Maoists said, you will find out the reason why you were taken hostages once you are released: Released Jharkhand PMRDF

Three panchayat-level workers and a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) taken hostage by Maoists on January 25 in Giridih district were released on Monday evening. In the search operation that began on January 26, Badal Mandal of Central Police Reserve Force (CRPF) 22 Battalion died and 11 others suffered injuries when suspected Maoists triggered over 12 Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) explosions on Monday afternoon.

Eleven companies, or nearly 700 paramilitary personnel, of CRPF and special assault groups of Jharkhand Jaguar (JJ) were deployed in the search operations that began on Sunday. The injured paramilitary personnel – seven from CRPF and four from Jharkhand Jaguar – were flown to Ranchi for treatment.

“Though we lost one of our men, we were able to secure the safe release of all four by putting the Maoists under immense pressure. Our forces surrounded them from all sides,” said Jharkhand Director General of Police Rajeev Kumar.

Panchayat Sewak Maqsood, Rozgar Sewak Shambhu Pandey, village-level worker Chandra Dev, and Sai Vamsi Wardhan, a 25-year old software engineer from Andhra Pradesh working in Giridih as a PMRDF had been taken hostage from Nakania village while collecting applications from the village's residents for government schemes. The information shared by the released indicates that the abduction may have been used as a strategy by the rebels to target paramilitary personnel.

“We collected forms for pension schemes, MNREGA Kaam Maango Abhiyaan, skills development programmes in Nakania. Twelve Maoists including two women arrived there and asked us to accompany them. They did not ask us many questions or harm us. They said, 'you will find out the reason you were taken hostages once you are released',” said Sai Vamsee Wardhan, who has been working as PMRDF in Giridih since September 2012.

After taking the four hostage on Saturday evening, the rebel had allowed the team's driver Rajendra Yadav to go. A CRPF team had visited the village on Sunday morning to accompany the driver back to the district centre in Giridih 25 km away.

Jachonia Islary, also working as PMDRF in Giridih said that the four were part of one of eight teams working in villages in the densely forested, hilly area since Wednesday. “We had visited 180 villages collecting applications forms. In Peertand too, we started early and planned to return by 4 pm. When I did not hear back from this team till 6 pm, I had informed the collector,” he narrated.

Peertand, a Maoist stronghold, held rebels' training camps which were dismantled after paramilitary operations in 2011-12. Earlier, on January 21, the CPI (Maoists) had blown up a newly-constructed Panchayat Bhawan in Tuyyo, a few km from Nakaniya.