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Thursday, May 3, 2012

Wishing and Welcoming Alex Paul Menon from Maoists

Some good news – after  a 12-day ordeal, the abducted Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon, is reported to have  been released from custody by the Maoists about an hour or so ago.  The collector is reported to have been handed over to the two interlocutors Prof. G. Haragopal and B.D. Sarma deep inside the Bastar forests. Reports state that the  two interlocutors flew to Chintalnar in a Government helicopter and went into the jungles on motorcycles. A large contingent of media which stationed itself at Chintalnar was asked not to accompany the interlocutors.

The release was facilitated after the Government and the two interlocutors hammered out an agreement to constitute a high-power committee to “regularly review all cases of persons in respect of whom investigation/prosecution is pending.”  The Maoists have demanded the release of eight of their jailed comrades apart from calling for a halt to the Operation Green Hunt, a code-name for the counter intersurgency operations.  According to the agreement, no jailed Naxal cadres will be released, but the government has to constitute a high-powered committee to review cases of some prisoners in jail including the cases demanded by the Naxals.  The  high-power committee would start its work an hour after the release of the abducted collector.

As one would recall,  Sukma was one amongst the 9 districts of Chattisgarh announced in Aug 2011; and was inaugurated by Hon. Shri. Dr. Raman Singh, Chief Minister, Chhattisgarh on 16th January, 2012.  Alex Paul Menon was its first collector.  He was abducted on 21st April 12 and held in captivity since.  He reportedly was an asthmatic and  medicines were reportedly supplied through former MLA Manish Kunjam.   Kunjam incidentally had backed out of acting as a mediator in the matter  when he was nominated by the Maoists but has been aiding the negotitations. 

There has been some buzz and lot of tension surrounding his expectant release and he was to be released in full public view at Tadmetla, a Maoist -dominated forested area in Sukma.  The District administration had been busy making arrangements for a health check-up and ambulances were also being kept ready.  There were reports that the collector would head for home first to meet his pregnant wife before  going to state capital Raipur for a medical check up.  Social media is active with close to 5000 people signing up his FB wishing his early release.  

There are reports on TV and other media that Menon has since been handed over to the mediators as their vehicles had been allowed to enter the forest area.   Helicopters are kept ready at Chintalnar CRPF base to ferry the IAS official – still there are no confirmed sighting of Menon though.  

Wishing early release of Menon and wishing him good health

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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