No trace of abducted Meghalaya official

Shillong, Oct 31 (IANS) The whereabouts of a Meghalaya official, kidnapped by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) militants five days ago, are still not known, police said on Saturday.

“We have not been able to trace the abducted official – block development officer (BDO), Jude, Rangku T. Sangm – as he is being kept in a dense forest,” Inspector General of Police (Western Range) F.D. Sangma told IANS.

Nonetheless, he said the team are making all efforts to secure the safe release of the official, who was abducted on October 27 from Diganggre area in South Garo Hills district while he was on his way to Tura, district headquarters of West Garo Hills.

“Our inputs suggest that the official is safe and is being held captive in Meghalaya,” Sangma said.

He said police had no information if the rebels had contacted Jude’s family members for ransom.

On Thursday, GNLA spokesman Garo Mandei Marak had threatened to eliminate Jude while demanding a stop to counter-insurgency operations in insurgency-ravaged districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

“If the government doesn’t stop and withdraw the operations against us and others (militant outfits) within the Garo Hills region immediately within this week, then we (GNLA) will be compelled to shoot/kill the kidnapped Meghalaya government official within this week itself at any location where, thereafter, his dead body might never be found again even for a proper burial,” Marak said in an e-mail.

Various pressure groups, including opposition parties – the United Democratic Party and the National People’s Party – have condemned the kidnapping and demanded his immediate and unconditional release.

The kidnapped Meghalaya Civil Service officer posted in Chokpot block, a militant hub, for more than two years, had received several threats and extortion demands from the GNLA but he did not pay them any heed.

The GNLA, which has been declared a terrorist group by the central government, claimed that the Block Development Officer was kidnapped for indulging in “corrupt practices”.

The kidnapping comes close on the heels of the recovery of the body of an Intelligence Bureau (IB) officer, Bikash Singh Kumar, and a cloth merchant, Kamala Saha, after they were kidnapped and murdered by A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok militants.

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