Meghalaya rebels set conditions for releasing official

Shillong, Nov 26 (IANS) The outlawed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) Wednesday demanded withdrawal of central forces from Meghalaya in return for setting free a government official abducted two days back even as the official's family pleaded for his release.

Heavily armed GNLA rebels abducted Block Development Officer (BDO) P.K. Boro and two traders Dulal Modak and Rokybul Haque from two areas of Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district Monday.

Boro was abducted at gunpoint from his official chamber in Dadenggre while the traders were kidnapped from Kalchengpara weekly market.

'Ten days' time will be given to the Meghalaya government to withdraw the CoBRA (Combat Battalion for Resolute Action) commandos, and if the government doesn't respond, we will send the dead body of Boro,' GNLA chairman Champion R. Sangma told IANS on phone.

Champion, who is hiding in Bangladesh, however, promised to release abducted traders soon.

Meanwhile, Boro's family appealed to the GNLA for his release.

'We appeal to the GNLA members for his early and safe release. Our son, brother, husband is innocent, sincere and hardworking officer who believes in working for the good cause of development,' appealed Boro's sister Sombari Boro on behalf of the family.

'His abduction from the office has caused immense suffering and mental agony to his wife and small son and all the family members,' Sombari told IANS, adding that 'neither he or the rebels have made contact with the family'.

The GNLA has been demanding for withdrawal of central forces - two units of Combat Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) commandos and five companies of Border Security Force (BSF) troopers - ever since the troops were deployed in Garo Hills area in July.

Meanwhile, security forces intensified their operation in the region to rescue the abducted trio.

'The search operation is on,' Inspector General of Police (Western Range) G.H.P. Raju told IANS.

CoBRA and Meghalaya's Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos have been pressed into service to trace the hostages.

The GNLA earlier had sent extortion demands of Rs.50 lakh to Boro through mobile text messages.

Over 20 people, including security personnel, have been killed while more than 10 people were abducted for ransom in the area in the last one year by GNLA rebels.

Champion, who claims to be fighting for a separate Garoland, has been camping in Bangladesh for several months in search of support.

The outfit has also forged an alliance with the Bangladesh-based rebel group, A'chik Special Dragon Party.

The GNLA has over 100 rebels, including a few women cadres, operating in three impoverished districts of western Meghalaya.