CHENNAI: Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon, who walked out of the clutches of Maoists after 13 days of captivity on Thursday, may not be returning home before Saturday but the first visuals of him on TV made his wife Asha heave a sigh of relief.
Ever since the news of his release was flashed on the TV screen around 3 pm, celebrations began at the homes of his father and father-in-law in Chennai, where sweets were distributed and firecrackers burst. But back in Chhattisgarh, Asha was having her fingers crossed at the Collector’s residence. When this reporter called her up around 6 pm, she said that she was waiting to see him.
Within half-an-hour later, he was on the screens, telling reporters that he would talk to them later. “We were worried till we saw his face on TV. But later on, my daughter spoke to him and he is fine,” said Asha’s mother, Anidhi Venugopal, who has been staying with her daughter all these days.
Asha, her mother and brother were anxiously waiting for the arrival of Menon since afternoon, but when there was a delay in his coming out of the forests, there were some tense moments at the house.
Back in Chennai, all those who had assembled at Asha’s father T R Venugopal’s house and glued to the TV, broke into tears of joy when the visuals of the liberated Collector were beamed. But celebrations at the house had begun earlier. “I was confident that my son-in-law will be back home safe. He had gone through a lot of torture in these 13 days and I hope he is in good health,” Venugopal told Express.
Menon’s father A Varadhas, said: “I haven’t heard from my son yet. He must be tired and exhausted. But our celebrations in Chennai are not over because it’s a new day for us and we are waiting to see him.”
Anandhi told Express over phone from Chhattisgarh that Menon would not be reaching home immediately. “Since there is no proper transportation from the forest, he will be staying at the Chintalgad CRPF camp. We hope to see him tomorrow morning,” she said. Asked if they would be returning to Chennai, she said, “Nothing is sure until I see my son-in-law. He has to decide, so we are only waiting for him to reach home safe.”