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     Raipur, April 30, 2012: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Dr Raman Singh today hailed the agreement had between the state government and the Maoist interlocutors to secure the release of kidnapped Sukma District Collector Alex V F Paul Menon V and said his government would abide by that.

     “We are eagerly waiting for the return of the Collector in the next 48 hours,” Singh told a press conference at his residence.

     “The mediators nominated by the Maoists have agreed as a gesture of goodwill to ensure the safe return of Alex within 48 hours i.e. on or before the 2nd of May 2012,” Government Interlocutor Nirmala Buch had earlier told reporters here tonight.

     Terming the agreement as ‘historic’ and a “welcome step,” he said the agreement would give way for peace and development in the future.

     Singh also assured that the Standing Committee would start functioning within an hour of the release of the Collector Menon.

     The Chief Minister also thanked all the four interlocutors Dr Brahma Dev Sharma and Prof G Haragopal of the Maoist side and Nirmala Buch and Suyogya Kumar Misra of the state government side for reaching an agreement for the safe release of the Collector.

      He also thanked the members of his Cabinet committee on internal security, state government officials, media and public for their cooperation to resolve the issue.

     However, like the press conference of the interlocutors, held at the new Circuit House an hour back, the Chief Minister also refused to take any question from the media.

     Earlier in the evening, Buch said the four mediators discussed all relevant aspects of the issues concerning the welfare and grievances of the tribals in Bastar areas and various demands raised by Maoists.

     After detailed discussion, spanning over four sessions in three days, the mediators have arrived at an agreement, she said reading out the agreement to the media.

     Maoist appointed interlocutors Dr Brahma Dev Sharma and Prof G Haragopal, state Government interlocutors Nirmala Buch and Suyogya Kumar Misra have signed in the agreement and Principal Secretary Home of Chhattisgarh N K Aswal has put his signature as a witness on behalf of the state government, according to the agreement.

     After the wellbeing of Menon, the second issue which concerned the mediators was the large number of tribals and others who are in the judicial custody in the state in various jails, Buch said.

     The state government has agreed to set up a high-powered committee to be Standing Committee to regularly review all cases of persons in respect of whom investigation/prosecution are pending, the interlocutor said.

     This included Maoists related cases, she clarified.

     The review committee would be chaired by Nirmala Buch and would have the Chief Secretary of Chhattisgarh and the state Director General of Police as its members.

     The committee would regularly review all cases of persons in jails in the state where investigation/prosecution are still in progress, Buch said.

     In such review the lists of cases received by the mediators in respect of tribals of Bastar and surrounding areas would be given priority, she added.

      The committee would give its recommendation to the State Government which will consider these cases with a sense of urgency, the retired IAS said.

     The committee would become operational within an hour of the release of the Collector Sukma, she added.

     When the 2006-batch IAS officer was on a tour of the Majhipara area in Sukma District on April 21 during Gram Suraj Abhiyan, he was confronted by the Maoists guerrilla and after exchange of fire, the civil servant was kidnapped by Maoists after killing both his body guards.

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