NEWDELHI: The guns have fallen silent in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh as security forces on Monday halted the Anti-Maoists operation, after State Chief Minister Raman Singh held a high-level meeting and constituted a Cabinet subcommittee to chalk out a strategy for the release of abducted Sukma district Collector Alex Paul Menon.
Speaking to Express over the phone from Raipur, Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar said the State government is ready to talk but the Maoists have not approached the state machinery formally through any mediators.
“The big question is who will mediate? We have received a set of demands through the media. Let them initiate the dialogue first. As far as the state government is concerned, we are ready for talks. We have also appealed for the release of our Collector, who was doing a good job in the interior villages of the district,” Kanwar added.
Sources in the Home Ministry said unmanned aerial vehicles deployed in the region had given crucial inputs on the movement of the Maoists, who are said to be holding Menon hostage, in the jungle, but security forces would not launch any rescue operation as it may risk the Collector’s life. “Right now, our main priority is to somehow provide medicines to Menon as he is asthmatic but we have not received any positive response from the Maoists. The ministry is keeping an eye on the entire development and will extend all the support to the state government,” the sources said.
Central Home Ministry officials said the negotiations may start in the next 24 hours, “We are providing all technical help, and hopefully there will be calibrated responses in the next one or two days to deal with the situation.”