Four workers freed, two more kidnapped along NH 2

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IMPHAL, January 18: Even as four workers involved in road construction at Singda Dam were released yesterday night, two workers engaged in black-topping along the Imphal-Dimapur highway were allegedly kidnapped by well-armed Kuki militants from Kanglatombi area.

Four persons including a mohari of the Public Works Department who were kidnapped by a group of armed KNF (N) cadres on January 11 from their Singda Road construction site were released by the militants yesterday.

They were brought in a Maruti Van from an unknown location and left near the Koirengei Stone crushers yesterday around 8.30 pm, said one of them.

It may be mentioned that the four bull-dozer operator L Bijesh, 25 of Wangoo Nongdangkhong; his assistant driver Sharangthem Anand, 25 of Thoubal Khetri Leikai; a mohori of the PWD, Angom Patel, 56, of Uripok Ahanthem Leikai and a mohori of a private contractor Sharangthem Ingo, 50, another were kidnapped by the Kuki National Front (N) militant outfit reportedly for a ransom of Rs 1 crore at Singda under Sapermeina Police Station in Senapati district on January 11.

Speaking to media persons this noon at his Uripok residence, PWD mohori Angom Patel said on January 11 around 10 am four unidentified individuals brandishing small arms came to their work site and said they wanted to talk about some things.

The armed persons, asked four of those working at the site to follow them upto the Singda Hill Range, he continued. Soon after the armed militants took away their mobile phones and took them towards the hill range and into the jungle, he recounted.

On being asked about where they were being taken, one of the militants identified themselves as cadres of the KNF (N) and said that the four have been taken to initiate talks with a contractor involved in the construction work at the site.

After walking for about six hours along the hill range, at around 4 pm they were provided food and made to rest for a while, he continued.

Soon after, they were made to proceed higher along the hill range and spend the night at an unknown place, he said.

He also said that the next day they were again shifted to a higher altitude and made to stay there till yesterday morning. However, this morning quite unexpectedly, they were told by the militants that they would be released soon and made to go downhill, he further pointed out.

He recounted that soon after reaching an isolated place, they were blindfolded and put on a waiting Shaktiman truck, after driving in the truck for several hours they were again shifted to a Maruti van.

They were later released near the Koirengei Stone Crusher, from where they contacted contractor Gandhi and other PWD officials, who picked them up from the area yesterday night, he said, before adding that he reached home at around 10.30 pm.

Meanwhile, a few minutes after the four were released by KNF (N) cadres, another two labourers engaged in black-topping along the Imphal-Dimapur highway were allegedly kidnapped yesterday by well-armed Kuki militants from Kanglatombi area.

While the four individuals were released around 8.30 pm yesterday at Koirengei Stone Crushers along the National Highway no 2, the two labourers were allegedly kidnapped around 9 pm from the Kanglatombi area along the same highway.

The two kidnapped workers have been identified as Tata DI driver Maibam Tomba, 33, son of Thoubal Nepra Company and Thongam Shanta, 40, of Thoubal Athokpam.

According to reliable sources, a massive manhunt for the two has been launched by the police.

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