Headmaster Ranjit Duley, abducted by the militant wing of the Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) on March 5 from Sarenga in West Bengal's Bankura district, was released unharmed by the outfit around midnight on Monday.

He was freed following criticism of the joint security operations in the region by his family members, and their appeal to the State government to release PSBJC supporters arrested in connection with the murder of a police officer during an encounter with Maoists on February 25. Members of the Sidhu-Kanu Gana Militia, the militant wing of the PSBJC, handed over Mr. Duley to a section of the local media in the Sarenga region. Though the Gana Militia had initially demanded the release of six of their comrades in exchange for Mr. Duley, it later scaled down its demand and announced he would be freed if his family publicly criticised security operations.

The climb-down came after the Gana Militia lost a supporter during a gun-battle with security forces during a rescue operation in the Bhalukbasa forest, Paschim Medinipur district, on Sunday.

Speaking to The Hindu over telephone, from his residence at Saluka village several hours after his release, Mr. Duley said: “I feel this is my new birth as I was able to meet my family and friends after an ordeal of more than 80 hours.” Sounding tired and weak, he expressed his gratitude to the media for intervening and securing his release. He said he wanted to rest for sometime. “I have not taken a bath all this while. All I want to do is take a bath now. I hope you understand.”

Immediately after his release, the media escorted Mr. Duley to the Lalgarh police station in the early hours of Tuesday, where a medical test was conducted. His blood pressure was found to be higher than normal. He was taken to the district police headquarters in the morning, where he was interrogated by senior district police officials.