NET Bureau, Saidul Khan
Unidentified gunmen on Tuesday abducted three traders from Telekhali Forest Reserve area near Dumnikura village in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills. Dumnikura village is along the India- Bangladesh border about 60 km from Tura in West Garo Hills. The incident took place around 7:15 am, while 11 traders from Dalu in West Garo Hills were on their way to Jadugre weekly market in a pickup van.
Anand Mishra, Superintendent of police (SP), South Garo Hills, said, “The traders stopped their vehicles seeing the armed abductors and made attempts to flee from the spot. In the process eight of them managed to escape, while three were abducted”. Mishra informed that the pickup van was left behind. He also informed that police patrolling team from Gasuapara escorted the eight traders to the outpost and recorded their statement.
“Our regular patrolling team noticed the traders,” the SP added. The weekly market was barely 5 km from the abduction spot in South Garo Hills. “We have launched an operation to rescue the traders. It is being led by deputy superintendent of police Baghmara,” Mishra informed.
The victims have been identified as – Tamal Dey (38) Dulan Mahanta (36) both from Killapara village in Dalu and Durgapada Dutta (35) from Chaipani village in Dalu. Police suspect it to the handiwork of local miscreant or Asak outfit.
The Tura – Dalu – Baghmara road stretch is known for heighten militant activities. In the last three years, there have been several abductions along the route. In November last, 10 traders from Assam abducted by Asak outfit were released following the arrest of outfit chief Reding T Sangma’s wife – Fernia N Sangma.
The traders were released in a densely forested area near Gasuapara. Police had arrested Fernia on the ground that she was acting as an informer and sympathiser to the outfit. In September last, eight Assam traders were also abducted from Chokpot region of South Garo Hills. A week later, all of them were released following payment of ransom.
In South Garo Hills region, militant after abduction manages to sneak into Bangladesh, as the district is close to the border. Last year, 150 militants had surrendered from across Garo Hills and there was a lull in insurgent activities.