NEW DELHI: For the first time since the intense encounter on Saturday in which 22 CRPF personnel were killed by Maoists in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region, the ultras on Tuesday confirmed that missing CoBRA commando Rakeshwar Singh Manhas is in their captivity.
In a statement, released by CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Vikalp, the ultras demanded that the government appoint a mediator to secure the safe release of the abducted soldier.
“After that, we will hand over the captured soldier to the police,” the statement read.
The Maoists have, however, not raised any formal demands for the release of the commando.
Senior security officials, on condition of anonymity, said the Chhattisgarh Police in Bastar has sought the support of activists, scribes, local villagers to secure the release. Sources said the talks will be led by a prominent local social worker.
“We are hopeful that the Maoists will hand over the soldier safe. This is perhaps the first-of-its-kind case of operational captivity that we are dealing with. In my memory, Maoists have never abducted a soldier in an operation before. They are keen on building a positive perception among people. We don’t think they will harm him,” an official said.
In May last year, Maoists had abducted police constable Santosh Kattam of Bijapur.
He was kept in captivity for nearly a week before local journalists and villagers intervened and convinced Maoists to release him.
In 2012, then collector of Sukma Alex Paul Menon was captured by Maoists and kept in captivity for 12 days, before being released to the security forces.
An official at the MHA told this newspaper that for such situations, calls are made based on the prevailing circumstances. DGP Chhattisgarh DM Awasthi confirmed that the statement issued by the Maoists, “is an authentic document” and said that the “government is examining the proposal” put forward by the red extremists.
On Monday, The New Indian Express had first reported that one constable, a resident of Jammu, who was missing, could be in the custody of Maoists.