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Bankers protest kidnap

Tura, Aug. 12: All banking institutions in the Garo hills today joined the State Bank of India to denounce the kidnapping of Subodh Kumar Mishra from Gasuapara in South Garo Hills on August 5.

The abductors made a fresh call today and demanded Rs 50 lakh for Mishra’s release.

The SBI bank employees from 41 branches of Garo hills took part in the protest march, which began from Chandmari SBI regional office and passed through the main thoroughfares of the town.

All other banks operating in the region took part in the march.

“The indefinite strike of SBI branches in Garo hills will continue. All banks and ATMs will remain shut,” said Nixon Joseph, assistant general manager (Garo hills division).

Their placards read, “We don’t need guns and bombs to bring peace, Calling for unity and peace for better Garo hills, We demand safe release of Subodh Kumar Mishra, Let this not be repeated, make Garo hills peaceful” and “We are here to serve you, help us to help you”.

Bank officials told The Telegraph in Shillong yesterday that Rs 5 lakh was paid to the abductors on Saturday for Mishra’s release by the family members.

However, they are yet to release him.

The abductors had demanded for Rs 1 crore as ransom, which was reduced to Rs 10 lakh.

“The abductors made a fresh call today and have demanded Rs 50 lakh. They have not allowed the family and bank officials to speak to Mishra so far,” he added. “We are yet to trace Mishra’s whereabouts. Our rescue operation is still on,” said Lakador Syiem, superintendent of police, South Garo Hills.

Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma said, “The abduction of the SBI employee is a demonstration of their (militants) frustration. They want to destabilise the state machinery.”