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Eminent persons appeal for Menon, Hikaka's release

HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Kolkata, April 23, 2012
First Published: 23:36 IST(23/4/2012) | Last Updated: 23:38 IST(23/4/2012)

Authors Ramachandra Guha and Nandini Sunder and former Union revenue secretary EAS Sarma have asked Maoists to unconditionally and immediately release Chhattisgarh IAS officer Alex Paul Menon and Odisha MLA Jhina Hikaka.


They have also condemned the attack in which two security guards of Menon died on April 21.

In the same vein, doctor and human rights activist Binayak Sen, who is vice-president of the People's Union for Civil Liberties, appealed to the Maoists to free Menon.

"I earnestly appeal to the CPI (Maoist) that...Alex Paul Menon, be released unconditionally as soon as possible … I also express my sorrow at the killing of his two guards," said Sen, who spent about three years in jail in Chhattisgarh in two phases on charges of being in league with Maoists.

He appealed "to all stakeholders involved in this crisis to withdraw militarisation and start dialogue".

Sen's statement had no reference to Hikaka, however.

Guha, Sunder and Sarma are co-petitioners in the Salwa Judum case, pending in Supreme Court. In their petition of 2007, they had alleged the Salwa Judum, counter-terrorism units sponsored by the state, had been committing atrocities against tribals under the ruse of countering Maoism.

"This (Menon's interaction with villagers) shows his concern for the tribals and conscientiousness," the statement said.

At the time of the attack, Menon was conducting a gram suraj abhiyaan in Sukma, of which he is collector. A few hours before, Menon had to traverse rough terrain on motorcycle to reach interior villages.

The abductions of Hikaka and Vineel Krishna, then collector of Malkangiri (in Odisha) in 2011, and the killing of Jharkhand police officer Francis Induwar in 2009 showed the Maoists had no hesitation in committing crimes against innocent officers and people's representatives, the statement added.

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