Garo Hills situation disturbing: Centre

Shillong, Sep 26 (IANS) The central government on Saturday expressed concern over the deteriorating law and order situation in Meghalaya’s Garo Hills region where militants are on a kidnapping and killing spree.

“It is unfortunate that in Garo Hills, things are not improving as we hoped, but the state government is taking all steps to ensure and secure the lives and properties of the people,” union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju told journalists here.

He assured Meghalaya of central assistance to ensure peace in the insurgency-ravaged Garo Hills.

“If the Meghalaya government needs assistance from us (central government), we will definitely provide some assistance but we need to come together and settle this issue as the Garo Hills situation is quite disturbing,” he said.

On Thursday, armed militants of the A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK) outfit kidnapped Intelligence Bureau officer Bikash Singh and cloth merchant Kamal Saha at gunpoint from an area between Ampangre and Panda reserve forest.

The whereabouts of the two people remain unknown, even as Meghalaya Police has intensified its operation in the South Garo Hills district.

Reacting to media reports that the intelligence officer has been killed by his abductors, Rijiju said: “I have read media reports of ‘elimination’ of the officer but there is no concrete physical evidence yet.”

Inspector General of Police (Operations) G.H.P. Raju told IANS that the rescue operation has been intensified to trace the intelligence officer.

He said police have not received any information if the ASAK has made any ransom call to the family members of the two hostages.

The ASAK — which means “vanguards of Garoland” and which operates in western Meghalaya — is fighting for a separate Garoland to be carved out of the state.

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