Even as the government left the door open to negotiate with Maoists for the safe release of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon, the home ministry worked with the Chhattisgarh police to ramp up security presence in the state - if the need arose.
The objective was to secure Menon’s release through talks, but without giving the impression that the government was on its knees. “Everyone recognises that if the government caves in, other district collectors would be at risk… Look what happened in Odisha,” a senior police officer said in a meeting convened by home secretary RK Singh, and attended by members of the central government as well as the Chhattisgarh police force.
Among those who had flown in from Chhattisgarh were additional director general of police Ram Nivas and CRPF IG (Raipur) Pankaj Singh.
Ram Niwas said the meeting was convened to coordinate efforts with central forces and secure Menon’s early release. “We discussed all the possibilities,” he said.
The home ministry also promised to place additional central forces at the disposal of the state, if required. The meeting was in contrast to the home ministry’s hands-off approach to the abductions in Odisha, which is said to be ‘soft’ on Maoists.
In Chhattisgarh, however, the state has sent a clear message that it would not allow Maoists to dictate the terms.