The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Worst fears come true for kin

New Delhi/Guwahati, June 30: When the news flash came on the television channel, Pravin Ram broke out in a cold sweat. It was all over, their wait had been in vain.

The report said the body of his father, Food Corporation of India (FCI) executive director Phul Chand Ram, had just been found in Assam’s Baksa district. The senior official had been abducted more than two months ago by Ulfa militants.

Then he looked at his mother and sister who had been watching the TV with him, shock writ large on their faces.

The 25-year-old MBA student at Ghaziabad’s Institute of Management Technology was up the next minute, making arrangements to visit Guwahati. Pravin and a cousin will be leaving for the Assam capital early tomorrow morning. They have been told that Ram’s body will be brought there.

“I don’t know what to say. This is the worst case scenario and has come as a big shock,” Pravin said over telephone from his Ghaziabad residence.

Soon after the news broke, Pravin said over phone that “our life has turned upside down. I am very much distressed and disheartened. I am waiting for a final confirmation from the Assam government that the body found today is indeed my father’s.”

Till then, Pravin is unwilling to accept that his father is dead. For him, today’s development came as a rude shock since all these days he had been told that the Assam government and FCI were trying their best to secure his father’s safe release.

He said his father never thought that he was in any danger living and working in Assam.

His sister Neerja, who is older to him, declined to talk, as did his mother Padmavati Devi.

Ram and his driver Rabiram Basumatary were abducted on April 17 by Ulfa militants from Ulubari in Guwahati while they were returning home in Ram’s official vehicle. The driver was freed later.

Ram’s colleagues at FCI said they were particularly upset by the inability of security forces to trace the hostage over the past two months.

“We are shocked. But let me say this: no matter what the terrorists do, our supplies to the Northeast will not be affected. That is our commitment,” FCI managing director Alok Sinha asserted.

The northeastern states have traditionally been dependent on FCI for their supplies of grains.

FCI will soon decide on payment of compensation to Ram’s family, Sinha said.

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