A top leader of the outlawed ULFA-I was killed and one of his aides arrested during an encounter with the security forces on Thursday in Bongaigaon district of western Assam, Director General of Police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said.
The Assam police chief said that the encounter between the security forces and the United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent took place at Besimari under Manikpur police station in Bongaigaon District early morning on Thursday. In a tweet Mahanta said: "ULFA-I commander western command, recently appointed to replace Drishti Rajkhowa, self-styled Col Dwipen Saud appears dead with bullet injury. He's being taken to the hospital now."
"His (Dwipen Saud) gunman Padum Rai is apprehended alive with a weapon. Another weapon and a grenade recovered in the PO (place of occurrence). Further search is on," the police chief said in another tweet. The DGP said: "We had intelligence (report) that the ULFA-I 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 intelligence input that worked out precisely for on ground action."
Drishti Rajkhowa, 50, was the deputy commander-in-chief of ULFA-I and he surrendered to the security forces in South West Garo Hills in Meghalaya, bordering Bangladesh in November last year. Thursday's development took place nine days after the ULFA-I headed by Paresh Barua abducted three Oil and Natural Gas Corporation engineers from the Lakwa oil rig site in eastern Assam's Sivasagar district along the Assam-Nagaland border. The three kidnapped ONGC employees are Mohini Mohan Gogoi, 35, and Ritul Saikia,33, both junior technicians, production, and Alakesh Saikia, 28, a junior engineering assistant, production.
The Army, along with Assam Rifles troopers, rescued Gogoi and Alakesh Saikia following an encounter on April 23 night. ULFA-I, in a statement on April 24 said that all three abducted employees were handed over to villagers of Totokchingnyu in Nagaland amidst concerns for their safety. It claimed that Ritul Saikia may have been killed in the crossfire or the army is hiding him.
Special Director General, Law and Order, G. P. Singh on Wednesday said that there was specific information from the Assam Rifles, the Army and the Nagaland Police that Ritul Saikia is still in the captivity of ULFA-I.
The anti-talk outlawed ULFA-I had recently released radio operator Ram Kumar, a resident of Bihar, and drilling superintendent Pranab Kumar Gogoi of Sivasagar district, more than 100 days after the two employees of Delhi-based private oil and gas exploration company Quippo Oil and Gas Infrastructure Ltd were abducted from Arunachal Pradesh on December 21 last year.