Sukma Collector safe, in good health: Mediators
Raipur: In a sign of respite, the Maoists interlocutors on Sunday said the abducted collector of Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, Alex Paul Menon, is safe and in ‘good health’.
The two interlocutors - Hyderabad-based professor G Hargopal and former IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer BD Sharma who had gone to meet the rebels on Saturday, today said the rebels had replied to the Chhattisgarh government's message on their demands for his release.
The two mediators told reporters that they will now meet the government-appointed interlocutors Nirmala Buch and SK Mishra and give them details of their talks with the Maoists.
"We had a detailed talk with top Maoists leaders during our overnight stay in the jungle and briefed them about the talk we had with government mediators in Raipur regarding the two demands for Menon's release."
However, the interlocutors refused to give any details of the Maoists' reply to the local media in Chintalnar area of Sukma district.
They said: "Collector Menon is safe, we will share our discussion with Maoists only with the government-mediators in Raipur."
Hargopal and Sharma visited the Maoist hideout after holding several rounds of closed-door marathon meetings with two government mediators - Nirmala Buch, former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary, and SK Mishra, former chief secretary of Chhattisgarh - at Raipur's state guest house.
No breakthrough has been achieved after two rounds of talks between the mediators appointed by the Maoists and the state government.
In exchange for Menon, the Maoists want release of 17 of their jailed leaders, halt to the anti-Maoist offensive 'Operation Green Hunt' and return of security forces in Bastar to the barracks.
Faced with the demands of ultras, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has convened a meeting of his senior ministers to find a solution.
Raman Singh yesterday said that the "safe and early release of Menon is top priority".
"I will do the best to get back the young IAS officer from Maoists' clutches," he asserted.
Menon, 32, was abducted at gunpoint April 21 by rebels from a forested location in Sukma district, some 500 km south of here. The Maoists shot dead his two guards who resisted his abduction.
Maoist militants had justified abduction of Menon and asked the state government to make its stand clear on their demands if it wants his safe release.