Abducted Hindu spiritual leader released in Pak

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Islamabad, Mar 25: An octogenarian Hindu spiritual leader, who was kidnapped three months ago, was today freed in Balochistan province of southwest Pakistan, police said.

Maharaja Luckmi Chand Garji, 82, was kidnapped with four companions on December 21 in Kalat district. The kidnappers later released three of Garji's companions. Garji was freed in an area between Sorab and Khuzdar in Balochistan, police said.

"The kidnappers have released Garji and he has reached his house," a police official was quoted as saying by state-run APP news agency.

There was no confirmation of whether Garji was released after the payment of ransom or through the efforts of tribal elders of the area.

Relatives of the religious leader too confirmed his release but did not give details. The fate of the man who was in captivity with Garji could not immediately be ascertained. Garji is a leading spiritual leader of the minority Hindu community in Balochistan.

His abduction sparked protests in several parts of the province. Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani had directed authorities to ensure the safe recovery of the spiritual leader.

Dozens of Hindus have been kidnapped for ransom in Balochistan over the past few months.

Reports from provincial capital Quetta said that over 20 Hindu families from Balochistan had sent applications to the Indian High Commission seeking asylum in India.

PTI

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