Two women who were picked up by the police from Metala forest in West Bengal’s Paschim Medinipur district late on Tuesday for being suspected Maoists were released on Friday, a day after the Maoist-backed Police Santrash Birodhi Janasadharaner Committee (PSBJC) accused the police of trying to frame them.

The women — Shefali Bera and Kanika Adak — are the daughter and wife of Joydeb Bera and Raju Adak respectively, who have been missing since December 6 last year following their alleged detention by the police.

Fierce gunfight

Though the district’s police claimed at a press conference on Wednesday that the two women, suspected to be Maoists, were arrested after a fierce gunfight with the ultras in the Metala forest late on Tuesday, they changed tack on Friday saying that the duo had just been “detained.”

District Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Verma told The Hindu: “Both the women were found on the spot [at the Maoist camp which was raided] and were therefore detained. They said that they had been forcibly taken to the forest by the Maoists…so we produced them in court on Thursday to give their statements and they were let off later.”

No case filed

Mr. Verma added that no case had been filed against Ms. Bera and Ms. Adak.

The PSBJC leadership alleged on Thursday that the police were trying to frame the women after failing to forcibly convince them to withdraw the missing complaint diaries for Mr. Bera and Mr. Adak. Mr. Verma, however, denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, the seven-day deadline set by Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee for the Maoists to decide to shun violence and initiate dialogue from a rally at the district’s Jhargram town on January 15 expired on Friday.

Ms. Banerjee had also promised to facilitate talks between the Maoists and the Centre if the former lay down arms. The rebels, however, have not yet responded to her call.

‘Give them time’

At a press conference here on Thursday, Ms. Banerjee said: “It is not binding on them to do so. I had appealed them for the sake of peace and development but it is up to them to decide…give them some time because such policy decisions [at their end] require time.”

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