IMPHAL, September 26: A truck driver, his helper and a betel leaf agent transporting betel leaves on a DI Tata (MNO1X-0809) from Jiribam to Imphal have been abducted by suspected cadres of the Zeliangrong United Front, ZUF in connection with a monetary demand of Rs 5 lakhs served to the agents of betel leaf.
The JAC formed in connection with the kidnapping of the driver and the handyman has identified the truck driver as Thangjam Romen alias Naocha, 26, son of Tomal and his helper as Heikrujam Ibomcha, 35, son of (L) Irabot both from Yumnam Khnuou Imphal East district. The agent is identified as Jongkhulai from Jaipur Khunou Maning Leikai.
Speaking at a press conference at the Manipur Press Club today, JAC president Thangjam Sanathoi said the three were abducted by unidentified militants of ZUF from the Barak area along the Imphal-Jiribam national highway on September 17 at about 4 pm.
She said the other two agents for whom the betel leaves were being transported are Lamabam Indrajit from Bishnupur, and Ningthoujam Devan from Thanga Ngaram.
He said on September 14, agent Jongkhulai and the two had set off for Jiribam for the betel leaves.
They left Jiribam with the leaves on September 17, however around 5 kms before reaching the Barak Bridge, some armed miscreants identifying themselves as cadres of the ZUF.
Sanathoi further mentioned that the same day, the family members of the three received phone calls from cadres of the ZUF demanding a ransom amount of Rs 20 lakhs or to make the remaining agents to come to the outfit for the release of the driver and the handyman.
Later, the families again received phone calls from the outfit stating that the ransom money has been reduced to Rs 5 lakhs to be delivered before September 27 or for the two remaining agents to come to the outfit, she said.
She also said that the JAC appeals to the outfit to release the innocent driver and the handyman unharmed within 48 hours or strong forms of agitations will be launched.