Abducted collector safe, but needs medicines
Raipur: Abducted Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon is "safe" but needs medicines, Maoists on Tuesday night said and proposed the name of human rights activist and academic Hargopal as another mediator for talks with the government.
They also maintained that they have not extended the deadline for meeting their demands. They told some media persons in Chhattisgarh`s Bastar district that the 2006-batch IAS officer, who was abducted on April 21, is "safe" but being an asthma patient, he needs medicines.
The Naxals also stuck to their April 25 deadline set to the Chhattisgarh government to meet their demands in exchange for the freedom of Menon.
There has been no extension of the deadline, but the issue can be discussed if the state government comes forward and takes an initiative, they said.
Talking to reporters here, Menon`s wife Asha said she has dispatched necessary medicines and clothes for her husband through Manish Kunjam, president of All India Adivasi Mahasabha, who has been named a mediator by the rebels. On Sunday night, Maoists had named Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma and Kunjam as their mediators.
However, Bhushan and Kunjam declined to mediate on behalf of the Maoists. Hargopal was one of the mediators in the Malkangiri district collector R Vineel Krishna abduction case.
Meanwhile, the Centre and Chhattisgarh government have intensified their efforts to secure the release of Menon. The state today named two former chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh – Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra – as its nominees to hold talks with the Naxals.
The Maoists have demanded release of eight of their jailed leaders, halt to the anti-Naxal offensive "Operation Green Hunt" and sending security forces in Bastar to barracks.
The operations against Maoists have since been suspended.
Hargopal is a former professor of political science at Hydeabad`s Central University. In a message sent to media persons, the Naxals said Hargopal will be their second mediator after Sharma.