I didn't lose hope, says CRPF commando abducted by Naxals
For CRPF commando Rakeshwar Manhas, patience was the key to his survival as he spent five days in a Chhattisgarh jungle after being taken captive by Naxals following an ambush that killed 22 members of his team.
"I did not lose hope in the most difficult situation and I maintained my cool," said the 35-year-old who returned to his home in Jammu on Friday.
Manhas went missing during a deadly encounter with Naxals
Manhas had gone missing during a deadly encounter with Naxals in Chhattisgarh's Bijapur district on April 3. The gunfight left 22 security forces personnel dead and several others injured. He was released from captivity by the Naxals on April 8.
I owe my second life to my mother: Manhas
Manhas was accorded a rousing reception by his family and villagers after he reached his native Barnie village on the outskirts of the city.
He said his mother's prayers kept him alive while in the enemy's custody.
"I was not even sure if I would be released. I owe my second life to my mother," Manhas said.
'No one has come back alive from captivity of Naxals'
"Her prayers gave me a fresh lease of life, as no one so far has come back alive from the captivity of Naxals," Manhas said.
His mother Kunti Devi said, "I prayed to Mata Vaishnodevi for my son's release. My prayers were heard and he came back to me safe and sound. It was the blessing of Mata that he is alive today."
Bad phase of our life has ended: Wife
As Manhas reached home, his family heaved a sigh of relief. His daughter Raghvi was seen hugging him.
His wife Muni said the bad phase of their life has ended.
"I am happy that my husband is back. It is because of the prayers of the family and hundreds of countrymen that he is with us today. I thank all of them," she said.
Villagers expressed admiration for the soldier's grit and determination
The villagers expressed admiration for the soldier for his grit and determination while in the enemy's captivity.
"We are proud of him. He has been fighting for the nation. We are happy that he is back in his village," said Dheeraj Chand.
However, Manhas says he feels sad for the families of the fallen jawans.
Manhas is hopeful of joining the force soon
"We cannot forget the supreme sacrifice made by the jawans. Each one among them is a hero," the soldier further said. However, Manhas is hopeful to join the force soon.