Just a few days into Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon's abduction, intelligence agencies told the government that things were not going according to the script charted by the abductors.
"See, we are going to take a hit in all this," a concerned voice on the other side of the wireless set advised Menon's abductors, urging them to close the abduction chapter that had started with demands to free 17 Naxals and ended on Thursday evening without a single release.
Odisha, in contrast, agreed to release 25 Maoists and has already ensured that 6 of them are set free.
Security officials who had been tracking the developments from Delhi counted the adverse public opinion - due to which even their sympathisers were forced to condemn the act - as a key factor that prompted the Maoists to reluctantly settle for the deal signed by their mediators.
At a time when the Maoists have been unsuccessful in expanding to urban areas, senior Maoist leaders realised that a hard stance could come with a heavy price for the movement's future.
Menon's release is the outcome of "a very well coordinated operation" by the state, which was better positioned to negotiate with the Maoists since it kept a close tab on its adversaries.
"They used technology available with security agencies in Delhi to try and stay ahead of the Maoists at every turn," a security official said.
Back home in Chhattisgarh, the government created firewalls around chief minister Raman Singh - creating a panel of bureaucrats and a cabinet sub-committee - that enabled him to take an independent public stance.