Maoists, who had kidnapped Biju Janata Dal Member of Legislative Assembly Jhina Hikaka nearly a month ago, have decided to release the tribal leader on Thursday, said a lawyer who fights cases for the Maoists.
"The Maoists have held their 'praja (people's) court' which has pronounced its verdict for releasing the Laxmipur MLA," said Koraput-based lawyer Nihar Ranjan Patnaik.
"A senior leader of the Andhra-Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India - Maoist called me and conveyed the verdict of the praja court," he said.
The 'praja' court was held for two days from April 23 and it was decided that the 37-year-old first-time legislator would be released on Thursday morning at Balipeta in the Naxal hotbed of Narayanpatna area of Koraput district, Patnaik said.
Hikaka, who had been abducted in the wee hours of March 24 in Koraput, "would be set free in the presence of his wife Kaushalya Majhi and me," he said, adding that the Maoists were likely to issue a detailed statement soon.
The lawyer, who fights cases for the rebels and their frontal organisation Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha, claimed that during the trial in the 'praja' court, Hikaka stated neither the state government nor the legislators helped him during his captivity and only the tribals came to his rescue.
The legislator had also given an undertaking that he would try to get the demands of the Maoists fulfilled and would resign as MLA if he failed, the lawyer claimed.
While the Maoists had demanded the release of 29 prisoners in exchange for the MLA's freedom, the state government had decided to facilitate the release of 25 jailed people, including eight Maoists.