Mizoram Police have arrested three men accused of abducting a paan trader in what investigators suspect is either a nascent extortion racket or the beginning of an organised crime ring.
In a statement before the state Legislative Assembly, which began meeting Tuesday, Home Minister R Lalzirliana said paan trader Aklas Uddin of Assam’s Karimganj town was forcefully shoved into a parked Wagon R in the Zarkawt locality in central Aizawl and driven away around 7.30 pm Saturday night.
Aklas’ brother, with whom the abducted man lived with in a rented house, filed an FIR at the Aizawl Police Station after which police accessed the city’s CCTV system which had caught the incident on tape, also finding out that the registration number on the car — MZ01 G 3456 — was fake.
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A search for the abductors began, but it was the local residents of Lengpui village (where the state’s lone domestic airport is situated 32 kms from the state capital) who found Aklas as he fled from a small hut on the village’s outskirts where he was being held captive.
The Lengpui residents alerted police, who came and took Aklas into custody and arrested two men from whom they recovered handcuffs, wireless sets, mobile phones and identity cards.
The duo have been identified as 30-year-old Thomson Lalbuatsaiha, a former small-time Congress leader who was expelled for earlier setting off a bomb near the state secretariat, and Micky C Zohimingliana, who is a year younger to his accomplice.
While Thomson self-styled himself a “Captain”, Micky self-styled himself a “Sergeant” of the group they said they belonged to — a registered NGO called Mizo Youth Service Corps headed by retired IPS officer Dothanga.
While the Home Minister hinted that the NGO’s registration might be revoked because of what it’s alleged members have done, investigators said the MYSC is an NGO involved in disaster search and rescue operations and the arrested men just appeared to be claiming their allegiance to the group as a front.
The police also arrested another man, 32-year-old Lallianmawia, on charges of helping mastermind the abduction.
A search operation is currently on for another man suspected to be involved in the abduction — a former police constable named Robert Lalmuanpuia, who was discharged from the police force with invalid pension in 2013. It is unclear what the exact reasons for his discharge were.
Investigators are still piecing together the motive for the abduction, adding it remains unclear how much they were trying to demand as ransom if they were indeed planning to as suspected.
The arrested men have been sent to 72 hours police remand by a local court and investigations are on.