A day after abducting Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon, Maoists in Chattisgarh said on Sunday he was safe, and demanded the release of eight of their comrades jailed in the state and a halt to 'Operation Green Hunt' in exchange for Menon. They set a deadline of 25 April for meeting their demands.
The demands were made even as spiritual leader Swami Agnivesh expressed willingness to mediate between the Naxals and the government to secure the release of the 32-year-old 2006-batch IAS officer, who was abducted at Majhipara village in Raipur district where he was meeting villagers for a government outreach programme.
Additional director general of police (anti- Naxal operations) Ram Nivas told reporters that the demands were made by an unidentified Naxal leader in an audio message to media organisations. The authenticity of the audio tape was being verified, he said, adding no Maoist group has got in touch yet with the state government.
According to Nivas, the demands made were an immediate halt to the anti-Maoist offensive Operation Green Hunt, sending security forces in the Bastar region back to the barracks and the release of eight jailed Naxal leaders including two women. In the message, the Maoist leader has alleged that false cases have been foisted against the eight jailed ultras.
Nivas said police have received some vital clues and added that Menon was safe.
Swami Agnivesh told PTI he was ready to mediate and was waiting for the government or the Naxals to approach him.