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Police killed a senior commander of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) in a gunfight in Assam on Thursday. The operation thwarted the outfit’s plan for high-profile abductions, said the police. This comes days after the banned outfit abducted three employees of Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in Sivasagar district. Two of them have been rescued since.
Dwipen Saud, the newly appointed commander of the outfit’s western command, was shot dead in an exchange of fire at Besimari in Bongaigaon district of lower Assam (135 km west of Guwahati) and another cadre was nabbed alive.
“Police-ULFA encounter took place at Besimari (Manikpur PS) in Bongaigaon district just some time back. ULFA (I) commander western command, recently appointed to replace Dhristi Rajkhowa, SS (self-styled) Col Dwipen Saud appears dead with bullet injury. He’s being taken to hospital now,” DGP Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta tweeted.
“His gunman Padum Rai is apprehended alive with a weapon. Another weapon and a grenade recovered in the PO (police operation). Further search is on,” Mahanta added. Drishti Rajkhowa, the second most important person in the outfit after commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah, had surrendered to army personnel in Meghalaya in November last year.
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With Thursday’s operation, police claim to have foiled ULFA-I’s plans to carry out more abductions.
“We had intel that ULFA western command was planning some high-profile kidnapping in collaboration with other anti-India forces, which now appears to be foiled. Today’s successful operation is due to high quality police intel input that worked out precisely for on ground action,” Mahanta tweeted.
On April 21, three ONGC employees, Ritul Saikia, Mohini Mohan Gogoi (both junior engineer assistants) and Alakesh Saikia (junior technician), all from Assam, were abducted by ULFA-I and taken to neighbouring Nagaland.
Three days later, Alakesh Saikia and Gogoi were rescued from near the India-Myanmar border in Mon district of Nagaland in a joint operation carried out by the Indian Army, Assam Rifles and Nagaland Police with inputs from Assam Police. There is no trace yet of Ritul Saikia.
In a statement issued on Saturday, ULFA-I claimed to have released all the three abducted persons during the operation and alleged Ritul may have been killed in the firing by the security forces. Assam Police, however, maintain Ritul is still in custody of the outfit.
Police have arrested over a dozen persons in connection with the Sivasagar incident, including an Assam Police constable who was among the five persons who abducted the ONGC employees.
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