Days of anxious silence gave way to relief and celebration at the house of soldier Rakeshwar Singh Manhas in Jammu as the news of his release from Maoist captivity broke on Thursday.
Family members and relatives of the commando, who was abducted by Maoists after an encounter with security forces in Chhattisgarh on April 3, were moved to tears as they saw visuals of him stepping out of an ambulance on a news channel.
Mr Manhas’ five-year-old daughter was seen kissing her father’s picture on a mobile phone.
“This is the happiest moment of my life. I always remained hopeful of his return and want to thank the central and Chhattisgarh governments and everybody else who stood by us during the testing times,” Mr Manhas’ wife Meenu told reporters at their house in Burnai on the Jammu-Akhnoor road.
Twenty-two personnel from various security forces like the Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) of the Central Reserve Police Force, its Bastariya battalion and those from the District Reserve Guard and STF of the Chhattisgarh Police were killed in the ambush.
Thirty-one security personnel were also injured in the encounter.