Raipur: With just a day to go for the Maoist deadline, the Chhattisgarh government Tuesday named two former chief secretaries to negotiate with the guerrillas who have kidnapped Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon.
“Former chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh Nirmala Buch and former chief secretary of Chhattisgarh S.K. Mishra will negotiate with Maoists on behalf of the Chhattisgarh government for the early and safe release of Alex Paul Menon,” Chief Minister Raman Singh told reporters.
“I have spoken to the mediators. The bid for dialogue with Naxals (Maoists) has just been processed, and the talk should not be held in context of any deadline,” the chief minister said.
Soon after being named, Mishra said he would do the best to manage Menon’s release.
“I am in touch with the Chhattisgarh government regarding the demands put forth by Maoists but it’s not possible to do everything in a deadline period,” Mishra remarked.
Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar added that Menon was “completely safe” and probably kept inside a Chhattisgarh jungle.
The 32-year-old Menon, a 2006 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer who belongs to Tamil Nadu, was abducted at gunpoint Saturday by rebels from a forested location in Suma district, some 500 km south from here, when he was interacting with tribals. The Maoists shot dead his two guards who resisted his abduction.
Maoists late Sunday evening said in an anonymous taped message that Chhattisgarh’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime must free its eight key jailed colleagues- Marakam Gopannam, Nirmal Akka, Devpal Chandra Shekher Reddy, Shanti Priya Reddy, Meena Chowdhary, Korasa Sunny, Markan Sunny and Asit Kumar Sen – and set April 25 as deadline. The other demand is that government should freeze operation Green Hunt against them.
While the state government fixed its mediators, two of the three men appointed by the Maoists have refused.
Maoists late Monday named Supreme Court lawyer and Team Anna member Bhushan, former National Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Commission chairperson B.D. Sharma and All India Adivasi Mahasabha president Kunjam as mediators.
While Bhushant said he could not mediate while Menon was still in Maoist custody, Kunjam cited political reasons.