A day after Maoists released four government workers they had abducted on Saturday, Sai Vamsi Wardhan, a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF), one of the four taken hostage, recounted that the Maoists had explicitly stated that they had abducted them to use them as bait to trap security forces.
Over 500 security personnel - seven companies of CRPF and four of special assault group Jharkhand Jaguar - were deployed in search operations since Sunday. Badal Mandal from CRPF's 22 Battalion was killed and 11 others were injured when a series of anti-personnel mines were triggered while they were searching Dholghatta village on Monday.
"A 12-15 member group abducted us. From among them, a 40-45 year old man assured us that we will not be harmed; they did not keep us tied or blindfolded. They said we will find out only later why we were abducted," recounted Mr Wardhan, a 25-year old software engineer from Andhra Pradesh working in Giridih since 2012. "On Monday, I heard loud blasts and asked what had happened. One of them distributed sweets among everyone including us and said they had attained their target of attacking CRPF. An hour later they allowed us to walk to a place from where we could access the road," he said.
Along with Mr Wardhan, three panchayat-level workers had been abducted on Saturday from Nakania village while they were collecting applications to government schemes and were asked by the Maoists to accompany them.
"Speaking in Khorta, a local language, they asked if any one of us was the Collector or Block Officer. They asked me more details about my work the next day. The oldest amongst them responded to my queries about their ideology and gave us a copy of their Jan Krantikari Samiti policies to read. He read out a news clipping from a Hindi paper with details of expenses of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand governments to argue that funds were misused. When I asked, he denied that the rebels collected levy from individual farmers for MNREGA wells etc.," recounted Mr Wardhan.
On Tuesday, paramilitary forces continued combing operations to remove what officials estimate 200 to 300 anti-personnel mines scattered on Parasnath hill, a Jain pilgrimage where blasts were triggered on Monday.