Kidnapped Meghalaya legislator’s brother released

Shillong, Feb 5: A Meghalaya legislator’s brother who was kidnapped for ransom by rebels was released unharmed early Wednesday after six days in captivity, police said.

Naga M. Sangma, 39, the younger brother of Independent legislator Samuel M. Sangma, was freed early Wednesday morning in a forested area between Chokpot-Gausapara bordering Bangladesh, Davis R. Marak, district police chief of South Garo Hills, told IANS.

On Jan 30, four armed Garo National Liberation Army (GNLA) rebels abducted Naga M. Sangma, 39, at gunpoint from his house in the Gasuapara area.

“We came to know that he has reached his house at Gausapara early this morning between 1 a.m to 2 a.m. We don’t know if ransom amount was paid for his release as we have not been able to interrogate him,” Marak said.

Gasuapara is about 400 km from Shillong, the state capital of Meghalaya.

An intelligence official said Naga, a coal exporter to Bangladesh from Gasuapara Land Custom Station, was released after the rebels were paid a ransom of Rs.20 lakh.

“Initially, the GNLA demanded a ransom of Rs.1 crore. However, the family members of the hostage (rebels) negotiated with the kidnappers on the ransom amount, keeping in mind the boy’s safety,” the intelligence official said on condition of anonymity.

However, the family members denied paying any money to the rebels.

“No ransom money was paid to them. They set him free unconditionally,” a family member said.

The GNLA had earlier slapped extortion demands ranging from Rs.5 lakh to Rs.1 crore on petrol pump owners, coal dealers and businessmen in the coal-rich districts of the Garo Hills.

Recently, the rebels were also involved in extorting money from coal exporters to Bangladesh and drivers of coal-laden trucks in West Khasi Hills and even challenged the police to engage in a fight with them.

The outfit, outlawed by the central government, is fighting for a separate Garoland in western part of Meghalaya. It has forged an operational alliance with the United Liberation Front of Asom and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which provided it access to sophisticated arms and ammunition.

IANS