THE THREE students from Pune, who were allegedly abducted by Naxals during a cycle expedition, have said that given a chance, “they would like to redo the expedition at the next available opportunity.”
Addressing the media at Gadchiroli on Tuesday after they were brought from Chintalnar, Sukma district of Chhattisgarh, the youths—Vikas Walke, Shrikrushna Shewale and Adarsh Patil —said “they had no connection with the Naxalites or their ideology.” Their sole mission was to “try and understand India and its people.”
Adarsh Patil, whose Facebook page had a poem titled “Ha hum hain Naxal (yes we are Naxals)”, said, “it does not mean that I believe in Naxalism.”
The youth expressed their regret over not being able to complete their journey up to Visakhapatnam as planned, but were ready to take it up whenever possible in future. They also announced their plan to tour the North-East next year. Post-graduate arts students from Pune, the three friends had left on a bicycle journey, which they referred to as “Bharat Jodo” campaign, on December 22. They had first reached Bhamragarh by bus, parking their bicycles atop the bus and had left for Bhamragarh on their bikes to finally reach Basaguda village in Bijapur district on December 29. They left Basaguda to reach the next village where they were allegedly taken hostage by some Naxal supporters and two men. “Initially, they tied our hands and asked a lot of questions. Later, they untied the hands but kept us at the place for over four nights. All this while, we were treated well,” they said. As the news spread and security forces started the search, the Naxalites decided to free them.
Talking to The Indian Express, Adarsh Patil said, “Our objective has been to understand human nature. We had covered over 900 km on bicycle last year up to Bhamragarh and had visited Sevagram Ashram, Baba Amte’s projects and Abhay and Rani Bang’s health projects. We wanted to go beyond Bhamragarh now.”
Gadchiroli Superintendent of Police, Sandip Patil, said: “We have heard their story.They are apparently inspired by late Baba Amte’s Jodo Bharat Andolan. We will be in touch with them if need be.” The three youths later left Gadchiroli for Pune with a police officer accompanying them.