The Weekend Leader - Released by ULFA-I after 31 days, 3rd ONGC official reaches home

Released by ULFA-I after 31 days, 3rd ONGC official reaches home



Photo: IANS

After a month, ULFA-I on Saturday released ONGCs third technical staff Ritul Saikia in Nagaland and he has reached his home in eastern Assam's Jorhat, top police officials said.

Director General of Assam Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said that due to the personal initiative of Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Saikia was released from the captivity of the ULFA-I (United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent).

Sarma in a tweet said: "Heartily welcome release of Ritul Saikia, ONGC employee abducted by ULFA, early today ! Grateful to Hon'ble UHM Amit Shah for constant guidance. Hope an era of peace & development is firmly established in state with cooperation of one and all. Pray to Almighty for His Blessings."

Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi, while addressing the first session of the new state assembly on its second day on Saturday, said that Saikia's release and ULFA-I's recent announcement of a unilateral ceasefire for three months are very positive gestures for enduring peace in Assam.

An Assam police official earlier said in Guwahati that Saikia reached Longwa in Nagaland's Mon district near the India-Myanmar border early on Saturday morning.

"Saikia was handed over to the Assam police officials by the Assam Rifles. He then tested negative for Covid-19. Immediately after his release, Saikia talked to his aged mother over phone.

"Before the evening Saikia reached home at Borhalla in Jorhat district," the official said.

After the abduction of Saikia, who has a four-month-old child, his aged parents and wife spent sleepless nights worrying about his safety.

Following the abduction of three ONGC technical staff, the Assam police have arrested 14 collaborators and a police constable for their suspected role in the kidnappings.

The ULFA-I led by self-styled 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Baruah had, on April 21, kidnapped the three ONGC staffers from a drilling site at Lakwa in eastern Assam's Sibsagar district.

The Army, along with Assam Rifles troopers, rescued two hostages -- Mohini Mohan Gogoi, 35, and Alakesh Saikia, 28, -- from the militants' custody following a fierce gun battle on April 23 night, but Ritul Saikia, 33, remained in the captivity of the banned outfit.

Gogoi and Ritul Saikia are junior technicians, production, while Alakesh Saikia is a junior engineering assistant, production. Gogoi is a resident of Dibrugarh district and the other two employees are inhabitants of Jorhat district.

ULFA-I on May 15 announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months with immediate effect.

The outfit, in a statement, said that in view of the Covid-19 pandemic it has "unilaterally suspended all kinds of military operations in Assam for three months from May 15". The statement, in Assamese language, also alleged that the security forces had hatched a clandestine plan to malign the ULFA-I.

After 2006, this is the second time the banned outfit has announced a unilateral ceasefire in the state.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, after taking oath as the 15th Chief Minister of Assam on May 10, had urged ULFA-I supremo Paresh Baruah and other militant groups to shun the path of violence and join the mainstream.

ULFA-I had recently released radio operator Ram Kumar, a resident of Bihar, and drilling superintendent Pranab Kumar Gogoi of Sivasagar district, after more than 100 days after the two employees of Delhi-based private oil and gas exploration company Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Ltd were abducted from Arunachal Pradesh on December 21 last year. - IANS

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