Bishop of Orissa: India does not hate foreigners. Sorrow for kidnapped Italians
Bhubaneshwar (AsiaNews) - Msgr. John Barwa, archbishop of Chuttak-Bhubaneswar, expresses to AsiaNews, "the immense pain of India for the kidnapping of two Italians", given "the hospitality and respect for foreigners that has always been our tradition and culture". Meanwhile, the Maoists could today release one of the two Italian hostages kidnapped on March 14 last in Kandhamal (Orissa). This is confirmed by Dandapani Mohanty, a mediator chosen by the rebels and accepted by the government, to broadcaster CNN-Ibn. The guerrillas will release a hostage if the government will fulfill two of the 13 demands. Among these, the release of Maoist rebels - in particular the wife of the leader Sabyasachi Panda, Saswati - and action against police forces that violate the human rights of the tribals. The negotiations are due to begin even without the formal appointment of a third party mediator.
According to Mohanty, the Maoists will release Paul Colangelo, 61, because he is sick. According to the two Indians kidnapped (and immediately released) together with the Italians, the man had contracted malaria. In case his release, the local Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda will deliver the hostage to a select group of journalists.
Bishop Barwa points out: "In India we say 'Atithi Devo Bhava', 'The guest is God.' This sentence is an example of the great honor and hospitality bestowed on those who come to this land. Whoever the kidnappers are, we ask them to immediately free the two Italians. "
Recently some agencies reported that the local Church and some NGOs were asked to participate in the negotiations. Speaking to AsiaNews, the archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar denies this: "With whom would we negotiate? We do not know who the kidnappers are. Moreover, I am in Mumbai. I pray the Lord to protect the Italians and that they will soon return to their families ". He adds: "We must investigate the root causes of the problem, and solve them."
Dandapani Mohanty and BD Sharma are the mediators proposed by the rebels. At first, the kidnappers had chosen Biswapriya Kanungo, human rights activist, Narayan Sanyal, a member of the Communist Party of India (currently in jail in Jharkhand), and Mohanty, a rebel sympathizer. Following Kanungo's refusal and government no to Sanyal, the rebels released the names of BD Sharma, a former bureaucrat, and Prafulla Samantray an activist.
The Government had appointed three people: A Behera, Secretary of the Interior; PK Jena, Department Secretary Panchayati Raj; SK Sarangi, Secretary of the Department of Development. However, Mohandy said today, "the government is eager to begin negotiations and is likely to renounce a third mediator."