ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Hostage to Wrong Ideas

The abduction of committed bureaucrats by the Maoists will win them no favours or friends.

With the freeing of Alex Paul Menon, collector of Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, the third episode in the recent spate of kidnappings by members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) has ended. Earlier last month the two Italians and a member of the Orissa legislature who had been kidnapped in the neighbouring state were freed one after another. As part of the agreement between the CPI (Maoist) and the Government of Chhattisgarh prior to the release of Menon, drawn up on the mediation of two respected interlocutors, a high-powered panel has been formed to review all those cases which Maoists claim have been falsely foisted on hundreds of adivasis who are now languishing in jail. It remains to be seen if the Government of Chhattisgarh will implement what it has agreed to, for the Government of Orissa did not carry out in full what it had promised last year on the freeing of innocents during the kidnapping of another district collector Vineet Krishna.

However, it is time to once again critically discuss the politics of kidnapping; here specifically that of civil servants (We had earlier critiqued the politics of kidnapping in the editorial, “A Moral Prohibition”, EPW, 7 April 2012). If it was Vineet Krishna in Malkangiri, Orissa, last year, it was the turn of Alex Menon this year to be kidnapped. From all accounts, these two offi cers from the Indian Administrative Service were committed to the task of changing governance in the two adivasi-majority districts. Menon was taken hostage by Maoist rebels during an outreach visit initiative – the Gram Suraj Abhiyaan – to a remote village and Krishna too had a reputation of being a sensitive offi cial. The two may have been “agents of the State” but seem to be dedicated to the well-being of the adivasis in the districts they were in charge of rather than being agents of corporate interests out to grab adivasi resources.

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