ULFA(I) has kept kidnapped ONGC staff in Myanmar: Assam CM

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Titabar (Assam), May 18 (PTI) Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday claimed that abducted ONGC employee Ritul Saikia has been 'kept somewhere in Myanmar' by the proscribed ULFA (I).

Sarma along with MPs Topon Kumar Gogoi, Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, and Pallab Lochan Das, and local MLA Bhaskar Jyoti Baruah visited Saikia's home at Titabar in Jorhat district during the day and assured his wife and parents that the government was doing everything possible to secure his release.

'We have assured the parents of Ritul Saikia that the government will do everything possible to get him back. As per information with the Assam Government, Ritul Saikia is in a place somewhere in Myanmar along the Indo-Myanmar border,' the chief minister told reporters.

The government also has information that Saikia is safe, Sarma said.

Ritul Saikia, along with two other employees of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia, were on April 21 kidnapped by suspected militants of the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) from the Lakwa oilfield in Sivasagar district along the Assam-Nagaland border.

Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia were rescued by security forces on April 24 after an encounter with the abductors near the India-Myanmar border in Mon district of Nagaland.

'For his release, various persons have contacted (us) for mediation. Some people have brought information. We are trying to bring him back hale and hearty.

'The government is firmly behind his family in these trying times and is doing its best to rescue Saikia at the earliest,' he added.

They (abductors) have placed some demands like reservation for locals in jobs, and nobody has any objection to such demands, the chief minister said.

'But there are other things that have not been made public and it has to be seen how many of them can be accepted.

I cannot tell those in front of the media, but we are trying,' Sarma said.

On April 28, Special DGP (Law and Order) Gyanendra Pratap Singh had cited information from Assam Rifles, the Army, and Nagaland Police and said ULFA(I) militants were in hiding with Saikia in Mon district of the neighbouring state.

Hours after the rescue of Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia on April 24, the banned outfit had issued a statement claiming that they had released all the three kidnapped persons at a village in Mon district when the encounter took place.

'The security forces are silent on Ritul Saikia. We, therefore, suspect he may have fallen to their bullets or the security agencies are refraining from revealing his status for their own reasons,' the statement had said.

Three persons, including one Assam Police constable, have been arrested for their active role in the kidnapping.

The police has also taken into custody 20 persons for their alleged involvement or links with the banned organisation. PTI TR MM MM

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