Efforts to release Sukma Collector accelerated

Efforts for the release of Menon, the Sukma collector, picked up pace with the mediators appointed by the Maoists reaching Raipur to meet the government’s negotiators. Some of the tension was relieved after Left leader Manish Kunjam, who delivered the urgently needed asthma medicines to him, said he was “fine and safe”.

Menon, a 2006 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was abducted at gunpoint April 21 by rebels from a forested location, while he was interacting with tribals. The Maoists shot dead his two guards who resisted his abduction.

Returning from the hideout where Menon is being held hostage, Kunjam said he could not meet the district collector but the medicines had reached him.

Kunjam, a Communist Party of India leader who had been appointed as mediator but had turned the offer down, had also met Menon’s wife Asha at the collector’s official residence in Sukma and briefed her about his health.

The Maoists then named former Bastar collector B.D. Sharma and Hyderabad professor G. Hargopal, who are expected to meet Nirmala Buch, former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary, and S.K. Mishra, former Chhattisgarh chief secretary, appointed as mediators by the Chhattisgarh government to negotiate the way forward.

The Maoists have essentially two demands – the release of eight jailed leaders and a freeze on Operation Green Hunt against them.