A tribal militant group released Maharashtra forest officer Vilas S Bardekar on Sunday after 81 days of captivity. He was reunited with his kin in Assam’s Sonitpur district, from where he was abducted on May 12.
Bardekar, a 1984 batch IFS was on leave to study butterflies in the 217 sq km Eagle’s Nest Wildlife Sanctuary in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh. Eight militants of the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) abducted him from a village after assaulting his local guides.
“Bardekar was released in Assam today. He is safe and with his kin,” Arunachal Pradesh DGP Kanwaljit Deol told HT. She added the State police would ensure his safe return home.
Police in Arunachal Pradesh said NDFB was being kept captive in several hideouts in Sonitpur district while demanding ransom from members of his family. Some of the calls were traced to mobile phone towers in Dhekiajuli area of the district.
Sonitpur Superintendent of Police Jitmal Doley said he was unaware of Bardekar’s release. “This is a case of the police in our neighbouring state. But what’s important is that he is now safe,” he said.
Members of Bardekar’s family could not be contacted. They are believed to have paid a hefty ransom for his release.