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Chhattisgarh: Naxals kidnap collector, kill his bodyguards

Last updated on: April 21, 2012 23:31 IST

Chhattisgarh: Naxals kidnap collector, rescue operation on

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Wife of collector Alex Pal Menon, who was on Saturday abducted by Naxals from Chhattisgarh's Sukma district, has appealed to the ultras to release her husband on humanitarian grounds.

"My husband is unwell and not carrying medicines. I appeal to Naxals to free him from their captivity on humanitarian grounds," Asha Menon told reporters.

"My husband is a good officer and has been doing his work honestly. I am still in Sukma and being updated by the government on all developments. I am confident that the state will ensure the safe release of my husband," Asha said.

In an audacious daylight operation, Maoist rebels on Saturday abducted Collector of Chhattisgarh's Sukma district Alex Pal Menon from the middle of a meeting with villagers, after killing his two security officers.

Menon, 32, an IAS officer of 2006 batch, was kidnapped from Majhipara village in Keralapal area of the Naxal-infested district on Saturday afternoon, said Additional Director of Police (anti-Naxal operations) Ram Nivas.

The incident happened when Menon, who went to the village on a motorcycle, was holding a meeting with the villagers as part of the government's 'Gram Suraj' campaign, aimed at weaning away the locals from the path of Naxalism.

"Nearly 20 Naxalites reached the spot and shot dead two personal security officers of the collector before taking him into the nearby forest," Ram Nivas said.

The Maoists spared Sub-divisional Magistrate S K Vaidya, who was also present.

A police team led by district Superintendent of Police Abhishek Shandilya rushed to the spot and launched a combing operation to rescue the collector, he said.

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Chhattisgarh: Collector kidnapped, 2 bodyguards killed

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Chief Minister Raman Singh said full efforts will be made to secure Menon's release.

"We are analysing the situation," he said.

Home Minister P Chidambaram spoke to Singh and assured him all help from the Centre.

A special team has been constituted to mount concerted rescue efforts for the top district officer after Director General of Police A M Nawani reviewed the situation at an emergency meeting with the state police's top brass.

The Sukma district collector's kidnapping comes even as uncertainty continues over the fate of ruling Biju Janata Dal Member of Legislative Assembly Jhina Hikaka in neighbouring Odisha, who was abducted by Naxals nearly a month ago.

Menon is the first collector of the newly-created Sukma district and was known to be pro-active in undertaking development work in the backward region.

Naxals had last year kidnapped the collector of adjoining Malkanagiri district of Odisha R Veenel Krishan, along with a junior engineer.

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They were released after the state government agreed to fulfill all 14 demands of the rebels including withdrawal of cases against top Communist Party of India - Maoist leaders Prasadam, Padma and Eswari to facilitate their release from jails.

In Odisha, two Italians were abducted by Maoists, who freed them after a month in captivity after the state government acceded to their demand to release some of the jailed left-wing extremists.

State Home Minister Nankiram Kanwar said the Naxals had come on bikes and abducted Menon after opening fire.

Chhattisgarh Director General of Police Anil M Navani said this is the first such incident of its type in the state.

"We are formulating our strategy to deal with it," he said.

Union Home Secretary R K Singh spoke to his state chief secretary and offered to provide additional central forces if required.

Earlier, ADGP Ram Nivas said the Naxals have not established any contact with the government or put forth any demand so far.

The 'Gram Suraj' campaign has been launched by the Raman Singh government as part of its efforts to check the influence of the Maoists, who hold sway in several districts of the state including neighbouring Dantewada.

Ministers, legislators and government officers visit the villages in order to establish better communication with the locals and address their problems effectively.

The Naxals had on Friday triggered a powerful landmine blast targeting the convoy of Bijapur Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Mahesh Gagda. Two BJP workers and the driver of the vehicle carrying them were killed.

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