Kidnapped Meghalaya official freed

Shillong, Aug 7 (IANS) A Meghalaya sports official kidnapped for ransom by militant group Garo National Liberation Army was released unharmed on Friday after 28 days in captivity, police said.

District Sports Officer Aribam Nilakunjamani Sharma, 53, posted in South Garo Hills bordering Bangladesh, was freed by the GNLA, Meghalaya Special Director General of Police Sunil Kumar Jain said.

“He has reached his home at Baghmara (the district headquarters of South Garo Hills) after he boarded a morning bus to Baghmara. We (police) have not been able to talk to him as he is in a state of trauma,” Jain told IANS.

On July 10, Sharma, a native of Manipur, was kidnapped from Kherapara area in West Garo Hills district by seven GNLA terrorists led by their “area commander” Heidio Momin.

An intelligence official said Sharma was released after the rebels were paid a ransom of Rs.20 lakh somewhere in Garo Hills.

“Initially, the GNLA demanded a ransom of Rs.50 lakh. However, the family members of the hostage negotiated with the kidnappers on the ransom amount, keeping in mind Sharma’s safety,” he said on the condition of anonymity.

However, the family denied paying any ransom money to the rebels. “No ransom money was paid to them. They set him free unconditionally,” sources close to the family members said.

The outlawed group is fighting for a separate Garoland in the western part of Meghalaya.

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