Four government workers — three panchayat-level staff and a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) — were taken hostage by suspected Maoists in Giridih in Jharkhand on Saturday.

The district police and the Central Reserve Police Force launched search operations in the area on Sunday. No demand in exchange for their release was received till Sunday night, said district officials.

They were reported to have been taken hostage from Nakania village in Peertand block in Giridih, a Maoist stronghold along Jharkhand’s border with Bihar. The four were identified as panchayat sewak Maqsood, rozgar sewak Shambhu Pandey, village-level worker Chandra Dev, and Sai Vamsi Wardhan, who belongs to Andhra Pradesh and had been working in Giridih under a fellowship offered by the Ministry of Rural Development to young professionals to help implement government schemes in north-eastern States and States affected by Maoist conflict.

The team had been collecting applications from the villagers for social security schemes.

“Villagers reported that a group of 12 suspected Maoists, including two women, reached Nakania at 4.30 p.m. when the government team was about to leave. The group enquired if there were any district-level officers among them and asked these four to accompany them,” said Giridih District Collector V. Lakra.