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Collector abduction: Chhattisgarh govt wants deadline extended

Raipur: The Chhattisgarh government on Wednesday appealed to the Maoists for the extension of their deadline for the release of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon, who was abducted last Saturday.

N Baijendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Raman Singh, told PTI that the two government mediators — former Chief Secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra — took part in a meeting of Cabinet sub-committee on Wednesday night.

The meeting, held under the Chairmanship of the chief minister, discussed strategies to end the five-day-old hostage crisis, he said. During the meeting, the government issued an appeal to the Naxals to extend the deadline, which ended today, set for meeting their demands, Kumar said.

Former National SC/ST Commission Chairperson B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal, chosen as mediators from the Maoists` side, are expected to arrive here tomorrow. In view of this, there was no point in sticking to the April 25 deadline set by the Naxals after Menon`s abduction, he said.

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.

The Principal Secretary said the Government was keen on starting negotiations with the Maoists at the earliest so that the Collector is released safely.

Tribal Welfare Minister Kedar Kashyap, who is a member of the sub-committee, said necessary medicines have been dispatched to Menon, who is an asthma patient, through Manish Kunjam, President of Rashtriya Adivasi Mahasabha.

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