Day 9: Abduction of Alex Paul Menon, District Collector of Sukma, Chhattisgarh.

Alex Paul Menon, Collector of Sukma District, Chhattisgarh.

On April 21, Maoists rebels disguised as villagers took Alex Paul Menon, the District Collector of Sukma, Chhattisgarh as hostage at gunpoint from a forested location in Sukma district, some 500 km south of Raipur. When the Collector’s two security guards resisted his abduction, the Maoists shot them dead.

According to Official sources the Maoists have in the meantime upped their demand. They now want the release of 17 jailed cadres, instead of the eight named by them earlier, and a halt to “Operation Green Hunt” – the anti-Maoist drive.

Official sources said the Chhattisgarh government, desperate to ensure the safe release of Alex PaulMenon, has positively responded to the wo demands placed by Maoists.

The two mediators – B.D. Sharma, former IAS (Indian Administrative Service) officer and Professor G. Hargopal of Hyderabad met the rebels on Saturday (yesterday) with a message from the Chhattisgarh government. Today (Sunday) morning they came out from the rebels infested area with a reply from the Maoists.

However, the two mediators refused to divulge any details of the Maoists’ reply. They said: “Collector Menon is safe, we will share our discussion with Maoists only with the government-mediators in Raipur.”

Earlier, before visiting the Maoist hideout, Mr. Sharma and Prof. Hargopal had several rounds of closed-door meetings at Raipur’s state guest house with Mr. S.K. Mishra, former chief secretary of Chhattisgarh and Ms. Nirmala Buch, former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary – the two mediators appointed by the government.

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