Abducted Sukma Collector's in-laws say he even refused gifts during wedding

On Sunday afternoon, when other families were watching movies on television, a pall of gloom hung over the house of the in-laws of the abducted Sukma Collector, Alex Paul Menon, in Nolambur.

It was just six months back that T.R. Venugopal, a retired chief engineer with LIC, and his wife Ananthi, got their daughter Pushpa Packiam alias Asha married to Mr. Menon. “We were not happy that he was posted in a dangerous place like Sukma in Chhattisgarh, which is under constant threat from rebel groups. But, he said he wanted to develop the society,” said Mr.Venugopal.

Mr. Menon, a 2006 batch IAS officer, had cleared Indian Revenue Services in 2005. He was the Additional Collector of Jagdalpur from June 2009 to May 2010 and of Dhamtari from May 2010 to January 2011. After this, he became the Collector of Sukma.

On his Facebook page, Mr. Menon describes himself as a “small-town middle-class boy, who has come up in life just by sheer hard work, sincerity, commitment, dedication and above all who just heeded to the “CALL to SERVE” in the SERVICES; simultaneously, somebody who has not forgotten his roots, values and friendly next-door-boy manners. Also fun loving, mischievous and a travel freak, foodie and a film and music lover.”

His in-laws know him as a voracious reader and straightforward and honest person. “He even refused to accept a wrist watch and ring we gifted him during the wedding,” said Ms. Ananthi amidst sobs. “As parents, we are even unable to be with Asha, who is now alone and in need of solace. But, we can't go as all roads are closed.”

Ms. Ananthi remembers her son-in-law calling them up at 11 a.m. on Saturday. Then he again called at 4.30 p.m. to enquire about his father, who is in the city for treatment of a cardiac problem. “He was concerned and was asking his father whether he was alright and if the treatment was going on well. Then all of a sudden, the line got cut,” said Ms. Ananthi.

Ten minutes later, Ms. Asha called Ms. Ananthi to inform them about the abduction of Mr. Menon.

“I did not know what to do. He is such a wonderful person who was always concerned about the locals in his jurisdiction. He wanted them to get proper medical care and education. He was popular in the area and that is the reason why they are holding demonstrations for his release,” said Mr. Venugopal.

He said his son-in-law came up the hard way and was not frightened of obstacles in life. “He is a very adventurous person too. His father named after former Defence Minister V.K. Krishna Menon,” said Mr. Venugopal. “We hope that he gets released soon.”

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