38 days on, no word on kidnapped forest official
It’s been over a month and there is no trace of Vilas Bardekar, social forestry officer from Pune, who was kidnapped by suspected BODO militants on May 12 in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. While government officials are tight lipped about the developments, family and friends have been praying for the safe release of the officer.
Minister of Forests Patangrao Kadam said, “We have appointed a nodal officer who is looking into the matter. I don’t want to comment on the issue.” “We have strict restrictions from government authorities and are not allowed to comment on the issue. The efforts are on and we are hoping for Bardekar’s safe release,” said Prakash Thosare, director, social forestry.
A number of social organisations working for Bardekar’s release have been blaming the government officials for their incapability to deal with the situation. “It has been about 40 days and the government has not appointed a single person to follow up the case. On June 4, we wrote a letter to President Pratibha Patil requesting her to look into the matter. It is learnt that the militants are now asking for ransom,” said kishor Tiwari, president, Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti. “The response would not have been similar if a minister’s near and dear one was kidnapped,” said Kishor Rithe, president, Satpuda Foundation.
“We have been told that the negotiations are on and something positive should soon come out. The militants have put in fresh demands asking for ransom and as per our knowledge, the government is dealing with it. The family is going through a tough time,” said Sudhakar Shankarrao Suratkar, Bardekar’s brother-in-law.