New Delhi, Apr 23: With the abduction of Sukma collector Alex Pal Menon by Maoists, the fact that government officials are still vulnerable to the attack of red terror has been exposed. The surprising matter remains that the Intelligence Bureau’s multi-agency centre in Sukma had issued a specific alert to the Naxal-infested states, particularly Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa and Bihar, about a fortnight ago. They had specifically communicated that the Naxals were planning to strike in a big way in the form of a kidnapping, between Apr 20 and 30.
Sources in the IB have claimed that top Naxal leaders Kisna and Ramanna had instructed their cadre to kidnap important personnel like what happened in Odisha. The incident in Odisha saw two foreigners and a BJD MLA being kidnapped by Maoists. It has now been more or less confirmed that Kisna and Ramanna are behind Menon’s abduction.
Local sources have stated that these top Naxal commanders were seen near Bijapur and Sukma areas of Chhattisgarh over the last few days. A senior security official has been quoted as saying, “The intelligence alert probably explains why the collector was accompanied by the two armed guards who, unfortunately, were killed by the Naxals.”
The Union Home Ministry is in close liaison with the state government in assessing the situation as it is the first time an IAS officer and a collector has been kidnapped in Chhattisgarh. The intelligence agencies have instructed state machineries to remain in high alert since another Naxal strike cannot be ruled out.
Though reports claim that Menon was absolutely safe, a high-level security meeting of state police and intelligence officials discussed the possibility of the Collector being shifted to Odisha by the ultras. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) will also be pressed into service from Monday to survey the dense jungles of Chhattisgarh and Odisha as well as the adjoining states in a lookout for the abducted Collector.
The Naxals have demanded that all operations against them be stopped immediately and that the para-military forces be withdrawn from the Bastar region, the state government has stated that they were attempting back channel negotiations with the help of mediators in the face of crisis.