Collector abduction: Second round of talks on; Maoists explain kidnapping

Collector abduction: Second round of talks on; Maoists explain kidnapping
Raipur:  The second round of talks between the mediators and the Maoists over the release of Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon is being held currently. This is after the first round ended inconclusively on Thursday. However, both sides said the three-hour meeting was "positive".

The government, meanwhile, issued another appeal to the Maoists to free Mr Menon. "It is similar to the talks we had earlier. All of us have together requested them that because the collector is in their custody and his condition is serious, his family's condition is also grave and his health is also deteriorating, so for the sake of humanity they should release him, the other issues and talks will keep happening," Ramvichar Netam, Chhattisgarh's Water Resources Minister, said today.

However, with several appeals issued to free Mr Menon this week, Maoists today released a statement, which explains why they kidnapped the 32-year-old Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer.  

The letter, which is addressed to those who have been urging the Maoists to release Mr Menon, says the Collector was involved in anti-Maoist operations. It cites examples of thousands of locals who are allegedly thrown into prison by the police without any recourse to justice.

The letter also disagrees with the argument that Mr Menon was working for the welfare of the locals.

Yesterday, Chief Minister Raman Singh has said that his government will consider the release of some Maoists, but within the legal framework. The Maoists have demanded the release of eight of their jailed leaders.

Sources told NDTV that the Chhattisgarh government is willing to consider the release of those Maoists who do not have heinous and grave charges against them. The state government is also considering the release of some tribals, who may have been allegedly arrested wrongly, the sources added.

The forces have already suspended operations in the south Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, where about 500 Maoists are said to be holding the abducted Sukma Collector hostage. The Maoists had demanded an end to all anti-Maoist operations in the region.

Yesterday Left leader Manish Kunjam returned from Bastar on Thursday after delivering medical help to Mr Menon, whose condition, according to a Maoist statement had worsened. Mr Kunjam declared that the Collector was safe and stable.

Mr Kunjam told journalists in Sukma, about 500 km from here: "Alex is fine and safe."

Returning from the hideout, Mr Kunjam, however, said he could not meet the collector but the medicines had reached him.

Mr Menon was abducted by the Maoists on Saturday from a remote village where he was attending the Gram Suraj Abhiyaan - a state government-run programme meant to promote greater coordination and connect between the villagers and administration. They also killed two of his security personnel when they resisted his abduction.

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