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Dispur blames lax firms
- Home ministry orders police to hold meetings with companies

Guwahati, March 14: Dispur has taken a dim view of companies engaged in gauge conversion and building the East-West corridor in North Cachar Hills, for neglecting safety of their staff.

With police yet to trace the three abducted officials of Valecha Engineering Ltd, the home department today ordered the civil and police administration to hold meetings with senior executives of companies contracted for work in the rebel-infested stretch.

They will be urged to exercise caution, sources said.

Project manager of Valecha Engineering Ltd Umesh Suresh Verma, his deputy Juga Prasad Deka and senior technical engineer Dhruba Jyoti Choudhury, along with driver Babul Bora and Assam Police constable Tapan Singh Timung were abducted by suspected militants of the Jewel Gorlosa faction of the Dima Halam Daogah on Wednesday.

The company, working on the North Cachar Hills stretch of the East-West corridor, has stopped work.

“Valecha Engineering had 32 security personnel at its disposal, but the officials ventured out with only one policeman. Such a decision is suicidal in these parts. We are there to provide security but company officials should be cautious and seek our help,” a senior police officer said.

The state government had sent an officer of IGP rank to co-ordinate security arrangements at various project sites, he pointed out.

“We are holding meetings. An investigation is under way and we suspect the DHD(J) is behind the abductions,” the officer said.

He said money was possibly the prime motive behind the abductions.

“There is a lot of money involved in these projects and some people want a slice of the pie,” the officer said and did not rule out the possibility of some companies shelling out money to buy peace.

According to him, the estimated cadre strength of the DHD(J) could be between 150 and 200. “Going by numbers, it is a small band, but in the hilly terrain and forest areas, it is almost invincible,” he said.

In 2006, the outfit shot dead 11 members of a railway team engaged in gauge conversion at a site not far from where the abductions occurred.

Police said the Valecha Engineering Ltd staff were probably waylaid and abducted from a site between Mandardisa and Hatikhali, under Langting police station.

The Bolero in which they were travelling was found abandoned near an army camp at Ardaupur.

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