Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon walked free this evening,12 days after Maoists snatched him from a meeting with villagers at Manjipara in Keralapal panchayat.
In Raipur,a petition was moved today seeking bail for an alleged Maoist whose freedom Menons abductors had demanded. Police said the development was normal legal procedure.
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 him. The officer was freed around the same place where Maoists killed 76 CRPF personnel in their deadliest attack in April 2010.
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 delay in his 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.
Also,a bail petition was quietly filed for 24-year-old Meena Chaudhary in the Raipur court of additional sessions judge D P Verma. Chaudhary was arrested in 2008 for allegedly running a Maoist network in urban areas.
Asked if the bail plea 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.