FCI executive director Ram feared killed in encounter


Guwahati : Food Corporation of India (FCI) executive director Phulchand Ram was feared killed in an encounter Thursday while police was trying to rescue him from the clutches of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA).

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Ram was earlier declared dead and his body mistakenly identified by his son June 30 although last Friday the FCI official telephoned his family to say he was alive.

A police spokesman said the encounter began late Wednesday and ended early Thursday at village Borkapanitema near Kamalpur in Kamrup district, about 50 km west of Assam's main city of Guwahati.

"Two ULFA cadres and a middle-aged man were killed in the encounter. The physical description of the middle-aged man who died in the encounter matches that of Ram although we are now in the process of completing procedural formalities and identification," G.P. Singh, deputy inspector general of Assam police, told IANS.

The FCI official was abducted from Guwahati April 17 by the ULFA with police earlier saying the rebels demanded Rs.20 million as ransom for his release. "The two ULFA (cadre) and the middle-aged man (believed to be Ram) were sheltered in a house belonging to a local farmer. The encounter lasted for several hours and there was heavy exchange of fire," Singh said.

Police later recovered two AK 56 rifles, a grenade, a pistol and a crude bomb, besides a large quantity of ammunition from the house.

Ram's family has been informed about the incident and asked to identify the body.

On June 30, a mutilated body was recovered by police from Baska district in western Assam and police believed it was Ram – the body was later identified by his son Praveen who came from Ghaziabad near New Delhi.

The last rites were also performed by his family in Ghaziabad.

But in a dramatic twist, Ram called up his family in Ghaziabad Friday and spoke to his wife, son and daughter for close to 20 minutes to say he was safe and alive in the custody of the ULFA.

The ULFA later demanded the release of two of their jailed leaders to set Ram free.

The Assam police also confirmed last Saturday that Ram was alive and a search was on to secure his release.

The person whom Praveen earlier identified as his father was later suspected by Assam police to be an army spy killed by the ULFA.