Connect to share and comment

Maoist rebels kidnap government official in the central Indian state of Chhattisgarh

The bodyguards of Sukma district Collector Alex Paul Menon were shot dead trying to protect him.

India maoist 120422Enlarge
File Photo -- Indian paramilitary force search for Maoist rebels in Nov. 2011 near Burisole, south-west of Kolkata. (DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP/Getty Images)

Maoist rebels in the central state of Chhattisgarh have taken a government official hostage and killed the two body guards who tried to protect him.

The Indo-Asian News Service reports that Alex Paul Menon, 32, who is the collector for the Sukma district, was abducted from a remote village about 500 km south of state capital Raipur and taken to a forested area.

"He is so far completely traceless, we have no idea at which part of their hideouts the rebels have kept him hostage," officials in Raipur at the police headquarters told the Hindustan Times.

More from GlobalPost: Indian forces kill top Maoist leader

“We are organizing a search party to look for the Collector. We have not received any demands from the Maoists as yet,” the Hindu quotes Sukma’s Superintendent of Police, Abhishek Shandilya as saying.

Menon was attending a meeting with tribal farmers, according to NDTV, and was surprised by 15 to 20 Maoists who had mingled with the crowd and whisked away by a group waiting with motorcycles.

Two security guards who tried to intervene were shot dead, the Mumbai Mirror says, but the sub-divisional magistrate SK Vaidya, was spared.

More from GlobalPost: India's "masterly inaction" at heart of paper victory against insurgency

Sukma district is part of violence-hit Bastar region, The Pioneer explains.  It adds that Menon's kidnapping has come just one day after a suspected Maoist attack on a convoy carrying a representative of the Hindu nationalist party Bharatiya Janata Party and Bijapur District Collector left two BJP leaders and a driver dead.

The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of India's tribal and farming class, and have been fighting state and national authorities and kidnapping officials for decades, Wikipedia says.

Meanwhile, the government of Odisha across the state border is still negotiating the release of the legislator Jhina Hikaka, who was kidnapped by the Maoists on Mar. 24, Newstrack India says.

More from GlobalPost: Suite Spot - Old problems plague new India

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/india/120422/maoist-rebels-kidnap-government-official-the-central