Mar. 24 - Maoist rebels in central India abduct a state legislator, a kidnapping that comes a week after two Italian hostages were taken in similar circumstances. Andrew Raven reports.
Officials gather in India for a crisis meeting following the kidnapping Saturday of a fellow legislator by Maoist rebels. The politician, Jhina Hikaka, was abducted while travelling through a remote area in the state of Orissa. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LAWMAKER FROM INDIA'S REGIONAL BIJU JANATA DAL (BJD) PARTY, JAY PANDA, SAYING: "What I can tell you is that the state government is taking it very seriously. The chief minister has convened a high level meeting and all steps are being taken to ensure the safe release of not only the MLA but the two hostages also." This is the third high-profile kidnapping in Orissa in the last week. On March 17, two Italians were abducted by rebels in another part of the state, prompting marches calling for their release. Opposition politicians have criticized the government for not doing enough to quell the a simmering Maoist insurgency in central India. (SOUNDBITE) (Hindi) LAWMAKER OF CONGRESS PARTY, PRADEEP MAJHI: Such incidents happen regularly. Every other day people die but the government has not been able to find the solution and security has not been stepped up." Also known as Naxals, the Maoist rebels have waged a decades-long war against the government, saying they are fighting for the rights of the landless and poor. Andrew Raven, Reuters.