WHC asks Delhi on WWF volunteers kidnap


Paris quizzes Delhi on kidnap


Guwahati, Feb. 16: The Paris-headquartered World Heritage Centre has asked the Centre on the action taken by it for the release of three WWF volunteers from Laopani of Kokrajhar district even as hectic negotiations are under way.

“We are asking the government for further information, as well as the action taken by them in this matter,” Kishore Rao, deputy director of World Heritage Centre, told The Telegraph over email.

The World Heritage Centre is the focal point and co-ordinator within Unesco for all matters related to world heritage. Though the place of the incident, Laopani in the Ultapani area, is far from Manas National Park — a World Heritage Site — but it is very much a part and parcel of the national park.

The centre co-ordinates both the reporting on the condition of sites and the emergency action undertaken when a site is threatened.

The WWF has also written to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh seeking his intervention for the release of the boys in captivity. Singh will visit Assam on February 18.

Though the WWF will not withdraw from the conservation activity after the kidnap, it will have to rework its strategy for the future as it would not like their personnel to become soft targets.

Lot of research work in the wilds of the region is carried out by young volunteers who do the baseline work.

“All activity has come to a standstill and our main interest is in seeking the release of the boys as fast as possible. We keep on getting phone calls from the parents asking them of any news but unable to provide them anything concrete as of now,” a source in the WWF said.

Police and other concerned authorities on a daily basis brief the conservation agency on the daily developments. The three boys are reported to be safe.

“The issue now is mainly the ransom money factor with the negotiators trying to bargain for reducing the amount,” the source said, adding that contact has been made with the kidnappers.

The source said efforts have to be speeded to get the boys released, otherwise it will turn into a long drawn-out affair and be difficult to sort things out.


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