The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Confusion over body

Guwahati, July 9: In a fresh twist to the abduction case of P.C. Ram, a villager confessed to police today that a body dug out from a pit in Baksa district on June 30 was that of an army jawan. This confession has virtually endorsed the claim Ulfa made after the body was exhumed and identified as that of Food Corporation of India’s executive director.

Sources said Dhireswar Dutta, a resident of Anandapur village, told the police that lance naik Sunil Kumar, who was working at the army base hospital in Basistha here, was killed by Ulfa militants when he was staying at Dutta’s home for a few days. The slain soldier was buried on the banks of the Mora Pagladiya river.

The pit from where the body was recovered is nearly a kilometre from Dutta’s residence. Dutta, who was absconding since the murder, was arrested at Kadamtal yesterday while he was on his way to Borbori police outpost under Barama police station to surrender.

The police said the militants had suspected the lance naik of trying to glean information about Ram as the FCI official was also said to be held captive in that area.

The police subsequently arrested the militants involved in the killing. From the rebels, they got the lead that “someone” had been killed and buried on the riverbank. Over 20 people, including Ram’s son Pravin, then identified the body to be his.

The controversy over Ram’s body arose after he purportedly made a telephone call to his family at Ghaziabad. Assam police have ended up with egg on their faces, having had to go in for DNA profiling to ascertain the identity.

The sources said fingerprints taken from the body earlier would be sent to the Army Medical Corps for matching with those of Kumar. Some hair and skin samples have been sent for DNA tests.

Though the government and police have not gone on record yet, they are now “certain” — based on Dutta’s confession — that the body belongs to the army jawan and not Ram.

But Assam minister and government spokesman Ripun Bora today said Ulfa will have to come up with conclusive proof that Ram is alive before Dispur makes its stand clear. Bora suggested that Ram be produced in public.

In the past, Ulfa had led the state astray on at least two abductions: that of Russian engineer Sergei Gritchenko and social worker Sanjoy Ghose.

After the abductions, Ulfa maintained both Gritchenko and Ghose were safe but it was later learnt that both had been killed much earlier. In the case of Ghose, Ulfa commander-in-chief Paresh Barua had personally claimed that he was safe in the outfit’s custody though the social worker was the killed on the very day of his abduction from Majuli.


Bora added that chief minister Tarun Gogoi would assess the situation in its totality after he arrives in Guwahati tomorrow from the US.

“As of today, I can only say that he will review the situation and take up the matter with the Centre regarding the future course of action. It will be premature to say anything now,” he said, when asked whether the government will concede the outfit’s demand for release of two of its jailed leaders.

Sources at Dispur, on the other hand, indicated that Pravin Ram is likely to meet Gogoi tomorrow with a plea to secure his father’s release.

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