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Arrest light on abduction route

Tura, July 18: The arrest of five members of a gang involved in abductions from Dobasipara here has given clues to police investigating various killing and abduction cases in Garo hills.

"We strongly suspect the gang members were involved in various abduction and killings in Tura and Ampati," West Garo Hills superintendent of police Mukesh Singh said today. The five - Elarin Sangma, Jespar Sangma, Jangjang Marak, Tesrang Sangma and Sukhar Marak - all in their late 20s, were arrested last evening.

"Jespar and Jangjang have confessed they were former cadres of the breakaway faction of A'chik National Volunteers Council," Singh added. The outfit was disbanded in December last year.

Police recovered a 9mm pistol, one magazine and three live rounds from their possession.

In May this year, a 55-year-old cashewnut trader, along with his 11-year-old grandson, was abducted from Ampati. They hailed from neighbouring Mancachar in Assam's Dhubri district. The trader's body was recovered on May 31 from Dadenggre village near Tura. The whereabouts of the boy is still not known.

Last week, district sports officer of South Garo Hills was abducted from Kherapara village near Dalu, along the India-Bangladesh border. He remains untraced.

The police said the gang members were suspected to be involved in abductions along the Tura-Dalu route, where more than 20 kidnappings took place this year. In June, two teachers were kidnapped. One of them later escaped while the other is still in the custody of militants. The police have led several counter-insurgency operations on the route and arrested a few militants.

On June 19, six members of a gang from Chilipara village near Dalu were arrested. However, the leader of the gang and a former GNLA cadre Salsal Momin is still at large. According to the police, gang leaders like Salsal allegedly hire locals to abduct traders, teachers and government employees.

On June 4, police busted a gang of abductors based on inputs provided by an arrested linkman. The police arrested five members of the gang, involved in abduction and extortion in villages along the Assam-Meghalaya border.

The string of arrests was made possible following the arrest of Hafizur Rahman, a linkman of the gang and a resident of South Salmara in Assam, from South West Garo Hills.

In July last year, a 46-year-old man from Mancachar was killed. Several arrests were made in connection with the case.

However, the police are yet to find the culprits. In connection with the killing, at least 24 ANVC (B) cadres were arrested and later released.

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