Jharkhand police had specific information that Francis Induwar, whose decapitated body was found six days after he had been abducted by Maoists, had been taken to the Bundu forests near Ranchi, senior officials admitted on Wednesday.
Induwar, an officer of the Special Branch who was reportedly sought to be swapped in exchange for three Maoist leaders, was found beheaded on the Ranchi-Jamshedpur highway Tuesday morning.
A day later, as family members and colleagues accused the administration of making no serious efforts to rescue Induwar, sources said police did have information that he had been kept in the Bundu forests, about 50 km from here. But they could not track the specific location of the hostage in the 20 sq km forested area.
"There was specific information and we tried our best to rescue him. But there was nobody to take us where he was kept in the jungle areas," said a police officer.
Deputy Inspector General (Ranchi zone) R K Mallik added: "Yes, we had information and we had launched the operation in Bundu but he was killed before we reached him."
According to the post mortem report, he was tortured by the rebels before his throat was slit. There were many wounds found on his body.
The brutal killing of Induwar, in a style that was compared to the Taliban, shocked his fraternity and family.
"We were only given assurances that he would be freed soon. No serious efforts were made to rescue him," said the slain officer's wife, Sunita.
His colleagues in the intelligence department were equally furious.
"The special teams formed to rescue the abducted cop did not dare venture into the deep jungle. Had serious efforts been made, he could have been rescued," said a Special Branch officer on condition of anonymity.
"If this is the situation, we will not work in rural areas. Special Branch officers must be provided security so that we can discharge our duties," added Ram Sarek Rai, president of Special Branch Police Association.
Police suspect the Kundan Pahan group, active in Ranchi, Khuti and Jamshedpur, to be behind the killing.
The Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist) had left a pamphlet claiming the killing, a police official said. "Francis has been awarded death to protest the police repression," stated the pamphlet by the outlawed group.
Maoist rebels, according to local Hindi newspapers, wanted to swap arrested leaders - Kobad Ghandy, Chhatradhar Mahto and Bhushan Yadav - for Induwar. Jharkhand police, however, denied such reports.
Condemning the killing and blaming president's rule for the worsening law and order situation, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Raghubar Das said: “We are united against Maoist rebels but the Maoist problem is worsening under president's rule.”