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Abduction protest cuts off roads

- Strike supporters block NH 52, throw stones & damage vehicles

Tezpur, Dec. 4: A 12-hour strike called in protest against abduction of a tea garden employee in Sonitpur district today left most areas beyond Gohpur on the north bank of the Brahmaputra cut off.

The strike supporters damaged several vehicles at Gohpur subdivision.

The Gohpur unit of the Tai Ahom Studentsí Union and Aikya Manch, a citizensí organisation, had called the strike to protest against abduction of Pradip Lahon, 32, and the administrationís failure to rescue him.

Lahon was abducted from Dafflagarh tea estate, 335km from Guwahati, by four armed but unidentified men on November 29.

The protesters blocked National Highway 52 at several places in the subdivision, threw stones and damaged vehicles at Ghahigaon Chariali.

Most parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Dhemaji and Lakhimpur districts in Assam remained cut off because of the strike.

On November 30, people of the area blocked the road between Gohpur and Arunachal Pradesh at Tetonbari for three hours demanding immediate release of Lahon. They alleged that it was the eighth case of abduction in the subdivision this year. They alleged that NDFB (Songbijit) and some criminals were involved in the abduction.

It is for the first time that a tea estate employee had been abducted from the area, they said.

Talking to this correspondent, superintendent of police, Sonitpur, Arabinda Kalita, said the abduction of the tea garden employee could be the handiwork of Birsa Commando Force militants.

Operations are on to rescue the hostage, Kalita said. A camp of Assam Police Battalion was set up at Dafflagarh tea estate on December 1 to maintain law and order in the remote area, he said.

According to the victimís family, the abductors had not contacted them so far. They appealed to the abductors to release him unharmed immediately.

President of Sonitpur district unit of the Tai Ahom Sahitya Sabha Numal Baruah told reporters at Gohpur that they would intensify the agitation if Lahon was not released immediately.