Ranchi, Apr 24: The Maoists have issued a statement saying that Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon’s health is critical and that he is in urgent need of medicine and medical attention.
According to TV reports, the statement, which came by way of a letter, added that the blame would lie with the government if anything happened to Menon because of a delay in getting the medicine across.
Meanwhile, three mediators have been named by the Maoists including Supreme Court lawyer and Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan, former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma, and president of All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam for negotiations with the state government.
Earlier, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh, told media that if the Maoists nominated negotiators to represent them at talks, the government would promptly follow suit.
“We have taken two steps so far. Firstly, there was an appeal by the government, the people of the state and (Menon’s) family for his release. After this, the second step is that if they send us the names of people for talks, we will put forward names from our side and take the process of dialogue forward,” Singh said.
While refusing to comment on specific points of the Maoists’ demands that came up in the media, Singh said that any demands and the feasibility of them being met would be decided once negotiations for Menon’s release begin.
“Some of their demands have come in the papers, we read them out at the meeting. When discussions begin, we will look at what is possible and what is not,” he added.
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The ultras also want anti-Naxal Operation Green Hunt to be cancelled, security forces to be withdrawn from the region and persons against whom they allege “fake cases” have been registered, released from the jails.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.
The Sukma district collector’s kidnapping comes even as uncertainty continues over the fate of ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka in neighbouring Odisha who was abducted by the Maoists about a month ago.
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)