Collector's abduction: tension as Maoist deadline nears
Tension spread in Chhattisgarh as the deadline set by the abductors of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon lapses at 5 p.m. Tuesday. Reports coming in from the Maoists stronghold of Bastar said the deadline could be extended
Menon, 32, a 2006 batch Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was abducted at gunpoint Saturday by rebels from a forested location, about 500 km south from here, when he was interacting with tribals. The Maoists shot dead his two guards who resisted his abduction.
"Tension is running very high at police headquarters here and in the IAS community as well. But the worst period is for the family of Menon, mainly his wife Asha who is going through a phase of mental trauma," a senior official with home department told IANS.
The only relief, he said, was that Maoists had allowed one of the three proposed mediators - Manish Kunjam - Tuesday to carry medicines for Menon, who is an asthma patient, to their hideout in Sukma.
Kunjam, the former Chhattisgarh legislator and well known Communist Party of India leader in troubled Bastar region, had collected medicines from Asha Menon from her official residence at Sukma and reached Chintagufa area Tuesday evening. He then went into the jungle to hand over medicines to Menon, who reportedly needs urgent medical attention.
Maoists are demanding that Chhattisgarh's Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) regime set 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 had set April 25 as the deadline.
In a message sent to media houses, Maoists proposed Hyderabad-based Prof Haragopal as a mediator after Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Kunjam refused the offer.
Haragopal is said to be the man who played a crucial role in the release of Malkangiri district collector R. Vineel Krishna in February 2011 when he was held hostage by Maoists in neighbouring Odisha.