T. Jeevan, Director of the Veterinary and Animal Husbandry Services, government of Manipur, was kidnapped along with his driver on Monday while he was coming to office.

The kidnappers, suspected to be militants of the Kuki National Army (Military Council) which is a signatory to the ceasefire with the Centre, have reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs. 1.5 crore from the department.

Complaint lodged

The commissioner of the department, I.S. Kahidem, IAS, has formally lodged a complaint with the police station, Imphal.

The kidnappers had, according to the police, asked the department to pay the ransom out of the office fund.

Police say that a number of ranking government officials were kidnapped in the recent past by signatories to the cease fire and had exacted hefty ransom.

In most cases, the police were not informed.

The commissioner had lodged the complaint since the militants had allegedly threatened to kill the director and the driver if the ransom is not paid.

Officials of the department said the developmental fund cannot be diverted to the payment of the ransom.

Man-hunt launched

Police have launched a major man-hunt for the kidnapped persons.

Meanwhile tribal villagers of Moreh, a border town along the Manipur-Myanmar border, have disclosed that the militants of the Kuki National Army, another signatory to the ceasefire and the Hill Tribal Council, a civil society organisation operating at the Moreh town, had snatched their cheques given by the government as compensation for their land acquired by the government.

50 p.c. cut demanded

Talking to journalists in the Manipur Press club on Thursday, Semjathang Haokip, chairman of the Joint Action Committee of the land owners of Moreh, said that the militants and the civil society organisation demanded a 50 per cent cut from the individual cheques.

When the villagers refused, the cheques were snatched from them on February 18 and 19.

Forty-five acres of land belonging to 400 tribal families were acquired by the government for the construction of the integrated check post at Moreh.

‘Violation’

The land compensation was distributed to the families at the rate fixed by the government.

But the cheques were snatched from them since the tribal refused to pay up.

Haokip said that if 50 per cent of money was given away, they could not purchase land and construct new houses. Ngamjathang Lumkin, general secretary of the Joint Action Committee, said the joint monitoring cell should look into it since it was in flagrant violation of the ceasefire ground rules.