Maoists Released Captured Soldier Rakeshwar Singh Manhas After 5 Days

 Maoist rebels who kidnapped a commando in deadly clashes in Chhattisgarh on Saturday, killing 22 soldiers and wounding 31 have been released after 5 days in captivity, the state government said on Thursday. He was taken hostage by the Maoists on the outskirts of the city of Bastar.

He was released after two high-ranking people, including one from the tribal community, negotiated his release with the state government, authorities said. Javan, originally from Jammu, was taken to a field hospital in Basaguda for medical examination and returned to his home village in Bastar district, a senior paramilitary officer said.

His 5-year-old daughter made an emotional appeal for his release in a video: 'Today's the happiest day of my life. Menu, Rakeshwar Singh Manhas' wife, was quoted by the ANI news agency as saying she had always hoped for her husband's return.

The Maoist rebel leader was chased by about 2,000 security forces on Saturday as they attacked a village in the northeastern state of Chhattisgarh, home to about 1.5 million people. Officials said between 400 and 750 trained Maoists surrounded pines on three sides of the flat vegetation area and rained machine-gun fire and explosives on them for several hours.

The CRPF chief said 28 to 30 rebels were also killed in the fighting, but survivors were rescued by helicopters by evening. The rebels seized weapons, ammunition, uniforms, and shoes from the killed security forces.

In March last year, more than 300 armed rebels killed 17 police officers and a patrol commander in an attack in Chhattisgarh. The state government says 16 commandos were also killed in a bombing blamed on the Maoists. Officials denied that the meeting was in retaliation for a 2017 attack that killed 25 police officers and commanders, a 25-year-old policeman, and another 20 police officers in the same area in rebel attacks. Maoist rebels, who claim to be fighting for the rural population and the poor, have been fighting government troops in eastern India since the 1960s.

Thousands have been killed in the fighting, according to the United Nations Human Rights Council, and thousands more have been wounded and killed.