Ending more than 50-hour-long uncertainty and suspense, the Maoists have released Atindranath Dutta, the police officer, whom they abducted at gunpoint from West Midnapore's Sankrail police station on Tuesday afternoon.
The officer was released 'somewhere in the forest near Jhargram', said a Maoist source.
Earlier, Koteswar Rao alias Kishanji had told rediff.com that his party was willing to release Dutta. His statement came shortly after a West Bengal court granted bail to 19 tribal women held by the security forces from Lalgarh. It was one of the demands put forth by the Maoists.
The abducted police officer was first handed over to a lawyer and then to the journalists around 5.30 pm on Thursday.
The entire group, it is said, is now on its way to Jhargram. They ae expected to reach Midnapore town by midnight.
It is yet to be known if Dutta will immediately leave for his Ahiritolla residence in North Kolkata or he will spend the night in Midnapore.
While speaking to rediff.com late on Wednesday night, Kishenji dropped a hint that the journalists might get a glimpse of Dutta on Thursday afternoon. In fact, he had planned a press conference on Thursday that could not take place because of changed circumstances.
Things had taken a turn for the worse on Thursday morning when security forces in and around Lalgarh opened fire close to the place where Dutta was kept, much to the chagrin of the Maoists. In fact, at that point of time, Kishenji had told the local media that he would not be responsible if Dutta got caught in the crossfire.
However, soon ceasefire was announced and Kishenji set the abducted police officer free.