Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Assamese Militants Release Three World Wildlife Fund-India Volunteers

Entrance to Manas National Park

Earlier this week, a group of six WWF-India officials were carrying out a survey of elephants and tigers in Assam's Manas National Park, when they were suddenly ambushed and abducted by a group of masked and heavily armed militants. The captors of these six volunteers were members of a militant group called the National Democratic Front of Bodoland. According to the South Asia Terrorist Portal, the front's main objective was to have an independent state of Bodoland in areas north of the Brahmaputra River. The hostages were identified to be Saiyad Naushad Jaman, Pranjit Kumar Saikia, Tarali Goswami, Gautam Kishore Sharma, Srabana Goswami, and Pallabi Chakraborty. Out of the six, three of them were released (mostly women); the remaining are still being held captive. The WWF-India stated that it is currently working closely with government authorities and the Bodoland Territorial Council for a speedy release of the remaining hostages.

I'm extremely shocked to see that something like this could happen. These people were a group of wildlife officials who were carrying out a survey, in order to help their nation's wildlife flourish but ended up being captured by a band of hostile militants. Even though only three out of the six hostages were released, it does not mean the tension is receded. There are still three more remaining in custody. I can only hope and pray that they will be safely released. The abduction of these innocent volunteers refers back to the late 1980s and the early 1990s when Manas National Park's infrastructure suffered a great damage, followed by a political instability which drastically reduced the park's rhino population by fifty percent and the tiger population by thirty percent. I just hope that WWF-India, along with authorities and the Bodoland Territorial Council will take whatever measures in order to prevent any further instability. This is because Manas National Park was named a World Heritage Site in 1985 by the UNESCO World Heritage Committee. The park had suffered dramatically many years ago, and it should not end up in a similar situation again.

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