The 30-year-old sub-inspector Ajit Bardhan, who was shot dead by the Maoists, threw his own life in the hands of the 50-odd armed ultras to save the lives of four civilians near Jharbeda area in Orissa.
"I am the only policeman and the rest four occupants of the jeep are civilians," the khaki-clad Bardhan reportedly told the Maoists and requested them not to harm the civilians after they were kidnapped on Thursday.
These words from Bardhan saved all the four persons who were travelling with him in the Bolero jeep.
"Sir (Bardhan) saved our lives when the Maoists asked us to follow them along with him. Had Ajit Sir kept quiet, we would have been killed too," Ganesh, the jeep driver, said with tears in his eyes.
The Maoists allowed the civilians to go after a thorough check up inside the vehicle, he said in a choked voice.
Bardhan, after attending his court duty in a Bonai-based court, was returning to Koida from Rourkela along with four civilians, including the driver, when the Maoists attacked him.
Bardhan's bullet strewn body was found on Friday near Jharbeda in Chandiposh-Chirubeda forest area. His hands and legs were found tied and he was fired from a close range, police said.
A CRPF jawan Abdul Raffique also lost his life when the Maoists triggered landmine after he was out on a combing operation to rescue Bardhan on Friday.
Later, the SDPO of Bonai police station Sudarsan Sethi, however, managed to locate Bardhan's body, police said. Meanwhile, police have seized about 20 kg of explosives from Jharbeda area during a combing operation, they said.
Maoists were suspected to have escaped into the bordering Saranda forests, known as the red corridor.