Free 8 members, we will release collector: Naxals

Almost twenty-four hours after the Sukma collector was abducted, the Maoists have set forward their demand and have asked the government to release eight rebels and halt Operation Green Hunt in Bastar. They have set a deadline till April 25 for the government to comply with their terms and conditions in return for the safe release of the officer.

Alex Paul Menon, a 2006-batch IAS officer, was taken away by red brigade from the villagers meet organised at Majhipara near Kerlapal at gun point on Saturday. He is the first collector to be abducted by guerillas in Chhattisgarh.

The additional director general of police (anti-Maoist operation) Ramniwas told Hindustan Times that the set of demands needs to be verified.

“The police so far has not received it. We came to know from the media,” he said.

The state government called an emergency meeting after the terms and conditions were issued to the BBC correspondent in Raipur on his mobile as the pre-recorded statement by Maoist leader Vijay, the secretary of south Bastar divisional committee.

“It would be too early to react to such demands. We need to check the veracity of the recorded message,” N Baijendra Kumar, principal secretary to the chief minister, told HT.

“We are evaluating various options. The government is closely monitoring the situation and working on various fronts to ensure safe and early release of the abducted officer,” he said.

The Maoists also demanded withdrawal of cases against those arrested in connection with the attack on Congress leader Hungaram Markam in Konta block of Dantewada about four years ago. They also asked for an immediate withdrawal of paramilitary forces and end to combing and search operations by the police.

However Vijay didn’t mention how the Maoists are willing to negotiate with the government and through whom.

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