Guwahati, April 19: The abducted executive director of Food Corporation of India’s Northeast office is being held hostage by the outlawed Ulfa, which has demanded Rs 21 crore in ransom, Assam police said today.
A senior police official said investigators had zeroed in on Baksa district, nearly 200 km from Guwahati, as the location where the FCI’s regional head, P.C. Ram, was taken from the state capital.
He neither confirmed nor denied that the abductors contacted Ram’s family in Ghaziabad to specify the ransom.
The executive director’s son Pravin told The Telegraph from Ghaziabad that he was unaware of the abductors demanding such a huge ransom for his father’s release. “Everything is being looked after by the FCI headquarters in New Delhi and the Assam government...I have nothing to say,” he said.
Whisked away from Guwahati along with his driver Rabiram Basumatary on Tuesday, Ram’s abduction came to light only after he called his son and adopted daughter Junu Murmu, an Adivasi girl from Baksa district, to say he was being held hostage but was unharmed.
Senior superintendent of police (city) S.N. Singh said the phone numbers from which Ram made calls to Pravin in Ghaziabad once and twice to Junu in Guwahati had been traced. “They were made from two mobile numbers, one an Aircel connection and the other a BSNL service. We discovered that both numbers were used by Ulfa earlier.”
One of the two mobile numbers was issued against a fictitious name with Dispur as the address. “We found the address to be correct, but no one by that name stays there,” Singh said.
The SSP said Ulfa may have used someone known to Ram to lure him to somewhere on the outskirts of the city and abducted him there. He denied having any information about a ransom call to the abducted bureaucrat’s family or office.
A police team found Ram’s official Ambassador car (AS-01 V/1353) abandoned near a State Bank of India branch in Rangia town of Kamrup district last night. “We have been raiding possible militant hideouts in the Barama region of Baksa district to rescue Ram,” Singh said.
Ulfa’s 709 battalion, led by Hira Sarania, is the main suspect in the abduction case. The police have rounded up a few persons for interrogation, but none of them has been found to be directly involved in the abduction.
Rajiv Kumar, the additional director-general of FCI's vigilance wing, has arrived in Assam to co-ordinate the rescue efforts.