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Odisha hostage crisis: Maoists release one Italian national

Bhubaneswar: One of the two Italians taken hostage by the Maoists, Claudio Colangelo, was today released safe and unharmed by the ultras and handed over to mediapersons, police said. The other Italian hostage, Basusco Paolo, is reported to be in the red brigade's captivity.

"We have information that Colangelo was handed over to mediapersons by the Maoists in Tanjingia area near Daringbadi. They are now proceeding toward Daringbadi," Kandhamal Superintendent of Police J. N. Pankaj said.

Home Secretary U. N. Behera said 61-year-old Colangelo called him up and spoke to him soon after being released by the Naxals.

"Colangelo told me that he was set free and that he was in good health and unharmed," Behera said.

The other Italian, Puri-based tour operator Paolo Basusco, 54, was still being held captive by the Maoists, the Home Secretary said.

Colangelo told mediapersons shortly after his release, "I would like to call my wife as soon as possible..."

He said, "They have treated us the best they could. I don't want to get into politics...I leave it to the professionals."

He said he and Basusco were bathing in a river when four persons came and seized them. "I would like to call my family rather than passing a message," he said.

Colangelo said, "It was fightening. Today, finally there was a solution. Let us hope Paulo will be released very soon."

Director-General of Police Manmohan Praharaj said, "We have information that one of the Italian hostages has been released."

The two Italians were taken hostage by the Maoists while trekking in the forest areas in Daringbadi in the tribal-dominated district.

The release came a day after talks between the Maoist and the Odisha government negotiators to end the hostage crisis were suspended with the Maoist mediators B. D. Sharma and Dandapani Mohanty quitting after the kidnap of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka in Koraput district yesterday.

Appeals had been made by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the Maoist mediators and members of the Odisha Assembly for the release of the Italians.

Meanwhile, Sharma said, "Today the Chief Minister had a meeting to decide how to handle the situation and like we said yesterday that this thing has to be seen in coordinated manner.

"So, we don't know what the state government has decided. We have kept our talks at a stop right now," he said.

Mohanty said, "When details of the release would come to us, then we would discuss the second step. All the information I have is from the media...No information has been given by the Maoists as of now." — PTIBack




Anna fasts at Jantar Mantar, seeks protection
for whistleblowers

NEW DELHI: Anna Hazare on Sunday returned to his favourite mode of protest—hunger strike—in Delhi after his flop show in Mumbai three months ago, this time protesting against the "deaf and dumb" government which is "not doing anything" to protect whistleblowers fighting corruption.

Hazare, after his usual visit to Rajghat before any such protest in Delhi, came to the Capital's dharna hotspot Jantar Mantar at around 11 am to loud cheers from tricolour-wielding anti-corruption supporters and chants of 'Vande Mataram' and 'Bharat Mata ki Jai'.

He is fasting to demand justice for slain IPS officer Narendra Kumar and a strong law to protect whistleblowers.

Family members of some of the whistleblowers who were killed while fighting corruption, including that of IPS officer Narendra Kumar murdered allegedly by mining mafia in Madhya Pradesh, were also present.

Before starting his fast, Hazare said many people have sacrificed their lives while fighting corruption and the government has not conducted any probe despite some incidents which happened three years ago.

"Their (whistleblowers') mothers, their children, their fathers, their wives are crying for justice. But this government has gone dumb and deaf. It is not listening to the cries of people.

"There will be a big struggle. Then the government will listen. The government came up with MNREGA but these people were killed for trying to improve it," Hazare told reporters.

His return to staging protests comes after the Congress performed poorly in the recent Assembly polls.

This will be the first hunger strike undertaken by 74-year-old Hazare after he called off his three-day fast for a strong Lokpal Bill in Mumbai last December owing to failing health and poor response. This is the fifth time he is sitting on a fast in the past one year, of which four of them have been in Delhi.

Former Karnataka Lokayukta and Team Anna member Santosh Hegde, who had expressed some reservations with regard to the Team recently, was present along with other members like Shanti Bhushan, Arvind Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi and Manish Sisodia.

"Hazare has invited several families to be a part of one-day fast for a stronger whistleblower protection mechanism under the Jan Lokpal Bill," a Team Anna member said.

