Abducted duo in Arunachal Pradesh appeal for safe release
In videos purportedly released by their captors, two employees of a private oil company who were kidnapped by suspected militants on December 21 from Arunachal Pradesh, have pleaded with their respective state governments — Assam and Bihar — to secure their safe release.
Pranab Kumar Gogoi, 51, from Assam and Ram Kumar, 31, from Bihar, were kidnapped by a joint group of suspected Ulfa (I) and NSCN (K) militants from Diyun in Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The kidnappers had reportedly sought Rs 20 crore for the release of the duo but the amount was subsequently scaled down to Rs 18 crore, officials said.
The videos, which were released to a section of private TV channels a day before the duo completes a month in captivity, follow a warning issued by Ulfa (I) on January 12 that Kumar could be harmed if the company fails to pay the amount for “exploiting” the natural resources of Assam and the Northeast.
In one of the videos, Kumar urges Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar to take up the matter with his Assam counterpart Sarbananda Sonowal for his safe return.
Hailing from Khagaria district, Kumar says in Hindi that he was a victim of conflict between his company and the militant outfits and he is in the custody of the NSCN (K) and Ulfa (I) for a month. The NSCN (K) is said to be active in the Changlang area.
In the other video, Gogoi, who hails from Upper Assam’s Sivasagar district, makes a similar appeal to Sonowal in Assamese. He also appeals to his employers to secure his release.
Gogoi is a drilling superintendent while Kumar works as a radio operator with Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited, one of the “country’s leading and fastest growing drilling services contractors”.
Quippo has its corporate office in Gurgaon and has been engaged by Oil India Limited for drilling activities in the Kharsang area of Changlang district.
Changlang is one of the remotest and underdeveloped districts of Arunachal Pradesh bordering Myanmar and Assam. It was in the news recently for the arson that took place under Vijaynagar circle on December 11.
Changlang deputy commissioner Devansh Yadav said they had information about the kidnapped duo till the second week of January, apprehending they may have crossed the border. “We have also heard about the videos. Our people are working on the ground to secure their release,” he said.