| Fire at the ONGC station in Jorhat on Friday. Picture by UB Photos |
Guwahati/Jorhat, Sept. 29: The Paresh Barua faction of Ulfa today claimed responsibility for last night’s fire at a group gathering station of the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation at Titabor in Jorhat district.
However, police ruled out possibility of sabotage.
In a statement emailed to The Telegraph, a member of the group’s publicity wing, Aranya Asom, said it had carried out the attack as part of its continuous armed protest against the ONGC and to protest the killing of two youths, Manoj Konwar and Nirup Das, in Sivasagar last week.
“Although it was part of our continuous armed protest against ONGC for exploiting Assam, it was also a protest against the killing of two Assamese youths by the police last week,” the statement said.
A fire broke out in the group gathering station of ONGC around 9.30pm last night and it took 15 fire tenders to bring it under control.
Although the police cited a technical snag for the blaze, Ulfa’s claim today has given the incident a different turn, as the group has already carried out three bomb blasts in the neighbouring Sivasagar district since August 10.
The police officials probing the incident, however, today ruled out an explosion, as the place where the crude oil was drilled and stored by ONGC was well protected by the CISF.
An ONGC official said there had been no loss of crude oil and that the damage was being assessed.
Whether there had been a blast or not is under investigation, he said.
Titabor sub-divisional police officer R. Borgohain said preliminary investigation by the police revealed that no grenade or bomb had been exploded at the incident site at Borholla where the fire broke out.
“We did not find any splinters or other such material, which pointed at a bomb or grenade being exploded,” he said.
The police official added that people residing in the vicinity reported that they heard a few loud sputtering noises before a column of fire rose into the air.
“The most likely cause was a technical defect at the temperature plant where the crude is liquefied before being sent to NRL or Digboi. However, we will know the details after a forensic team arrives and takes samples of the soil and crude oil lying about,” he said.
Regarding the Ulfa statement, he said this had been the outfit’s response to the NRL fire as well.
The Ulfa statement said the youths arrested by the police from Dibrugarh and Sivasagar for their alleged links with the September 24 explosion in Sivasagar are not members of the outfit.
It alleged that the police stage-managed the arrests and recovery of a bomb in Bhotiapara in Sivasagar district.