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SBI employee released

- Garo hills police say operations to continue

Tura, Aug. 21: Abducted SBI employee Subodh Kumar Mishra was released late last night near Sibbari in South Garo Hills.

He was kidnapped at gunpoint by ASAK outfit near Gasuapara in South Garo Hills on August 5, while he was returning from his office.

Mishra told The Telegraph that he was released by the abductors unharmed around midnight. “I was not wearing a watch, so I am not sure but it was very late and dark. I stayed overnight at an under-construction building at Sibbari and took a bus this morning around 6.30,” he said.

Mishra, 27, looked “weak and traumatised”. He was reluctant to talk about his ordeal. He reported at Dalu police station from where he was escorted to Tura. Sibbari, about 70km from Tura, is along the India-Bangladesh border.

“There were five to eight militants, who spoke in broken Hindi. They made me walk about five to six hours every day. I will not be able to tell the locations as I am not familiar with the area,” he added.

Mishra joined SBI as an assistant in 2013 and was posted at the Gasuapara branch in South Garo Hills. Asked whether he was threatened, he replied, “No”. “They snatched my cellphone on the first day and never returned it. They did not allow me to speak to anybody, including my family.”

He said the militants were wearing black T-shirts and camouflage trousers. “We stayed in the jungle and criss-crossed streams. It was very dark inside the forest,” he said. When asked whether the abductors gave him food, he refused comment. Mishra was wearing the same shirt and trousers he was abducted in.

Inspector-general of police, Western range, H. Nongpluh said, “Our operation is still on. On several occasions, we came close but could not track them down. We feel that the abductors were aware of our movement and were pressured to release him.”

The police said Mishra’s family did not cooperate with them and could have paid ransom to secure his release.

Assistant general manager of SBI (Garo hills division) Nixon Joseph said, “It is a huge relief for us. We only appeal that bankers are not abducted anymore.” He said Mishra’s parents were in Guwahati and were on their way to Tura to receive him.

Mishra’s abduction had led to civil emergency in the Garo hills with SBI offices remaining shut. On whether the SBI employees would continue their strike in the region, Joseph said the decision would be taken at their Guwahati headquarters.

The police said A’chik Songna An’pachakgipa Kotok (ASAK) has split over the issue of sharing the loot. The breakaway group is named as A’chik Matgrik Elite Force (AMEF), which is led by Jack Marak. He is a former Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) cadre.

The police said Jack was the mastermind behind Mishra’s abduction.

In 2013, he deserted the GNLA to former the ASAK along with Reding T. Sangma, who now heads the outfit.

In 2011, he planned the abduction of a block development officer from his office at Dadenggre.

“These groups want to amass quick money through extortion, abduction and killings. New groups emerge from the old group because of differences in sharing the loot,” said a police officer.

On June 16, Arvind Kumar, SBI branch manager of Ampati in South West Garo Hills, was abducted from Garobadha. He was rescued by police on June 18.


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