In a recent encounter with the Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur, many CRPF jawans had lost their lives. Also a CRPF Jawan went missing too. But the Maoists had actually kept Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commando captive last week after a deadly encounter. He has been released after five days in Maoist captivity.
“Bastar has some good news for the country,” according to a police source. According to the source, Manhas was released around 42:30pm in the presence of social worker Dharampal Saini and Gondwana Samaj chief Gelam Boraiya they were in talks with Maoists for the jawan’s safe return — and hundreds of villagers. Seven local journalists were among the 11-person team that went to bring Manhas back.
Manhas was taken to a camp in Tarrem, the location of the encounter. According to a CRPF official, Manhas will undergo medical examinations and will have no “apparent injury.” The soldier was taken to Basaguda Field Hospital for medical examination. Chief minister Bhupesh Baghel congratulated the team that brought Manhas back.
Prior to his release, Bastar Inspector General P Sundar Raj told that efforts were underway to secure Manhas’ release, and that the government hoped for “positive developments.” According to the official, since the Maoists acknowledged Manhas was in their custody and released a photograph proving he was safe, it was “highly unlikely” that the CRPF constables would be involved.
n Monday, a mystery caller dialled local journalists to inform that Manhas, who is from the elite anti-Naxal CoBRA unit, had been held captive by Maoists and that he will be released in two-three days.
Two days later, a photo was sent to local journalists on WhatsApp, showing Manhas resting in what appeared to be a tent. His family in Jammu, however, said the photo was an old one. They also held protests demanding his release and strict action against Maoists.
Manhas was reported missing on Saturday after a five-hour gunfight between security forces and Maoists near the borders of Bijapur and Sukma districts, in one of India’s worst incidents involving Left-wing extremism. The gun battle claimed the lives of 22 personnel. Officials said Maoists were also killed in large numbers, though the Naxals claimed four of their own were killed.
CRPF director general Kuldiep Singh said Manhas was feeling unwell during the gunfight. A jawan who was with Manhas told officials later that he “moved ahead fighting while Manhas sat down”, according to Singh, who said it could be “because of heat”.
Madvi Hidma, who is believed to be around 40 years old and originally from Sukma, is the suspected mastermind of the ambush. The People’s Liberation Guerilla Army (PLGA) commander of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) is linked to several major strikes, including the one in 2013 that killed 27, including top state Congress leaders.