At least 31 people have been kidnapped, 29 of them at gunpoint, within Mizoram in the past four years, according to data provided by the state Home department on Monday.
Replying to a starred question by Mizo National Front MLA Lalruatkima in the ongoing assembly session, Home Minister R Lalzirliana said in his written reply that these 31 people were kidnapped in nine separate incidents and that up to 10 alleged abductors have been arrested.
Except for two kidnappings near the state’s north-western border with southern Assam, all others took place in the border area with Tripura and Bangladesh. The latter’s hilly, forested border area is a hotbed of militant groups. Investigators say they rely on ransom-kidnappings for their main sources of revenue.
The Home Minister’s written reply said 10 kidnappers have been arrested by Mizoram Police. These include seven cadres of the Bru Democratic Front of Mizoram (BDFM), two cadres of the National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) and one cadre of the United Democratic Liberation Front of Barak Valley (UDLFBV).
Seven of these 10 arrested kidnappers are from North Tripura’s Naisingpara relief camp for internally displaced Bru tribals, the biggest of six camps populated by roughly 30,000 tribals who fled Mizoram during the 1997 ethnic conflict between Brus and Mizos.
Those who have been kidnapped are both from Mizoram as well as other states, including several company officials and even construction workers.
The biggest kidnapping incident in terms of numbers took place last month, when 11 construction workers from south Assam were kidnapped at gunpoint at the Mizoram-Tripura-Bangladesh tri-junction and whisked away into the jungles of eastern Bangladesh.
Ferrying the kidnapped across the border is an often used technique of these militant groups, which naturally creates problems for investigators who are bound by the international border.