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Hope glimmer after four-month captivity
- Abductors call Deep Mandal’s family

Guwahati/Aizawl, March 21: The one call the Mandals have been praying for the past four months finally came at 10 this morning.

“Tell your family not to worry. We will release Deep in the next one or two days,” the unidentified caller told Arnab, the younger brother of Deep.

Deep, 25, a survey engineer working with Noida-based Telecom Network Solution, was abducted from Tuipuibari in Mamit district of Mizoram, near Bangladesh border and 125km west of Aizawl, on November 23 last year when on an assignment.

“The person who called sounded satisfied and that has made all of us at home happy,” Arnab said of his parents, sister and himself. “We are now more hopeful than ever of my brother's release,” he told The Telegraph over phone from the family’s home at Indas in Bankura district of West Bengal, about 150km from Calcutta.

“His (the caller’s) tone suggested that they (the abductors) may not need to hold my brother anymore and, therefore, are willing to release him,” he said, adding that the caller spoke in Bengali.

Arnab said Telecom Network Solution had told him yesterday to be in Aizawl by tomorrow. “I will reach Aizawl tomorrow afternoon and, hopefully, return home with my brother,” he added.

Arnab said his brother had spoken to the family about a fortnight ago, pleading that they secure his release.

“My brother appeared to be in great distress. He said he was being held in a jungle and was surviving on mere rice and vegetables and was wearing the same clothes he had on him the day he was taken away,” Arnab said.

Mamit district superintendent of police C. Lalnunmawia said they were expecting “good news” about Deep within the next few days. “We are very optimistic that he would be released in the next few days.”

He, however, denied knowledge of any call being made to the Mandals by the abductors or of any negotiation between Deep’s employers and the kidnappers.

“I don’t know if the employers have met the abductors’ demand for money to release him,” he said, adding that the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) was suspected to be behind the abduction.

Sanglianthanga and Lalzamliana, the two drivers who were abducted with Deep, were freed in January after being reportedly held captive in a jungle in neighbouring Bangladesh. A police official said the two were interrogated and certain information was obtained from them. He, however, declined to share the “information” in the interest of investigation.

Deep was abducted three days after his arrival at Tuipuibari to work on his company’s new project. It was his first assignment on his first job.

Arnab said the abductors would have made at least 50 calls to the family before today. “Unlike today, they would always appear to be on the edge telling us my brother was not well and that we should arrange for his release at the earliest.”

“Our family has been in an acute state of anxiety and fear these past four months,” he added.