Chhattisgarh CM denies secret deal with Maoists

Thirteen days after he was kidnapped by Maoists, district collector Alex Paul Menon was received at home in Sukma by his joyous and relieved family on Friday. Soon after, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said no secret deal had been struck with the rebels to secure his release.

Back home: Alex Paul Menon, Sukma district collector, speaks to the media after being released by Maoist rebels, at Chintalnar police base. pic/AFP 

Menon, a 32-year-old Indian Administrative Service official from Tamil Nadu, had emerged on Thursday from captivity at 6.30 pm, accompanied by Maoist mediators, in Tarmetla, a tiny forested hamlet.He had been abducted from a wooded area in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on April 21. The Maoists took him away after murdering his two bodyguards Amjad Khan and Kishen Kujur.

He is believed to have been held by Maoists deep in a forest, amid multiple layers of security. A visibly fatigued Menon, who suffers from asthma, said he was feeling “ok” after emerging from Maoist captivity. He spent the night at a Central Reserve Police Force (CPRF) camp at Chintalnar, 80 km from Sukma town.

His release sparked off celebrations by his family here in Sukma town as well as in Tamil Nadu where his parents live. Menon’s freedom was ensured after Maoist interlocutors and government mediators Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra signed a two-page agreement on Monday night.
In line with the pact, a high-powered committee will be set up to look into all demands made by the Maoists. These include considering the release of Maoists jailed allegedly on fake charges.

Raman Singh denied any secret agreement with Maoists in exchange for Menon.“The agreement with the Maoists is not a secret document and has been put in the public domain on the website,” Raman Singh told reporters in Delhi. He was reacting to reports of Maoists claiming that the Chhattisgarh government had agreed to release some prisoners from jail. The government panel to look into the demands of Maoists will be headed by Nirmala Buch, former Madhya Pradesh chief secretary. The Chhattisgarh chief secretary and police chief will also be part of the committee.

Menon reached his Sukma home yesterday. Menon’s wife Asha, who is pregnant, was there to receive him at the door. As he was greeted by his wife and other family members with the traditional ‘aarti’, scores of media personnel jostled with each other to capture the moment. There were also many locals from Sukma to greet Menon.

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