A government helicopter is kept on the standby in Raipur to facilitate the travel of two interlocutors to Tadmetla in Bastar forests on Thursday, the day on which Maoists are expected to release the kidnapped Sukma District Collector, Alex Paul Menon.
The two interlocutors nominated by Maoists, Professor G. Haragopal and B.D. Sarma are camping in the Chhattisgarh capital. They are expected to go to Tadmetla, deep inside the forests in Bastar to bring back Mr. Menon. “We are keeping our fingers crossed. We are ready to make the helicopter available for them,” a government spokesman told The Hindu on the phone from Raipur.
The uneasiness on the government side is palpable despite the Maoists' assurance on Mr. Menon's release, as there is no let-up in attacks on civilians and security forces. Despite Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh leaving broad hints about the government's willingness to hold ‘peace negotiations', the Maoists have continued the attacks.
In the latest incident reported from the Bacheli area of Dantewada, adjoining district of Sukma, two policemen were killed and four others were injured when rebels opened fire on a police patrol team on Tuesday afternoon. In what is being termed an ‘opportunity ambush', the Maoist team fired a volley of shots from automatic weapons at the unsuspecting police team. The policemen did retaliate, but the assault team had by then ran away from the house under construction from where it mounted the assault.
Three civilians were killed in the Kutru area by the Maoists on Monday and another one was done to death on Sunday in the same village the previous day.