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AGP leader rescued

Dhubri/Ranchi, June 6: AGP leader and businessman Onkarmal Agarwalla was today rescued from a village near Sahibganj in Jharkhand.

In Dhubri town, police picked up a businessman, Nitin Goel, in connection with Agarwalla’s abduction.

Goel was picked up following inputs provided by Jharkhand police to Assam police. Goel, on whose cellphone the abductor had allegedly called, is being interrogated.

Agarwalla, 68, a resident of Kokrajhar in Assam, was kidnapped on June 3 morning from Sahebganj station and kept hostage at Goranda village, some 65km from the district headquarters. He had reached Sahibganj from Delhi by a train. The kidnappers had demanded a ransom of Rs 3 crore from his son Ambar.

Sahebganj police today arrested two persons, who are allegedly part of an interstate gang which had masterminded the kidnap.

The duo, Som Murmu and Samuel Hansda, who were arrested from two different places in Barhet police station area, were part of the Jharkhand-Bengal-Assam gang that had hatched a meticulous plan to kidnap Agarwalla.

Agarwalla, who is also the president of Purvottar Marwari Sammelan, had got a call on May 26 from a person calling himself Ashok Mittal. This person told Agarwalla to expand the ambit of the Marwari outfit in Santhal Pargana and added that BJP leader Hemlal Murmu was keen to meet him.

A follow-up call came from another man impersonating the BJP leader’s personal assistant Rakesh. He requested Agarwalla to come to Sahebganj and meet “special members of the Marwari community in Santhal Pargana in person”. As the elderly businessman stepped out of Brahmaputra Mail on June 3, the waiting kidnappers bundled him into their SUV and sprinted him away.

Jharkhand DGP Rajeev Kumar said with today’s twin arrests, five persons were so far implicated in the case. The three others detained yesterday were Samsher Ansari, Sunil Hembrom and Prakash Murmu. “Samuel Hansda runs the gang behind the kidnap,” he said, adding that cellphone records helped them track the members.

Traders’ fear

Traders of South Salmara-Mancachar subdivision of Dhubri district are apprehensive of visiting adjacent Garo hills in Meghalaya following abduction of several businessmen by suspected GNLA rebels.

Expressing resentment over the frequent abductions, Mostafa Hussain, a trader of Hatsighimari in Dhubri district, said two traders, Faridul Mian and Phul Chand Mian of Dakergaon and Pubergaon under Mancachar police station, were abducted yesterday from Kherangabari in South Garo Hills district by suspected militants of the Garo National Liberation Army while travelling to Baghmara market in the district. On May 28, three businessmen of Kuchinibari village under Mancachar police station were abducted from Jekabari market along the Assam-Meghalaya border by militants. On June 2 another businessman, Faizal Haque, of Mancachar was abducted from the same place.

Traders said they were thinking of stopping their visits to markets in Garo hills.

Dhubri superintendent of police Mridulananda Sarma said he had spoken to his Tura counterpart Mukesh Singh on working together to break the abductors’ networks.

The SP said he would visit Hatsingimari, the headquarters of South Salmara-Mancachar subdivision, soon to meet police and security officials of Garo hills districts.

Incidents of abduction have been on the rise in Dhubri district too but the police here have checked it with quick action.

A girl was rescued and her two abductors were picked up from Dhubri town last night. They were handed over to Latasil police in Guwahati today. A case was registered with Latasil police station.

On June 3, police arrested Saheb Ali, 38, of Khutabagra village under Gauripur police station for being allegedly involved in the kidnapping of Ziaul Haque, 12, from Alomganj market on April 22. Haque is untraced. On June 1, Golokganj police rescued Noor Islam, 35, of Gaikhowa village of Dhubri district, from Koimari village, close to the Assam-Bengal border, and arrested Azizur Rahman and Samser Ali. Islam was abducted from Ratiahdoh market under Golokganj police station in the district on May 31.

On May 28, police had rescued three persons, Apurba Roy of Beltola in Guwahati, and Akbar Ali and Saddam Hussain of Tamarhat in Dhubri district. On May 29 and 30, the police had arrested seven persons, allegedly involved in an abduction racket spread across Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Goalpara and Guwahati.