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Furore over wildlife activist’s arrest

Tura, Feb. 4: The arrest of a wildlife activist from Darengagal, about 4km from here, has drawn flak from different organisations in Garo hills.

Tamsil Ch. Momin, in his thirties, was arrested on suspicion of sheltering cadres of the breakaway faction of the A’chik National Volunteers’ Council (ANVC-B).

He was arrested on January 12 after an encounter at Darengagal on the night of January 11. Four cadres of the outfit were killed.

The next day, police seized a pair of hiking boots and a knife from his house during a raid. The superintendent of police, West Garo Hills, SP Mukesh Singh, said: “A bomb too was found at his residence. We had inputs that he was providing shelter to ANVC (B) militants, so we have arrested him. Law will take its own course.”

Momin was working with Huro Foundation, a non-profit organisation working for conservation of hoolock gibbons in Garo hills. He has been associated with the project since its inception in 2008.

The project is managed by Florian Magne, a resident of France.

Magne told The Telegraph: “We seek his immediate release. We are convinced that he is innocent. There are no political or ideological objectives in our step. As a non-profit and non-government organisation, we demand release of our team member at the earliest.”

Magne has submitted his plea to West Garo Hills SP, Mukesh Singh, seeking his unconditional release. He has forwarded a copy of the letter to animal rights activist and former minister Maneka Gandhi as well. Maneka is the mentor for the project in Garo hills.

Momin’s wife said: “The police found a pair of hiking boots from his room and immediately arrested him and seized a kitchen knife.” She took up the matter with the police station in Tura. She was told that Momin would be released after questioning.

President of the A’chik Youth Welfare Organisation, Adinson Ch. Momin said: "This is absolutely unfair. As a conservationist he has been doing his bit to protect hoolock gibbons. The arrest is tantamount to harassment.”

Activist of Civil Society Women's Organisation, Jaynie Sangma said: “This is completely wrong. We still do not know why he has been arrested. We are taking up the matter with the police higher- ups for his immediate release.”