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New outfits cash in on lawlessness

Tura, Aug. 3: The presence of new militant outfits trying to take advantage of the troubled situation in Garo hills has come to light after the abduction of a woman teacher and her release the same day.

On July 30, Sandai Sangma, 30, a schoolteacher, was travelling on her scooter when she was stopped and whisked away at gunpoint from Dokasaram village near Damas in the North Garo Hills, about 120km from here.

North Garo Hills superintendent of police Jerry Marak said today, “The two men took the teacher towards a nearby jungle from the abduction spot on foot. According to her statement, the militants were afraid to take her deep inside the jungle and kept asking her for directions.”

The abductors identified themselves as members of the A’chik National Liberation Cooperation Army (ANLCA), a newly floated militant outfit.

According to the police, at least 110 people have been kidnapped from different parts of Garo hills from January to July 31 this year. The last two months have been the worst, with abduction cases being reported every other day.

Marak said the two members of the outfit were newcomers. “They had no clear understanding of the area and were moving in the direction that the teacher told them. After walking for about four hours, they reached the main road and spotted an army patrol team. The abductors asked the teacher to hide but she refused. Left with no other option, the abductors asked the woman to pay Rs 1 lakh. After the patrolling team left, the abductors, however, allowed her to go,” Marak said.

The teacher walked till Nalbari in the neighbouring Goalpara district of Assam and informed the police.

A team from Mendipathar police station received her and her statement was recorded.

The woman said she had a harrowing time since the abductors repeatedly warned her they would kill her.

They had two pistols, which she later found to be “fakes”.

The police have registered a case and a search is on for the two militants.