Maoists in Chhattisgarh on Thursday released a Central Reserve Police Force commando, who was in their custody since the April 3 encounter in Bijapur district of the state, The Indian Express reported.

The commando, identified as Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, belongs to the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action unit of the CRPF.

A team of local journalists went to bring Manhas to the Tarrem camp of the CRPF in Bijapur. The state government had also nominated two people to secure his release, according to NDTV.

The Bijapur superintendent of police said a doctor will examine the commando in the camp, ANI reported.

The encounter

Manhas had gone missing after the encounter between the security forces and the Maoists on April 3. On April 6, the Maoists announced that he was in their custody and asked the government to appoint interlocutors for his release. On Wednesday, they had also released a photograph of Manhas sitting under the shade of a hut in his combat clothes, possibly at a Maoist camp.

The Maoists say they are fighting on behalf of the poorest for more jobs, land and wealth from natural resources for the country’s indigenous communities. For decades, the groups have waged an armed insurgency against the government, operating from the thick forests of Chhattisgarh. But last week’s toll was the heaviest for security forces battling the group since 2017 as 22 personnel were killed. Besides this, 31 more were wounded.

The fighting erupted when security forces, acting on intelligence, raided a Maoist hideout in Bijapur district, the police said.

Security personnel belonging to the Central Reserve Police Force’s elite CoBRA unit, the District Reserve Guard, and the Special Task Force were part of the anti-insurgency operation. Questions have been raised about faulty intelligence that led to the ambush.

One of the survivors of the encounter had said that they were attacked by over 400 Maoists from three sides. The ambush lines stretched over 2 km near Tekulguda village. Running gunfights broke out near Tekulguda, Jonaguda and Jeeragaon villages, he added.