TURA, Oct 10 - The spurt in kidnappings in the Garo Hills region has put the poor road conditions in the region once again in the limelight. The road infrastructure in Garo Hills has always been poor and the continued negligence of the situation has left travellers at the mercy of kidnappers who get ample opportunity to carry out their nefarious activities as well as escape police.
All the major roads in Garo Hills � NH51, NH62, NH44, AMPT Road, Tura-Williamnagar, Mankachar-Mahendraganj Tura-Ampati and Tura-Phulbari Road � are in pitiable condition.
Barring the NH 51 and NH 44, which are relatively safer, at least from Paikan in Assam to Tura in West Garo Hills, all the other roads have been prone to ambush attacks as well as kidnapping. Beyond Tura the NH 51 turns into a virtual landmine for travellers with most cases of kidnapping incidents being reported from the area.
�I was planning on visiting Tura last weekend with my family. The kidnapping of an engineer recently put paid to my plans and courage of going there from Williamnagar. Every road that I can take from here outwards is prone to being attacked�, said a worried resident of Williamnagar.
With militants and miscreants looking for potential soft targets, it is only a matter of time before someone falls in their net as was the case of the IB official as well the nine men kidnapped from a bus.
Every road within the region, barring the NH 51 are dotted with potholes. Virtually no stretch of road allow vehicles to be driven at a reasonable speed. Take the case of the IB personnel�s kidnapping. The road from Baghmara to Rongara and beyond is a nightmare for travellers. The kidnapping happened on the same stretch of road which has seen not only kidnapping but also ambushes of police personnel.
�It is scary to travel through these roads as every turn is a potential place for ambush or attack by militants. We used to travel in groups for safety but now even that is under threat�, said a resident of Dalu.
Travel within the region has fast declined and the effect can be seen in the markets at Tura, Williamnagar, Baghmara, Dalu, etc. �The situation is bad for the traders and most people who would otherwise come to shop from various places have stopped coming. The market has now declined by 40-50 per cent of what it was in earlier years despite the start of the festive season�, said a shop owner in Tura.
�These roads have been constructed by greedy contractors under supervision of engineers who choose to overlook the shoddy work. There were expectations that a Bill would be passed to check this negligence but this has not happened. Now, we will have to continue to struggle in these pathetic road conditions�, social activist Maxbirth G Momin observed.