Jammu: Amid looking after her daughter, four-year-old Raghvi, who still believes “Papa will come home soon”, and trying to retain her composure, Meenu Manhas, wife of CRPF constable Rakeshwar Manhas who is missing since Saturday’s anti-Maoists operation in Chhattisgarh, on Monday said she received a call in the afternoon. The person, she said, claimed to be calling from Chhattisgarh and indicating that he may have an idea of Rakeshwar’s whereabouts.
Until noon, she said, the family thought he may have lost way in the jungle and will be traced soon. But someone “from Chhattisgarh” rang up Meenu Manhas on her cellphone around noon. “Introducing himself as a local media person, he asked whether I want to make an appeal to the Maoists, and they will deliver it to them,” she said.
The caller also said that he would send a “Hi’’ to her on WhatsApp and she can send her appeal, along with Rakeshwar’s photograph, on that phone number, she said. “There has been no contact thereafter,” Manhas said, wondering how the caller got her cellphone number.
Sitting in the family’s home at Netar Kothey village in Burnai near Jammu, surrounded by relatives, Manhas made an appeal to the government to initiate steps for early return of her husband. She also appealed the Maoists to release her husband, as he has “no enmity with them”.
Manhas last spoke with Rakeshwar on phone on Friday evening – “he said he was packing food and going on an operation, and would be back Saturday.”
The following evening brought with it the news about the Maoist attack, which left 22 personnel dead and Rakeshwar still missing.
Rakeshwar, 35, who was part of CRPF’s CoBRA unit, had joined the force in 2011 and was with the elite unit for the last more than five years, his younger brother, Sumit, said. Before Chhattisgarh, Rakeshwar was posted in Assam, Sumit added.
Manhas said her husband was scheduled to come home this month to attend the wedding of his brother-in-law – “he was to start from Chhattisgarh on April 15”.
On Monday afternoon, Commandant P C Gupta from CRPF headquarters at Bantalab visited the family and assured them that they will share whatsoever update they receive from Chhattisgarh. He also Manhas that the “department and government are making all efforts (to bring him safe) and are with you’’.