Chattisgarh govt rushes medicines for abducted Sukma Collector

Chattisgarh govt rushes medicines for abducted Sukma Collector

Chattisgarh govt rushes medicines for abducted Sukma Collector

The Chhattisgarh government today rushed medicines for abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon hours after the Maoists informed them that he was critically ill.

The medicines are being sent through president of All India Adivasi Mahasabha Manish Kunjam, one of the mediators named by the Maoists for holding negotiations with the government. Though Kunjam has refused to take part in the mediation process, he has agreed to take the medicines to the collector.

Last night, the Maoists had named three mediators including lawyer Prashant Bhushan and Former National SC/ST Commission chairperson B D Sharma, for negotiations after the Chhattisgarh government offered to hold talks to free Menon from the extremists.

The Naxals had said that 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. Kunjam, who had declined the Maoists' offer yesterday citing regional circumstances and party obligations, today said that following the state government's request, he was ready to take medicines for the 32-year-old IAS officer, who is an asthma patient.

"Menon's life is supreme. I will be going to Sukma soon to take the medicines and then proceed to Tarimetla. Thereafter, I will come back," he said. Chief Minister Raman Singh's Chief Secretary N Brijendra Kumar today told PTI that few mediapersons from Naxal-hit Bastar region have also offered to take medicines for Menon, and the state government has decided to give them permission for the same, provided they keep a distance from police, lest it may prove detrimental to the officer's safety.

A worried Asha, Menon's wife, has also appealed to Maoists to send an audio/video tape of her husband, so that she can gauge his condition. She asked them to provide immediate medical relief to him in view of his critical state.

Chief Minister Raman Singh had said yesterday that the state government was exploring all options and making efforts to ensure safe release of Menon. He said the state government has been in continuous touch with the Centre since the IAS officer was abducted.

An all-party meeting was also convened in Raipur to discuss the issue, Singh had said adding that all the parties have come out with a joint appeal, which says that the matter could be settled through talks. Earlier, the Chhattisgarh government also appointed a sub-committee under the chairmanship of the CM to look into the abduction issue.

The panel included State Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar, Tribal Welfare Minister Kedar Kashyap, Water Resources Minister Ramvichar Netam and School Education Minister Brijmohan Agrawal. Naxals abducted the 2006 batch officer on Saturday from Majhipara village in Raipur district when he was holding a meeting as part of the government's special Gram Suraj Abhiyan.

A day later, the Maoists had set a deadline of April 25 to fulfill their demands that included immediate halt of all police action against them and release of eight fellow comrades including two women. They had also asked the government not to indulge in "delay tactics" as Menon's health was worsening.

According to sources, Menon is being held hostage at a Chhattisgarh-Odisha border area and is kept under watch by nearly 400 armed Naxals.

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