Kidnappers flee to jungle after gunfight Rs 50 lakh demanded as ransom
TURA/SHILLONG: Tura police successfully rescued a State Bank of India (SBI) official Arving Kumar who was abducted at gunpoint by a group of kidnappers with links to militant groups during an operation in Mellim-Rangsakona region on Wednesday morning.
The dramatic rescue of the manager of SBI’s Ampati branch from the clutches of kidnappers is one of the very few cases of success stories of rescue in militancy ravaged regions of the Northeast, including Garo Hills.
Immediately after his rescue, the State Bank of India Bankers Association, Tura region has withdrawn Thursday’s proposed strike.
Police teams combing the jungles of Rangsakona and Mellim came across the three-member gang of kidnappers along with their captive in a jungle hideout not far from the village of Antekagre. Surprised on seeing the police commandos approaching, the abductors fired from their pistols which forced the police to retaliate with sophisticated machine guns.
Outnumbered and outgunned the kidnappers abandoned their victim and fled for their lives into the safety. Police commandos rescued the banker unharmed.
Kumar has since been brought to Tura and united with his family.
The success of the operation was primarily due to the coordination between police from the two districts of South West and West Garo Hills. Police teams from Ampati cut off all possible exit routes from Mellim and Rangsakona as soon as news was received of the kidnapping on Monday morning.
Kidnappers demanded Rs 50 lakh : The gang that abducted the SBI official comprised of a mixed group including petty criminals and even militants with one of the kingpins identified by West Garo Hills police as one Kakarong hailing from Mellim-Rangsakona area itself.
“Kakarong is an ANVC-B militant who had previously been arrested by us for criminal activities and was on bail,” informed a Tura police official.
The mixed gang had initially demanded Rs 50 lakh from the family of the SBI officer and subsequently scaled it down to Rs 30 lakh.
Police made the breakthrough in the case after arresting one of the gang members identified as Lusenpa from Antekagre on Tuesday.
The arrested member is believed to have spilled the beans on the number of people involved, the top leaders and their modus operandi.
“The group comprised of both locals and non-locals with the kingpin operating from his home base in Mankachar, Assam. He was coordinating with the local militant Kakarong before and after the abduction of the bank official,” revealed Tura police.
The gang is believed to have two Chinese pistols and two country-made hand guns which they were using to extort and kidnap from unsuspecting victims.
Bank official tortured : The kidnappers assaulted the abducted bank official and even fired a shot close to his head to threaten him after he refused to contact his family for the ransom money shortly after he was taken away at gunpoint on Monday morning.
Police teams that rescued him and also spoke to him briefly came to know that the kidnappers were annoyed with their victim after he refused to play ball to their demands.
“He is said to have even questioned the abductors about their authenticity and wanted to speak to their militant commander which was not entertained by the kidnappers,” informed police sources. They also assaulted him with bamboo sticks to instill fear.
The banker was initially taken to the home of a sympathiser in Mandagre village on the first night of his abduction but moved to different locations the next day as they tried to find an exit from the area that began to be swarmed with police personnel from both South West and West Garo Hills districts.
Mukul congratulates police: Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has congratulated Meghalaya police personnel who successfully rescued abducted SBI Ampati branch manager.”I commend them all for a job well done and the government has decided to suitably reward them,” Dr. Sangma said adding, “I have directed the DGP to initiate steps to identify the personnel so that a formal acknowledgement may be made which will go into their service record.”
State Bank of India Bankers Association, Tura, meanwhile, thanked the Meghalaya Police for their effective support, the village elders of different villages, church leaders, council of Nokmas, citizens of Garo Hills and pressure groups for their active support