After spending 12 nights in Maoist captivity,Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon walked free today. Mediators B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal emerged from the Taadmetla forest with Menon at 6 pm,some six hours after they entered the jungle to receive the IAS officer.
Menon was taken to the CRPF camp in nearby Chintalnar,where he addressed the media and thanked the state government,the chief minister and the mediators. He was scheduled to fly from Chintalnar to Raipur today,but the late release ensured that he spent the night at the camp.
I am tired. I am shattered… I was not aware of what was happening around me. I just want to go home, a visibly emotional Menon told reporters. Asked if he would continue as collector in Sukma,he said,I would like to remain if the government wants me to.
Menon was released after the Raman Singh government agreed to form a high-power committee comprising the chief secretary and DGP to review all cases whose prosecution and investigation is pending. The panel was set up today,within minutes of Menons release. The move brings hope to thousands of tribals in the states prisons.
Also,a bail petition was quietly filed today for 24-year-old Meena Chaudhary in the Raipur court of additional sessions judge D P Verma. The Maoists had demanded Chaudharys release.
Asked if the bail plea for Chaudhary had a link to Menons release,ADG (Naxal) Ramniwas said: These are normal legal procedures,law will take its own course.
The petition will be heard tomorrow. The government is unlikely to oppose bail. Her advocate Sadiq Ali told The Indian Express,My client is innocent. I am hopeful of her release.