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Talks for Menon release start

india Updated: Apr 27, 2012 01:39 IST
Ejaz Kaiser
Ejaz Kaiser
Hindustan Times
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The first round of negotiations on Thursday to secure the release of IAS officer Alex Paul Menon from Maoist captivity remained inconclusive even as news came that the Sukma district collector was in good health.

The interlocutors on the Maoists' side, BD Sharma and G Hargopal, arrived in Raipur and held discussions with government mediators Nirmala Buch and SK Mishra, both retired IAS persons.

The meeting continued for three hours and 15 minutes in the presence of legal experts. There was no official confirmation on what was discussed.

"The meeting was quite constructive," said Buch, former chief secretary of Madhya Pradesh. Chhattisgarh CM Raman Singh said: "I am optimistic and look forward to a positive solution."

Sources close to the developments said the demands listed by the rebels were on the agenda. They included releasing innocent under-trials languishing in various jails of the state, halting the Green Hunt (anti-rebel chase) and stopping combing operations.

The second round of negotiations is likely to be held on Friday.

Earlier in the day, former CPI MLA Manish Kunjam returned from the jungle where the Maoists have been keeping Menon hostage since Saturday.

Kunjam, who is a tribal from Bastar, said Menon was safe. However, the Maoists did not let him meet the officer.

"I gave the medicines," said Kunjam. He briefed Menon's wife, Asha, about his visit.