Yangon, November 5: An Indian man, who was abducted with 10 others by the Arakan Army (AA) insurgent group in Myanmar, has died while still in captivity, while eight others, including four Indians, have been released, a media report said.
The 10 people, including a member of the Union Parliament from Chin State and five Indians working on the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transportation Project, were abducted from two boats travelling from Paletwa to Kyauktaw on Sunday, The Irrawaddy news site said in the report on Monday. India Secures Release of 5 Nationals Abducted by Arakan Army in Myanmar; One Dies in Custody Due to Heart Attack.
On Monday morning, the AA released eight people - four Indians, two translators and two boat drivers - along with the body of Vinoo Gopal, at Rakhine State's Kyauktaw Police Station.
"They were released at 6 a.m. on Monday, but Chin State Upper House lawmaker U Whei Tin (of the National League for Democracy( is still in their custody. The body of Vinoo Gopal, 60, was released along with those freed," said U Soe Htet, the Chin State Minister of Municipal Affairs, Electricity and Industry.
The eight survivors were at the Kyauktaw Police Station and were due to head to Sittwe, while the Gopal's body was taken to Kyauktaw General Hospital. Meanwhile, Khaing Thukha, the AA spokesperson, told The Irrawaddy on Monday: "We will keep U Whei Tin as we still need to investigate him for security reasons."
He added that the AA did not intend to detain Indian civilians, adding that the men were abducted in the course of regular AA checks on boats and speedboats for security reasons. "Our troops did not know in advance that the Indian citizens were on the boats," he said.
In a statement, the AA said: "United League of Arakan/Arakan Army is deeply sorry for Mr. Vinoo Gopal's death... Gopal, the construction advisor unexpectedly died during... detention."
They blamed the death on his health problems, as he was on medication for diabetes, obesity and heart problems. Besides Gopal, the four other Indians were Vijay Kumar Singh, Nangshanbok Suiam, Rakesh Sharma and Ajay Kothiyal.
U Myo Nyunt, a spokesman for the ruling National League for Democracy, called for the immediate release of U Whei Tin, saying he is an elected representative of the people and not related to the armed forces. Indian and Myanmar Army Conducted Joint Strike on Insurgent Camps Across Border From February 17 to March 2.
"We object to anyone who abducts people by force and by using arms," U Myo Nyunt said, adding, "Members of Parliament should be treated with respect."
AA abductions of civilians are not uncommon. On October 26, the AA abducted some 50 people, including police and soldiers, from the Shwe Nadi ferry near Rathedaung Township. Only 15 people so far have been rescued.