Hours after personnel of the Indian Army and Assam Rifles rescued two of the three abducted employees of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) from the clutches of armed militants of the ULFA (I) and NSCN during an overnight operation from the dense jungles of Mon district in Nagaland in the intervening night of Friday and Saturday, ULFA (I) said it did not know the whereabouts of the third person, who they claimed may have been killed during the operation.
The victims, identified as Alakesh Saikia and Mohini Mohan Gogoi, were abducted along with Retul Saikia by a group of armed militants belonging to ULFA (I) from a workover rig site inside the Lakwa tea estate of Assam’s Sivasagar district on Wednesday.
In a statement issued by ULFA (I) on Saturday, the outfit took the responsibility of kidnapping the three ONGC employees. “On April 20, 2021 night, the ULFA (I) and NSCN had taken three ONGC officials – Mohini Mohan Gogoi, Alakesh Saikia and Retul Saikia – in their custody. After that, encounters took place from 10 pm to 2.30 am last night between ULFA and more than 500 armed forces personnel led by the Indian Army’s 73rd Brigade, 35 Assam Rifles and Nagaland Police in the effort by ONGC to get them released.”
“As a result, our cadres, keeping in view the safety of the lives of the three ONGC officials, left them in a health status among the people of Tokok Singkhu village under Nagaland’s Mon district and proceeded towards our destination,” the ULFA statement issued by publicity wing member Captain Rumel Asom said.
The outfit claimed, “Even after being aware of the facts, and to downplay the image of ULFA (I) in the eyes of the public, the joint armed forces opened fire in the area after some time.”
Referring to media reports over the rescue of two ONGC employees, the ULFA (I) said: “Although the armed forces and Nagaland Police rescued ONGC officials Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia as per media reports, the Indian Army has not revealed any information regarding Retul Saikia.”
“Therefore, we suspect that Retul Saikia has either been killed in Indian Army firing or the Army and Police are hiding him intentionally,” the ULFA (I) statement said.
Holding the ONGC responsible for the incident, ULFA(I) said: “For this unfortunate incident, the ULFA (I) and NSCN are not responsible. We inform the ONGC authority that for the whole incident, the ONGC, an outsider multinational company, is responsible. So, the company should get prepared for serious consequences in future.”