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Civilian was released in exchange for CRPF commando: official

File photo of Rakeshwar Singh Minhas.   | Photo Credit: ANI

A civilian was released in exchange for the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commando Rakeshwar Singh Minhas, who was abducted by the Maoists after an encounter on April 3 at Tarrem in Chhattisgarh’s Sukma, a senior government official said.

The civilian identified as Kunjam Sukka was released hours before the commando was handed over on Thursday to social activists and a group of journalists who had gone to the Sukma-Bijapur border to secure his release, the official said.

However, when asked, Bastar Range Inspector General of Police Sundarraj P. told The Hindu that no civilian was arrested or taken into custody after the encounter.

Mr. Sundarraj added, “Many villagers were asked to help the security forces in retrieving the bodies and put the injured in choppers. They came on their own and stayed at the Tarrem camp. It is possible that one of the villagers returned on his own.”

Another official, however, said a person was apprehended after the encounter but no charges were pressed against him. “On many occasions it happens that after an encounter the Maoists desert their positions and are detained by the security forces. In this case no formal charge was invoked,” the official said.

D.M Awasthi, Chattisgarh Director General of Police could not be reached for comment.

Ganesh Mishra, a Bijapur-based journalist who left with a group of facilitators on April 8 to secure the commando’s release said that no civilian accompanied them. “The Maoist leader who released the commando told me that he was being freed without any condition,” said Mr. Mishra.

In 2012, five Maoists were released by the Odisha government to facilitate the release of an abducted MLA Jhina Hikaka.

On April 6, the banned CPI-Maoist’s Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee official spokesperson Vikalp released a statement demanding that the government appoint a mediator to seek the release of the abducted commando.

The Maoists said four PLGA cadres were killed in the encounter and they were identified as Odi Sanni, Padam Lakhma, Kowasi Badru and Nupa Suresh, all residents of south Bastar. Sanni’s body was recovered by security forces on April 3.

The Maoists said the men had died in the “courageous” counter attack. The statement said that Madvi Sukkal, another villager, was also killed before the encounter.

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Printable version | May 11, 2021 2:14:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/civilian-was-released-in-exchange-for-crpf-commando-official/article34282837.ece

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