'Assam, Arunachal CMs responsible if kidnapped men die'

Assam, Arunachal CMs responsible if kidnapped workers die: ULFA-I

Ulfa (I) and NSCN cadres had abducted two workers of a private oil drilling company from their worksite in December

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The fate of two abducted workers of a private drilling company hangs in balance with Assam government on Sunday appealing to militant group Ulfa (I) to release them.

Pranab Kumar Gogoi and Ram Kumar, employees of Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Limited were abducted by Ulfa (I) and NSCN cadres from their worksite in Arunachal Pradesh's Changlang district on December 22. Gogoi is a drilling superintendent while Kumar, a resident of Bihar's Khagaria district is a radio operator in the company.

In a statement on Saturday, Ulfa (I) said that Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and his Arunachal Pradesh counterpart, Pema Khandu would be held responsible for the death of two abducted persons because they ordered for joint operation against the outfit.

"The security forces under the Unified Command structure has stepped up operation and if they die in the process, Sonowal and Khandu will be held responsible," the outfit said.

Police officials earlier said the outfits demanded Rs 20 crore from the company for their release. 

Reacting to Ulfa's statement, Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Sunday appealed to Paresh Baruah, the leader of the militant group to release the abducted persons. "They are just small employees of the company. Wherever he is, Paresh Baruah should listen to people and release the two persons," Sarma said.

The Ulfa (I) earlier issued an ultimatum to the company to "sort out the issues" by February 16, failing which Kumar would face the "appropriate action." 

On January 20, Ulfa (I) released two videos in which both Kumar and Gogoi urged Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his Assam counterparts Sarbananda Sonowal respectively to take steps for their release. 

The outfit also said Kumar would be the "first victim" in case the company did not take a step for their release.