The Chhattisgarh government has decided to appoint a sub-committee under the chairmanship of chief minister Raman Singh to look into the abduction of Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon.
Official sources said that an emergency meeting was called by the chief minister at his residence on Sunday evening, following reports about the April 25 deadline set by the Naxals who demanded release of their eight colleagues in exchange of the IAS officer.
During the meeting, it was decided that a sub-committee would be appointed to look into the abduction case.
State home minister Nanki Ram Kanwar, tribal welfare minister Kedar Kashyap, water resources minister Ramvichar Netam and school education minister Brijmohan Agrawal would be part of the sub-committee, they said.
Officials said that the sub-committee would keep a tab on all the matters pertaining to the issue.
During the meeting, which went on for about one-and-half-hour, it was also decided that an all-party meeting would soon be held to discuss about the case.
Earlier on Sunday evening, almost twenty-four hours after the Sukma collector was abducted, the Maoists set forward their demands and have asked the government to release eight rebels and halt Operation Green Hunt in Bastar. They have set a deadline till April 25 for the government to comply with their terms and conditions in return for the safe release of the officer.
Alex Paul Menon, a 2006-batch IAS officer, was taken away by red brigade from the villagers meet organised at Majhipara near Kerlapal at gun point on Saturday. He is the first collector to be abducted by guerillas in Chhattisgarh.
The additional director general of police (anti-Maoist operation) Ramniwas told Hindustan Times that the set of demands needs to be verified.
“The police so far has not received it. We came to know from the media,” he said.
The state government called an emergency meeting after the terms and conditions were issued to the BBC correspondent in Raipur on his mobile as the pre-recorded statement by Maoist leader Vijay, the secretary of south Bastar divisional committee.
“It would be too early to react to such demands. We need to check the veracity of the recorded message,” N Baijendra Kumar, principal secretary to the chief minister, told HT.
“We are evaluating various options. The government is closely monitoring the situation and working on various fronts to ensure safe and early release of the abducted officer,” he said.
The Maoists also demanded withdrawal of cases against those arrested in connection with the attack on Congress leader Hungaram Markam in Konta block of Dantewada about four years ago. They also asked for an immediate withdrawal of paramilitary forces and end to combing and search operations by the police.
However Vijay didn’t mention how the Maoists are willing to negotiate with the government and through whom.
Earlier on Sunday, Chattisgarh police claimed that the collector in Maoists custody is safe.
(With inputs from PTI, HT)