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Cop accepts freedom-for-release barter
- Memory of botched PC Ram operation prompts policeman to allow kidnappers to flee

Guwahati, March 5: A few bitter lessons learnt from the failed P.C. Ram rescue mission prompted the police chief of Udalguri to let the abductors of a tea manager’s sons flee last night, for what seemed a small barter for the children’s safety.

A.K. Tiwari, the Udalguri superintendent of police, who was part of the team that rescued the two sons of Monmohinipur tea estate manger Pamminder Sehra last night, had also led the operation to rescue Ram.

An executive of the Food Corporation of India, Ram was abducted by Ulfa militants and killed during an encounter between the rebels and a police team that had set out to rescue him. Tiwari was not ready for a re-run of the Ram fiasco this time, even if it meant letting the kidnappers flee for the time being.

He told The Telegraph today that the kidnappers were cornered by the police, along with other security agencies, during door-to-door search operations last night.

“At this juncture, they (the kidnappers) got in touch with one of our sources and informed him that they would kill the two kids if the security forces continued the search operation. We had no option and asked our sources to tell the kidnappers to set the kids free and we would allow them to escape,” he said.

“We had a bad experience in the P.C. Ram episode, when he died, and so wanted no harm to the children,” he said. Police later apprehended two persons suspected to be involved in the kidnapping and were hopeful of arresting the rest.

Tiwari said the five-member gang of kidnappers has been identified and would be apprehended soon.

Udalguri police, Tiwari said, were alerted within an hour of the abduction. The kidnappers had waylaid the boys’ vehicle when they were on their way to school around 6.30am on Tuesday and forced the driver to take them to Dhansiri river bridge at Rowta in Udalguri.

“We were also informed that the kidnappers had called the manager and informed that the kids were safe and they would call later. From this phone call we traced them to a particular location under Rowta police station,” the police official said. “Since it was a large area (spread over nine villages) and there were several entry and exit routes, we had to seek help from the army, BSF, Assam Rifles and CRPF for the search operation,” he said.

As the search intensified, the kidnappers called with the bargain.

After the policemen accepted the offer, the kidnappers called again and said the children would be left in a particular house in Jhargaon village. “We wanted the children safe and secure and asked the source to inform the kidnappers that they were free to go. We, in fact spotted three kidnappers escaping through a drain but did not shoot because we feared that the two other kidnappers might harm the kids on hearing gunshots,” the official said.

The two boys, Barun and Karan, were handed over to their parents last night.

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