Retul Saikia, an employee of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC), was released by the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) on Saturday morning, a month after his kidnapping. Authorities said Saikia was released at 7 a.m. in Longwa, Nagaland’s Mon district, near the Indo-Myanmar border. Later this evening, he is scheduled to arrive in Borhalla, Assam’s Jorhat district.
Following Saikia’s release, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted: “Heartily welcome release of Ritul Saikia, ONGC employee abducted by ULFA, early today! Grateful to Honble UHM @AmitShah for constant guidance. Hope an era of peace & development is firmly established in state with cooperation of one and all. Pray to Almighty for His Blessings.”
On April 21, Saikia was abducted by ULFA-I militants from a rig site in the Lakuwa field in Charaideo district while on night duty and two other ONGC workers, Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia. While state security forces rescued Mohini (32) and Alakesh (28) within 72 hours, Saikia remained in the ULFA-custody. I’s They all work in the production department and live and stay at the ONGC Colony in Sivasagar.
Following the abduction, the Assam Police arrested 14 “linkmen” and three more people for their roles in the kidnapping, including an Assam Police Battalion (APBn) constable.
While the ULFA-I initially said that the Saikia was not in their custody, the outfit’s leader, Paresh Barua, told the media last week that he was in their custody and would be released in four days.
The declaration came after CM Sarma made a formal request to Barua to release Saikia.