On Tuesday, on his visit to abducted ONGC employee Retul Saikia’s residence at Titabor in Jorhat, Sarma told reporters that there is no ceasefire from the government’s side against ULFA-I.
However, the chief minister has welcomed the outfit’s decision and sees it as a ‘ray of hope’.
On 15 May, ULFA-I announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months in view of the prevailing COVID-19 induced situation. “We can only be positive and wish for a ray of hope,” Sarma said, adding that ‘the doors are always open’ for discussion.
“But we only know about the ceasefire on papers, we have no idea where their cadres are, we do not know about their activities during the ceasefire period,” the chief minister added.
Sarma also mentioned that the government will not step back from taking ‘action’ against the organisation if it indulges in any kind of unlawful activities.
He urged ULFA-I C-in-C Paresh Baruah ‘to come forward for the peace process.’
Earlier on 10 May, the day he took oath as CM of Assam, Sarma had requested Paresh Barua ‘to come to the discussion table and resolve issues’.
He expressed hope that the new government “will be able to make the underground insurgents return to the mainstream in the next five years”.
On his visit, Sarma assured Retul Saikia’s family that the government would do its best to bring back the abducted employee in a ‘safe and sound’ state. Lok Sabha members Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, Pallab Lochan Dan, Topon Kumar Gogoi also accompanied the CM during his visit.
Sarma claimed that Saikia has been “kept somewhere in Myanmar” by the ULFA-I.
“We have assured the parents of Retul Saikia that the government will do everything possible to get him back. As per information with the Assam government, Retul Saikia is in a place somewhere in Myanmar along the India-Myanmar border,” the chief minister told reporters.
The government also has information that Saikia is safe, Sarma said.
Retul Saikia, along with two other employees of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited, Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia, were on April 21 kidnapped by suspected militants of ULFA-I from the Lakwa oilfield in Sivasagar district along the Assam-Nagaland border.
Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia were rescued by security forces on April 24 after an encounter with the abductors near the India-Myanmar border in Mon district of Nagaland.
“For his release, various persons have contacted (us) for mediation. Some people have brought information. We are trying to bring him back hale and hearty.
“The government is firmly behind his family in these trying times and is doing its best to rescue Saikia at the earliest,” he added.
They (abductors) have placed some demands like reservation for locals in jobs, and nobody has any objection to such demands, the chief minister said.
“But there are other things that have not been made public and it has to be seen how many of them can be accepted. I cannot tell those in front of the media, but we are trying,” Sarma said.
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