Will free abducted employees if mediation succeeds, hints ULFA (I)

GUWAHATI: Proscribed militant outfit United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) has hinted at releasing the two employees of an oil company, if the mediation assured to the outfit for talks with the company, led to an acceptable understanding.

Speaking to a city-based television channel, ULFA-I chief commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah said “a positive development could be expected in the next few days” if talks with the oil company through mediation turn out to be fruitful

Two employees of Delhi-based Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited – Pranab Kumar Gogoi (51), a drilling superintendent from Assam, and Ram Kumar (35), a radio operator from Bihar – were abducted from Kumchaikha hydrocarbon drilling site in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh on December 21 last year.

They are currently in custody of the militant outfit.

The development has brought relief to the families of Gogoi and Kumar who have been praying for their safe release.

The insurgent outfit had reportedly demanded a ransom of Rs 20 crore from the company for their release and had earlier set February 16 as the deadline for the payment.

In a statement issued on Friday, the militant outfit had threatened ‘final action’ in a phased manner from Monday onwards.

However, the ULFA-I chief on Sunday clarified that the ‘final action’ threatened against the two men “does not mean death” and that a section of the media had misinterpreted the words.

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