Meghalaya launches operation to rescue abducted exporter’s son

August 31st, 2012 - 4:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Shillong, Aug 31 (IANS) Security forces have launched an operation in western Meghalaya to rescue the son of a man engaged in exporting coal to Bangladesh, officials said Friday.

According to reports, heavily armed Garo rebels abducted the middle-aged Kontu Mahanta from Gasuapara, bordering Bangladesh, in Meghalaya’s South Garo Hills district Tuesday.

The kidnappers have reportedly made ransom demands too.

Mahanta’s family, however, were tight-lipped about the affair.

“Though the family refused to admit that Mahanta was abducted by rebels of the Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA), we learnt that he was kidnapped for ransom,” Davies Marak, district police chief of South 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 abductors.

Marak said GNLA rebels earlier had sent extortion demands to Mahanta.

“We do not know if the rebels have contacted Mahanta’s family for ransom,” the police officer said.

GNLA has been fighting for a separate Garoland in five impoverished districts of Garo Hills in western Meghalaya.

Over 35 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 15 people were abducted for ransom in the area in the last year by GNLA rebels.

Champion R Sangma, former policeman-turned-GNLA supremo, was arrested July 30 near the India-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya.

On Sunday, the GNLA chief was remanded to 14 days’ judicial custody. He was accused of waging war against India.

The GNLA has over 100 rebels, including a few women cadre. The outfit has reportedly procured a cache of HK 53 rifles and explosives to augment their arsenal.

The outfit has earlier attempted to extort huge sums of money, ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore, from government officials, ministers, legislators and businessmen.

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