Guwahati, April 18: Abductors whisked away the executive director of the Food Corporation of India (FCI)’s regional office and his driver from the Assam capital yesterday, unbeknownst to anyone until the officer telephoned his son and adopted daughter separately this morning to say he was being held captive.
P.C. Ram’s son Pravin told The Telegraph from Ghaziabad that his father could only say that he was being held hostage and was safe before the receiver went blank.
Ravindra Pal Singh, general manager of the FCI’s Guwahati zone, later lodged an FIR at Paltan Bazar police station.
Deputy inspector-general of police (central western ra-nge) A.K. Sinha Casshyap said Ram went missing after leaving office around 6.15 pm. “We are investigating the incident, but it is too early to say who is behind the abduction or what is their motive,” he added.
Since Ram’s official Ambassador car (AS-01 V/1353) has not been traced, investigators believe he and the driver, Rabiram Basumatary, were taken to an unknown destination in the same vehicle.
Although Assam has been the hotbed of militancy for over two decades, no bureaucrat of Ram’s rank and position has been taken hostage in the state in several years. The last two instances of top officials being abducted occurred in the early nineties. The banned Ulfa held former tax commissioner Hemram Keot and IAS officer S.K. Tiwari hostage for sometime, but did not harm either.
A worried Tarun Gogoi today asked the police to use all the resources at their disposal to rescue the head of FCI’s Northeast operations. The chief minister was given a briefing on law and order during a meeting with top police and home department officials.
A senior police officer claimed that the area where Ram was being held captive had been identified. “At this point, I can only tell you that he is somewhere in and around Kamrup district,” the officer said.
Ram stays mostly alone in a rented flat at Lohit Apartments in Christian Basti, while his driver is a resident of Dakhingaon in Kahilipara. The FCI officer’s family is based in Ghaziabad, near Delhi.
Pravin said the call from his father came at 7.15 am. “He told me that he had been abducted but there was no need to worry. The line then got disconnected.”
The regional director’s son said he was unaware of any threat to his father from any individual or group. “I am not sure, but ransom could be the motive behind his abduction since he holds a high official position in this region.”
While Pravin received one call, Ram’s adopted daughter Junu Murmu said he spoke to her twice at their Guwahati residence. The first call came around midnight and the other early today.
Ram told Junu not to worry about his safety. “When I asked him where he was and why his mobile phone was switched off, he said the abductors had snatched his phone. He could not say where he was,” the girl said.
Junu came to Ram’s flat from Baganpara, in Baksa district of Assam, on Saturday. A team of senior FCI officials is likely to arrive in the city to monitor the rescue operation.