Bengal swap: 23 Naxals let off as abducted cop is released | india | Hindustan Times
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Bengal swap: 23 Naxals let off as abducted cop is released

In what appeared a pre-arranged swap, abducted police officer Atindranath Dutta, 34, was released by the Maoists on Thursday, hours after a court freed 23 suspected Maoists, who had been arrested, on bail. The move fulfilled the demand made by Maoist leader Koteshwar Rao alias Kishenji. Exclusive videos video | Listen to podcastaudio

india Updated: Oct 23, 2009 02:31 IST

Abducted police officer Atindranath Datta was released after 23 suspected Maoists — arrested during the past few months from Lalgarh — were granted bail on Thursday.

An unharmed Datta was released at a place called Domohini between 8 and 8:30 in the evening. He was accompanied by a lawyer.

“I’ve kept my word which I’d given to the people and the family members of Datta,” Maoist leader Kishenji alias Koteswar Rao told a Bengali television channel in Kolkata.

The move can be seen as a partial fulfilment of the demands Kishenji made on Wednesday night. He said they were preparing a list of 78 names who, they demanded, should be released by the Bengal government.

On Wednesday, the family members of Datta met West Bengal CM Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and pleaded with him to secure Datta’s release.

State Chief Secretary Ashok Mohan Chakravarty had also said on Wednesday the government is willing to negotiate with the Maoists if specific requests come to them.

Ashok Datta, father of the abducted policeman, had earlier raised a question about the necessity of the joint operation in the Maoist areas at such a crucial time. According to police sources, a contingent of joint forces opened fire at the Maoist rebels near Purnatani area on Thursday morning.

Chidambaram rejects Maoist claims on PoW

Union Home Minister P Chidambaram on Thursday rejected Maoist leader Kishenji’s claim that kidnapped West Bengal police officer Atindranath Datta was a “prisoner of war”.

“They are using the words like PoW. We reject that, (it is) unacceptable in a democratic and republic system. We can never accept the theory of an armed liberation struggle and of guerrilla war,” he told reporters in Ranchi.

Noting that the democratic system was large enough to accommodate every shade of political opinion, he said: “Let me assume that the CPI(Maoist) has a particular political view. That view can also be accommodated in the democratic system.”