Assam workers missing

Itanagar, July 23: An Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopter would be pressed into service on Saturday to search for 19 Assam construction workers who went missing from the Indo-China border in Arunachal Pradesh.

The workers from lower Assam districts, who were engaged by the Border Road Organisation (BRO) for the construction of roads, went missing last week near the India-China border in Arunachal Pradesh’s Kurung Kumey district.

The State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) continued their search to locate the workers but failed.

Congress’ Deputy Leader in the Lok Sabha Gaurav Gogoi, urged Defence Minister Rajnath Singh to deploy the Army to locate the missing workers.

Kurung Kumey Deputy Commissioner Bengia Nighee said that responding to the requisition of the district administration, the IAF chopper would launch the search operation around the Kumey river at Damin areas.

“The SDRF personnel is continuing their search operation while the NDRF (National Disaster Response Force) would soon join the search operation to locate the missing workers,” the DC said.

“An official team, composed of police and civil officials, went to the area two days ago. The area is an extremely remote and dense forest,” Nighee said.

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He said that the reports regarding the recovery of a dead body of a worker were not yet confirmed by the official team.

Earlier, local officials, quoting villagers, said that the body of one of the 19 missing workers was recovered from the nearby Kumey river.

The incident took place last week but came to light only on Tuesday. Local villagers and police feared that all the workers might have drowned in the Kumey river.

Villagers reportedly informed the police that the workers left their construction site after the contractor refused to grant leave for some days and then the tragedy happened.

The workers had taken a shortcut jungle route to return to their homes in Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, and Dhubri of Assam.

Gogoi, in a letter on Friday to Rajnath Singh, said, “There is no clarity on when; why, and how they went missing. As per the Kurung Kumey district administration, it heard about their plight on July 13.”

“The district administration had conducted a search operation but the team couldn’t find them since the area is inhospitable, full of deep gorges, steep hills, and a river. Now, the families of those missing labourers are waiting for their safe returns to their homes,” he mentioned.