Express News Service
GUWAHATI: State authorities with the help of villagers in Nagaland’s Mon district gathered close to 500 people, including security personnel and searched for the last of the three employees of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) abducted by the militants of United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA).
“We have narrowed down some areas and involved village guards and locals of a number of villages in the search operation in consultations with village authorities,” officials in Nagaland said.
The officials further said “hopefully, we will get a breakthrough soon. The two employees rescued were handed over to the Assam Police on Saturday night.”
Junior engineering assistant Alakesh Saikia and junior technician Mohini Mohan Gogoi were rescued by the security forces following a gunfight with a combined group of the militants from the ULFA and the Yung Aung faction of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland near Totokchingnyu village in Mon on Friday night.
The ULFA had on Saturday claimed that all the three employees were handed over to the villagers following the outfit’s concerns about their safety amidst the gunfight.
“Since the security forces have not yet said anything about the fate of the third person, we suspect that he was either killed or kept hidden by them,” the ULFA had said in a statement.
But the two employees rescued rubbished the ULFA’s claim that all three of them were handed over to villagers.
“When we were crossing a road in the darkness, we came under a barrage of shots from the security personnel. Two of us jumped into a bush by the roadside. When we rose after two hours, we didn’t find Ritul,” Gogoi said.
He said the militants kept firing at the personnel as they were sneaking into the jungle.
The three persons were abducted from a work over rig site in the Lakwa field of Assam’s Sivasagar district on Wednesday night. The militants had enquired about the health condition of the eight employees at the site prior to kidnapping the “fittest” trio. They had also enquired if there was any non-Assamese.
The site of gunfight in Mon is around 20-25 km from the India-Myanmar border. The ULFA and other militant outfits from the Northeast operate out of the soil of the neighbouring country.
Meanwhile, the locals of Nangol, the missing employee’s village in Titabor of Assam’s Jorhat district, urged the ULFA to ensure his safe return. They asked ULFA military chief Paresh Baruah to make the outfit’s position clear on the whereabouts of the man.