Chhattisgarh engineer abducted by Maoists released after a week

Ajay Roshan Lakra (35), a sub-engineer working with the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), was released by the Maoists in the presence of his wife, local journalists and villagers.

A 35-year-old Chhattisgarh sub-engineer who was abducted a week ago by Maoists was released after multiple appeals and a rescue attempt by his family and journalists in the state’s Bijapur district on Wednesday.

Ajay Roshan Lakra (35), a sub-engineer working with the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY), was released by the Maoists in the presence of his wife, local journalists and villagers.

Lakra was abducted on November 11 when he was visiting Gorna village in Mankoli panchayat, 10 km from Bijapur district headquarters. Accompanied by 24-year-old Laxman Pratagiri, a peon with the project, the two of them were abducted while they were inspecting an under-construction road.

Pratagiri was released two days later, but Lakra remained in Maoists’ custody. Earlier this week, his wife Arpita, their 3-year-old son went into the forest area of Mankoli with journalists from Sukma and Bijapur, trying to get in touch with the Maoists.

Their intention: inform the insurgents that Lakra was a government employee, and not a contractor as the Maoists may have believed him to be. In the past, some contractors involved in road construction work have been targeted in the area.

“We managed to send across his ID card, his wife’s statement and all other details to the Maoists, in the hope that they would release him. However, they were not satisfied,” said Ganesh Mishra, a local journalist, who was involved in Saturday’s attempt.

However, on Wednesday, Lakra’s family heard the news that the Maoists were likely to hold a public hearing at the border of the Bijapur and Sukma districts to decide if he should be released.

“I told them to leave my husband as he was just doing his job. We are very grateful to everyone who helped in getting my husband back,” Arpita Lakra said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

District officials felicitated the journalists involved in Lakra’s release, but sources said no official complaint was filed. “Our primary aim was to reunite Lakra with his family. He is currently undergoing check-up after which we will take further course of action,” said a senior police official who wished to remain anonymous.

Lakra said after his release the was made to walk blindfolded by the captors, but he wasn’t harmed. “I was not harmed, but it was a very scary experience. I am glad to be back,” he said.

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