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Collector's abduction: Tension as Maoist deadline ends

Chhattisgarh,Crime/Disaster/Accident,Terrorism, Wed, 25 Apr 2012 IANS

Raipur, April 25 (IANS) Tension spread in Chhattisgarh as the deadline set by the abductors of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon lapsed at 5 p.m. Wednesday. Officials said they had no information about the fate of the young officer.


"We have no communication from the Maoists about Menon even after the deadline ended at 5 p.m., we heard that a 'jan adalat' (people's court) was organised by the Maoists at Nagaram area in the Bastar region to decide the fate of the collector," officials at the police headquarters here told IANS.


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, while he was interacting with tribals. The Maoists shot dead his two guards who resisted his abduction.


Reports said the staff in Chief Minister Raman Singh's office was constantly calling officials in the district to get updates about a possible deadline extension by the rebels.


The Maoists are demanding that Chhattisgarh's Bharatiya Janata Party regime set free their eight 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 the deadline of 5 p.m. April 25.


"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," an official with the state's home department told IANS earlier.


The only relief, he said, was that Maoists had Tuesday allowed one of the three proposed mediators - Manish Kunjam - 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 the troubled Bastar region, had collected medicines from Asha Menon, Menon's wife, 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.


In a message sent to media houses, the 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 the Maoists in neighbouring Odisha.


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