JEYPORE/BHUBANESWAR: Already suffering the ordeal of twin abduction crises, Odisha might have to face yet another hostage crisis. Disturbing reports are trickling out that the Maoists, who abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon from Chhattisgarh border, have sneaked into the safety of Malkangiri forests in Odisha.
Menon was said to be entrapped by dreaded Maoist leader Venu, younger brother of Kishenji, when the District Collector was on his way back from a “gram sabha.”
However, this has not been confirmed with no word yet from the Left Wing extremists. The Odisha Government too has denied that the Maoists could have taken shelter in Malkangiri district.
As per reports, the abductors, who killed two of Menon’s bodyguards, crossed the Saberi river and entered the forest area in Malkangiri, which is a part of the ‘Red Corridor’ and a safe haven for Maoists. Police also hinted that People’s Guerilla Army (PGA), active in both the States, could be behind the kidnapping.
Podia and Kalimela __ two small towns frequented by the Red radicals in Malkangiri district __ are just a few kilometres away from the spot where the Maoists took Menon hostage. Intelligence sources said in all likelihood, the Maoists may have crossed over to Odisha.
People have started drawing a parallel between the two abductions __ Menon’s kidnap and the kidnap of former Malkangiri Collector Vineel Krishna. Both were pro-active and regularly visited remote areas. Vineel too was kidnapped while he was on his way back from a public meeting involving local tribals.
As the news of Menon’s kidnapping and possible crossing over to Odisha spread, Chhattishgarh police have reportedly contacted their counterparts in Malkangiri. Combing operation has been stepped up, but the local administration is cautious and is in no mood to take chances which eventually may harm the release of BJD MLA Jhina Hikaka, who too is in the custody of the Maoists since March 23. “We are on high alert and vigil has been stepped up on border areas,” a senior police official said, but refused to confirm anything.