Raipur, Apr 24 (ANI): With the deadline looming large for the safe release of abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh on Tuesday urged the Maoists not to fix a deadline till the negotiations are over.
"It will not be appropriate to fix a deadline because mediators are going to sit and negotiate the issue. I have also appealed that the deadline should be extended till the negotiations are over," he said.
The state government today appointed two retired bureaucrats, as mediators to negotiate with the ultras to secure Menon's safe release.
Singh informed that both officials, Nirmala Buch and S. K. Mishra, had given their consent after a telephonic conversation with him.
"I talked to retired chief secretary of (neighbouring) Madhya Pradesh Nirmala Buch and sought her help in the negotiation. The second person is retired chief secretary of Chhattisgarh S. K. Mishra. I talked to both of them last night (April 23) and sought their consent," he said.
The state government also rushed medicines for Menon hours after the rebels informed that he was critically ill.
"The necessary medicine will reach Tarimetla (village) in time and it will help to address the problem related to his health," added Singh.
In a statement, the Maoists termed Menon's health as critical and asked the mediators to bring medicines along with them.
The Maoists asked the government not to indulge in 'delay tactics', as Menon's health was deteriorating. They said only the three persons named by them will be allowed to negotiate in Tarimetla village and asked them to accept the invitation to act as mediators.
The Maoists have also nominated the names of former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma, Team Anna member and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan and All India Adivasi Mahasabha President Manish Kunjam.
Both Bhushan and Kunjam have, however, refused to mediate in the matter.
The Naxals have demanded the release of eight colleagues: Markam Gopanna alias Satyam Reddy, Nirmal Akka alias Vijay Laxmi, Devpal Chandrashekhar Reddy, Shantipriya Reddy, Meena Choudhari, Korsa Sunny, Markam Sunny and Asit Kumar Sen.
The ultras also want anti-Naxal Operation Green Hunt to be cancelled, security forces to be withdrawn from the region and persons against whom they allege "fake cases" have been registered, released from the jails.
In an audacious operation, Maoist rebels on Saturday abducted Menon, an IAS officer of 2006 batch, from the middle of a meeting with villagers from Majhipara village in Keralapal area of the Naxal-infected district.
The Sukma district collector's kidnapping comes even as uncertainty continues over the fate of ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka in neighbouring Odisha who was abducted by the Maoists about a month ago.
Menon is the first collector of the newly-created Sukma district and was known to be pro-active in undertaking development work in the backward region. (ANI)
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