Maoists’ mediator Sharma to set out for Bastar Thursday

New Delhi, April 25: Maoists’ mediator B.D. Sharma will Thursday head for Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region to initiate a dialogue for the release of captive Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon.

Sharma said that while he had received no official request from the state government, he had readily agreed to be of any help in normalising the situation especially in context of his long, personal association with the people and the area of Bastar.

Talking to journalists, he said: “The Maoists’ press release has a set of issues that must be attended to immediately. It also expresses concern about the health of Menon, supplies of medicines and early recovery.”

Sharma, a former chairman of the National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Commission, said the Maoists had raised issues like the stopping of Operation Green Hunt, halting combing operations and moving police back to the barracks, besides asking for action on “fake cases” against tribals.

Claiming a state versus tribal struggle for the region’s resources as the main issue in Bastar’s tribal areas, Sharma said tribal culture was so strong that it didn’t need too much external policing.

“Operation Green Hunt is ideologically similar to US campaigns against Native Americans in which (white) people went on expeditions to kill indigenous, tribal American Indians to capture their natural resources,” Sharma opined.

In their press statement, the Maoists had named Sharma, All India Adivasi Mahasabha’s Manish Kunjam and prominent Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan as mediators but Kunjam and Bhushan refused to take up the offer.

IANS