RAIPUR: A Canadian citizen has “gone missing” mysteriously in the Maoist heartland of Sukma on Tuesday while the Chhattisgarh police are trying to trace his identity and whereabouts in south Bastar.
According to the information that reached the State capital, a foreign national named John Szlazak, who is reported to be a member of Immigration Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), went missing from Singamadugu village in Sukma district, some 450 km south of Raipur.
Unconfirmed reports said that John left Mumbai for Bastar and reached Sukma from Jagdalpur on a motorcycle.
“Some foreign national has been spotted in south Sukma area. Every effort is on trace him. We are also trying to find out why he was there, and the route he took to reach that place,” Bastar zone deputy inspector general of police, P Sunderraj told The New Indian Express.
Police are collecting information about John from the travel agent who may have planned his itinerary from Mumbai to Bastar.
“Usually, the foreign national has to get themselves registered in the police station of the district where he or she is visiting. But no police station has any such record. So how he reached Sukma, if at all, is being explored and who accompanied him. Hopefully later today (Tuesday) we will access some input,” Sunderraj said.
Amid the apprehension of John Szlazak being taken hostage by the outlawed rebels, the forces are carrying out search operations across the inhospitable forested terrain of the district to locate him.
The police, though, had ruled out any information about the Canadian citizen being taken hostage by the naxals, but security forces have nevertheless been put on high alert.
The Maoists have a strong presence in the seven districts of restive Bastar, which shares borders with Odisha, Telangana and Maharashtra.
In March 2012, two Italian tourists were abducted by Maoists from Kandhamal in Odisha and were freed after twelve days.