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Mediators reach Tadmetla

To ensure the release of the abducted collector, Chhattisgarh may release 19 Maoists from custody.

ABHINANDAN MISHRA  RAIPUR, Chhattisgarh | 29th Apr 2012

he third round of negotiations to secure release of the abducted collector of Sukma, Alex Paul Menon, began on Saturday with former Bastar collector B.D Sharma and Professor G. Hargopal, the Maoists' nominees, visiting Tadmetla to talk to the insurgent leaders.

The two were flown on Saturday in a state helicopter to Tadmetla from Raipur. Later, they were taken to Chintalnar. From there they will be taken to the Maoist stronghold — where Alex has been kept captive — probably on two-wheelers since the Maoists have said that four-wheelers should not be used.

According to sources, the two mediators were contacted by the Maoists on Friday night and told to come to Tadmetla. Local intelligence officials said that Menon had probably been moved to Orissa by the Maoists. Tadmetla was in the news on 6 April 2010, when 76 CRPF men were killed in a landmine blast by the Maoists. Tadmetla was suggested as a venue for talks by the Maoists.

Earlier, Sharma and Hargopal had two rounds of talks with the government appointed negotiators. Preliminary reports reaching here suggest that the state government may "surrender" and facilitate the release of imprisoned Maoists and their sympathisers.

Speaking to this newspaper, a senior police officer posted in Raipur, said, "Since none of the 19 people whose release has been demanded are involved in any massacre, the government may agree to help facilitate their release by asking the public prosecutors concerned to appeal before the courts to release them from different jails in Raipur and Jagdalpur."

 
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