Talks to free abducted Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon began on Thursday as mediators representing the Maoists and the Chhattisgarh government met in Raipur. The State government is being represented by Chhattisgarh's former Chief Secretary S.K. Mishra and Nirmala Buch, former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh, while social activist B.D. Sharma and Prof. Hargopal, a former professor in political science of the Central University Hyderabad, are representing the Maoists. Team Anna member and Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan and the former Konta-MLA, Manish Kunjam, declined to participate in the negotiations.

A press release circulated by the government described the talks as “positive yet inconclusive.”

‘Fruitful discussion'

“We had a fruitful discussion today [Thursday] and hope to arrive at a proposal by tomorrow [Friday],” said Mr. Sharma over the telephone. The Maoists would have to consent to the terms of Mr. Menon's release for the process to move forward.

Mr. Menon was abducted on April 21 while he was addressing a farmers' meeting in his district. The Maoists have demanded the release of eight suspected Maoists, the suspension of Operation Green Hunt and the release of all those detained on false pretexts by the Chhattisgarh police in return for Mr. Menon's release.