Maoists Releases Alex Menon: Reports
Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh released Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon on Thursday, media reports said.
Issuing a statement on Tuesday, the rebels had said that they would hand over the 32-year-old IAS officer to the two mediators who represented them in their talks with the Chhattisgarh government.
The two Maoist-approved mediators B.D. Sharma and Professor G. Hargopal left Chintalnar early Thursday morning to receive Menon in Tadmetla, a rebel-dominated forested area in the Sukma district where the collector was handed over, reports said.
Earlier on Monday, Chief Minister Raman Singh had said that Menon could be released in the next two days after the government and the rebels reached a consensus.
The agreement between the government and the communist rebels does not involve the release of any jailed Maoists, as earlier demanded along with a halt to the anti-Maoist offensive, media reports said.
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The accord involves the government setting up a three-member committee, headed by Nirmala Buch, one of the two government-side mediators, to review cases involving Maoists, the reports said.
"The mediators from government as well as from Maoists side have signed on a two-page draft agreement and we expect that Alex would be released within 48 hours," Chief Minister Raman Singh told reporters in a brief press conference on Monday night.
Among the Maoists demands was the withdrawal of para-military forces from Bastar, release of their 17 jailed, stopping of anti-Maoist operations in the tribal areas unofficially known as "Operation Green hunt" and the recalling of security forces to the barracks.
IAS officer Alex Paul Menon was abducted by the rebels on April 21 at around 4:30 pm in a remote village where the bureaucrat was attending a state government-run programme to promote greater coordination and connect between the villagers and administration.
Menon, 32, is a 2006 batch officer of the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) and the first collector of Sukma after it was carved out of Dantewada as a new district - an area known as a Maoist stronghold.
Supposedly fighting for the rights of indigenous tribals and the rural poor, Maoists are active in several states in central and eastern India and often target police and government officials.
Over one-third of India's 626 administrative districts are affected by the four-decade old insurgency, which Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has described as the country's biggest internal security challenge.
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