The agreement on the release of Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon may end up serving the long-term interests of Maoists, said people close to the developments.
The negotiators on the side of the Chhattisgarh government and the Maoists have agreed on a high-powered committee to regularly review cases of arrests of Maoists. The committee will start work within an hour of Menon’s release. A senior officer who closely observed the dialogue in Raipur told HT that the rebels might gain the upper hand following the formation of the committee.
“The Maoists in Chhattisgarh can exploit the outcome of the agreement in their favour by winning the confidence of the tribals, something their Odisha counterparts failed to do by expressing more concern for the wife of the leader.”
The argument is that unlike in Odisha, where Maoist leader Sabyasachi Panda was seen as a commander who worked for securing the release of his wife in exchange for two abducted Italians, in Chhattisgarh the rebels will be seen as the saviours of the tribals, whose cause they have taken up.
Also, in Odisha issues were intertwined because of two abductions, one of the two Italians and the other of a tribal MLA.
Highly-placed sources said the Maoists would give a database of about 1,000 members who had been “languishing in jail on trumped-up charges”.
Even if 100 of them are released, it is the red brigade commanders who will get the credit, observers feel.
A senior official told HT the rebels always believed in playing a long-term game.