Was Sukma Collector freed as part of swap deal?
Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon has been released unharmed by Maoists but there are many unanswered questions, especially on the conditions on which his release was secured.
Raipur/Sukma: Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon has been released unharmed by Maoists but there are many unanswered questions, especially on the conditions on which his release was secured.
For the record, the state government claims that the only ‘agreement’ it has entered into the Maoists is to set up a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Nirmala Buch, one of the two government mediators, to review the cases of all prisoners languishing in Chhattisgarh jails including the cases demanded by the Maoists.
Chief Minister Raman Singh has stressed that no secret deal has been reached between the two sides. Moreover, he stood by the government’s assurance by issuing orders to form a review committee, as per the agreement, within minutes after Collector’s release.
Singh said the three-member committee, which also included the Chief Secretary and the DGP, will be meeting right away.
However, reports said that Menon was released as part of a swap deal with the government having agreed to release some Naxals to secure the Collector’s release.
What has aided the speculation is a press release by the ultras asking the government to honour its promise that three senior Maoists leaders be released immediately and five others via fast track courts. Later the review committee will look into 346 other cases.
The 32-year-old 2006-batch IAS officer Alex Paul, abducted on April 21 at Sukma, about 450 km from the state capital, while touring a village was handed over to the two Maoist mediators B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal, at Tadmetla in the evening and brought by road to the CRPF base camp at Chintalnar.
Today morning he reached Sukma to an emotional reunion with his wife and his well wishers. He may also go to Raipur later in the day. Yesterday, Menon had telephoned the Chief Minister at 6.55 pm and thanked the state government for its "sincere effort" in securing his release.