At least two local journalists said on Monday they received calls from a mystery person who claimed a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) commando was in the captivity of Maoists after a deadly gunfight in Chhattisgarh last week, even as his wife appealed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah to ensure his safe return.
The caller informed that the commando, who went missing 48 hours ago during the encounter at the borders of Sukma and Bijapur districts, was safe and will not be harmed, according to the journalists.
On Saturday, a 600-member strong team of Maoists and their sympathisers ambushed a security team in the remote Tarrem area, killing 22 personnel in one of the worst attacks linked to Left-wing extremism. The attack was suspected to have been led by notorious Maoist commander Madvi Hidma.
“The caller did not identify himself. He said Maoists will release the jawan in two-three days,” Ganesh Mishra, one of the two journalists to receive the call, said. He is the president of the Bijapur Press Club.
Raja Singh Rathore, a journalist with Navbharat in Sukma, said he too received the call, but added that the caller identified himself as Hidma. “He told me that the missing jawan was in his custody. I asked about the well-being of the jawan, and was told that he was safe. The person, who claimed to be Hidma, added that more details and photographs will be shared soon,” Rathore said.
Bijapur superintendent of police Kamlochan Kashyap denied reports that the anonymous caller dialled him. “Yes, the jawan could be in captivity of the Maoists…security forces searched for him after the incident in a five-six kilometre radius, but could not trace him,” he told News18.
Kashyap said efforts were on to trace the commando and that the police were trying to verify the authenticity of the phone calls to the journalists.
The missing CRPF commando’s wife broke down before the media. “I request Modi sahab and Amit Shah sahab to bring him back…I spoke to my husband on Friday night around 9:30pm. He told me he was going for an operation duty…,” she said.
“Please bring him back like the way you brought Abhinandan back from Pakistan,” she added, referring to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman who was captured and then released by the neighbouring country after an aerial dogfight in February 2019.
On Monday, Shah reached Chhattisgarh and paid tributes to the deceased security personnel. “The fight against Maoists is in final stages, and this incident will only bolster our resolve,” he told the media.
“The Centre and the state, in the last few years, have moved deep into Maoist territories… such incidents are an evidence of frustration within Maoists,” said Shah, who held a review meeting with chief minister Bhupesh Baghel and top security officials in the state.
When asked about the commando, Baghel said he only knew that he was missing.