10 days on, no trace of kidnapped Meghalaya engineers

February 3rd, 2012 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Feb 3 (IANS) The whereabouts of two engineers kidnapped by Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebels remain unknown, an official said Friday, 10 days after the abduction.

On Jan 24, armed GNLA rebels abducted three Meghalaya Energy Corporation Limited (MeECL) engineers - Apus Pothmi, Bonnieface Majaw and Marshal R. Swer - at gunpoint from their quarters in Rongkhon area, 318 km west of this state capital. Swer was later released unharmed.

The GNLA, which was declared a terrorist organisation, had claimed the two engineers were abducted due to the failure of the government to provide power connectivity in the three insurgency-affected districts of Garo Hills in the western part of the state.

However, the government claimed that it has launched various schemes for improving power supplies, including implementing the Rajiv Gandhi rural electrification programme in Garo Hills.

“We (security forces) have not been able to trace the abducted engineers but they are still in Garo Hills,” Ricky Dkhar, the district police chief of West Garo Hills, told IANS.

Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) and Meghalaya’s Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos have been pressed into service to trace the hostages.

Home Minister H.D.R. Lyngdoh said the operation to rescue the engineers will continue and the security forces is putting all efforts to trace and rescue the officials safely.

“The safety of the officer is of paramount importance and we are taking all steps to see that they returns to his family,” Lyngdoh said.

The family members of the abducted official, who have been praying for their safe return, also said they have no information about the engineers.

Several organisations, including the MeECL employees, separately appealed to the GNLA for the immediate unconditional release of the engineers on humanitarian grounds.

Over 30 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 10 people were abducted for ransom in the area in the last one year by GNLA rebels.

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