EVEN AS several questions remained unanswered about the alleged abduction of three Pune students and their subsequent release by the Maoists in Bastar region, the trio was handed over by the Chhattisgarh police to Maharashtra police and are expected to reunite with their families soon.
Police said that three students reached Gadchiroli late on Monday and are expected to leave for Pune on Tuesday.
Three youths studying in Pune — Vikas Walke from Perne, near Wagholi, in Pune district; Shrikrishna Shevale from Patan in Satara and Adarsh Patil from Karad in Satara — had started their journey from Pune on December 20 and were expected to reach Balimela in Malkamgiri district in Odisha on January 10. They had visited Bhamragad in Naxal-affected Gadchiroli district in Maharashtra and had entered Chhattisgarh around December 28.
The youths, who are in their early 20s, were on a bicycle rally to spread the message of peace.
It is now suspected that they were abducted from Bijapur district on December 29 by the Maoist operatives and were allegedly taken deep into the forest area by a unit commanded by Papa Rao, the Maoist leader and Jagargonda area committee head, in Bastar region. The three were released after the Chhattisgarh police announced a temporary halt of all operations in the area until their safe release.
On Sunday, a press note issued by the office of Director General of Police of Maharashtra said that the youths were advised by the Sukma district administration not to take out the rally in the region.
Police sources said that the senior officers from the Sukma district administration had warned them not to take the Barsaguda route because of the active presence of the Maoists in the region. It still remains unanswered why the boys took the particular route that they were advised not to, sources added. Police said that they were also closely studying the Facebook posts by the three youths as there were some ‘questionable posts.’
The police are also expected to conduct a complete background check of the boys. There are also some unanswered questions regarding how the news of the alleged abduction came to light, sources said.
Inspector General of Police of Bastar region SRP Kalluri said, “Upon their release, they were brought to Jagdalpur via Sukma and they have been handed over to the team of Gadchiroli police from Maharashtra. We did question the boys and we have passed on all the information to Maharastra police.”
Superintendent of police of Gadchiroli district Sandeep Patil said, “Our first priority is to reunite them with their families. We may record their statements later about what exactly happened during the time they were allegedly abducted. We have already contacted Pune city police for further cooperation.”