Almost 120 hours after CRPF (CoBRA battalion) jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas was held captive by Maoists following a gunfight at Bijapur-Sukma border on last Saturday, a group of mediators accompanied by some local journalists freed Manhas on Thursday deep in the same forest area where the gunfight had taken place.

A communique from the Bastar range, IG P Sunderraj, said that Gandhian Padma Shri Dharmapal Saini and tribal leader Telam Borraiya accompanied by scribes — Ganesh Mishra and Mukesh Chandrakar — contributed to the safe release of the CRPF jawan.

Chandrakar, the Bijapur correspondent of News18 Chhattisgarh said that he and other journalists were in constant touch with the Maoists for the release of the jawan. “On Wednesday, the Maoists called us and asked us to reach Jagargonda forests where the encounter had taken place last week,” said Chandrakar, adding the mediators and some journalists reached there on Thursday morning and Maoists took them to 15-km deep in forest.

The Pamed Area Committee led by secretary Manila had organised a Jan Adalat there in the presence of locals from around 20 villages who in unison supported the release of the captive jawan, said the journalist, adding the jawan had fainted after the gunbattle and was taken away by the Maoists.

Soon after the jawan, who was kept there tied with ropes, was freed and was let go with the mediators and scribes who took him to the Tarrem police station from where he was taken to Bijapur. CRPF DIG Komal Singh was there at the police station to receive the jawan.

The jawan was admitted to the Basaguda medical camp for a check-up, the police said.

Sources claim that Maoists choose afternoon time always for releasing any captive as approaching darkness makes it impossible for the security forces to chase them down in forests.

Earlier, social activist Soni Sori too had gone to meet the Maoists in the forest area but the guerrilla fighters had declined to send the jawan with her.

Sources claimed that Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel had personally monitored the entire process of the jawan getting freed.

A native of Jammu, Manhas told the scribes that he had joined the CRPF in 2011 and had earlier served in Assam for six years and was posted in the COBRA battalion in Bijapur in January this year.

Baghel expressed delight over the release of the CRPF jawan and thanked all those central and State police officers, mediators and journalists who ensured a safe passage for the abducted jawan.

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