Guwahati: Abducted Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (ONGC) employee Ritul Saikia sets to return home as the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) top leader Paresh Barua admitted Tuesday the Assamese operative is in their safe custody and waiting for the appropriate moment of release. Speaking to a section of city-based media outlets, including satellite channel News Live owned by State chief minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma’s family, the hardliner separatist militant leader banned Ulfa (Independent) confirmed that Ritul was with them and would be sent back to Assam very soon. Ritul along with two other ONGC employees (Mohini Mohan Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia) were kidnapped by rebels belonged to Ulfa (I) on 21 April last from Lakwa oilfield in Sivasagar locality along Assam-Nagaland border. Both Gogoi and Saikia were later rescued by the security forces on 24 April, but Ritul remained traceless. The encounter with the abductors took place in a remote place of Nagaland, bordering Myanmar. However, the Ulfa (I) put a different claim that it released all the three kidnapped individuals at a Naga village. If Ritul had not arrived back, he might get killed by the security forces. Since then, there was confusion about Ritul’s where abouts. His family pleaded both the government and Ulfa (I) leaders for Ritul’s release. Later, taking the charge as new chief minister of Assam, saffron politician Sarma appealed to militants, precisely Barua, to shun the path of violence and join the peace process. Barua, who is understood to be taking shelter in the jungles of Myanmar-China border, responded with positive notes to the saffron politician as a goodwill for peace talks. Meanwhile, Sarma visited the residence of Ritul at Titabor in central Assam and assured his parents and wife that the government was trying its level best to bring back him safely. Accompanied Parliamentarians Kamakhya Prasad Tasa, Tapan KumarGogoi, Pallab Lochan Das and legislator Bhaskar Jyoti Baruah also comforted the depressed family members. Determined Sarma informed that as per the government sources Ritul was somewhere in India-Myanmar border areas. Expressing his satisfaction that the Ulfa(I) had recently declared uniliteral ceasefire because of the Covid-19 pandemic, Sarma commented that it would brighten the hope of dialogues with rebels as the people of Assam are fed up of violence and deserve peace & progress.
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