The two Maoist groups holding Biju Janata Dal member of Legislative Assembly and an Italian hostage were today yet to respond to the Odisha government's decision to free 27 prisoners, while the ultra mediators raised questions about the modalities of the release.
The ultra group holding 37-year-old MLA Jhina Hikaka and that of the 54-year-old Italian Paolo Bosusco maintained silence after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik named 27 persons whose release his government would 'facilitate'.
The two Maoist-nominated negotiators for the Italian, B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty, who held a meeting during the day with the three-member government team led by Home Secretary U N Behera, said "We are unable to understand the word 'facilitate.' It can mean anything.
"The government should make clear how it will facilitate the release," they said.
"There has been no response from the Maoists to government's announcement so far, but we are expecting word from the abductors soon," Sharma and Mohanty said.
The Maoist mediators and the government side examined the names of those to be released as also 12 of 13 demands made by the ultras, sources said. The need to speed up the process for the Italian's release was believed to have been emphasised by the government side, they said.
Sabyasachi Panda, Secretary of Odisha State Organising Committee of Communist Party of India-Maoist, had in an audio message demanded immediate release of seven persons, including his wife Subhashree Das alias Mili Panda for Bosusco's release.
Subhashree's name figured in the list of four persons proposed to be freed.
The Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee of CPI-Maoist which abducted the MLA has extended the deadline for fulfilment of its demands until Saturday.
A Maoist leader had telephoned a section of the media on Thursday, saying the deadline, which was to end on Thursday evening, had been extended till the evening of April 7.
Among those to be released for the MLA, 15 belonged to the Naxal-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha and eight were Maoists.
The eight Maoists to be released included six from Odisha and a couple from Andhra Pradesh, Murla Neelam Reddy and his wife Setu Pangi.
The four others were among names furnished by the Odisha State Organising Committee of CPI-Maoist, for the Italian.
Bosusco had been kidnapped along with another Italian Claudio Colangelo while they were trekking in Kandhamal district on March 14. Colangelo was freed on March 25.
A day earlier, Hikaka was abducted from Koraput district when he was returning home to Laxmipur.