Monday, November 29, 1999

Negotiations on for abducted forest official`s release

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Pune, May 17 -- The Arunachal Pradesh government on Saturday confirmed to the family members of Vilas Bardekar, deputy director of social forestry, Maharashtra, that Bardekar was kidnapped by BODO militants. His family had been tense since Thursday when they came to know that he possibly had been abducted by militants from the Eagles Nest sanctuary in Daimara area along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border, where rare species of butterflies are found. Bardekar, who had completed Ph.D in butterflies, had gone to Arunachal Pradesh to study the rare species there. The Arunachal Pradesh police said he was safe and negotiations were on for his release. Bardekar's family has been told that the Assam police, Central Reserve Police Force and Army have jointly undertaken the operation for Bardekar's release. There was no official communication from Arunachal Pradesh till late on Sunday evening. Maharashtra Forest Minister Patangrao Kadam said that the two states were in constant touch on the issue.According to information given by a family friend, Bardekar had taken one-month leave to study butterflies in Arunachal Pradesh. He had gone to the sanctuary on Wednesday along with two guides when an armed gang stopped them. The militants asked the guides to leave while Bardekar, carrying a camera, was taken hostage.

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