Raipur: Maoists on Thursday night freed four policemen, 12 days after taking them hostage in Chhattisgarh`s Bastar region, police said.
The release has come as a relief for the families of the four policemen as well as for the state`s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) that was under tremendous pressure since Sep 19 to get them released unharmed.
"All the four policemen have been released safely," Dantewada`s Senior Superintendent of Police SRP Kalluri told a news agency.
Maoists abducted seven policemen September 19 from Bhopalpatnam area of Bijapur district of Bastar region, over 500 km south from Raipur, close to the Andhra Pradesh border.
Three policemen were killed a day later. Assistant Sub-Inspector Sukhram Bhagat, constables B Toppo, Narendra Bhosle and Subhash Ratre were held captive to bargain with the authorities.
After a week of uncertainty over the fate of the abducted cops, Maoists Sunday evening set a 48-hour deadline for releasing them. The rebels dropped a few handwritten leaflets in Bijapur district`s interiors stating their demands.
The deadline was extended by another 24 hours that ended Wednesday evening.
Maoists have demanded an immediate halt of the anti-Maoist drive Green Hunt among others as a condition to release the cops.
They have also demanded that the government should release few people of four villages of Bijapur district arrested on charges of unlawful activities, judicial probe into alleged fake encounters and initiation of peace talks.