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MLA son freed after nine months Keishing’s son returns

Guwahati, Dec. 12: The Ulfa-Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (KLO) alliance today freed the abducted son of legislator Chandan Sarkar with a terse message to the Assam and Bengal governments not to launch joint operations against them.

Nineteen-year-old Pradip Sarkar had been abducted on March 4 from Falakata in Jalpaiguri district of Bengal. The boy’s father, who represents Abhayapuri South constituency in the Assam Assembly, said his son was set free at Kumargram in Jalpaiguri district around 3 pm.

Denying that he had paid a hefty ransom to the abductors, Sarkar said the two outfits freed his son “on humanitarian grounds”. Neither the Ulfa nor the KLO had claimed responsibility for the abduction.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said he had “received the good news”.

Pradip, who was kept at a militant hideout at Pipeng in Bhutan, is said to have trekked through jungles for four days to reach Kumargram. A group of militants accompanied him.

Imphal, Dec. 12: Militants last night freed Victor Keishing, son of former Manipur chief minister Rishang Keishing, but the homecoming was shrouded in secrecy, much like his disappearance from Singkap village in Ukhrul district on Monday.

Family members and friends, who “negotiated” with an undisclosed militant outfit, brought Victor and a family employee (abducted along with him) home around midnight last night, after two nights in captivity. Sources claimed the abductors had demanded Rs 11 lakh, but Rishang Keishing, a Rajya Sabha MP, denied having paid any ransom.

Victor said he was “picked up” by about 10 armed militants. He was freed somewhere near Thoubal dam.

They were escorted back to Keishing’s Mantripukhri residence in the state capital by family members who secured their release.

Victor said his captors treated them well and provided decent food. “Though no one can be happy about being abducted, I was treated well and there was no harassment. We were even provided chicken and mutton for dinner,” he said.

The MP’s family declined to name the outfit responsible. Chief minister Okram Ibobi Singh and senior police officials believe the outfit that ambushed a police team near New Heaven on December 8 was responsible for the abduction. The chief minister had said that the Kuki Liberation Army might be behind the attack on the police party. However, no outfit has so far owned up to the ambush or the Keishing’s abduction. Rishang Keishing demanded that the government tighten security in the state to prevent “such abduction of innocent and law-abiding citizens”.

Victor said at the time of the abduction, he was returning to Imphal after inspecting a suspension bridge being constructed with funds from his father’s local area development fund and the Rishang Foundation, the NGO run by the family. The militants had released the driver along with the vehicle and other persons in it.

The chief minister called on the MP last night. Senior ministers, including industries and commerce minister Th. Devendra Singh, also visited Keishing and his son this morning.

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