More than a fortnight after they were kidnapped near the Bangladesh border, the three border fencing workers have been released by National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT-BM) ultras.
Assistant Inspector General (AIG) of Tripura Police Subrata Chakraborty told indianexpress.com that the trio was released on Wednesday due to “continuous operations” by the local police and other security forces, and “tremendous pressure” mounted on overground workers of the insurgent outfit inside Tripura.
Bangladeshi security forces conducted extensive search operations within their territory, which prompted the ultras to lower their ante and release the hostages, the official said.
Subhash Bhowmik, Subal Debnath and Gana Mohan were kidnapped by cadres of the outlawed NLFT from an unfenced patch of Indo-Bangla border in Dhalai district, 90 km away from here, earlier this month. The ultras crossed the international border and abducted them at gunpoint.
Tripura Police had said that coordinated search operations were conducted on both sides of the Indo-Bangla border to rescue the workers. The police had also said that extensive search operations were conducted in adjoining areas on the Indian side and Indian sister agencies were in regular touch with Bangladesh authorities.
A few days after the kidnapping, three facilitators of the insurgent outfit were detained by the state police and brought in for interrogation in connection with the abduction. The trio—Pathan Mohan Tripura, Jatindra Tripura and Baisyajoy Tripura— all hailing from Malda Kumar Para in Dhalai district, where the kidnapping took place, were found to be involved in the abduction, the police later said in a statement.
Sixteen days after they were taken, all three returned safely on December 23. Though the police claim they were released due to ‘pressure’ mounted on the insurgents based on interrogation of the ‘overground workers’, sources say that ransom was paid to secure their release. However, senior police officials have denied the claim.
NLFT, which kidnapped the border fencing workers, was formed on March 12, 1989 with the slogan of sovereign Tripura. The outfit was outlawed in 1997 under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and later under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA). The insurgent outfit suffered a massive split as 88 members broke away and laid down arms before the state government in August, 2019. However, a small faction of the outfit is still active, which according to intelligence sleuths, is hiding away across the international border in Bangladesh.
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