Chhattisgarh: Maoists release pic of captive CRPF commando in their custody, want govt to negotiate release

A day after the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DSZC) of the banned organisation issued a press note demanding government-mandated interlocutors to whom the jawan would be handed over to, the CPI (Maoists) on Wednesday released a picture of a jawan from the elite CoBRA unit to show he was in their custody.

In the picture released by the Maoists, CoBRA unit jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas is seen sitting on a plastic mat under a temporary shelter, possibly at a Maoist camp.

The Naxal group, which ambushed a team of security personnel in Chhattisgarh recently, released a press note on Tuesday assuring the safety of the kidnapped soldier and admitting to losing four comrades in the encounter.

The missing jawan has been identified as constable Rakeshwar Singh Manhas of the 210th CoBRA battalion, an elite unit of CRPF. He went missing after the April 3 gunfight between Naxals and security personnel near Sukma-Bijapur border.

The group promised the Chhattisgarh government that they will release the jawan and sought names of govt mediators to negotiate the release.

In the press release, the Naxals have claimed they have CRPF jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas in their custody and he is safe and sound. They said they will release the jawan once the government sends a party to negotiate their release.

The two-page letter, penned by banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), stated that the outfit is willing to negotiate with the Centre. It has asked the government to appoint a mediator to negotiate for the release of Manhas.

“One jawan is in our custody. We are ready to negotiate with the government. They can announce mediators. We will release him (captive jawan). Police jawans are not our enemies,” the outfit said in the letter.

It said the government should first announce names of interlocutors and the jawan will be released later. “He will remain safe in our captivity till then,” it added.