Guwahati: At about 6 pm on Wednesday, five-year-old Kumkum Pegu was playing not very far from her mother Bornali in her neighbourhood in Jonai of Assam’s Dhemaji district when a few men abducted the child and drove off. Though the mother wasn’t very far from Kumkum, she wasn’t close enough, as she ran after the vehicle screaming, but could not stop them from taking her daughter.

“The family immediately filed a complaint with the police, and an all-night search operation was initiated to rescue Kumkum,” Gunat Kanta Pegu, the child’s uncle, told EastMojo.  

Soon after the incident, Kumkum’s pictures were circulated widely on social media, urging people to come forward with any information on the whereabouts of the child. Assam police personnel, together with Arunachal Pradesh Police, carried out overnight operations and rescued Kumkum from the jungles of Pasighat in Arunachal Pradesh’s East Siang district at 7:30 am on Thursday. 

“All districts, student unions, and even the people have been very supportive in finding her,” Gunat added. 

Assam DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta tweeted that a drug addict-cum-dealer named Arjun Pegu had kidnapped the 5-year-old. He also took to the microblogging site to appreciate the efforts of SDPO Jonai, Dhemaji Police, and Pasighat SP for their help in bringing the child safely back home to her family.

“Drugs turn people into monsters. These monsters spare none- even little ones! Dhemaji witnessed it yesterday. A drug addict cum dealer Arjun Pegu kidnapped this young little girl and took her to the jungles of Pasighat, Arunachal,” the DGP tweeted.

He added: “Before he could make his next move, SDPO Jonai & @DhemajiPolice rescued the little girl early morning today. SP Pasighat and the kind people of Pasighat helped us immensely in this pursuit. Thank you all, for helping us rescue the little girl!”

In response to the DGP, the East Siang Police tweeted that the local public from Sika Tode, Sika Bamin, Rani and Sille Oyan supported the police teams wholeheartedly during the night long search operation.

Elated beyond words to be reunited with Kumkum, her family is still not sure about the kidnapper’s motive.

“The kidnappers could not demand anything even if they wanted to. It was all over the internet. People had been alerted, all roads of Dhemaji district had been blocked,” Kumkum’s uncle said. 

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As posts about Kumkum’s kidnapping circulated widely on social media, police sources said the accused panicked and abandoned the child in a jungle in Pasighat, where she was found alone, crying.

Sub-Divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Jonai, Bhargab Moni Das, told EastMojo that the breakthrough in the case came with the identification of the car used by the kidnapper. 

“The police identified the vehicle which was used to kidnap Kumkum and some residents of the area identified Arjun Pegu as a relative and shared his details with the cops. His number was traced with help from the technical team and we found his tower location. Through this, we tracked down the empty white colour Alto, which was used to kidnap the child. It was parked on the banks of a river,” Das told EastMojo

The police also found a bag inside the car, which contained the ID of the kidnapper, further confirming his identity. “When we found the child’s footprints on the river bank, we began searching the perimeter and eventually found the girl,” the official added.

Along with the kidnapper’s ID, the police also found papers from a rehabilitation centre, a psychiatrist’s prescription, and some narcotics. “So far, we do not suspect any harm was done to the child, but the culprit is still absconding. The investigation is on to catch hold of the accused,” Das said.

“We do not know where the girl was taken at night and what she must have gone through so we have sent her home with her parents to get her some rest. We will resume with the investigation but she needs to be well-rested after the traumatic event, only after that we should speak with her,” the SDPO told EastMojo.

The police are still looking for Arjun Pegu and all those involved in the kidnapping of the child. Further details on the case are awaited.

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