Nearly two weeks after he was kidnapped by the Maoists, Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon is likely to be released around noon today. The Maoists had issued a statement to the BBC on Tuesday evening, saying on May 3, they would hand over the 32-year-old IAS officer to the two mediators who represented them in their talks with the Chhattisgarh government.
The mediators, BD Sharma and Professor G Hargopal, are already on their way to receive Mr Menon. They left for Chintalnar a little before 8 this morning. From Chintalnar, they will proceed towards Tadmetla, a rebel-dominated forested area in the Sukma district where the Maoists are expected to release the Collector.
Professor Hargopal, a Hyderabad-based academician, said after Mr Menon is released, the state must keep its part of the agreement that was signed by mediators from both sides earlier this week. (Read agreement)
Under the pact, the state has agreed to set up a committee headed by Nirmala Buch, one of the two government mediators, to review the cases of all prisoners languishing in Chhattisgarh jails, including those demanded by the Maoists.
The agreement does not involve the release of any jailed Maoists. The Maoists had earlier demanded the release of 17 of their jailed leaders, a halt to the anti-Maoist offensive and sending security forces in Bastar back to barracks, in exchange of Mr Menon.
Last week, the Maoists sent an e-mail to the media, explaining why they had kidnapped Mr Menon. The e-mail said that the Sukma Collector was engaged in anti-Maoist activities in the region which is why he became a target.
Mr Menon was abducted by the Maoists on April 21 from the Sukma district.