A photograph of a missing Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) constable doing the rounds on an instant messaging platform is almost 12 months old, his family said on Wednesday, rejecting claims that it was snapped and released by Maoists who have taken him captive.
CRPF’s Rakeshwar Singh Manhas, a resident of Jammu, has been missing since a deadly encounter at the borders between Chhattisgarh’s Sukma and Bijapur districts on Saturday. CRPF director general Kuldiep Singh has said there is no confirmation yet that Manhas has been held captive by Maoists.
Manhas’s family members held a demonstration on the Jammu-Poonch National Highway on Wednesday, demanding his safe release and strong action against Maoists. The demonstration impacted traffic movement.
“The picture that our media says was released by Maoists to show that he is safe is almost a year-old. I had seen it on his phone during his last visit home,” Praveen Singh Manhas, the CRPF jawan’s cousin, said.
“It could be a ploy by Maoists…with every passing hour, our anxiety is increasing; we are concerned about his safety and security and urge the government to take stern action against Maoists,” he said.
Several journalists in Chhattisgarh received the photo on their WhatsApp on Wednesday. The sender claimed that Minhas was not hurt in the captivity of Maoists.
There was no official word from the police administration, but sources said Maoists could be playing a mind game.
“They could have used a photo in his (Manhas’s) phone gallery to mislead people about the jawan’s well-being. Only forensic tests of the original file will establish date and time…in this case, it is difficult since these are WhatsApp forwards received by the local media,” a source said.
Twenty-two security personnel were killed in the five-hour gun battle on Saturday, making the ambush one of the worst strikes linked to Left-wing extremism.
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