Shillong, July 5 :
Believe it or not, kidnapping has become the order of the day in the insurgency-hit Garo Hills region of Meghalaya, with one person being abducted every alternate day in the past six months.
A total of 98 people were abducted for ransom in the past six months till June, while 175 people have been kidnapped since June 2013, according to official statistics.
The number of abduction cases reported during this period was 135, which means that in many of these cases more than a person was abducted in a single incident.
The 98 people kidnapped include government employees, businessmen, teachers, traders, women and children. The highest number of people kidnapped in a month was 26 in May, with 15 abductions reported in Garo Hills.
Garo Hills, comprising five districts in the western part of Meghalaya, is considered a disturbed region with nine militant outfits operating there.
“The figure shows that the law and order situation has totally collapsed. Such a large number of abduction cases has not been reported from anywhere in the country,” said an intelligence official requesting anonymity.
“Most of the people were abducted for financial gain. Some of the family members informed police, but some negotiated with the kidnappers for safe release of their loved ones,” the official said.
Admitting that there was a rise in the kidnapping graph in Garo Hills, Meghalaya Police chief Peter Hanaman told IANS: “Criminal groups are involved in kidnapping for the purpose of making quick money and the common man has become their soft target.”
Hanaman, however, said police have rescued some of the abducted people and arrested a few kidnappers during rescue operations.
Earlier this week, police arrested Hanif Ali, the nephew of Assam legislator Zabed Islam, for his involvement in the abduction of State Bank of India employee Arvind Kumar.
Describing the law and order situation in Garo Hills as “grave”, state Chief Secretary P.B.O. Warjri said the rise of militancy was largely due to social backwardness.
“Twenty years of social backwardness fuelled by political and economic expectations might have also given rise to the present state of frustration in Garo Hills,” he said.
Expressing concern over the situation, Home Minister Roshan Warjri said the centre will be rushing additional paramilitary forces to Garo Hills to aid the ongoing combing operations against the insurgents.