Maoists announce three names to mediate

Raipur: Hours after the Chhattisgarh government offered to hold talks to secure the release Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon, Maoists tonight named three mediators, including lawyer Prashant Bhushan, for negotiations.

In a statement, the Maoists also termed Menon`s health as critical and asked the mediators to bring medicines along with them.

Former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma and president of All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam are the other mediators named by the Maoists. The Maoists asked the government not to indulge in "delay tactics" as Menon`s health was deteriorating.

They said only the three persons named by them will be allowed to negotiate in Tarimetla village and asked them to accept the invitation to act as mediators.

However, Kunjam has declined the Maoists offer citing regional circumstances and party obligations.

On Monday, political parties in Chhattisgarh issued a joint appeal to the Maoists, demanding a safe release of Menon, even as the Raman Singh government made it clear that it is ready to hold talks to resolve the issue.

Chief Minister Raman Singh said that all the parties have come out with a joint appeal, which says that the matter could be settled through talks.

Menon, a 2006-batch IAS officer, was abducted on Saturday at Majhipara village, where he was meeting villagers for a government outreach programme.