After being held hostage by Maoists for 12 days, abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon is expected to be freed by this evening when he will be handed over to the two mediators handpicked by the captors.

“B D Sharma and Professor G Hargopal, who represented the Maoists in the talks with the Chhattisgarh Government for the 32-year-old IAS officer’s release, left for Tadmetla this morning to receive Mr. Menon, who was kidnapped on April 21,” said N Baijendra Kumar, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Raman Singh.

Mr. Kumar told PTI that both the nominees will reach Chintalnar village in Sukma district by a helicopter and then proceed by road to secure Mr. Menon’s release.

The Chhattishgarh government has already made all arrangements to bring out Mr. Menon safely from the jungles following which the officer will undergo a medical examination as he is an asthmatic, he said.

Health officials in Sukma, Dantewada, Jagdalpur as well as Raipur districts have been asked to be ready for the check up. Also, an ambulance has been stationed at Chintalnar to meet any possible emergency, Mr. Kumar said.

According to top administrative officials, Mr. Menon is expected to be set free in full public view at Tadmetla, a rebel-dominated forested area in Sukma.

Earlier, Mr. Sharma said that they are hopeful of returning with Mr. Menon by this evening.

The breakthrough to ensure the safe return of Mr. Menon came in the form of an agreement between the two mediators each of the Chhattisgarh government and the Maoists at their fourth round of talks on April 30.

Under the agreement, the government had agreed to set up a high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Nirmala Buch, one of the two Government mediators, to review the cases of all prisoners languishing in Chhattisgarh jails including the cases demanded by the Maoists.

Before the agreement was announced, the Maoists had set a deadline of May 2 for Chhattisgarh government to release eight of their jailed associates.

Later, a message from the Maoists said they would release Mr. Menon today.