Mediators cheated us to free Menon, say Maoists

FP

Three months after they abducted and released Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon, Maoists in Chhattisgarh have accused their own mediators of deceiving them by not ensuring the release of their jailed cadres in exchange.

"The mediators deceived us. They did not tell us anything about the agreement and the committee. They told us the government has assured them that some of our men will be released, so release the collector. But nothing happened," Keralapal Area Committee Secretary of CPI (Maoist), Madkam Bhima alias Akash, told The Sunday Express. Akash led the abduction of Menon on April 21.

Talks between the government and the negotiators — former Bastar collector B D Sharma and Hyderabad-based Prof G Haragopal — had almost failed at one stage as the rebels were adamant about the release of seven comrades, among others. But in a dramatic turnaround, the mediators signed a deal on April 30, undertaking "to ensure the safe return of Menon within 48 hours".

They dropped all their main demands and settled only on a committee to review all cases whose investigation and prosecution is pending. Only a 22-year-old youth has since been released.

Sharma and Haragopal refuted Akash's allegations. "Now I don't remember exactly. Everything was well-settled then, I do not know from where these things are emerging," Sharma said.

Haragopal said that they wanted the government to mention everything in writing but the government expressed its helplessness as the cases were in court. "The CM also assured that the broad understanding we reached would be respected and all demands favourably met," he said.

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