Abdul Amin (left) and Wazed Ali, two of the 19 missing workers. Both the workers are from Bongaigaon district. Photo courtesy: Special arrangement

Guwahati: Days after the death of several dozen workers, soldiers and civilians in a landslide in Noney district in Manipur, at least 19 labourers who left a construction site in Arunachal Pradesh’s Kurung Kumey district have been missing for almost two weeks now. 

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 in the district, along the Indo-China international border. These workers had been hired by a local private contractor.  

According to initial information, the workers reportedly left their camp at Huri for their homes at midnight of July 5 without informing their contractor after they were denied leave to take part in the Eid-al-Adha celebrations. Shortly after, they went missing and have remained so for over two weeks now. 

Speaking with EastMojo, deputy commissioner of Kurung Kumey Bengia Nighee said, “On receiving information that the labourers have gone missing, we dispatched a team to locate them. But they could not be traced even after two days of intensive search. Moreover, the hilly terrain and venomous snakes in the area made the search operations an uphill task. So our teams had to return.”

According to the official, the stretch between Huri and the nearest town Damin (11 km) is motorable, and authorities suspect the workers may have taken a ride either in a private or a government vehicle. From Damin, they are suspected to have boarded a private vehicle to the district headquarters in Koloriang, which is about 150 km. It is, however, not yet confirmed which route they took. 

The official also could not confirm if they even reached Koloriang. 

Later, on July 18, a local youth of Ruba village, about 11 km from Huri, took to social media to say that he had seen a dead body in the river near his village. 

“We immediately sent a police and medical team to the site to locate and retrieve the body, but the team returned empty-handed, and we considered his claim to be false,” Nighee said.

The Arunachal Police have lodged a missing report and an FIR against several subcontractors. 

“We have now sought help from the Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and requested the Indian Army to help us in locating the missing labourers through aerial survey,” Nighee added.

EastMojo’s investigation revealed that most of the missing labourers are from lower Assam.

Speaking to EastMojo, superintendent of police, Bongaigaon district, Swapnaneel Deka said, “It has come to our knowledge that three people – Abdul Amin, Wazed Ali and Noor Islam – from our district reportedly went missing in Arunachal Pradesh. While Amin and Ali hail from the Bhandara and Silgagarit villages, respectively, under the Manikpur police station, Noor Islam is a resident of Abhayapuri. Though the family members of Amin and Ali are yet to lodge any complaint with the police, Islam’s family members have filed a missing report at the local police station.”

EastMojo will update the story as and when we received further information on the matter. 

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