Kidnappings prompt Indian tribal land warning

by Jessica MCILHINNEY on April 13, 2012

Visitors to Orissa state in India have been urged to exert extra caution after two Italians were kidnapped by Maoist extremists last month while on an adventure tour.

Orissa, located to the south-west of Calcutta while bordering the Bay of Bengal, plays host to over 60 different groups of adivasis tribal people, of which there are several million. The tribes in the area are regarded as India’s aboriginal people and increasing amounts of Western tourists continue to venture into Orissa’s remote and hilly regions in order to witness unchanging ways of life – leading to accusations of either “ethnic tourism” or “human safaris”.

The Italian citizens, Paolo Bosusco and his customer Claudio Colangelo – both now free - were kidnapped on March 14 in what is a notorious Maoist stronghold. The militants claimed that the tourists were taking snapping pictures of “naked tribal people” before abducting them and issued a list full of demands that included the release of imprisoned Maoists and a total ban on foreign tourists being able to visit tribal areas.

Bosusco, who runs a holiday company in Orissa that promises adventures to all its customers, was only released yesterday, Colangelo, a doctor based in Rome, was released earlier on 25 March. Still yet to be freed is a local politician who was first captured on March 24. On Friday afternoon, talks continued between the Indian state government and Orissa’s Maoists.

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