Naxals release CoBRA commando Manhas

Greater Kashmir

CoBRA commando Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, who was abducted by Naxals after the last week’s fierce gun-battle in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, was released on Thursday, police said.

Manhas, who belonged to the 210th battalion of Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA), an elite unit of the CRPF, had gone missing after the gunfight on Saturday and later reported to be in the captivity of the Naxals.

The Naxals handed him, who hails from Jammu, to a group of facilitators in the forest along the Bijapur and Sukma border in the presence of a large number of villagers, police said.

“At around 4.30 pm, the abducted jawan returned to Tarrem Police Station safely along with the facilitators, who went inside the jungle to trace out his location,” Inspector General of Police (Bastar range) Sundarraj P said.

Manhas was part of a squad that had gone for an anti- Naxal operation in the jungles on the Bijapur and Sukma border on the night of April 2, hours before the deadly ambush.

Family members and relatives were moved to tears as they saw visuals of him stepping out of an ambulance on a news channel.

Manhas’ five-year-old daughter was seen kissing her father’s picture on a mobile phone. “This is the happiest moment of my life. I always remained hopeful of his return and want to thank the central and Chhattisgarh governments and everybody else who stood by us during the testing times,” Manhas’ wife Meenu told reporters at their house in Burnai on the Jammu-Akhnoor road.