TURA, Sept 30 - The involvement of a breakaway faction of the Achik Matgrik Elite Force (AMEF) is suspected in the alleged kidnapping of nine non-Garos from Wageasi village in North Garo Hills on September 28.
�The kidnapping seems to be the handiwork of a breakaway group of the AMEF. We have arrested one person in connection with the case and investigation and search operations are currently on�, said North Garo Hills SP, Ramesh Singh.
A visit to the place of kidnapping revealed how the militants had chosen a very strategic spot for their act. The militants had cleared a part of the overgrowing bushes to ensure clear view of approaching targets. The bus, which was attacked, starts from Dudhnoi at about 10.30 am every day and reaches the spot at about 11.15 am or so, giving the militants plenty of time to prepare the assault.
�I heard a single gunshot and wondered what happened. It was only later that I heard about people being kidnapped�, said a villager, who lives about 400 metres from the spot.
A villager collecting firewood from near the spot was the first to see the militants with weapons. He ran from the spot immediately after seing them. The militants asked everyone to get off the bus before choosing their targets, all of whom were non-Garos. It was not nine but 16 people they took at first before letting go seven.
The bus driver had reported the matter to the police at Rongmil, who visited the spot. The driver later reported the incident to the Wageasi OG camp the next day. The conductor of the bus, identified as Avinash Ray, was also among those kidnapped.
Meanwhile, police are scouring the nearby jungles in search of the kidnapped persons. �Twenty-four hours is a long time and they could be anywhere by now. If the matter was reported earlier, search operations could have been faster and matters could have been different�, said a police source.
Only two of the victims have been tentatively identified � one Doley Gurung, suspected to be from nearby Dudhnoi and the conductor of the bus, Avinash Ray. �We are still investigating the matter and the details are as yet sketchy�, added Singh.