Guwahati, July 1: The adopted daughter of slain FCI executive director P.C. Ram was named a suspect as police today scurried to wrap up an investigation that made little progress when the official was alive in Ulfa captivity.
Sources said June Murmu, who is in her early twenties, might have introduced Ulfa militants masquerading as contractors to Ram not long before the abduction.
A member of the investigation team confirmed that June was under the scanner but did not elaborate. “As of now, we can only say that we are not ruling out her involvement in the abduction of Ram...At the same time, we do not have any conclusive evidence.”
June is an Adivasi girl from Baksa district and used to stay with Ram in his rented Guwahati apartment.
Investigators are convinced that Ram was held captive in Baksa for the better part of the two-and-a-half months since his abduction from Guwahati.
Senior police officials are, however, at a loss to explain why search teams could not trace the FCI’s seniormost official in the Northeast for such a long period. The search operation following his abduction on April 17 also involved the CRPF and the army.
“We had information about several of the locations where Ram was kept but his abductors managed to sneak away before we reached these hideouts,” deputy inspector-general (central-western range) G.P. Singh said in Nalbari.
The closest that the police came to tracing Ram was on June 22. Three Ulfa militants and Ram had spent the previous night in a house at Baganpara in Baksa district. The militants fled along with their hostage before the police raided the house.
The owner of the house, Raben Boro, told the police that Ulfa had contacted him to say that some of its members would spend a night there. Boro identified Ram from a photograph the police showed him.
A police and army team arrested four Ulfa militants who supposedly knew his whereabouts on Friday.
Police chief R.N. Mathur declined comment on his department’s failure to rescue Ram despite having information about his presence in Baksa, one of the smaller districts of the state. “I do not want to discuss such operational details with the press,” he said.
Government spokesman Himanta Biswa Sarma was more diplomatic in skirting the question. “ What went wrong will be discussed subsequently,” he told The Telegraph.
Sarma said the government gave priority to Ram’s safety before anything else, which is why the police did not launch an all-out offensive against Ulfa in Baksa.
A police official said local support for Ulfa and the government’s refusal to allow the police to smoke out the abductors were stumbling blocks. “We are not blaming the government. We can understand its compulsions. But you cannot have a half-hearted approach to an operation.”
Sources said Ram’s family paid Rs 16 lakh as the first instalment of the ransom demanded by Ulfa. A militant called the family only yesterday afternoon, asking for the balance amount.
Employees of FCI offices across the Northeast will strike work tomorrow in protest against Ram’s murder.