Bhubaneswar, Apr 19: Maoists today produced abducted ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka before a people's court to decide his fate, a day after the Odisha government said it would withdraw cases against 13 prisoners in exchange for freedom of the tribal legislator.
As already communicated by the Maoists of the Andhra Odisha Border Special Zonal Committee (AOBSZC), the praja court has started its proceedings at a remote place in the Narayanpatna area of Koraput district, lawyer Nihar Ranjan Patnaik, who fights cases for the rebels, said.
The 37-year-old Laxmipur MLA was produced before the praja court, Patnaik confirmed, saying the proceedings were in progress and many people, mostly tribals, have been called for recording of their statements. The Koraput-based lawyer, however, had no idea as to when the praja court proceedings would be completed and the verdict about the MLA's fate pronounced.
The praja court was held a day after the deadline set by the Maoists for fulfilment of their demands expired at 5 PM yesterday and the ultras said in a message that the MLA's fate would be decided through this process. Bowing to demand by Maoists, the state government also announced that it was ready to withdraw prosecution against 13 prisoners, including five Maoists, for securing the release of Hikaka, who was abducted by the Naxals on March 24.
"It has been decided to take steps for withdrawal of prosecution against 13 persons following the due process of law," Home Secretary UN Behera had said last evening.
Earlier after the expiry of the ultimatum, in a fresh message to the media, a leader of the AOBSZC said it had no faith in the state government and that the fate of the tribal MLA would be decided by a people's court. The message said the deadline had already been extended four times in the past and there would be no further extension.