THE mystery around the kidnapped students of Razmak Cadet College continues to deepen. Media reports on Monday, based on information gathered from available sources, varied as much as from 20 to 500 students having been forcibly taken away. No word came from the college administration meanwhile regarding the exact number of students, teachers and their family members who were abruptly told that the college had been closed, bundled into waiting minibuses and sent to Bannu without proper security. This was the height of neglect, considering the ongoing offensive against the Taliban who have carried out attacks in a number of districts around. What is more, their highly active chief Baitullah Mehsud has headquarters in the neighbouring South Waziristan. The confusion has been worst confounded by conflicting reports about the exact number of the missing students, indicating a total lack of coordination between various government agencies. Soon after the incident the college Vice Principal said only 26 students and six teachers had gone missing. On Tuesday, the ISPR said 80 had been released while 15 were missing, while Brig Zahid Abdullah who led the rescue operation told reporters the same day that 124 cadets and eight teachers had been rescued. Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira has given the figure of 47 students and five teachers still unaccounted for. Coming as it does from the federal government, the information would be considered more reliable. There are indications that the 50-odd students are in the custody of the Taliban and have presumably been shifted to an area in South Waziristan under Baitullah Mehsud's control. The helpless parents of the students have been driven from pillar to post to learn the whereabouts of their children. The kidnapping of children for political purposes is a highly callous act and is liable to be widely condemned. The Taliban would further turn public opinion against them if they failed to release the cadets urgently. Meanwhile, one expects the government to launch a well-coordinated attempt to recover the cadets and their teachers. All conventional methods should be employed to get them released. A clear-cut message should be conveyed to the top Taliban leadership that any harm done to the students or their teachers would lead to the worst possible reprisals.