Raipur: Maoists in Chhattisgarh want the release of eight of their jailed leaders and an immediate halt of "Operation Green Hunt" to free Sukma district magistrate, whom they kidnapped yesterday. The left ultras have set an April 25 deadline before the government to meet their demands.
The eight left ultras are Markam Gopanna alias Satyam Reddy, Nirmal Akka alias Vijay Laxmi, Devpal Chandrashekhar Reddy, Shantipriya Reddy, Meena Choudhari, Korsa Sunny, Markam Sunny and Asit Kumar Sen.
The demands were made by an unidentified Naxal leader in an audio message to media organizations, additional Director General of Police Ram Nivas (anti- Naxal operations) told reporters.
The authenticity of the audio tape was being verified, he said, adding that no Maoist group has got in touch yet with the state government.
Chhattisgarh police on Sunday claimed to have got some important clues in the abduction of Sukma District Collector. They have received information that abducted Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon is safe.
Meanwhile, social activist Swami Agnivesh expressed willingness to mediate between the Naxals and Chhattisgarh government to secure the release of the district collector.
32-year-old Menon, a 2006-batch IAS officer, was abducted on Saturday at Majhipara village in the district where he was meeting villages for a government outreach programme.
Menon`s wife Asha said she was keeping in touch with senior officials at the state and central levels and had talked to Union minister Jairam Ramesh and former Malkangiri collector Vinil Krishna, who had been abducted by Maoists a few months back in Odisha. Krishna asked her not to lose courage, she said.
Appealing for his release, she said Menon has done a lot for the new district`s development. "I would just request them (Naxals) to free him as soon as possible," she added.
Menon`s father A Varadhas said he came to know about the abduction from his daughter-in-law. At the time of the abduction, the Maoists asked him as to who was the collector, he said.
"My son stepped forward and said `it is me`," he said adding that Menon was then taken away by the Naxals.
He said he had not been given information by the officials. He also said that he had been told by Asha that the locals were in touch with the chief minister. "They spoke to Raman Singh. He is doing the needful," he said.
Menon`s father-in-law Venugopal said, "He (Menon) never did any wrong in his lifetime to anybody and neither has my daughter done any wrong to anybody....."
"Why the Maoists are doing such things?" he wondered.
The Association of IAS Officers in Chattisgarh held a meeting here today and appealed to the ultras to release the Collector unharmed.
Locals in the area where Menon was kidnapped took out a peace march to demand his release.
In the meantime, the two security guards who were shot dead by the Naxals before Menon`s abduction were accorded a guard of honour at Sukma district headquarters on Sunday.
According to officials who were present at Gram Suraj Abhiyan programme at Majhipara village where Menon was abducted, some 50-odd ultras, including women, had come to the venue and taken away Menon after gunning down his guards.