Maoists strike again; abduct BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka

Bhubaneswar: Maoists abducted a legislator of Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA. About 100-150 armed rebels abducted Jhina Hikaka, 37, from a hilly area between Koraput and Laxmipur, about 500 km from state capital Bhubaneswar. Hikaka was abducted at around 12:30AM.

The abduction came 10 days after the Maoists took two Italians hostage from Kandhamal district on March 14 and talks were in progress between rebel-nominated negotiators and government representatives to resolve the crisis.

The incident happened hours after Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik appealed to the rebels to desist from violence.

Meanwhile, Maoist negotiators engaged to end the Italian hostage crisis – B D Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty – have appealed to the Maoists to release the legislator without delay.

Massive search operations are underway by security officials to rescue and trace the abducted MLA.