Four policemen abducted by Patthalgarhi supporters from their post at BJP MP Kariya Munda’s residence in Jharkhand’s Khunti district were released Friday, said police. Initially, only three policemen were believed to have been abducted. It has now been found that four were abducted.
IG (Zone), South Chotanagpur, Naveen Kumar Singh, told the media that the policemen were released in a forest area near Chiring Kela from where they walked to the Saiko police station. “The jawans are safe and healthy,” he said.
On Friday evening, police recovered the weapons of the abducted personnel. DIG (Ranchi) A V Homkar said, “All three INSAS rifles and cartridges have been recovered from Ghaghra village.”
The policemen were abducted from Munda’s residence in Anigara village Tuesday, the day police raided the home of Patthalgarhi movement leader Yusuf Purty in Udburu village as part of its probe into the Khunti gangrape incident — five women were abducted and gangraped, allegedly by Patthalgarhi supporters, when they went to stage a play in Kochang village of Khunti on June 19. The abducted policemen were then taken to Ghaghra. When police reached Ghaghra, they were locked in a stand-off with Patthalgarhi supporters. Police stormed Ghaghra Wednesday, but couldn’t find the policemen. On Thursday, a reward of Rs 50,000 was announced for information about them.
Police officers said the strategy to put pressure on “disruptive elements”, while taking villagers into confidence, yielded results.
The policemen who were abducted are Suyon Sureen, Vinod Kerketta, Subodh Kujur and Nagendra Singh.
“A few of our vehicles were parked near the MP’s house. Nagendra was deployed there. He was not feeling well that day. He went to drink water towards the MP’s house. In the meantime, Patthalgarhi supporters reached there. When they were returning with the three guards, they took him hostage too. But, family members of the MP saw only three being taken away. Later, one more person was found missing. It was thought that since Nagendra was not well, he may have gone to a doctor,” said IG Singh. The policemen were first taken to Ghaghra, but later shifted, he said. IG Singh said Patthalgarhi supporters kept shifting the four policemen. “They asked them to leave their jobs and start working for them.”
Police carried out raids in as many as 10 villages to locate the policemen. “Ultimately, they realised that the jawans were proving to be a liability for them and got rid of them,” said IG Singh.
He said the investigation into the gangrape incident was on. While police had said members of Maoist splinter group PLFI were involved in the gangrape incident, the IG said no evidence of Maoists’ involvement has been found in abduction of the policemen.
Patthalgarhi, a tradition among tribals of installing stone slabs to remember ancestors, has of late turned into a movement, with stone slabs announcing that nobody should be allowed in villages “without the permission of the gram sabha”. Supporters of the movement claim that the gram sabha is supreme and the laws framed by Parliament and Assembly do not apply there.
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