Setting the stage for Hazare's fast, Team Anna has put the blame on the ruling Congress for "sabotaging" the Jan Lokpal Bill, marking a departure from its stand of not targeting a single party.

At least 15 people, who tried to blow the lid on scams or fought the menace of corruption in other ways, have been killed since 2010, according to Team Anna.

These killings have brought to fore the need for a strong whistleblowers' protection system, under control of Jan Lokpal and Jan Lokayukta, it has said.

Attacking the Congress, it has alleged, "The country knows it well that the Congress sabotaged the Jan Lokpal Bill meant to bring culprits to book in a speedy manner. If the Jan Lokpal would have been implemented, justice would not have remained elusive."

During the Assembly elections, Team Anna had campaigned for a strong Lokpal, though it had not named any single party. However, Congress leaders had claimed that the tone and tenor of their campaign was anti-Congress.

Team Anna said while the Jan Lokpal ensure security to the whistleblowers, the proposed Bill on the issue floated by the UPA government is "inadequate and gives the responsibilities without powers to CVC". — PTI



No one should tell me when to retire: Tendulkar

Mumbai: In a wide-ranging interaction with the media, the 38-year-old Sachin Tendulkar said that he does not intend to retire anytime soon no matter what the critics have to say.

"I feel that when I retire is something that I would decide because when I started was not decided by someone else. Those who are advising me about retirement did not bring me in the team.

"I get my strength from my coaches and family. When I feel I don't have that, on that day, I will think of retirement. I feel those who say you should retire at the top are selfish because when you are at the top, you should serve the country instead of retiring," he said.

Tendulkar does not want to predict whether his seemingly unconquerable record of 100 international centuries would ever be broken but the iconic cricketer hopes that as and when it happens, the feat is accomplished by a fellow Indian.

"I don't know. I guess all the records are meant to be broken but I hope it's an Indian. I don't think you can predict that (whether it will be surpassed) but I hope it's an Indian whenever it happens," Tendulkar, who reached the milestone during the recent Asia Cup, told reporters.

India went on to lose the match, that too against Bangladesh, in which Tendulkar got to the feat and he said the disappointment meant that the celebrations were muted.

"I don't think that we are celebrating that one match. Where I am right now took 23 years and not one match. I feel the result was very important. It was very disappointing. The day I got the hundred there was no celebration," he recalled.

For a player who has virtually every batting record that is there to be taken, Tendulkar said the biggest compliment for him was when the legendary Sir Don Bradman included him in his all-time Test XI.

"I think the best compliment was from Sir Don Bradman when he announced his all-time Test XI and I was part of that squad. That would be the best compliment," he said.

Talking about his journey so far, Tendulkar, the highest run-getter in both Tests and one-dayers, said his late father Ramesh Tendulkar was his idol growing up.

"My hero is my father because he is the one with whom everything started in my life. I follow my father. In cricket, even whose who haven't scored a hundred were advising me but as long as it was in good intention, it was fine," he said.

When asked about India's early exit from the Asia Cup, Tendulkar said credit should also go to the rivals who played better than them.

"All three teams won two matches, it eventually boiled down to who beat whom. I want to clarify that Bangladesh are a good team and played well in all the four matches. The rival teams also come to win. Sometimes you play well but the other team plays better," he explained.

The diminutive right-hander said he does not have to prove anything now and would continue as long as he enjoys the game.

"I don't think I need to prove anything right now. I started playing this game because I loved it, I enjoy it. The passion for cricket was there. The dream was to play for India and win the World Cup, I don't think anything can be bigger than that," he said.

"I can't think of milestones. I have been able to play for India and win the World Cup. I don't know what is in store for me but my focus would be to just enjoy the game. I don't want to focus on what I have to achieve because I have already achieved what I wanted," he added.

Tendulkar also detailed the one year barren spell during which he got into 70s and 80s but somehow missed out on hundreds.

"At the time of the World Cup when I got to 99 hundreds, no one was discussing about my 100th hundred because the focus was on the World Cup. But after the World Cup, the media built on it and started asking. I was only focused on playing cricket like always. I just wanted to score runs," he recalled. — PTI





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