The CPI (Maoists), who had admitted through a press note that the missing CRPF jawan from the elite CoBRA unit was in their captivity, have now released his picture on Wednesday to prove this fact. Earlier, the police had been skeptical about the Maoists’ claim that they had the jawan in their custody, said media reports.
In the picture released by the Maoists, the CoBRA jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas is seen squatted on a plastic mat under a temporary shelter, and in conversation with someone.
Manhas, a Jammu resident from CRPF’s CoBRA unit had gone missing in the aftermath of the fierce gun battle that broke out between the Maoists and security personnel in the Sukma-Bijapur border in Chhattisgarh. The Maoists had allegedly ambushed the security personnel who was scouring the area after being tipped off about the presence of a wanted Maoist leader, Hidma. Twenty-two security personnel lost their lives in this incident.
In a press note issued on Tuesday, the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DSZC) of the banned organisation CPI (Maoists) had asked the government to declare the names of interlocutors, who they could hand over the jawan. “After that, we will release the policeman in our custody. Till then, he will be safe under our security,” the note said, reported The Indian Express.
The DSZC press note dated April 6 was addressed to the public and further claimed that Maoists had killed 24 security personnel and injured 31. The names of four people from their group who had died in the operation was also released, including the fact that they had managed to procure 14 weapons, more than 2,000 bullets, and other items.
Meanwhile, on April 6, the police had issued a statement that despite aggressive search operations they had not been able to locate Manhas. The police had also tapped village and community leaders, people’s representatives and journalists to find out more information about the jawan.
The police also contacted Manhas’ family in Jammu and assured them that they will do their best to get him back.