RAIPUR: Maoist rebels in central India have released four policemen kidnapped 12 days ago in the insurgent stronghold of Chhattisgarh state, officials said on Friday.
The four officers, who were captured on September 19 in a forest about 525 kilometres south of state capital Raipur, have returned to a station in Dantewada district, local police official SRP Kalluri told AFP. “All the four police personnel were released on Thursday night,” Kalluri said. The four policemen told reporters that they were not tortured, but they were tied up with ropes and were moved between several locations in the heavily forested area where they were seized. They said they feared for their lives, however, after three of their colleagues who were captured at the same time were shot dead by the rebels on September 21.
A Maoist leader in the area, Varvara Rao, told local television channels that the men had been released in response to appeals from family members, officials and non-government organisations. “Now the government should consider the demands forwarded by the Maoists, including the withdrawal of paramilitary forces from the forestry area of Chhattisgarh,” Rao said. The rebels have fought for decades against state and central government rule, drawing support from tribal groups and landless farmers left behind by India’s rapid economic expansion.