| Khaira resident Subodh Pandey (right), who was abducted by Maoists on January 26, with Jamui superintendent of police Upendra Sharma on Wednesday. Picture by Amit Kumar |
All the eight abducted labourers were released by the Maoists early on Wednesday morning, raising doubts about the fate of a crucial bridge that would link Jamui and Nawadah with Jharkhand’s Giridih.
The labourers — Subodh Pandey of Jamui’s Khaira, Rajiv Kumar Roy, Nawal Roy, Rajkumar Roy and Bidhya Roy of Raghopur Tersia, Hajipur, in Vaishali district, Dinesh Singh, Lakhindar Singh and Vikash Singh of Dalsinghsarai in Samastipur district — work under a local contractor responsible for constructing the bridge across the Kiul river at Badildih.
They were abducted from the project site on Republic Day.
Although deputy inspector of police (Munger) Anil Kishore Yadav confirmed their release in Dumri forest under Sono police station, the police had no idea about it till Subodh returned home on Wednesday morning.
After their release at the forest, around 65km from Badildih, all of them came to Jamui railway station.
Except Subodh, the rest of them took trains to their respective places even before the police could get in touch with them.
Jamui superintendent of police Upendra Sharma said: “We are sending officers to their native places for recording their statements.”
He refused any levy was paid for the labourers’ release. “It was trap for us and mainly for preventing construction of the bridge as the Maoists fear it would enable our swift movement in the bordering areas of Jharkhand ,” he said.
Following the abduction, contractors and other labourers fled the bridge site.
Sido Koda, a self-styled area commander of the Maoists, said: “Our higher organisational members will decide the bridge’s fate. And, the labourers were released according to an understanding with the government for immediate stop of combing operations and breaking of portions of the already-constructed Badildih bridge.”
Top intelligence sources however denied accepting the levy as the single cause leading to the incident. “Levy is a very common thing here but with this incident, the construction of the bridge has been suspended again. This is what the outlaws wanted,” said an intelligence officer on condition of anonymity.