They were singing and dancing to the beats of dhaks and sprinkling gulals at each other while raising slogans like “Deep Mandal jindabad” and “Jangigoshti (militants group) murdabad”. And as Deep Mandal, the 23-year-old man from Indus village in Bankura — who had been in the captivity of National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) militants for four months — came out of the Dum Dum airport, all hell broke loose.
The 70-odd villagers surged ahead, breaking a CISF barrier, to garland Deep, who was welcomed by his father Nikhil Mandal and sister Madhubanti.
“It seems like a re-birth. I never expected to see my family and friends once again. I thank everybody, the Mizoram government, the West Bengal government and my employers for my release,’’ Mandal told The Indian Express.
Deep said he was subjected to physical assault and had to do daily chores like scrubbing utensils, breaking firewood and fetching water. “I shivered in the cold but they did not give me a blanket. They beat me up ruthlessly and told me to tell my parents,’’ he added.
“Yesterday night we could not sleep and today again, we will not be able to sleep. But we don’t mind. We know what kind of trauma we went through during the last four months,’’
Madhubanti, a B.A. first-year student at a Bankura college, said. From the airport, Deep left for his village. On Tuesday, he will be taken around the village and a grand feast will be organised, said his uncle Biswajit Mandal.
On November 23 last year, Deep, an employee of Teleom Network Solution — a company that set up mobile towers — was abducted from the jungles of Mumit in Mizoram, along with the driver of the vehicle he was travelling in and another employee by suspected Bru militants of Mizoram. Later, he was handed over to NLFT militants of Tripura, who demanded Rs 5 crore for his release.
Deep’s father said Mizoram DIG (CID) Chhaya Sharma called him two days ago to say that his son has been released. “But she told me not to tell anybody, as he was yet to reach Aizwal. Later, she told us to send someone to Aizwal to bring him back,’’ said Nikhil, an assistant at a pathological lab in Bankura.
“We would be so grateful if our chief minister gives a government job to our son,” added Nikhil.