Cgarh govt to hold meeting with mediators

Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government said it has called for a high-level meeting here today with its two mediators, to decide on the strategy and further course of action for resolving the hostage crisis involving Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon and secure his early release.

Speaking to reporters here, Chief Minister Raman Singh said senior state officials will hold deliberations with the two mediators -former chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh-Nirmala Buch and Suyogya Kumar Mishra – this evening to determine on the next plan of action for dealing with the abduction issue, ensuring that Menon is freed by the extremists.

Singh said the mediators will also have discussions the ministerial sub-committee that was formed by the state government to look into the crisis.

Tuesday, the state government had named Buch and Mishra as its nominees to hold talks with the ultras who abducted the 32-year-old IAS officer on Saturday.
Singh reiterated that since the dialogue process will be starting the Maoists should not insist on any deadline, which ends today.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister`s Chief Secretary Bijendra Kumar said that the government has agreed and approved former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma and Professor G Hargopal`s names, which were put forward by Maoists as their mediators for talks with it for the release of Menon.
Both Sharma and Hargopal said they were ready to mediate on behalf of the Maoists.

Hargopal told reporters that talks between the two sides will happen only after giving due consideration to the demands put forward by the naxals. He said that several innocent tribals have been jailed since for many years and he would take up this issue with the state government. .

Meanwhile, a worried Asha, Menon`s wife, is awaiting news on her husband from president of All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam, through whom medicines were rushed to the officer yesterday in view of his "critical" health condition.

Kunjam, who is expected to be back this evening, was taken in an helicopter from Raipur to Tarimetla village by road to hand over the medicines for Menon, who is an asthma patient.

Earlier, the Maoists named Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma and president of All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam as their mediators.

However, Bhushan and Kunjam declined to mediate on behalf of the Maoists but the latter had agreed to take medicines to the 32-year-old 2006 batch IAS officer, who taken captive on Saturday from Majhipara village in Raipur district when he was holding a meeting as part of the government`s special Gram Suraj Abhiyan.

The Maoists have demanded release of eight of their jailed leaders including two women, halt to the anti-Maoist offensive "Operation Green Hunt" and sending security forces in Bastar to barracks. They also asked the government not to indulge in "delay tactics" as Menon`s health was deteriorating.