Collector case: Mediators hold inconclusive talks

The mediators would brief their respective sides about today`s discussion and talks would continue tomorrow.

Raipur: Mediators of the Chhattisgarh government and Maoists on Thursday held inconclusive talks after they met for the first time in a bid to end the six-day-old hostage crisis involving abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon.

The mediators of the two sides called the three-hour talks at the Pahuna guest house here "positive" and said they will be resumed tomorrow. A panel of legal experts also assisted in the deliberations, officials said.

Ahead of the three-hour meeting, a special emissary who had handed over medicines to the 32-year-old IAS officer, an asthma patient, said his condition was stable.

A government mediator and former chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh Nirmala Buch told reporters after the talks that the discussions were "positive" and though there was no outcome, the government was confident about a quick resolution of the hostage crisis.

Professor Hargopal, a former Vice-President of Andhra Pradesh civil liberties committee named by Maoists as a mediator from their side, said the meeting of the four mediators lasted three hours but it was preliminary in nature though "positive".

The mediators would brief their respective sides about today`s discussion and talks would continue tomorrow, he said.

Chief Minister Raman Singh said the demands of the abductors would be considered only within the legal framework.

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 to set free Menon, who was abducted last Saturday.

The government chose former Chief Secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra as its mediators while the Maoists named former National SC/ST Commission Chairperson B D Sharma, a former Bastar Collector, and Prof G Hargopal.

Hargopal said his top most priority would be to ensure that Menon is set free at the earliest.

Former CPI MLA Manish Kunjam, who today returned after delivering medicines for Menon, said the IAS officer`s health was "stable" and he was hoping for his speedy release.