A Canadian social worker on a bicycle tour of Bastar who had gone missing in Chhattisgarh’s Maoist-affected Sukma district on Monday and was feared to be in the custody of the rebels was found on Wednesday afternoon, said police.
A police officer tracking the disappearance of 25-year-old John Szlazak said the Maoists had let him go. Police had sent a team of journalists and teachers inside the forest on Wednesday morning to seek John’s release and one of them found him in jungles of Amarpalli.
“John was released by Maoists and some teachers and local journalists are bringing him to Polampaalli,” said special director general (anti-Naxal operations) DM Awasthi.
John was in the custody of junior cadre of Maoists and they waited for their senior leaders to question him because they are unable to understand what he was saying.
“The Maoists released him after detailed quizzing,” said Awasthi. He added that the Sukma superintendent of police would investigate the case.
John, who was cycling across India, generated an emergency alert on a GPS device installed in his cycle on Monday. His last location was traced near Singanmadgu of south Sukma, near the Odisha border.
South Sukma is considered the most dangerous part of Bastar region and Siganmadgu is a hotbed of Maoists.
Police said John reached Mumbai on February 14 on a tourist visa. On March 14, he left Mumbai for Chhattisgarh on a bicycle and his travel plan was chalked out by a city travel agent, according to a source. John is a member of a Canadian organisation, Immigration Refugees and Citizenship, the source added.
Following his disappearance, external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj tweeted she had spoken to Odisha chief minister Naveen Patnaik, and said John had gone missing from Odisha’s Koraput district, which borders Sukma in Chhattisgarh.
Swaraj had also sought a detailed report from Chhattisgarh government and state officials submitted it on Tuesday afternoon.