Maoists release police officer in West Bengal

KOLKATA: Maoist rebels released a kidnapped police officer after two days in captivity, as police freed 21 Maoists in India’s West Bengal state.

The apparent prisoner swap came late Thursday after the state government allowed the Maoists to be released on bail. They had been charged with waging war against India and faced the death penalty if convicted, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The insurgents, their faces

veiled and carrying automatic weapons, then released the police officer before journalists in a forest about 170 km southwest of state capital, Kolkata.

“We tried all possible ways to get him and eventually that fetched results,” state Chief Secretary Asok Mohan Chakrabarti said today, while still denying it was swap.

The rebels have been fighting for more than three decades in several Indian states.They frequently target police and government workers.

Two days ago, more than 50 suspected rebels raided a police station in the Lalgarh area of West Bengal and fatally shot two police officers and kidnapped another.

Prosecutors, however,did not oppose the bail for lack of evidence.