Kidnapped Collector's family pleads for his release

Chennai, Apr 22: The family of abducted Chhattisgarh's Sukma District Collector Alex Pal Menon, a young IAS officer hailing from Tamil Nadu, on Saturday said he was aware of threat of possible kidnap of officials in the region but that never deterred him from responding to the call of duty.

Asha Alex, wife of the collector, has appealed to the ultras to release her husband on humanitarian grounds while expressing faith in government in ensuring his release.

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

"We heard that there were warnings about possible kidnap of senior officials in that region. He was advised not to go out without security. He was very careful. But he had to attend to his duties," Menon's father-in-law Venugopal said.

Venugopal, a retired LIC officer who resides here, also said his daughter Asha Alex was three months pregnant and had been handling the situation alone and appealed to the Centre to take steps for his son-in-law's early release.

Menon's father A. Haridhas, who is staying in Venugopal's residence on his recent return from Chhattisgarh, also wanted the government to act speedily.

"The government should take steps to release him soon. It is the duty of the government to get him released from the Maoists. He went to Chhattisgarh to serve the country and he was doing that in Sukma," Haridhas, a retired headmaster from a school in Valliyoor in Tiruneveli district in southern Tamil Nadu, said.

Menon did his schooling in Tirunelveli distirct and obtained his degree in engineering from a private college in Dindigul near Madurai.

Venugopal said they got the news about the abduction this evening through his wife Asha Alex from Sukma. .

"I spoke to my daughter this evening and wanted to go there. But, she said not to come as they (Maoists) might shoot us. Also, there is hardly any communication in that area, even if we go by air, we have to travel at least eight to 10 hours.

We are retired people and the government should help us get him back," Venugopal said.

"My daughter is carrying for three months and now she is worried about her husband. Hope we get him back soon," he said.

Asked whether he had any message to the ultras, Haridhas said, "He was there to serve the country. If they (Maoists) had any problem, they could have met him and dealt that with him. After all, he was there to serve them only."

Menon is an IAS officer of the 2006 batch and married Asha Alex in October last.

A report from Tirunelveli said a pal of gloom descended at the house of Menon in the town with relatives gripped by shock and anxiety on hearing about his abduction.

Menon was abducted from Majhipara village in Keralapal area of the Naxal-infested district this afternoon when he 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.


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