Another mass kidnapping case crops up
Source: The Sangai Express / S Singlianmang Guite

Lamka, August 06: A 15-year-old boy who claimed to have made a dramatic escape from his armed captors on Monday met the media and revealed never before heard facts regarding his and other captives' ordeal.

However 13 others including ten girls who were with him were not as lucky. Abducted on Sunday night at Checkon Imphal by four youths in a Maruti Van, the boy identified as Jangkhopao alias Jangpao said, the moment the scarf used for blindfolding him was removed he recognized that he has landed at Moirang in Bishnupur district.

Not long after that he was given two white tablets, he took one and secretly discarded the other, the escapee maintained.

Narrating the sequences he has undergone during his 24 hours in captivity, Jangpao claimed that he was lodged alongside 60 to 70 other kids, mostly girls some of who were still in their school uniforms inside a huge tin-roof wooden walled structure not far away from human settlement.

On Monday morning, when they were taken out for exercise and made to crawl on a grassland filled with thatch grasses he along with two others managed to escape and made their way to Lamka, he said.

Unaware that they could still be tracked down, Jangpao and his two companion one of which he said was introduced to him as Lielien and presently staying at Checkon, Imphal while the other kid didn't communicate with them were along the Tiddim Road but on reaching Kaprang village, about 9 kms from here they were again dragged inside a Jeep which was heading towards Lamka and taken to the location they had escaped from, which he said was not far from Moirang Bazaar of Bishnupur district.

In the evening he again made an escape bid with Lielien and while discussing their plans a girl who also spoke their language expressed her willingness to join them.

When they made their second escape bid at around 6 pm, the girl brought along her nine other girls and a boy making them thirteen in total.

After scurrying for about an hour in darkness they could manage to track down at Monglienphai village along Tiddim Road and even as they were heading for the next village three men one armed with an AK rifle asked them where they were heading for.

"Initially we had reservation and refused to relate our ordeal but when they assured us that we had nothing to fear, we told them what we had undergone," he told the media.

The armed men then pledged to take the girls back to their respective home.

"It wasn't long after I heard them over it's 7:30 and the last bus is still there a passenger bus with RESEVED put-up in a very prominent place stops beside us," he said.

The girls boarded the bus as the armed men had promised to take them home.

Two of his male friends also joined them as the bus was heading for Imphal, but he had opted to stay with his aunt at Bjiang here.

His aunty, with whom he stayed on Monday night was identified as Niengkang, and all through their conversation with the three armed men near Monglienphai they have used a fluent tribal dialect 'ei pao' (our dialect) he said.

When asked in what language his captors had communicated with them, Jangpao said 'in Thadou and Manipuri' but when asked whether they were fluent or not he answered in the negative.

'We (the 60-70 odd kids) were usually guarded just by one man who dressed in civies, the others who were in uniforms usually came with different vehicles frequently inquired Mi Subra," he said and added that his captors were armed with black coloured AKs and 9 mm pistols.

Saying he will still be able to recognize the person who took his July salary of Rs 1500 from the Church where he worked as a Chowkider and the one man who guarded them, Jangpao said he had made a couple of phone calls to a friend in Bijang here twice, once after his first escape from a village in Churachandpur district and the second from Moirang Bazar with the permission of his captors, after he was recaptured.

On the second instance "I was beaten and made to hang-up on the pretext that I have talked too long," he said. The kid who until Tuesday evening could not recompose as a result of the trauma he had undergone also said a prominent structure on a hilltop is clearly visible from the place he and other kids were held captive.

Upon further inquiry he said the structure may be a tourist spot where students go during excursion.

The KSO Churachandpur, who are taking up the case and hosted the press conference yesterday, said as none of the twelve kids who had boarded the passenger bus has made any comment till today it was assumed that they were again taken captive by the armed men.

Decrying the circumstances in which the kids were kidnapped despite the Government's several proclamations of the steps initiated by security personnel to counter the recent spate of child kidnapping, the KSO leaders expressed doubt on the role played by the state forces.

"If they were not collaborating with the state forces how can an armed element hold that much of kids in captivity in a location with close proximity to human settlement," asked Seiboi Haokip, KSO Churachandpur's Secretary. The student body has already issued an ultimatum to the parent body of passenger buses plying in between Lamka and Imphal to identify the last bus on Monday.

Meawhile, KNF (S) I and PR Secretary Issak Kuki in a statement issued today said, "from the statement of the kidnapped boy it has become crystal clear that he was kidnapped and made captive by no other than the PREPAK".

It is also learnt that there are some tribal girls in the custody it said and demanded for their immediate release, without any further delay.

"Let every organization recruit, if necessary, only with their community and not touch other communities," said the outfit's statement that also pledged to reward capital punishment to the tribal 'agents' without any further warning.