Raman denies deal in release

New Delhi/Sukma: After the Collector kidnap crisis was brought to an end, Chattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh asserted there was no secret deal with Maoists in return for the release of abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon, who was set free yesterday by his captors in a forested area at Tadmetla ending the 12-day hostage crisis.

Singh also pitched for a national hostage policy in which a swap deal is not an option even if involves abduction of the head of a government.

The 32-year-old IAS officer meanwhile reached his Sukma home in Chattisgarh and was reunited with his family this morning after he flew in from Chintalnar in a helicopter. He was accompanied by the two Maoist mediators–B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal, who facilitated his release.

The officer headed straight to his official residence where he was welcomed by his pregnant wife Asha and other family members who performed the traditional `aarti`.

"I am ok," a visibly tired Menon said as he shook hands with his well-wishers.

Pitching for a national policy to deal with hostage situations, a relieved Singh said, "There is no secret deal or any understanding to facilitate the release of Alex Paul Menon". "There has to be a national policy to deal with hostage crisis," he said.

"There should be no case of releasing someone in order to free a hostage. There should be a rule made in the country that no matter who has been captured, be it even CM, no one should be freed in a swap deal. There should be no exception.

I will not back away from it," Singh told reporters in New Delhi.

Singh who was earlier asked in Raipur about the bail plea filed by jailed woman Naxal Meena Chaudhary asserted that no assurance has been given other than the agreement reached with Maoists. Meena was among those whose release was initially demanded by the rebels for setting free Menon.

The two Maoist mediators while referring to the demand of Maoists for release of some of their jailed associates said the state government should consider specially the release of those persons against whom there were least number of cases.

Hargopal and Sharma, who were addressing a news conference in Sukma, said cases against 400-odd tribals languishing in jails in Chhattisgarh be taken up on a fast- track mode for review and a maximum of them be released. They also denied any secret deal between Maoists and the state government.