The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Rescue bid kills Ram

Guwahati/Pachim Borka, July 12: The mystery over whether P.C. Ram was alive in Ulfa custody ended last night when a rescue operation ended in the death of the kidnapped FCI executive.

The security forces, who shot dead two of Ram’s captors in a four-hour gun battle at Pachim Borka village near Guwahati, said the militants may have used the hostage as a human shield.

A DNA test will confirm if the bullet-riddled body, pulled out from under a bed in the house where Ram was being held, belonged to the man whose death had been announced less than two weeks ago.

“I have identified the body. It’s my father’s,” said the victim’s son Pravin, almost repeating what he had said on July 1 while identifying a body dug out from a pit in Baksa district as Ram’s.

Sources said the bullets in Ram’s body would be sent for forensic tests to find out if he had died in the police firing or was killed by his captors. An Ulfa commander called up newspapers to confirm Ram’s death this evening.

Police had been tipped off that an Ulfa team had taken shelter in farmer Gobinda Deka’s house in the village with a middle-aged man. They didn’t explain why they let loose automatic fire at the house at the risk of killing the hostage.

Chief secretary P.C. Sharma said: “The police did not have any specific information about Ram being in the house.”

A joint team of the army, police, Central Reserve Police Force and the Border Security Force raided the house at 8.30pm but came under heavy fire.

“It was pitch dark and we had to use para bombs to light up the area. We had no idea how many militants were holed up,” deputy inspector-general G.P. Singh said.

When the officers entered the house at 12.30am, Ram lay on the floor with two dead militants, with half of his body under a bed.

Deka said four militants had forced themselves in, “threatening to kill us if we didn’t provide them shelter”. One of the rebels left in a bicycle an hour before the raid.

Some heart medicines were found in the room, suggesting the hostage had been brought from Baksa to the village near Guwahati for better treatment.

Ram, the FCI’s head of Northeast operations, was abducted on April 17 from GS Road in Guwahati on his way home from office.

After a body was dug out on June 30 in Baksa, identified as the FCI official’s and cremated, a caller claiming to be Ram called his family in Ghaziabad and said he was still alive and in Ulfa custody. The body in Baksa was said to be a jawan’s.

Ram’s body will be taken to his ancestral village, Atari, in Uttar Pradesh tomorrow.

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