Raipur/New Delhi: Emergency medicines were rushed Tuesday for abducted Sukma
district collector Alex Paul Menon, who is being held by Maoists
in Chhattisgarh for the past three days, even as uncertainty
prevailed over talks for his release.
With hours to go for the Maoist deadline, the Chhattisgarh
government Tuesday named two former chief secretaries to negotiate
with the guerrillas after two of the three mediators named by the
left-wing extremists refused to join the talks.
Meanwhile, medicines and clothes were rushed to Menon who is being
held in a forested hideout in Chintagufa close to National Highway
221, close to the Andhra Pradesh district of Khamam, tribal leader
Manish Kunjam told IANS.
Chintagufa is the area where Maoists had massacred 76 security
personnel, including 75 of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF),
on April 6, 2010.
Medicines for asthma, dehydration and eyedrops were collected from
Menon's wife Asha by Kunjam and taken to the forested hideout.
According Kunjam, Asha Menon requested him to urge the Maoists to
send back some "electronic evidence" like a video clip of her
husband, to indicate his well being.
The way the medicines are being rushed for Menon shows he has
"serious health problems", a source told IANS. The medicines were
taken in the evening.
In a blow to talks for Menon's release, Supreme Court lawyer
Prashant Bhushant said he could not mediate while the officer was
still in Maoist custody and Manish Kunjam, also named as mediator,
cited political reasons to drop out.
Maoists late Monday named Bhushan, former National Scheduled
Caste/Scheduled Tribe Commission chairperson B.D. Sharma and All
India Adivasi Mahasabha president Kunjam as mediators.
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh has named two officials to
mediate on behalf of the government.
"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 Menon," Raman Singh told reporters.
"The talk should not be held in context of any deadline," he said.
Soon after being named, Mishra said he would do the best to manage
"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.
Bhushan, explaining his reasons to decline being mediator, told
IANS that he "cannot mediate using an innocent person's life as a
pawn" and said the Maoists "should unconditionally release Menon."
Maoists are demanding 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 have set April 25 as deadline.
The other demand is that government should freeze operation Green
Hunt against them.
Bhushan said he considered the Maoists' demands for release of
innocent tribals and ending operation Green Hunt "completely
The Congress reacted sharply.
"If he thinks (Maoists' demands) are justified, he should go and
talk with them. He should understand the plight of the families of
those who have been abducted. But who can talk sense with such a
senseless person," Congress spokesperson Renuka Chowdhury said.
She asked the media not to publicise Bhushan's comments.
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 Sukma district,
around 500 km south of Raipur, when he was interacting with
tribals. The Maoists shot dead his two guards who resisted his
Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar added that Menon was