Three days after the Odisha government invited it for talks for the release of abducted Biju Janata Dal Member of Legislative Assembly Jhina Hikaka, Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh on Monday said it was willing to do so if certain conditions were fulfilled.
Listing the conditions for participating in the talks for Hikaka's release, outfit president Nachika Linga Linga, on the run since 2009, said in a statement to the media that all cases against him would have to be withdrawn, all jailed CMAS members have to be released and anti-Maoist operations halted.
Alleging that many CMAS members had been in Koraput jail on 'false charges' for a very long time, Linga said if the conditions were fulfilled, the Sangh would mediate for the release of 37-year-old Laxmipur MLA Hikaka, who was abducted on March 24.
After the fulfillment of its demands, the CMAS would discuss the matter with tribal groups like Niyamgiri Surakshya Parishad, Mali Parbat Surakshya Parishad, Noka Dora and Konda Reddy before talks with the government, he said.
The state government was yet to respond to Linga's conditions.
"We have taken note of the statement by the CMAS leader to the media. It is being examined," a senior official said.
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik had invited the CMAS after Maoist-nominated mediators, B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty, who took part in inconclusive talks for 10 days for the release of Bosusco, left on Saturday saying they were leaving as the government required more time.
Meanwhile, back-channel efforts were underway by the state government to free Italian tour operator Paolo Bosusco, official sources said.
While Italian tourist Claudio Colangelo was released on March 25 as a 'goodwill gesture', Bosusco was still in the captivity of Maoists. They were kidnapped on March 14 while trekking in Kandhamal district.
A government official said as the Maoists have demanded the release of nearly 40 jailed rebels, it would take some time to form a view on the issue after thorough examination.
"We are examining how the process can be initiated," he said.
Another government official said the Maoists should honour the appeal made by Sharma and Mohanty for the release of Bosusco on humanitarian considerations.
While Koraput-Srikalulam Division of Maoists, which owned responsibility for abduction of the MLA, have refused talks through mediators, CMAS had earlier claimed that it had no role in the kidnapping of the legislator.