STATE TIMES NEWS
Jammu: Relatives of a CoBRA commando held hostage by Naxals after a recent gun battle with security forces in Chhattisgarh’s Bijapur district blocked the Jammu-Poonch highway on Wednesday, demanding an assurance from the government for his safe release.
“He is the responsibility of the government, which should take immediate action to ensure his safe return to us. We want the government to inform us about the action it is taking for his release,” Meenu, wife of abducted jawan Rakeshwar Singh Minhas, said in a fervent appeal from the protest site.
Thirty-one jawans were injured while CoBRA commando Minhas, belonging to its 210th battalion, went missing after the gunfight that took place along the Bijapur-Sukma border on Saturday and was stated to have been taken hostage.
Twenty-two personnel from various security forces like the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force, its Bastariya battalion and those from the District Reserve Guard and STF of the Chattissgarh Police were killed in the ambush.
In Jammu, dozens of relatives and neighbours of Minhas took to the streets and blocked the main road outside his Burnai residence on Wednesday, raising slogans of “Bring back our hero”, “Long live India” and “Shoot the traitors of the nation”.
Officials said a police party was at the scene trying to persuade them to allow normal movement of traffic, which had to be diverted to another route.
A purported statement released by the Maoists on Tuesday claimed that they have abducted a jawan during the gun battle in Bijapur and sought nomination of some mediators for his release.
Asked about the statement, Meenu questioned the central government’s “silence” on the issue.
“If a jawan is late to report to duty by just one day after leave, action is taken against him, but here he is missing since Saturday and nobody is bothered,” she said.
She added that not a word had been received from the government or the CRPF, and whatever information they had was through the media.
Demanding an assurance from the government for her husband’s safe release, Meenu said, “We are concerned about his safety. The Naxals made a claim and also came out with a written statement, and now the government should look for a mediator to bring him back.”
“We do not have any source or approach to reach out to the Naxals. We can only make a request for his release,” she said, as her five-year-old daughter, Shragvi, stood dumb-stuck nearby.
The jawan’s younger brother, Sumit, also appealed to the government to act fast.
“We request the government not to waste any time and bring him back. He is not on any foreign land like (Wing Commander) Abhinandan Varthaman, who returned home from Pakistan within 60 hours,” he added.
National president of NSUI, the student wing of the Indian National Congress, Neeraj Kundan visited the family members along with J&K Congress vice-president and former minister Raman Bhalla on Monday, and facilitated a telephonic conversation between them and Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Bhupesh Baghel.
“I want to talk to my son. Please bring him back,” Minhas’s mother Kunti Devi, a CRPF jawan’s widow, had then told Baghel.