Negotiations to secure the release of Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon are expected to begin on Thursday as the mediators appointed by the Chhattisgarh government and the Communist Party of India (Maoist) convene in Raipur.
Mr. Menon was abducted by armed cadres of the CPI (Maoist) when he was addressing a farmers’ meeting in his district on April 21. The Maoists gave the government 72 hours to begin negotiations, yet mediators on both sides said the deadline was likely to be extended.
While S.K. Mishra, former Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh, and Nirmala Buch, former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh, will represent the Chhattisgarh government, social activist and former Bastar Collector B.D. Sharma and Professor G. Hargopal will mediate for the Maoists.
“The Maoists have two basic demands — to halt Operation Green Hunt and move the police back to the barracks, and to drop fake cases of different types in which countless categories of simple people are involved,” Mr. Sharma told a press conference here on Wednesday.
The Chhattisgarh government has maintained that Operation Green Hunt — a phrase commonly used to describe anti-Maoist operations in the State — does not exist, and has indicated its willingness for dialogue to secure the release of the Collector.
At present, there is little information on the health of Mr. Menon, an asthmatic whose condition was described as “critical” in a Maoist press release. On Tuesday, a package of medicines was dispatched with Manish Kunjam, a former MLA from Konta district and CPI member. Mr. Kunjam is yet to return from his mission.