Extensive search operations by the Arunachal Pradesh police with the help of locals to track down the 19 missing labourers have proved to be futile.
The workers have been missing ever since they left camp at a border road construction site in Kurung Kumey district on July 5.
According to the Kurung Kumey district administration, the labourers were engaged in road construction for a project allegedly under the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) in the remote Huri area under the Damin subdivision. They left the camp for their homes without informing their contractors, who had allegedly denied them leaves for Eid-al-Adha celebrations.
An intensive investigation by EastMojo to find the truth behind the mysterious disappearance of the 19-odd people, all residents of Assam, has raised several questions, which remain unanswered.
Where were the workers last spotted? Why did the contractor take eight days to report the missing labourers to the police? Why has the Assam government not taken up the issue with their Arunachal counterparts? If the workers left in a vehicle, how have the police not found the vehicle driver? Why have the families not been informed about the status of the missing labourers? How did 19 labourers ‘flee’ from a construction site surrounded by dense jungles in the middle of the night? If they did flee as believed, did they reach Damin sub-division or not? These are just some questions that remain unanswered as search for the workers enters the third week.
Speaking with EastMojo, officer-in-charge of Koloriang police station Gejum Basar said, “A missing report was filed by the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) contractor Bengia Bado with us on July 13 stating that 19 of the labourers hired by him have been missing from their camps at the construction site. We immediately left for the campsite, around 200 km from Koloriang. On reaching the site, we launched a search operation with the help of locals, most of whom are hunters. After an intensive search of several hours, the workers’ footprints indicated they had allegedly crossed the turbulent Furak river and entered the nearby mountains. Though we called off the operations after two days due to the difficult terrain, the locals kept their search on.”
The search operation resumed on Thursday, after the local police was joined by a platoon of the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF).
“Kurung Kumey SP Abhimanyu Poswal will visit the site on Friday to monitor the search operations. The district administration has also requested the Indian Air Force (IAF) to help us by deploying choppers to trace the missing workers,” Basar said.
The workers left their camps in Huri at around 11.30 pm on July 5, and after crossing the Furak river, the police official said, it was likely that they either headed towards Daporijo in Upper Subansiri district or Seppa in East Kameng district.
“But nothing is confirmed as we have no information of these people boarding any vehicle. Surprisingly, even the mobile phones of all of them are switched off since the day of their disappearance,” added Basar.
Basar did not rule out the possibility of the workers sneaking into the Chinese territory ‘accidentally’, which is not too far from where they have remained traceless.
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