After a week in captivity, all 8 remaining traders released
TURA: Almost after a week in captivity, the eight Assam-based traders, who were kidnapped by a ASAK militants from Songotagre village in South Garo Hills, were released on Wednesday morning.
While the reason behind their release is still unclear, police suspects that ransom could have been paid to the kidnappers. "They were released this morning and our teams are on their way to receive and assist them. We are still continuing operations to apprehend the group behind the kidnapping though information on whether any money has been paid is still unclear. We will get an updated picture as soon as we are able to get to them," stated district police chief, Anand Mishra.
It may be reminded that nine traders from Mankachar in Assam had been kidnapped by Reding T Sangma's group led by the man himself from near the village of Songotagre while they were on their way to the weekly market of Silkigre under Chokpot PS. They were in a pick-up van when militants stopped them and took them at gun point. They were kidnapped on Sep 29 at about 5:30 am.
Earlier, the kidnapping was suspected to be the handiwork of the GNLA, however, when one of the traders, identified as Saher Ali (50) managed to escape from the clutches of the militant, the kidnapping was confirmed to be the handiwork of the ASAK team.
Six of the 9 kidnapped by suspected ASAK militants have earlier been identified as Akhirul Islam (driver, 21 of Shantipur), Saiful Islam (30, Shantipur), Jiarul islam (28, Bortol), Monirul Islam (30, Kushimara) Mofidul Islam (25, Kusimara) and Anowar Islam (35 of Kushimara).
The place of release is still unclear with Mishra stating that information would be provided as soon as they get access to the victims.
Mishra confirmed it was ASAK and its commander, Reding T Sangma, who was behind the kidnapping of the traders. "He was identified by the victim that escaped as well as our sources," said Mishra.
The SP has been leading operations for the rescue of the nine traders ever since the kidnap with SWAT and SF-10 commandoes combing the jungles near Chokpot in SGH to rescue the victims.
The Assam police team has also been informed on the release of the 8 traders.
It may be noted that days after the kidnapping, the Assam-Meghalaya Peace Forum has demanded the implementation of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in Garo Hills owing to the deteriorating law and order situation in the region.