Pay by Feb 16 or lose Bihar-based employee: ULFA (I) to oil firm

While threatening to kill Ram Kumar, the outfit said it would not harm Assamese employee abducted along with him

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent or ULFA (I) has threatened to kill an abducted Bihar-based man if the oil drilling firm that employed him failed to pay for his release by February 16.

Members of the ULFA (I) had abducted radio operator Ram Kumar, 35, and drilling superintendent Pranab Kumar Gogoi, 5, from the Kumchaikha hydrocarbon drilling site in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh on December 21, 2020. The two were taken to an unknown location in Myanmar.

Paresh Baruah, the outfit’s military chief, had reportedly asked the New Delhi-based Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited to pay ₹20 crore for Mr. Kumar’s release. The extremist leader said the money demanded was not ransom but compensation for the exploitation of Assam’s natural resources.

In a statement on January 27, the ULFA (I) said it was holding Mr. Kumar captive. “But while the oil firm appears to have made no effort to secure his release, the Indian occupational forces have intensified their operations,” it said.

“This is a reminder to Quippo Oil to ensure the release of its employee by February 16. If it fails to, appropriate action would be taken against its Indian employee Ram Kumar,” the outfit said.

The ULFA (I) chief had earlier indicated that Mr. Kumar, who the outfit perceives to be a representative of “colonial India”, would be killed if “anything goes wrong”. But he said the Assamese employee would be spared even if no one pays for his release.

The security forces, including the police of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, said they were trying to locate and rescue the abducted duo.

Meanwhile, the ULFA (I) chief’s elder brother Bimal Baruah has appealed to his 24-year-old son Munna Baruah to return home.

Baruah had in 2018 joined his uncle’s outfit while undergoing apprenticeship as a junior engineer at the century-old Digboi Refinery. He went missing in Myanmar on October 29, 2020. Reports in the local media said he could be dead.

“We don’t yet know what has happened to him. While I request to the ULFA (I) leadership to clarify on his whereabouts, I appeal to my son to return home,” Bimal Baruah said.

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