The four policemen held hostage by the Maoists in the remote forests in the border areas of Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh are safe and likely to be freed soon.
The Chhattisgarh government and the police are hopeful of this after assurances from the Maoists. “The police personnel were to be released on Wednesday but owing to certain reasons it did not happen,” Chhattisgarh Home Secretary N.K. Aswal told Hindustan Times. “Their release is expected anytime — thanks to the negotiations carried out by the activists and the media with the Maoists.”
Some news channels flashed footage of the abducted personnel after the Maoists took TV crews to an undisclosed location on Wednesday.
The rebels told media persons that the policemen would be released soon.
“We are very optimistic that the kidnapped policemen would be free soon, though it is difficult to say when,” ADG (anti-Maoist operation) Ram Niwas said.
According to jungle warfare expert Brigadier (Retd) B.K. Ponwar, the Maoists have taken the decision to release the policemen to gain the sympathy of the population and local support for their campaign. “Besides, the rebels also attempted to put pressure on the police to get some concession since they (the Maoists) had suffered heavy casualties during the recent months,” Ponwar said.
The rebels had abducted seven policemen on September 19 in Bijapur district, 350 km south of Raipur. The bodies of three policemen were found near Dipla village of the district. After a week’s silence, the rebels issued an ultimatum listing out their demands that included stopping anti-Maoist operations and withdrawal of paramilitary forces from the state in return for the safe release of the four policemen.