Two days after Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon was abducted, Majhipara — the village from where he was abducted — wore a deserted look. There was hardly any activity in the Sukma collectorate and schools of the area saw little attendance on Monday.
Fear of being interrogated by police or tormented by Maoists had driven out the male members, while the women hid behind closed doors. Those few who spoke to the media remained tightlipped about the whereabouts of the men. "They have gone out for some work and might return at night," said septuagenarian Piyam Bheku.
"Fearing Maoist fury and police action that usually follows such incidents locals prefer to remain neutral or move out," said former panchayat president Bhimaram Sodi.
"We fear male members will be quizzed by police about the activities of naxalites in the area," said another villager Phirti Devi.
"I have been asked to be patient but I am yet to hear from him," said Menon's wife Asha who is in Sukma. "I appeal to the Maoists to send video or audio clippings that can assure me about his well-being. I am concerned about his health as he is asthmatic."
Asha, 32, got married to Menon six months ago in Chennai. The couple is expecting their first child.
Meanwhile, in Vellore, Menon's father A Vardhas continued to wait for the news of his son's release. Vardhas was about to leave for Chhattisgarh to be with Asha, but was advised against it due to the tension prevailing there. "My daughter-in-law is very brave and is facing the situation alone. We do not know what is happening there. All that we have been told is that he is safe."
"A senior official had cautioned my son about 15 days back," Vardhas told the media.