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Government-Maoist mediators reach agreement over Sukma Collector's release

Raipur, Tue, 01 May 2012 ANI

Raipur, May 1 (ANI): Following several rounds of talks, the Chhattisgarh Government and Maoist mediators have reportedly reached an agreement over terms for the release of Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon.

"The mediators nominated by the Maoist party have had discussions with Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra after their meeting with the Maoist party. The government agreed to the following points. The government will constitute a high-powered committee under the Buch with chief secretary and Director General of Police (DGP) of Chhattisgarh as members," Maoist interlocutor Prof. G Hargopal told media here.

"The committee will review the cases periodically to expedite the disposal of maximum number of cases, specially related to tribals. Relief will be provided in all cases of victims of human rights violation," he added.

Professor Hargopal further said the mediators were also concerned about the pregnant wife of Menon and his family.

"Under the given circumstances, we as mediators feel that this was the agreement that could be worked out. We appealed to the Maoist party southern regional committee... to consider this proposal favorably and ensure the safe return of the collector Alex Paul Menon, whose spouse is in the family way," said Professor Hargopal.

Meanwhile, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh said the state government is desperately awaiting the return of Menon and expects him to be released in the next 48 hours.

"Today's (Monday) agreement is worth welcoming and a historic step in bringing peace and development in Chhattisgarh. We are now awaiting the safe release of Alex Paul Menon in the next 48 hours. This is the result of relentless efforts of all the mediators," he added.

Singh further said his government would fulfill its promises made in the agreement within an hour of the collector's release.

"I would also like to inform just as you have been briefed in great detail by the mediators that within one hour of the safe release of the collector the formation and working of the standing committee would take place. This is an important piece of information that the standing committee would initiate its functions within one hour of the abducted collector's release," said Singh.

The Maoists had kidnapped Menon after killing two of his bodyguards on April 21, while he was meeting with villagers of Majhipara village in the Keralapal area of the Naxal-infected district.

The Naxals have demanded the release of 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.

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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