With the first deadline set by the Maoists for the release of Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon ending on Wednesday midnight, mediators of the Chhattisgarh government are likely to begin talks with Maoist interlocutors on Thursday.
Maoist interlocutors BD Sharma and Prof G Hargopal will reach the state capital on Thursday to hold dialogue and seek common ground to facilitate release of the 32-year-old IAS officer, who was abducted at gunpoint from Nagaram area in Bastar region on Saturday.
Maoists demanded release of eight jailed colleagues, halt to all anti-Maoist operations and sending security forces in Bastar to barracks. They had set an April 25 deadline.
On Thursday, mediators SK Mishra and Nirmala Buch met a five-member team — headed by CM Raman Singh — to devise a plan to ensure that Menon is freed unharmed.
A government spokesperson told HT the venue of the talks is likely to be Raipur. However, certain media reports claimed Sharma would head for Bastar from Raipur to start a dialogue.
So far there has been no communication from Maoists regarding extension of the deadline. The chief minister has appealed to the rebels to extend the deadline as the government is ready for talks.
Meanwhile, Menon’s family is awaiting the return of Bastar’s tribal leader Manish Kunjam, who had gone into the jungle to hand over medicines to Menon.