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Abduction, extortion on the rise in Assam

Guwahati, Dec. 26: Assam has witnessed a steady increase in kidnapping and extortion cases over the past few years.

According to the latest figures compiled by the State Crime Records Bureau, there has been a spurt in kidnapping and extortion cases in the state since 2004.

The total number of abduction cases registered in different police stations across Assam has gone up from 1,659 in 2004 to 3,785 in 2011. This year up to October, altogether 3,229 kidnapping cases have been registered so far and it is likely to cross last year’s figure by the end of the year. The crime figures for November are still under compilation.

Like kidnapping, extortion cases have also shown a rising trend. Compared to 388 extortion cases registered in 2004, the figure has jumped to 992 in 2011. Till October this year, 879 extortion cases have been registered in the state.

These figures not only indicate that extortion and kidnappings continue to be a thriving industry in Assam but also nullify the Tarun Gogoi government’s claims of making a significant improvement in the law and order situation.

Things have reached such a stage that even MLAs are not being spared by the extortionists. Many MLAs, from different political parties, have reportedly received extortion demand from the anti-talks faction of Ulfa in the past couple of months.

Though the exact number of legislators receiving extortion demand from the outfit is not known, at least four MLAs, including three from the ruling party, have lodged complaints with police in this connection.

The legislators who received extortion demands are Bolin Chetia from Sadiya Assembly constituency, Rupjyoti Kurmi from Mariani, Debabrata Saikia from Nazira and BJP legislator from Doomdooma constituency, Dilip Maran. They were all allegedly asked to pay Rs 20 lakh each.

Chetia claimed that a person claiming to be an Ulfa leader had called him up demanding the money.

In February this year, Assam director-general of police Jayanto Narayan Choudhury had expressed concern over the incidents of extortion and abductions in lower Assam.

Most of the kidnappings and extortions are taking place in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, the four BTAD districts and in their adjoining areas.

A police officer, requesting anonymity, said apart from the anti-talks faction of Ulfa, a section of surrendered militants, splinter groups of other militant outfits, which are currently observing ceasefire, and criminal elements are carrying out extortion and kidnapping for ransom.

The crime bureau records also revealed that white-collar crimes like criminal breach of trust and cheating have also shown a rising trend in the state.

The number of breach of trust cases registered was 802 in 2009, 992 in 2010, 933 in 2011 and 1,060 up to October this year. Similarly, the number of cheating cases registered was 1,098 in 2009, 1,326 in 2010, 1,453 in 2011 and 1,404 up to October this year.

The number of cheating cases registered this year is also likely to cross the previous year’s figure by 2012-end.