12-hour bandh in BTAD has affected normal life Credit: EastMojo image

Kokrajhar: Normal life has been paralysed due to a 12-hour bandh in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) of Assam on Monday that has been called in protest against the kidnapping of Pradip Shill, a businessman from Serfanguri Bazar of Kokrajhar district.

Demanding Shill’s release, a bandh was called by the All Assam Bengali Youth Students’ Federation (AABYSF) and supported by the All BTC Bengali Youth Students’ Federation, effective from 5 in the morning.

All kinds of vehicular movement, shops and business establishments were seen to be affected due to the bandh.

28-year-old businessman Pradip Shill was abducted at gunpoint on September 27

The bandh saw full response in the region with National Highway 31C bearing a deserted look and normal life affected for the day.

Bodoland, officially the BTAD, is an autonomous region of Assam made up of four districts — Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri — on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river, by the foothills of Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh. It is administered by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which came into existence under the BTC Accord in February 2003.

The 28-year-old businessman is the owner of a motorcycle garage at Serfanguri Bazar in Kokrajhar district. He hails from Tamarhat area along Kokrajhar and Dhubri districts. He was kidnapped at gunpoint by unknown miscreants from Serfanguri Bazar on September 27.

Shill is the father of a month-old baby and his family has been facing severe hardships since his kidnapping. An FIR was lodged at the Serfanguri Police Station after the incident occurred, however no progress has been made so far.

The police have started their search operation against the kidnapped person but are yet to find out about his whereabouts.

According to his family members, Shill’s mobile was switched on till October 3 and since then, it has remained switched off.

As per sources, the kidnappers demanded nearly Rs 50 lakh ransom from Shill’s family. So far, the family has handed over Rs 5 lakh to the kidnappers and is waiting for Shill to return home.

BTC Bengali Youth Students’ Federation president Montu Dey demanded early release of Shill and urged the police and district administration to take strong initiatives against the culprits. He said that Shill was a small trader at Serfanguri Bazar.

Expressing serious concern over the kidnapping, he appealed the kidnappers to release Shill on humanitarian grounds.

Meanwhile, former Rajya Sabha MP and UPPL president UG Brahma too made an appeal to kidnappers for Shill’s early release.

“The incident of kidnapping of Pradip Shilll of Serfanguri two weeks ago is an act of cruel mind and attempt to jeopardise the peace process in BTAD area which has already progressed a long way. This could be the handiwork of local gangs who conduct such crimes just for their own benefit and to create social conflicts,” Brahma said in a statement issued to the media.

The bandh call given in protest against that the kidnapping needs to be supported by all sections of society and joint effort should be made to contain the subversive forces, Brahma added.

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