operation against them and
the government toopen up negotiations. The news was broadcast by NDTV
The Indian police hasconfirmed the fact happened last night, but said that
there are no details fornow. An audio message from the highest local Maoist
leader, Sabyasachi Panda,confirms the abduction and demands. The deadline to
fulfill them isscheduled for tonight.
The Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed the kidnapping this morning. The news
reports are somewhatconfused: it is said that Italian tourists were kidnapped
while takingphotographs of tribal women bathing in an area prohibited by the
rules of theState. It would be the first time the Maoists - who are fighting for
theindependence of their regions, inhabited by ethnic minorities - have
resortedto kidnapping foreigners. Kandhamaldistrict is where the 2008 pogrom
against Christians took place, but theauthors of the killings were
fundamentalists and Hindu nationalists,traditional enemies of the Maoists.
The only certain fact is the set of 13 demands that the Maoists havepresented
to the government, similar to those made a year ago when theykidnapped a
government representative of Malkangiri, R Vineel Krishna. The demands include
the release ofpolitical prisoners and a halt to Operation Greenhunt against the
Speaking to AsiaNews after police confirmation,the District Collector
[representative of the local government] Pravakar RajeshPatil said that "the
kidnapping of the tourists is a sad fact." Hepointed out that the Maoists
kidnappers, usually, "communicate with themedia, they have their sources to make
public their information and will notsend any official communication."
Patil believes that the Maoists are behind the kidnapping, although
theinvolvement of others is not to be "100%" excluded.
"This - he added - is bad news for the tourism sector. But theMaoist problem
exists. We do not know exactly the reasons and circumstances inwhich the Italian
tourists were kidnapped. All efforts have been made at the highest level, we are
on the job tosecure their release. "