RAIPUR / NEW DELHI: With the Maoists' April 25 deadline looming large, Chhattisgarh government suspended the anti-Naxal operations in Bastar region and tonight offered to hold talks in a bid to end the hostage crisis involving Sukma district collector Alex Paul Menon.
After an all-party meeting in Raipur to discuss the three-day-old crisis, Chief Minister Raman Singh said the political parties have made an appeal to the Naxals to release the 32-year-old 2006 batch IAS officer unharmed.
Singh told reporters tonight the state government is ready to negotiate with the Maoists for the release of Menon, who was abducted by on Saturday from Sukma district's Majhipara village when he was holding a meeting as part of the government's outreach programme Special Gram Suraj Abhiyan.
The state government has asked the security forces not to conduct any offensive against the Maoists in the Bastar region till he is freed by the extremists, official sources said.
The decision has been taken to ensure safety of the collector, they said.
Raman Singh wanted the April 25 deadline set by Maoists for meeting their demands to be extended. The demands included release of their eight jailed leaders, immediate halt to Operation Green Hunt(anti-naxal offensive) and sending security forces in Bastar to the barracks.
"Since he has been kidnapped, there has been no video or audio clip from them (Maoists). So, everyone is wondering whether he is fine or not. There is no news. We have requested the government to take some kind of initiative to know about his well-being," a worried Asha, wife of Menon, said.
Efforts were underway to send medicines for Menon, who is an asthma patient.
Menon is being held hostage at a Chhattisgarh-Odisha border area and is kept under watch by nearly 400 armed Naxals, the sources said adding Unmanned Aerial Vehicle undertook surveillance in the areas and reportedly took pictures of the location too.
"All neighbouring states have been alerted about the abduction and there is better coordination in all the states...We are continuously in touch with the Centre," the chief minister said, amid reports that Menon's captors were frequently changing their hideouts and they may have even entered Odisha.