Orissa govt sees no urgency in freeing Italians
Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik believes Maoists will not harm hostages so he can wait. Sources tell AsiaNews the government does not intend to meet any of the rebels' demands. A new deadline is set for 24 March. Rebels name two new mediators; the government names three of its own.

Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik and India's External Affairs Minister do not want to show any "urgency" in solving the case of the two Italian men abducted by a Maoist group in Kandhamal District. Sources tell AsiaNews that government officials are convinced that Maoists will not harm the two tourists, Paolo Bosusco and Claudio Colangelo. In fact, they are not prepared to meet any of the rebels' demands, so there is no hurry in solving the crisis.

Maoist rebels, who have once more postponed their deadline to 24 March, have issued a 14-point list of demands, including the release of 600 prisoners, financial compensation to Maoist sympathisers killed in police custody, scrapping land transfers and projects in tribal areas and protecting tribal areas from tourists. As a token of their goodwill, they also announced a unilateral ceasefire.

When the second deadline expired yesterday, Maoists names three people as their mediators with the government. One of them refused saying he could not trust the government because it had reneged on its word in the past. Another one was rejected by the government. Today the rebel group named two new mediators, former bureaucrat D Sharma and activist Prafulla Samantray.

For his part, Patnaik named three government negotiators:  Home Affairs Principal Secretary U N Behera, Panchayati Raj Department Commissioner and Secretary P K Jena, and Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Classes Development Department Commissioner and Secretary S K Sarangi.