The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Kidnap warning for OIL officials

Dibrugarh, Jan. 14: Officials of Oil India Ltd (OIL) were today asked to be “on their guard” after police got wind of a plan by Ulfa militants to kidnap some of them and blackmail Delhi into freeing the militant group’s jailed leaders.

“We have been asked to restrict our movements and also to avoid unnecessary travel outside Duliajan,” a senior OIL executive said.

Security in all areas where the company operates has been beefed up.

Ulfa had kidnapped several officials of the oil industry in 1991 and killed three of them. One of the slain engineers was Sergei Gritchenko, a Russian working on a project for the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation. The rest were freed after the government declared amnesty for arrested Ulfa militants.

With the militant group reportedly planning to take recourse to the same plan, security at all oil installations is being upgraded. Contingents of the Central Industrial Security Force and unarmed private guards form the inner ring of security at OIL installations and worksites.

The threat to OIL personnel has been accentuated by Ulfa’s objections to the company’s proposed seismic survey on the bed of the Brahmaputra. “OIL will have to face a people’s resistance if it goes ahead with the survey,” the militant group said in a recent survey.

Security in and around Duliajan, the regional headquarters of OIL, has been beefed up. Teams of security personnel are keeping a close watch on each entry and exit point.

“We know that the outfit is itching for vengeance after suffering some setbacks in recent times. OIL officials are soft targets for the militants,” said a senior police official based in Upper Assam.

The official, however, said there was no reason to panic. “We have already made adequate security arrangements. In fact, we are also taking care to protect other soft targets like tea garden executives and those associated with other industries.”

Ulfa has been insisting on the release of its jailed leaders before taking a decision on holding talks with Delhi. The outfit says that no decision can be taken without quorum in the central executive council.

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