Sukma/ New Delhi:
The Sukma District Collector, Alex Paul Menon, reached home on Friday morning, 13 days after he had been abducted by the Maoists. Here are the 10 big developments of this case:
1. Alex Paul Menon, who was released by the Maoists yesterday, reached his home in Sukma a little after 9:30 this morning. Mr Menon was brought to Sukma in a helicopter from Chintalnar.
2. His wife Asha, who is pregnant, was there to receive him at their home. He was greeted by her and other family members with the traditional 'aarti'. There were also many locals from Sukma to greet Mr Menon.
3. After his release, Mr Menon, in an exclusive interview to NDTV, said that he had to cook in the jungle. He also said that he will continue to do what he is doing and will resume charge in Sukma from tomorrow. He also thanked Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, the state authorities, the mediators from the Government and the Maoist side, his family and friends, saying but for their cooperation his release would have been delayed.
4. Chief Minister Raman Singh described the release as a "first step toward achieving peace with the Maoists in the state". Mr Singh said, "We need to go forward and focus on development and progress of these areas. The state government has given an assurance to the Maoists on forming a committee and we have kept our word. The committee will take stock of pending cases and the so called delay in trials," said the Chief Minister.
5. After Mr Menon's release, questions were raised if the state government got into some kind of deal with the Maoists. "There has been no secret deal. All that was agreed upon was that there would be a review committee that will look into their demands and how systems can be improved. This review committee has already started work," said SK Mishra who was negotiating from the Government's side.
6. Maoist mediators have demanded that cases against about 400 tribals in jails in Chhattisgarh be taken up on a fast-track mode for review. The mediators - Professor G Hargopal and B D Sharma - told reporters, a day after Mr Menon's release, that the committee, headed by Nirmala Buch, one of the two state government negotiators, had started its work this morning.
7. The 32-year-old IAS officer was handed over, on Thursday, to the two mediators, who represented the Maoists in their talks with the Chhattisgarh government, at Tadmetla. Mr Menon was abducted on April 21 this year from a village meeting.
8. On Tuesday evening, the Maoists had issued a statement to the BBC saying they would hand over the Collector to the mediators on Thursday. They left Raipur in a helicopter a little before 8 on Thursday morning and reached Chintalnar by 8:30 am. At Chintalnar, they were joined by former MLA from Konta district, Manish Kunjam, to accompany them to Tadmetla, a Maoist-dominated forested area in the Sukma district.
9. There were several rounds of negotiations before the Maoists agreed to the release. Mr Menon's abductors had initially demanded the release of 17 of their cadre, a halt to the anti-Maoist offensive and sending security forces in Bastar back to the barracks, in exchange for Mr Menon. But the agreement finally reached does not envisage the release of any jailed Maoists.
10. Mr Menon is an asthma patient and when he was abducted, his wife had said he had medicines to last him about two days. 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 their target. Mr Menon is said to be very popular in the area.