After 18 days in Maoist captivity in the dense forests of Bastar,five security personnel walked free as the rebels handed over them to social activist Swami Agnivesh today in the dense forests of Dhoudai in Narayanpur district of tribal Bastar even as the police kept its promise not to carryout search operations as demanded by the Naxalites.
Swami Agnivesh,rights activist Gautam Navlakha,PUCL secretary Kavita Shrivastava,Chennai High Court Lawyer V Suresh,PUDR member Harish Dhawan and Sarvadharma Sansad representative Manu Singhmet the Naxalites in the forests of Dhodai in Abujmarh. The rebels handed over the five policemen to the activists as promised earlier.
We have received preliminary report that they are on their way to district headquarters of Narayanpur. They could take about an hour to reach the nearest motorable road for proceeding towards the district headquarters,official sources said in the state capital adding There are no communication facilities or mobile network in the area. We will be able to say anything more only after civil authorities come in contact with them.
Social and Human rights activistswho had stayed over night at Bastar divisional headquarters of Jagdalpurleft for Narayanpur early morning accompanied by the relatives of abducted policemen. A large number of media personnel also accompanied the activists as they proceeded to Abujmarh forests to secure the release of security personnel at an undisclosed destination. There was confusion throughout the day as the Maoists did not contact them,as promised,apparently because of the presence of media personnel and other unknown people in the convoy. Besides,the Naxalites had also frequently changed the location for handing over the hostages due to security reasons.
Finally,all the vehicles in the convoy were stopped at a place and Swamy Agnivesh,Gautam Navlakha and others proceeded deep into the forests of Abujmarh to meet the rebels and the hostages. Their mission ended up in success after the rebels handed over all the five hostages to them.
We had suspended the ongoing search and combing operation in the entire region ever since the Naxalites made the demand for it to facilitate the safe release of policemen,Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) T J Longkumer said.
Manoj Ekka,brother of constable T Ekka,said over telephone that he was happy to hear about the safe release of the hostages. Yes. It is a big relief. We are eagerly waiting to meet them,he said with a chocked voice as the news about their release came in.
Three head constables Ramadhar Patel,Raghunandan Yadav,T Ekka and constables Manishankar Dubey and Ranjan Dubey were abducted by the Naxalites on January 25 from Narayanpur district in Bastar region. These security personnel of Chhattisgarh Armed Force (CAF) ,who were in civil dress,were proceeding on leave and were travelling in a private bus when the rebels intercepted the vehicle,searched the passengers and identified them as policemen on the basis of their identity cards,. A civilian,Gulchand,was abducted along with these police as the Naxalites suspected him to be a Special Police Officer (SPO) but later he was released.
A week after the abduction,the Naxalites raised 11 demands,including scrapping of the proposed Army training centre to be set up in the foothills of Abujmarh,considered as one of the Maoist stronghold. Later,the rebels telephoned Journalists to convey that they were ready to handover the hostages to Swami Agnivesh and Gautam Navlakha,in the presence of media,if the government stopped search and combing operations in the entire region. The rebels had also maintained that all these five policemen were produced before a “Jan Adalat” (Peoples’ Court of Maoists),which “pardoned” them,on humanitarian considerations.
Chief Minister Raman Singh agreed to the demand,paving way for the safe release of five abducted security personnelfour of them hail from Chhattisgarh and one from Rewa district of neighbouring Madhya Pradesh.