Chhattisgarh chief minister Raman Singh has categorically denied that there was any secret swap deal or ransom offer for the release of Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon from Maoist captivity.
“Some of the demands of Maoists were not put on paper because the government did not want to commit on paper. But there is a certain understanding…,” Hargopal told reporters in Raipur on Friday.
A joint statement issued by Sharma and Hargopal said, “In pursuance of the understanding, we demand the release of all the three Maoists (two of them filed bail pleas on Thursday) whose names have been mentioned by the party (CPI-Maoist).” They further sought the cases of the other five to be expedited. (The rebels had demanded these eight Maoists to be freed.)
In New Delhi for a meeting on the National Counter Terrorism Centre, Singh, however, took a tough stance. He said a national hostage policy should be formulated and that there should, as a rule, be no swap deal for release of militants. “No matter who is captured, be it even a chief minister, no one should be freed in a swap deal,” said Singh. He also denied the “existence” of Operation Greenhunt or Salwa Judum.
On Friday, the Nirmala Buch committee, formed as part of the understanding, held a second round of meeting in Raipur.
Bail plea rejected
While fracas over eight Maoists’ release continued, a sessions court in Raipur rejected the bail pleas (moved on Thursday) of two of them, Meena Choudhary and Shanti Priya alias Malti, on Friday. Both are lodged in Raipur central jail. Their counsel Sadique Ali told HT the judge had cited the serious nature of case. “The judge also pointed out that their bail pleas had been rejected in 2009 too,” said Ali.
(With agency inputs)