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Skeleton believed to be missing Briton found
Wasbir Hussain in Guwahati | September 07, 2005 01:57 IST
Investigators have exhumed two skeletons from a forest in India's remote northeast and ordered DNA tests to determine whether they belong to a kidnapped Briton of Indian origin and an assistant, police said Tuesday.
Pratul Deb, 67, and Sadhan Nath were reportedly kidnapped in March 2004 near Deb's native town of Hailakandi in Assam where he was running a bamboo business.
Newspaper reports said his family paid nearly Rs 9,90,000 to a suspected rebel group as ransom, but he could not be found. The family declined to comment on the press reports.
After months of searching, investigators arrested two suspected tribal militants who took them on Sunday where the site in a forest where the skeletons were found, a Central Bureau of Investigation officer said.
Deb's daughter, Shipra, a London-based cancer researcher, was due to arrive in the Indian capital of New Delhi on Wednesday, the officer said, on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to reporters.
"We are shattered," Shipra was quoted as saying in The Telegraph. "Until the other day there was a ray of hope that my father is well, but now there is none."
A pacemaker dug out of the pit where the skeletons were found led police to believe the remains were Deb's, since he was fitted with the device, the officer said.
Deb, a schoolteacher, returned from Sheffield in Britain to Assam in 2001 and contested a state legislature election as a representative of the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party. He lost, but stayed in Assam and started the bamboo business.
Kidnapping for ransom is quite common in India's northeast, where more than 30 insurgent groups have been fighting for wide autonomy or an independent state outside India for several decades.
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