Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Thursday formally appealed to the chief of the banned militant organisation United Liberation Front of Asom – Independent (ULFA-I), Paresh Barua, to release the remaining kidnapped employee of the ONGC.
Soon after Sarma’s appeal, Barua told the Assamese news channel NewsLive that Retul Saikia would be released within four days.
“On behalf of the people of Assam, I appeal to Paresh Barua with all humility to release Retul Saikia,” CM Sarma told the press in Guwahati.
“Through his release, an atmosphere of goodwill can be created. OIL and ONGC will have to contribute towards Assam and they will keep doing — that responsibility is on me. No need to keep Retul Saikia captive for that,” he added.
In April, three employees of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) were kidnapped by the ULFA-I from Assam’s Sivasagar district.
Two of the three men have been rescued by security forces while the hunt has been on for the third, Retul Saikia.
Although the ULFA-I had initially denied Saikia being with them, but on Wednesday, Barua had told the media that he was indeed in the outfit’s custody.
Last week, the ULFA-I announced that it would halt all operations for next three months citing the Covid pandemic, a development that followed a grenade blast killing two for which the organisation is suspected.
In December last year, two employees of Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited, were kidnapped by ULFA-I and the NSCN from a drilling site in Arunachal Pradesh’s Changlang district — both have been rescued.
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