Suspected militants of the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) have demanded Rs. 2 crore for the release of the abducted engineer from Andhra Pradesh, P. Krishna Rao. The kidnappers had initially demanded a ransom of Rs. 4 crore, which was later reduced to Rs. 2 crore, said Mr. S.N. Raju, Deputy General Manager of Gayatri Project Limited.

Mr. Raju told The Hindu over phone from Kokrajhar that Mr. Rao had spoken to his colleagues and his family three days back and had conveyed to them that his health was okay.

The company agreed to pay a ransom of Rs. 20 lakh, but the kidnappers turned down the offer and have been insisting on a payment of Rs. 2 crore, Mr. Raju said. All efforts and negotiations were on to secure his release.

In Bhutan?

He also said the kidnappers had probably taken Mr. Rao to Bhutan as the phone number from which the abducted engineer had spoken was traced to the neighbouring country.

Mr. Rao, a civil engineer, worked as a project manager at the Gayatri-East Coast Insulation (Gayatri ECI), a subsidiary of the Hyderabad-based construction company Gayatri Project Limited. He was abducted on October 16 while supervising the construction of a portion of the East-West Corridor project of the National Highways Authority of India at Joypur near Karigaon, under the Bismuri police outpost.

Work continues

Mr. Raju further revealed that about 40 officials and employees, mostly drivers engaged in construction work had left Kokrajhar fearing for their lives. However, the company has not stopped construction work although all activity after dusk continued to remain suspended.

He said the local Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) authorities and various Bodo organisations took out rallies in Kokrajhar appealing to the kidnappers to release Mr. Rao. Such a show of solidarity by the local authorities and local people had boosted the morale of the company officials and employees to carry on with the construction even in the present hours of crisis.