New Delhi/Bhubaneswar, Mar 21: Home Minister P Chidambaram today rejected Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik's charge that the Centre has not offered any help to the state over handling of the Italian hostage crisis, saying he should not make statements without any basis.
"I don't think the Chief Minister should be making these statements without any basis," Chidambaram told reporters in Delhi when asked about Patnaik's critical remarks. In Bhubaneswar, Patnaik said he does not want to get into any exchange of words with the Home Minister and that his first concern was the release of the two Italians who were abducted by Maoists on Mar 14.
The Home Minister said that the Odisha Chief Minister had not sought any help from the Centre. "If he has actually said that, I am very disappointed. The Chief Minister spoke to me on Sunday, I offered him every help. He did not ask me for anything. He said I am just keeping you informed," Chidambaram said.
"I am really not here to banter words with Mr Chidambaram. The hostage crisis is a very, very serious matter not only for Odisha but for the entire country," Patnaik told reporters. Chidambaram said the Home Secretary had told him yesterday and today that he had spoken to the Odisha Chief Secretary twice and Director General of Police once to offer them any kind of help.
"But no specific request for help has been made until I left my office a few minutes ago," Chidambaram said. Paolo Bosusco, a 54-year-old tourist guide, and Claudio Colangelo, a 61-year-old tourist from Rome, were abducted on Wednesday last while trekking in the tribal-dominated Kandhamal district, in the first case of foreigners being kidnapped by left wing extremists.
The Maoists holding the Italians have issued a list of 13 demands which includes a ban on tourists visiting tribal areas, the end of the government's anti-rebel operations and the release of jailed Maoist leaders.