People light candles to pay tribute to the personnel who were killed in the Chhattisgarh gunfight, in Bengaluru on Monday.(PTI)
People light candles to pay tribute to the personnel who were killed in the Chhattisgarh gunfight, in Bengaluru on Monday.(PTI)

Maoist attack: Search on for missing jawan, cops do not rule out abduction

Out of the 22 deaths, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) lost eight men, including seven commandos of CoBRA (CRPF’s elite unit) and one jawan of the Bastariya battalion; eight of the other deceased were from the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and six from the Special Task Force (STF).
By Ritesh Mishra and Ravi Krishnan Khajuria, Raipur, Jammu
UPDATED ON APR 06, 2021 01:57 AM IST

A jawan missing after a Maoist ambush over the weekend in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region may have been abducted by the ultras, senior officials said on Monday, even as they were trying to verify the intel amid a search operation by security forces in the jungles where 22 personnel were killed in a gunfight.

Out of the 22 deaths, the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) lost eight men, including seven commandos of CoBRA (CRPF’s elite unit) and one jawan of the Bastariya battalion; eight of the other deceased were from the District Reserve Guard (DRG) and six from the Special Task Force (STF). One CoBRA jawan has remained missing since the attack.

Inspector general of police, Bastar Range, Sunderaj P said the state police were committed to bringing the commando back if the reports of him being abducted were confirmed. “After the Jonaguda-Tekalgurem operations on Saturday, whereabouts of one CoBRA jawan couldn’t be ascertained. Efforts are on to trace his location and bring him back safely. We have taken cognisance of the information that the missing CoBRA jawan has been abducted by Maoists. We are committed to bring back the jawan safely. Security forces are equally committed for peace and development of Bastar region,” he said.

A top officer in the security establishment told PTI that they have “reasons to believe” the abduction claim made over phone on Sunday evening to a journalist based in Bijapur by a purported Maoist group was true. “However, we do not have concrete evidence to substantiate the claim made by some Maoist elements that he [the jawan] has been taken away by them,” the officer added.

Meanwhile, the family members of the jawan, who belongs to Lower Barnai region of the Jammu district, have appealed to his abductors to release him.

“I spoke to my husband on Friday at around 9.30pm and he told me that he is packing his bag and food for an operation and will talk to me the next day. Following the attack [on Saturday], a local reporter from Chhattisgarh called me and asked whether I want to say something to the Maoists because he informed me that he will take our appeal to them. I told him that I want to request them [Maoists] to release him,” said the jawan’s wife.

She said that she has not been provided any information from the officials. “The CRPF Group Centre at Bantalab has not informed us anything about his whereabouts. All of us are very worried,” she said.

The CoBRA jawan joined the CRPF in March 2011. He was transferred to Chhattisgarh three months ago. He was earlier posted in Assam.

CRPF’s Jammu sector spokesperson and deputy commandant Shivnandan Singh said: “The jawan remains missing. We are getting reports from the media that he is probably with Maoists. The search operations are on to trace him.”

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