Maoists strike again, abduct BJD MLA in Odisha

Maoists abducted a tribal MLA of ruling BJD from Koraput district early today, adding to the woes of the Odisha government, which is trying to resolve the 10-day-old Italian hostage crisis.

Hours after the abduction of Laxmipur MLA Jhina Hikaka, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has rushed state Revenue and Disaster Management Minister S N Patro and ST and SC Development Minister Lal Bihari Himirika to the area.

Click to view Odisha hostage crisis video

Hikaka was returning home from Koraput when more than 50 armed rebels stopped his vehicle near Toyaput where the road had been dug up and a truck had blocked the way, Koraput Superintendent of Police Avinash Kumar said.

While the personal security officer (PSO) and driver of the MLA were allowed to leave by the ultras who snatched away their mobile phones, Hikaka was taken away into the nearby forest, about 40 km from here at gunpoint, he said.

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

Amidst uproar by Opposition members protesting the abduction in the state assembly, Patnaik, who reviewed the situation at a meeting with top officials, said in a statement in the House that “At approximately 1 am this morning, MLA from Laxmipur Jhina Hikaka was abducted near Toyaput on Koraput-Laxmipur road.”

While no group has yet claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, it is suspected to have been done by Maoists, he said, adding senior police officials have rushed to the spot.

“While I spoke to Union Home Minister P Chidambaram about the abduction of the MLA, the chief secretary spoke to the Union Home Secretary,” Patnaik told reporters.

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