Two of the three mediators, named by the CPI (Maoist) to secure the release of Sukma Collector Alex P. Menon, have declined to be part of negotiations, implying that talks will not begin before the April 25 deadline set by the Maoists.
S.K. Mishra, former Chief Secretary, Chhattisgarh, and Nirmala Buch, former Secretary, Madhya Pradesh, shall mediate for the government.
The Maoists named the former Konta MLA, Manish Kunjam of the CPI, Supreme Court advocate and Team Anna member Prashant Bhushan, and social activist B.D. Sharma as possible mediators but Mr. Kunjam and Mr. Bhushan have declined the offer.
Mr. Kunjam has agreed to deliver medicines to a Maoist intermediary, as the Collector's health is said to be critical. CPI general secretary Sudhakar Reddy said, “Kunjam cannot be part of the negotiations. We disagree with the government and the Maoists for killing innocents, but do not agree with the methods adopted to settle these issues.”
“I agree with some of the Maoist demands, but it is unacceptable that they use the Collector's life as a pawn in negotiations,” said Mr. Bhushan, urging the Maoists to release Mr. Menon immediately. Mr. Sharma agreed to mediate but said the government had not approached him.