Will take 'ultimate step' on 2 abducted Quippo men next week:

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ULFA(I) Guwahati, Feb 19 (PTI) The banned ULFA (Independent) on Friday threatened to take the 'ultimate step' on the two employees of Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited next week, prompting senior Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to appeal to it to release them unharmed.

The two men were kidnapped by the insurgent outfit on December 21 last year from Kumchaikha hydrocarbon drilling site near Innao in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

The ULFA(I) in an email to PTI said that talks with the Quippo authorities held from February 16 to 19 have 'failed to reach any favourable conclusion and an ultimate step on the two will be taken next week'.

The insurgent outfit reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs 20 crore from Quippo for their release and had set February 16 as the deadline for paying it. The New Delhi-based company was hired by Oil India Limited (OIL) for drilling operations.

The ULFA(I) asked other employees of Quippo to stay away from work and pressure OIL to rehabilitate them.

'If our instructions are ignored, then in the case of any unfortunate situation, the employees, Quippo authorities, OIL, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh governments will be responsible for the consequences,' the outfit said in the email written in Assamese.

Sarma urged ULFA(I)'s Commander in Chief Paresh Barua 'with folded hands' to release the two men unharmed.

The two abducted men are Drilling Superintendent Pranab Kumar Gogoi and Radio Operator Ram Kumar. While Gogoi is from Assam's Sivasagar district, Ram Kumar hails from Bihar.

Sarma said that in the case of any unfortunate incident, the world will again 'look upon the Assamese as (members of) Taliban. We do not want any further bloodshed on the soil of India or Assam'.

The Taliban is a fundamentalist religious and political organisation that emerged in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s.

The family members of Gogoi and Kumar recently called on Barua's brother who also appealed to the ULFA leader to release the two.

The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was formed in 1979 to establish a sovereign Assam through an armed movement. Barua was once the chief of its military wing.

After a split in the organisation in 2011 over the leaderships decision to join peace talks with the government, he led a faction called ULFA (Independent). PTI DG NN NN