IB official abducted in Meghalaya still untraced

Shillong, Oct 19 (IANS) There is no trace of an Intelligence Bureau officer and a cloth merchant kidnapped nearly four weeks back by suspected Garo militants in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills district, bordering Bangladesh.

On September 24, militants of the A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK) outfit kidnapped IB officer Bikash Singh and merchant Kamal Saha at gunpoint from an area between Ampangre and Panda reserve forest.

“We have no clue at all about their whereabouts. We are continuing with the search and rescue operation to trace them,” Meghalaya police chief Rajiv Mehta told IANS.

He also said the kidnappers have not made any contact with the famil of the two victims for ransom.

However, Mehta said the rescue operation has been intensified in South Garo Hills district and its adjoining districts to trace the two.

Asked if the kidnappers have taken their hostages to Bangladesh, Mehta said: “Both the victims are still present in South Garo Hills based on local human intelligence inputs. We are also taking help from the local people residing in the suspected areas where the victims have been kept captive.”

Border Security Force Inspector General Sudesh Kumar told IANS that he was in touch with Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) officials to find out if the abducted men were taken across the border.

“I cannot share anything with you in this case but we are sharing all information with the Meghalaya police and Intelligence Bureau,” Kumar said.

The ASAK, whose name means “vanguard of Garoland” and are fighting for a separate Garoland, has denied involvement in the kidnapping, but an obscure militant outfit – the Bangladesh Tiger Force claimed to have killed the two men.

In an e-mail to the media, its ‘commander-in-chief’ Dallim Islam said that the officer and the cloth merchant were “executed in revenge for atrocities against Bangla nationals” in the border region.

However, Meghalaya Police and intelligence agencies maintained that the ASAK militants were behind the abduction.

Singh and Saha were travelling in a public vehicle towards Baghmara, the district headquarters of South Garo Hills, from Rongara when militants stopped the vehicle, separated them from other passengers and took them away.

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