New Delhi: Pre-requisite for a lasting peace in Bastar region is a genuine truce between security forces and the rebel armed guerillas, Chhattisgarh government’s mediator Dharampal Saini, who successfully managed safe release of abducted CRPF’s CoBRA commando Rakeshwar Singh Manhas from the custody of Naxals, said.
Calling it his “personal view”, Saini told UNI that the problem can be solved only if both the sides announce the suspension of armed offensive and counter-offensive and only then “can we think of reaching any kind of peace settlement with armed rebels”.
In a telephonic conversation with this reporter, the state government appointed emissary stated that his job was confined to the safe release of the CRPF commando. “I could succeed only because they (Maoist) kept their word and handed over the abducted jawan to us,” he said.
Narrating the turn of events leading to the release of the jawan, Saini, popularly known as Dau (elder brother) or Gandhi of Bastar, said that he was approached by the state administration to mediate with the Naxals on April 6.
After talking to his other associates like president of Gondwana community Telam Borraiya, retired school teacher Rudra Karen and Sarpanch of Murtunda Panchyat Sukhmati Hakka, he gave his consent following which he along with his associates, headed for the designated place named Tumanpara as decided by the Maoist on April 7, he said.
Saini further said, “We reached Bijapur by 1900 hrs and via Basaguda, reached Tarem around midnight, the place near where the encounter took place on April 3, and made a night halt there. Next morning on April 9, we all reached Tumanpara in the morning where the handing over of security personnel was scheduled.”
He then said that around midday, villagers of some 20 villages gathered there and the captive Rakeshwar Mnahas was brought there by the Naxal leaders under the command of a lady commander and they asked the gathering, called as a ‘Jan Sabha’, whether the CRPF jawan should be released or not. The majority of the villagers assembled there, gave their consent for his release, he added.
While handing over the jawan to the team of mediators, the Naxal leaders asked them to send a photograph of Manhas joining his family members in Jammu, Saini said, adding that Rakeshwar smiled for the first time, when he sat on the motorcycle after his release.
The Maoist, however, requested the mediators to talk to the government for the release of innocent villagers, who are often picked up by the security forces in the region.
Asked if the Naxals put any demand before releasing the Jawan, Saini said that he and his team were only confined to the safe release of the soldier, but they (Maoist) said that how could they leave their arms without an assurance that force would not be used against them.