Raipur/New Delhi, Apr 23 (ANI): As uncertainty looms over the release of abducted Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon, the state government has reportedly suspended the anti-Naxal operation in Chhattisgarh's Bastar region.
According to reports, the state government has asked the security forces engaged in anti-Naxal operations not to conduct any offensive against the Maoists in Bastar region till the Collector is freed by the ultras.
Union Home Secretary R.K. Singh earlier today said the Centre is providing all support to the Chhattisgarh Government for Menon's safe release.
"We have been in touch with the state government. Whatever support they are asking for is being given and will be given," he told the media here.
The Union Home Secretary's remarks came a day after the Maoists demanded the release of eight of their jailed leaders in Chhattisgarh and a halt to 'Operation Green Hunt' in exchange for the release of Menon.
Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh has convened a high-level meeting in Raipur today to decide on the future course of action in wake of the new demands put by the ultras for the Collector's safe release.
Chhattisgarh Government has set up a cabinet sub-committee to deal with the situation arising out of Menon's abduction by the Maoists. The four-member committee will look into all aspects of the issue that may lead to the safe and early release of Menon.
The committee will have State Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar, Public Construction Minister Brij Mohan Agrawal, SC/ST Welfare Minister Kedar Kashyap and Water Resources Minsiter Ram Bichar Netam as its members.
The decision to set up the committee was taken at an emergency meeting chaired by Chief Minister Dr. Raman Singh last night.
The Naxals have demanded the release of their eight colleagues: Markam Gopanna alias Satyam Reddy, Nirmal Akka alias Vijay Laxmi, Devpal Chandrashekhar Reddy, Shantipriya Reddy, Meena Choudhari, Korsa Sunny, Markam Sunny and Asit Kumar Sen.
The ultras also want anti-Naxal Operation Green Hunt to be cancelled, security forces to be withdrawn from the region and persons against whom they allege "fake cases" have been registered, released from the jails.
In an audacious operation, Maoist rebels on Saturday abducted Alex Paul Menon, an IAS officer of 2006 batch, from the middle of a meeting with villagers from Majhipara village in Keralapal area of the Naxal-infected district.
The Sukma district collector's kidnapping comes even as uncertainty continues over the fate of ruling BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka in neighbouring Odisha who was abducted by the Maoists about a month ago.
Menon is the first collector of the newly-created Sukma district and was known to be pro-active in undertaking development work in the backward region. (ANI)
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