Kidnapped ONGC employee set free by ULFA(I) militants; Guv, CM welcome release

·3-min read

(Eds: Adding governor's statement) Guwahati, May 22 (PTI) Responding to an appeal from Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, the banned ULFA (I) outfit on Saturday freed ONGC employee Ritul Saikia kidnapped by them over a month back.

Saikia, abducted on April 21, was released by the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) militants near the Myanmar border in Longwa village of Mon district in Nagaland this morning, a top official at Assam Police headquarters told PTI.

He reached home late in the evening.

Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who paid a visit to the home of the kidnapped employee on May 18 and had made an appeal to the insurgent group to set him free, and Governor Jagdish Mukhi welcomed the release.

Saikia was released around 7 am on the Myanmar side and he walked around 40 minutes to cross to the Indian side, the Additional DGP-ranked official said.

Saikia was taken to the Mon police station by the Army and Nagaland police. A team of the Assam police was also there to complete formalities to take him back home.

The liberated ONGC staffer looks hale and hearty, a medical check-up will be done before dropping him at his home in Titabar of Jorhat district in Assam, the senior police official said.

Following the release, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that he hopes an era of peace and development is firmly established in the state with the cooperation of one and all.

'Heartily welcome release of Ritul Saikia, ONGC employee abducted by ULFA, early today! Grateful to Honble UHM @AmitShah (Union Home Minister 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,' Sarma tweeted.

Governor Jagdish Mukhi said that the release of kidnapped ONGC employee Ritul Saikia by ULFA(I) is a 'welcome step' towards peace and development of the state.

'Recently, the ULFA(I) has announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months. However, the announcement of ceasefire without stated ground rules may not yield the desired results. Nonetheless, my Government considers the announcement of ceasefire a step in the positive direction,' he said while addressing the assembly.

The process to devise the ground rules should now be set in motion, the governor said.

Three employees of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) were on April 21 kidnapped by ULFA(I) militants from the Lakwa oilfield in Sivasagar district along the Assam- Nagaland border.

Two of them, Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia, were rescued on April 24 after an encounter near the India- Myanmar border in Mon district while search for Saikia was on.

Hours after Sarma visited Saikia's home on May 18 and assured his wife and parents about the government's effort to bring him back, ULFA(I) chief Paresh Barua confirmed the custody of the kidnapped person.

On May 20, Sarma in a press conference appealed to Barua to release the kidnapped ONGC employee and said the Assam government will pressure the oil companies to invest more for the progress of the state.

While the official press conference was underway, Barua made phone calls to local TV channels and announced to release Saikia in less than seven days.

In the calls, Barua praised Sarma and said Assam never had such a 'dynamic' chief minister for decades.

The chief minister, on the other side, welcomed the three-month unilateral ceasefire declared by the ULFA(I) and urged Barua to come to the discussion table.

In the first week of April, two employees of the Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure were released by ULFA(I) after three-and-half months of their kidnap on December 21 last year.

The two were kidnapped from Kumchaikha hydrocarbon drilling site in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh with a demand for a ransom of Rs 20 crore. PTI TR SOM SNS NN NN

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting