The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kidnap drama in garden

Silchar, May 3: An abduction and rescue drama with all the elements of a screen thriller today unfolded in a tea estate in Assam and ended with the main protagonist, an assistant manager of the garden, safe and the tea security force proud of a job well done.

The four-hour drama began with four armed militants kidnapping 33-year-old Paresh Nath Singh, assistant manager at the Goodricke-owned Koomber tea estate in Cachar district, when he was surveying a division of the plantation.

Brandishing three AK-47s and a pistol, the militants shoved Singh into their Maruti van and and sped away towards the eastern fringe of the district’s border with the North Cachar Hills. A six-member team from the Assam Tea Plantation Security Force went in pursuit of the gang and caught up with them on the bank of the Chiri river, six km away.

Police said the cornered militants opened fire, inviting instant retaliation by the tea security force personnel. On hearing gunshots, six more tea security force personnel deployed at Martycherra tea estate rushed to their colleagues’ aid, forcing the kidnappers to leave Singh behind and flee into the nearby jungle.

A rattled but unscathed Singh was escorted back to Koomber, which is 30 km from Silchar town, immediately. Doctors said he only needed some rest.

The police suspect the kidnapping was the handiwork of the People’s United Liberation Front, a militant group based in Manipur but also active in Cachar district. The NSCN (I-M) and the Jewel Gorlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah could also be involved, sources said.

Since 1988, as many as 24 tea executives and garden workers have been kidnapped for ransom from Cachar district.

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