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Garo Hills: New hunting grounds for militants

Vinayak Ganapathy in Guwahati | April 09, 2003 00:47 IST

Garo Hills in Meghalaya bordering Bangladesh is fast emerging as the latest extremist-dominated area forcing the state's new Chief Minister D D Lapang to rush to New Delhi in order to seek more para-military forces.

According to police sources in Meghalaya, the Achik National Volunteers Council, a 10-year old militant outfit has teamed up with the dreaded National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which operates in the Western Assam bordering Garo Hills to spread terror in the area.

On Monday, ANVC militants kidnapped four Bengali-speaking Muslim traders from Chibunang bazaar, 5km from the Phulbari Police station in West Garo hill district.

Four of the abducted traders hail from Mukalmuwa of Nalbari district in Assam. The traders came to Phulbari to attend a religious function. The victims got down in the market from their reserve vehicle before they were kidnapped.

One of the traders Rafikul Islam with bullet injuries has been admitted to Dhubri civil hospital. A local tea stall owner Abukar Sheikh is also among the kidnapped.

Last week, the ANVC had abducted two government officials, from Baghmara in South Garo Hills District.

A Public Works Department engineer Jatindra Bhattacharjee and Deputy Inspector of Schools Pobitra Hajong are still to be traced.

They were abducted on the day when militants set free a customs Inpector Deepak Mahanta and three coal traders after being kept in custody for over a fortnight.

Alarmed at the spate of kidnappings, Meghalaya Home Minister R G Lyngdoh has rushed to the Garo Hills on Monday while Lapang is in Delhi asking for more help.

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