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INDIA/ Tourists kidnapped by Maoists

Director of Asianews BERNARDO CERVELLERA comments on the kidnapping of two Italians by tribal groups in India fighting with the government for their right to own land.

Paolo Bosusco (right), one of the Italians who was kidnapped Paolo Bosusco (right), one of the Italians who was kidnapped

For Italians, India has recently become synonymous with the land of misfortune. After the two marines of the San Marco Regiment were arrested in defiance of international law and now await trial, for two other Italians, fate also proved adverse, albeit in entirely different circumstances. Paolo Bosusco, 54, a guide that has been organizing trekking in India for 15 years, and Claudio Colangelo, 61, a medical missionary, were kidnapped by a group of Maoists. They were in Orissa, one of the Federated States of India, in the district of Kandhamal, when they fell prey to the terrorist group with two Indians. The Indians, who were immediately released, said that the kidnappers did not seem intent on harming the Italians. In any case, they put forward an ultimatum that expired last night, letting the government know that if by that time they did not have their demands met, the government would be responsible for the fate of the unfortunate prisoners. Ilsussidiario.net asked Father Bernardo Cervellera, the director of AsiaNews, to interpret the situation for us.

Could you give us the context of the kidnapping?
In the Kandhamal district, where the two Italians had gone to visit the tribal areas, ethnic minorities are defended by the Maoists. They do this, first of all, to ensure that these tribes maintain possession of the lands that normally individuals or governments prey on for their own commercial goals. This is the goal of the Indian Maoists who, embracing weapons, have defined themselves as such in order to gain an international identity, and, probably, to receive subsidies. Indeed, we know that China and Pakistan fund the group to weaken the Indian government which they consider, respectively, competitor and enemy.

Is the accusation that the government does business at the expense of the tribal peoples founded?
Just look at the BBC: every day there is publicity in which Orissa is described as the place where you can find unspoiled nature and come across the tribal people. This is indeed tourism. It is not by chance that a member of the Government of Kandhamal, in an interview, said that his greatest regret was the fact that tourism could suffer because of this. The tourism industry, of course, is a double edged sword.