Abducted Meghalaya cashew nut trader stuck in Bangladesh, repatriation efforts on

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Shillong, August 25: The Meghalaya government will make all attempts for the repatriation of a 66-year old cashew nut trader who was abducted by a gang of Bangladeshi criminals and taken to the neighbouring country, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma has said.
He said the government was aware of the matter and appropriate action will be initiated. “Once we are fully updated we will take necessary steps to secure his return even if we have to seek the intervention of the Union home ministry or external affairs,” Sangma said over phone from New Delhi late Friday. “He is our citizen and all efforts to ensure his safe return will not be spared.”
Phalgun Arengh, a resident of Hatimara village, Purakhasia in West Garo Hills was abducted from his residence on May 24 according to an FIR filed by his wife, Ponji K Sangma. He is a well-known and prosperous cashew nut farmer and trader in the area and was probably targeted by criminals from across the international border for quick money, police said.
Arengh escaped his kidnappers on June 2 and reached a village Christianpara in Bangladesh where residents took him to Sribordi Police Station in Sherpur district of Bangladesh and handed him over to the local police. He continues to be under the protection of the local police in Bangladesh.
Superintendent of Police of West Garo Hills, Dr MGR Kumar confirmed the presence of Arengh in Bangladeshi territory. But since the matter was of an international nature, he said he would consult with the BSF and the Border Guards Bangladesh (BGB) as well as other senior officials. “There are attempts in process and we are hoping for a solution to the matter soon,” Dr Kumar revealed.
The incident came under the spotlight after an interest group – Achik Indigenous Justice Initiative Forum (AIJIF) visited Arengh’s family recently and then wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi seeking his help to reunite the trader with his family.
“We want to bring to your notice that an innocent man, an Indian citizen, was victimized by criminals from Bangladesh and is still facing immense hardship and pain for the past 3 months,” Alex K Sangma, the director of AIJIF said in his petition to the PM.
Expressing similar concern, Chenang G Momin, coordinator of AIJIF, said, “It becomes an imperative responsibility of the Indian government to intervene into the matter and bring him back to India through diplomatic channels by conveying the matter to the Bangladeshi counterpart as early as possible.”
Some locals had alleged that Arengh was taken to Bangladesh despite the presence of the BSF. However, this was rebutted by a senior BSF officer who on condition of anonymity categorically stated that “despite many challenges” the border sentinels are doing the best they can.
“You are well aware that we are guarding a very porous and largely unfenced border which is also constantly susceptible to inclement weather. Sometimes the fog is so thick that even if an elephant passes through you may not see it,” the officer told HT adding, “You have to be there to live it and see it, but be that as it may, our boys are maintaining high vigil 24×7 and at no cost will we allow such crimes to thrive in any area that we are mandated to protect.”
The officer said back channels have already been established and that the BSF’s counterparts have been briefed about Arengh and expressed confidence that upon “completion of statutory protocols”, the trader would soon be reunited with his family. (Courtesy: HT)