The militant wing of the Maoist-backed Police Santarsh Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) declared on Saturday that the outfit will not be responsible for the fate of the abducted school principal unless its demand to release six PSBJC supporters was met by 4 p.m. on Sunday.
The members of the Sidhu Kanu Gana Militia, the militant wing of the PSBJC, abducted Ranjit Duley, principal of a secondary school from the school premises at Sarulia in the Sarenga region of West Bengal's Bankura district on Friday afternoon.
Claiming responsibility for the abduction, Sidhu Soren, commander of the militia, told The Hindu over telephone from an undisclosed location on Saturday that Mr. Duley would be released only if six PSBJC supporters, who had been “wrongfully” arrested by the police in connection with the killing of the inspector-in-charge of the Sarenga thana last week, were released within 48 hours.
“I want to assure Mr. Duley's family that we will not harm him till the deadline. But once that is over and if there is no response from the administration, we cannot guarantee his safety and life,” Mr. Soren said.
West Bengal's concern
The State administration, on the other hand, expressed concern over the matter during the day and said that it had received no official communication from the Gana Militia about the demand.
Though the family members of Mr. Duley appealed to the Gana Militia through the regional media channels to release him, Mr. Soren rebuffed their appeal by alleging that the entire family of Mr. Duley worked as “police informers” and that they had been instrumental in getting the six PSBJC supporters arrested.
The district's police had launched intensified operations to nab the Maoists who had killed Rabi Lochan Mitra, the inspector-in-charge of the Sarenga thana, on February 25 after an encounter, which also killed a suspected Maoist named Jagannath Duley.
Mr. Duley's younger brother, Ramchandra Duley, was incidentally killed by the Maoists over a year back for being a Communist Party of India (Marxist) supporter. Facing constant threat from the Maoists, Mr. Duley, too, had officially announced his decision to leave the party.
The State's Director General of Police, Bhupinder Singh, hinted that a rescue operation had already been launched to trace Mr. Duley, but did not divulge further details.