A former Intelligence Bureau chief tells Sheela Bhatt why he believes it to be the case.
Alex Paul Menon, the district collector of Sukma in Chhattisgarh, who was abducted by Maoists on Saturday, April 21, is unlikely to be hurt by the outlawed rebels, India's foremost expert on the Maoists and a former director of the Intelligence Bureau told Rediff.com
The Maoists are unlikely to harm Menon because he is a Christian, the intelligence guru felt.
Speaking on condition that he would not be identified by name for this report, the former IB chief claimed, "Maoism is a political movement and the Maoists can be as opportunistic as the BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party), the Congress and other political parties."
"In the tribal areas of India," he explained, "lots of young tribals are converting to Christianity for their personal growth and their family's welfare. The Maoists would never like to be unpopular among this core constituency."
"We should not communalise the issue," the former IB director said, but reasoned "that a study of the politics of the Maoists suggests they will treat the collector well."
"I wish and pray Menon comes home safe," the former IB chief said. "His kidnappers are unlikely to behave like the radical Islamists who have a tendency to displease their own people and community. The Maoists are shrewd and will bargain hard, but not behave recklessly."
"Young Christians are their primary constituency," he added, "and they bank heavily on them in the jungles."
Menon is an Indian Administrative Service officer of the 2006 batch. The Maoists kidnapped him from Majhipara village in the Maoist-controlled Keralapal area, after they killed his bodyguards.
A native of Tirunelveli district in Tamil Nadu, Menon is the first collector of the newly-created Sukma district in Chhattisgarh state and has been reported to be quite pro-active in pushing new projects in one of India's most backward regions.