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Assam: 6 WWF volunteers abducted near Bhutan border

By K Anurag
February 07, 2011 19:39 IST
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Six volunteers of the World Wide Fund for Nature were abducted by unidentified militants from a thickly-forested area close to India-Bhutan border in Assam on Sunday evening.

The volunteers were working in a tiger monitoring project in Ripu-Chirang Wildlife Sanctuary near Bhutan border to the west of Manas Tiger Reserve in Assam. They were abducted from a place called Ultapani.

The security forces have launched a search operation to trace the abducted volunteers.

Though no militant group has claimed responsibility for the abduction, security personnel suspect the involvement of the anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has a strong presence in the thickly forested area bordering Bhutan Himalayas.

According to an Assam-based coordinator of the WWF, the volunteers included three boys and three girls, who were working in the site since January 22. He said the abductors had sent a message that they wanted to talk to senior officials of the WWF.

Those abducted were identified as Syed Nausad Zaman, Shrabona Goswami , Gautom Kishore Sharma , Pranjal Kumar Saikia, Tarali Goswami and Pallavi Chakraborty. Five of them are from Assam while one is from Meghalaya.

The area is out of range of any Indian mobile network. The volunteers, who have recently completed their post graduation, have been working on the WWF project for the last two months.

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K Anurag in Guwahati
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