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BackYou are here: NewsIndia Maoists tell freed Chhattisgarh policemen to quit their jobs

India

Maoists tell freed Chhattisgarh policemen to quit their jobs

After twelve nerve-wracking days, the Chhattisgarh police held a press conference in Raipur to confirm the safe return of Sukluram Bhagat, Narendra Khosle, Subhash Patra and B. Toppo who were abducted by the Maoists.

On September 19, seven policemen were captured by the Maoists as they travelled between Bhopalpatnam and Bhadrakali in the forests of Bijapur district.

While the corpses of three policemen were found the next day, the fate of the remaining four remained uncertain till late on Thursday night when they arrived at a police camp in Dantewada district.

A pregnant woman, Kursam Jyoti who was travelling with her brother Krishna Erpa, was also reported missing. Police said Ms. Jyoti was freed a few days ago and she had returned to her village.

Police sources said one of the conditions set for the release was that all the four men would resign from the police service. It is understood that four local television journalists escorted the men back to safety.

At his press conference, Director General of Police Vishwarajan sought to dispel some of the confusion surrounding the hostage crisis.

Clarifying that the freed policemen were yet to be debriefed after their ordeal, Mr. Vishwaranjan said the Maoist demands suggested that the men had been abducted by lower-level cadres, thereby complicating hostage negotiations. Maoist posters recovered in Bijapur demanded that the police call off Operation Green Hunt, withdraw Central paramilitary forces from Chhattisgarh, release unnamed Maoist leaders and stop police atrocities on villagers in Bijapur. The police said the lack of specificity made it impossible to meet these demands.

Mr. Vishwarajan’s observations were supported by information gleaned from Maoist sources.

In a telephone conversation on September 26, CPI (Maoist) spokesperson Gudsa Usendi told this correspondent that he had not received any information regarding the kidnapping, implying that top Maoist leadership was also struggling to ascertain the events surrounding the kidnapping.

Mr. Usendi said that the monsoon and poor cellular connectivity had made it difficult to keep track of the events in Bijapur, but felt that the men would be released soon.

The men were finally released after nearly two weeks of search operations, background conversations between the police and Maoists using the local press as mediators and public appeals by the families of the abducted policemen, Chief Minister Raman Singh, Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, the Chhattisgarh chapter of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and social activist Swami Agnivesh.