Image courtesy: ANI
Since April 3 Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) soldier is missing, and has reportedly been abducted by Maoists, who subsequently released his photo to journalists in Chhattisgarh. As they wait for his return the soldier’s family has alleged that “no action has been taken by the government of India”.
His wife Meenu even told the media that while the authorities are quick to take action against a soldier if he reports a day late for duty after leave, the government yet to appoint a mediator to secure his release from the captures.
Jammu & Kashmir: Family of CRPF jawan Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, who was part of the party that was attacked by naxals in Chhattisgarh & has been held captive by naxals, requests the government to take action & ensure his release. pic.twitter.com/9rcBzNKIvi
— ANI (@ANI) April 7, 2021
Rakeshwar Singh Manhas (35) who hails from Jammu, was part of the CRPF party that was attacked in Chhattisgarh on Sunday. He has been missing since. His family had been sitting in protest in Jammu so that the government responds and gives them information. They told the media that they felt compelled to protest because “the government is doing nothing. For four days, we have no clue where he is.”
It has been widely reported that the alleged Maoists ‘proved’ that the CRPF soldier, a part of the highly trained CoBRA unit, was in their captivity, by sending his photo, reportedly taken in a hiding place in the forests, to Chhattisgarh journalists. The uniformed man is shown sitting on a piece of blue tarpaulin in what appears to be a makeshift shelter made in a clearing in a forested area.
According to a report in The Telegraph, the photo was released on Wednesday over WhatsApp and was purportedly of the missing jawan of the CRPF’s elite CoBRA unit and ‘showed’ said the commando was alive and in captivity. However, the CRPF has officially not commented on the photo. According to the news report the jawan’s colleagues, however, have said the “photo looked old and he seemed to have no injury either.” According to media reports, the Maoists have “signalled they were ready to negotiate the release of the jawan.” On Tuesday a two-page statement was issued by Vikalp, who is reportedly the spokesperson of the banned Communist Party of India (Marxist) asking the government to “decide on a mediator for the talks.”
The letter, quoted by the media stated that the Maoists have alleged that over 2,000 policemen had entered the Chhattisgarh village to kill their cadres, following which there was a counter-response, and that the “police jawans” were not their enemies. The Telegraph reported that the Maoists added that they were against the “anti-people” policies of the Narendra Modi government. Twenty-four security personnel had died in Saturday’s encounter and over 31 were injured. According to the statement “four Maoists had been killed” and the group claimed to have firearms belonging to the security personnel.
However, back in Jammu, Manhas’s family and friends had to hit the streets, wielding the Tricolour and shouting slogans, to press for his release, stated the report. They said the “government is doing nothing” and that they had “no clue where he is.” Media reports quoted Manhas’s wife Meenu who said, “If Maoists are claiming they have abducted him, why is the government not coming on record to say they are securing his release? Why is the government not taking any action? They (the Maoists) are asking for the appointment of a mediator and have said they will release him. They (the Centre) are not giving them the name of the mediator. How can they (the Maoists) release him?”
According to a BBC report, she has said if the government was “not worried at all about their jawan? He is my husband or his mother’s son later, he is first their jawan, he is their responsibility. Had he been ill, it would have been our responsibility to take him to the doctor, get him treated. Now it is their responsibility. He is in the custody of Naxalites. We can’t get him freed. We have no way to contact the Naxalites. It is the government’s responsibility to take action at the earliest, to do something.”
As the family protests continued and media reports began circulating, Jammu and Kashmir Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said that the Union home ministry is working for the release of the CRPF) commando Rakeshwar Singh Manhas from Maoist captivity in Chhattisgarh. “I express my solidarity with the jawan and his family. I am confident that by the grace of God, he will safely return home,” Sinha told the media on the sidelines of a function on Wednesday. He added efforts to bring back Manhas cannot be discussed in the public domain.