After Italians’ kidnapping, Centre stops anti-Naxal operations in Orissa.

published on March 18, 2012

NEW DELHI: As the Maoists continued to harden their stand over the abducted Italians, the Centre on Sunday asked its forces to stop anti-Naxal operations in consultation with the state government which has initiated back-channel efforts to get the foreign tourists released.

As soon as the state police confirmed the abduction, India informed Italy about the incident which comes at a time when ties between the two countries have come under stress over the killing of two Indian fishermen by Italian naval guards off the Kerala coast over a month ago.

“India informs Italy of efforts being made by Orissa government for release of two kidnapped Italian nationals,” Syed Akbaruddin, ministry of external affairs spokesman, tweeted after foreign minister S M Krishna spoke to Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik who briefed him on the efforts being made to secure the release of the hostages.

Though CRPF personnel have been asked not to go for combing operations in the tribal-dominated Kandhamal-Ganjam region where the two Italians – Bosusco Paolo and Claudio Colangelo – were abducted, officials here said the forces would not leave the area.

Sources said the state had already roped in Dandapani Mohanty, convener of the Jana Adhikar Manch, and others to mediate with the ultras. Although everything is being handled by Orissa government, central security agencies are learnt to have conveyed to the state that any negotiation can be made from a position of strength as the Maoists are unlikely to harm the Italians fearing international condemnation.

Officials here believed that the abduction was done at the behest of CPI (Maoist) Orissa organizing committee secretary Sabyasachi Panda who, of late, had lost ground among cadres in the state due to his virtual shunning by ultras from the powerful Andhra Pradesh group.

Meanwhile, Italian consul general Joel Nechiori rushed to Bhubaneswar and met the state home secretary.

“We are hopeful that the kidnappers will accept the appeal made by the chief minister to release the hostages. We are working together with the police and administration,” he was quoted as saying by news agencies.

Nechiori said his country would revise the travel advisory to their nationals and ask them to abide by the advice of local authorities.

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