3 Pune Students Won Over Naxals With Chocolates

Raipur; Jan.5: Guns can be countered by chocolates and laddus. Three students from Pune, who were abducted and later held hostage for six days by Naxals while they were undertaking a cycle expedition to spread the message of peace in the restive south Bastar of Chhattisgarh, had exactly done this to pacify the trigger-happy rebels.

"It was a tense situation as we had been subjected to intense grilling by the uniformed Naxals, who suspected us to be police spies. The interrogation had gone on whole night of December 29 when were waylaid by local villagers and handed over to the Maoist leaders. We could sense something terrible was going to happen with us. We started perspiring out of fear," Adars Patil, one of the three abducted students, recounted their days in Naxal custody before a select group of reporters at Jagdalpur, headquarters of Bastar, after being set free by ultras on January 3.

"At the time children of Naxals had thronged the place. Out of sheer affection, we started distributing chocolates and ladoos we carried in our backpacks among them. This had a calming effect on the ultras. The rebels then called off our interrogation and put us on cots with our hands and legs tied", he added.

Next day, their hands and legs were untied. The students were treated with rice and dal. They had been shifted to three villages during their captivity.

They were later released in Timmapuram jungle when the rebels felt no threats from them.

The three students, who are doing diploma in panchayat level administration and development under Indira Gandhi Open University, then trekked the forests to reach the CRPF camp at Chintalnar in south Bastar district of Sukma on January 3.

"We wanted to study culture and living standards of people in Naxal-infested areas in states of Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, and Odisha by undertaking 800 km-cycle expedition, but now abandon the plan", he added.

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