Maoist mediator confident that there would be no loss of life

Raipur, Apr 26: Human rights activist and academic Professor Hargopal, who has been named as another mediator by the Maoists for talks with the government to secure the release of abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon, on Thursday said that he would ensure that there is no casualty on either side.

“Once we start the debate then we will perhaps learn what are their demands. Also we will prioritise and ensure that there is no loss of life on both the sides. We have not yet decided. I think you asked B D Sharma, he knows more,” he told the media on his arrival here.

Professor Hargopal further exuded confidence of resolving the hostage issue amicably.

“Both the government and the Maoists have agreed for negotiations. We are hopeful,” he added.

Earlier in the day, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh stated that Menon’s health had improved after medication.

The state government had rushed medicines, through a Maoist sympathiser Manish Kunjam, for Menon hours after the rebels informed that he was critically ill.

“I have received his message that medicine has reached. After delivering the medicine, he (Manish Kunjam) has reached his village. The positive news is that Menon is healthy and recovering. This is the message, which I got in the morning,” said Singh.

“The talks will begin today. Only mediators could say when it will get over and how many meetings are needed. It depends upon the mediators. There are two to four people. I hope that their discussion would end as soon as possible,” he added.

In a bid to defuse the crisis, the Chhattisgarh government appointed two retired bureaucrats-Nirmala Buch and S. K. Mishra-as mediators to negotiate with the Maoists to press for Menon’s release.

The Naxals have demanded the release of eight colleagues: 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The ultras also want anti-Naxal Operation Green Hunt to be cancelled, security forces to be withdrawn from the region and persons against whom they allege “fake cases” have been registered, released from the jails.

In an audacious operation, Maoist rebels on Saturday abducted Menon, an IAS officer of 2006 batch, from the middle of a meeting with villagers from Majhipara village in Keralapal area of the Naxal-infected district.

Menon is the first collector of the newly-created Sukma district and was known to be pro-active in undertaking development work in the backward region. (ANI)