The chances of an early release of abducted BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka appeared bright on Thursday with the Maoists producing him before a peoples court to decide his fate. On Wednesday,the state government had announced that it would withdraw cases against 13 Maoists and their sympathisers in exchange for the MLAs freedom.
Official sources said Maoists of the Andhra Orissa Border Special Zonal Committee started their praja court at a forested patch between Balipeta and Tentulipadar villages of Narayanpatna block in Koraput district on Thursday afternoon. Hikaka,who has been in Maoist captivity since March 23 night,was produced before the court where top Maoist leaders Daya,Aruna and Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh president were present,it is learnt. Unconfirmed reports said the praja court got over late evening and the Maoists had dinner cooked by local villagers. However,it was not yet known if Hikaka had been released.
The praja court was held a day after the deadline set by the Maoists for the government to agree to their demands expired at 5 pm on Wednesday. Stating that they had lost trust in the government,the rebels had announced they would produce Hikaka in a praja court for a final decision. Bowing to their demands,the government announced that it was ready to withdraw prosecution against 13 prisoners.
When Maoists call praja courts,hundreds of tribals attend it. These courts are guarded by armed cadres who encourage the tribals even to beat the accused to death.
Former Malkangiri district collector Vineel Krishna,who was abducted by Maoists on February 16 last year,was released in a praja court where local tribals pronounced him not guilty.