In an interesting development today, a Chhattisgarh court rejected the bail application of two Maoist women who the rebels wanted released in exchange for Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon.
The bail petitions for Meena Chowdhury and Shantipriya Reddy were moved yesterday, almost simultaneously with Menon’s release. The government had not opposed bail to these two Maoist women.
But Additional Sessions Judge B P Verma rejected their applications today saying charges against them were serious.
The state has also agreed to the Maoists’ demand that a panel be set up to review the files of certain jailed rebels.
Meanwhile, state Chief Minister Raman Singh sought today a national policy to deal with such abductions.
“There has to be a national policy to deal with the hostage crises. I will ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in tomorrow’s meeting to call all chief ministers to discuss it. There is a need to discuss it briefly,” Singh told reporters here.
Stressing that Naxalism is not a state-specific problem, the chief minister said a national policy can help in tackling the situation in all affected states.
“I feel there is a need to initiate a policy at the national level. Maoism is not a state problem. It is a problem of the country,” he said.
The 2006-batch IAS officer, who was abducted on April 21 in Sukma district while touring a village, was yesterday handed over to two Maoist mediators — B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal — at Tadmetla.
“The release of Sukma collector is a matter of relief and happiness for us. The agreement between the government and Maoists mediators will be a milestone to create a positive atmosphere in Chhattisgarh,” Singh said.
He said, as promised, a committee was constituted within an hour of the collector’s release. “The committee will be headed by former Chief Secretary of Madhya Pradesh Nirmala Buch. The committee will review all pending cases of all prisoners languishing in Chattisgarh jails including the cases demanded by the Maoists on a priority basis”, the CM added.
Singh also said the three-member committee, comprising the state Chief Secretary and the Director General of Police, had a meeting yesterday. “The committee is holding a meeting today too. It is a permanent committee. No time limit has been set for deciding on the cases,” he said.
The chief minister said there was no secret deal or any quid pro quo between the Naxals and the state government behind the release of Menon.
“There was no secret deal. There is nothing secret in the world. All dialogues and discussions were held between the mediators. We have put a copy of the agreement between the state government and Maoists mediators on our website,” he said.
Singh said that the state government will provide all necessary help to Menon’s two security officers — Amjad Khan and Kishan Kujur — killed by Maoists before kidnapping the collector.
“The government is working for the development of the people. Many positive steps are being taken. And, if Maoists abduct officials like Menon, who are pro-development, then it needs to be condemned. It clearly exposes their claim of no-development in the region,” he said.
When asked whether the operation against Maoists was continuing in the state, Singh said: “Let me clarify, there is nothing like Salwa Judum and Green Hunt operations. There is no existence of such things. You will not find any word like Green Hunt in the dictionary. There is no Green Hunt operation.”
The chief minister of the BJP-ruled state is in the national capital to attend a meeting called by the central government to discuss National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC) scheduled here tomorrow.
“We will talk on the matter. We will keep Chhattisgarh’s stand in the meeting tomorrow. I cannot discuss it today,” Singh added.