As the Chhattisgarh government practically halted anti-Maoist operations in the Bastar region, the security establishment relied on its eyes in the sky and informers on the ground to get an idea about the location of abducted Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon.
File photo of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon who was abducted by Naxals in Chattisgarh. PTI
Government officials said the 2006 batch IAS officer was probably shifted to a spot 15 km from the Majhipara village, from where he was abducted on April 21. The abductors are believed to be the Maoists' Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee.
A security officer, however, added that in operational terms, it held little meaning for the security forces. "This is not a territory where an operation can be conducted," he said.
The home ministry and the state government have, in fact, asked security forces not to conduct any offensive against Maoists in Bastar, as it could pose a danger to Menon's safety.
In New Delhi, home secretary RK Singh refused to elaborate on the steps being taken. "We are in regular touch with the state government. Whatever support they need is being given and will be given," he said.
Officials said the assistance included deployment of unmanned aerial vehicles.
The Chhattisgarh government, meanwhile, has quietly selected mediators for any proposed negotiation. But the list does not contain the name of Swami Agnivesh.
Agnivesh supports Maoists, state home minister Nanki Ram Kanwar told HT. "We will not ask him to mediate on behalf of the government," he added.
The decision to reject Agnivesh was a fallout of an experience in February 2011, when acting a mediator in an abduction case, Agnivesh had attended a 'people's court'. The government, however, has no problem if the abductors ask Agnivesh to mediate on their behalf.