Talks between Maoist-handpicked mediators and those of the Chhattisgarh government commenced on Thursday to end the hostage crisis involving Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon who was abducted on Saturday, official sources said.
The meeting, which is aimed at the securing the safe release of the 32-year-old IAS officer, is underway at the Pahuna guest house, they said.
The dialogue between those mediating on behalf of the government and the outlaws will focus on the demands put forward by the Maoists, they said. A panel of legal experts is also known to have arrived here for participating in the meeting.
While the government chose former chief secretaries of Madhya Pradesh [ Images ] and Chhattisgarh Nirmala Buch and S K Mishra as its mediators to resolve the six-day hostage crisis, the Maoists named former National SC/ST Commission Chairperson B D Sharma and Prof G Hargopal as its nominees.
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.
Earlier, while speaking to reporters after his arrival in Raipur, Hargopal said that his top-most priority would be early freedom of Menon, who is an asthama patient.
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 even as he blamed the lax administration for his kidnapping.