RAIPUR/NEW DELHI: Mediators of the Chhattisgarh government and the Maoists today met for the first time to find a solution to end the six-day-old hostage crisis involving abducted Sukma District Collector Alex Paul Menon.
Ahead of the meeting, a special emissary who had handed over medicines to Menon, an asthma patient, said his condition was stable.
The Maoists have demanded release of eight of their jailed leaders, including two women, halt to the anti-Maoist offensive "Operation Green Hunt" and sending security forces in Bastar to barracks for freeing the 32-year-old IAS officer.
The mediators for the Maoists met the Government nominees at the Pahuna guest house here. A panel of legal experts also assisted in the deliberations, officials said.
While the government chose former Chief Secretaries of Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra as its mediators to resolve hostage crisis, the Maoists named former National SC/ST Commission Chairperson B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal as its nominees.
Earlier, while speaking to reporters after his arrival in Raipur, Hargopal said that his top most priority would be early freedom of Menon who was abducted last Saturday from Majhipara village in Raipur district.
The ex-professor from Hyderabad Central University also said that he has held such mediations previously also and would be able to handle it successfully this time too.
Meanwhile, Sharma, who has served as the Bastar Collector and is known to have good understanding of the tribals' problems in the naxal-hit region, said he would try his best to get Menon freed.
Former CPI MLA Manish Kunjam, who today returned after delivering medicines Menon, said that the IAS officer's health was "stable" and he was hoping for his speedy release.