Airline staffer held for ULFA hijack plot


GUWAHATI: An Air Deccan employee and a human rights activist were arrested on Monday after an ULFA militant spilled the beans about a plan to hijack a plane from Guwahati to Pakistan last year.

Police said Sumant Dutta, a ground staff of the low budget airline, was arrested at Ajara near Guwahati because “he was supposed to give logistic support to ULFA’s hijack plan”. In a statement, ULFA denied the hijack plot.

Police also picked up Manab Adhikar Sangram Samity leader Lachit Bordoloi from Moranhat in Upper Assam’s Sibasagar district for his alleged ties with ULFA.

In 2006, he had taken part in a series of peace talks with the Centre as the convener of the ULFA-nominated nine-member People’s Consultative Group (PCG).

The hijack plan was revealed by Manoj Tamuli, a senior ULFA leader, who was arrested on Saturday. The same day, Pradeep Gogoi, a private news channel journalist, was arrested at Duliajan for his alleged links with ULFA.

“Tamuli confessed that Bordoloi has been involved in Ulfa activities for a long time. Right now, we cannot say if he is involved in the hijack plan,” Guwahati city SSP V K Ramishetty said.

Bordoloi said his arrest would derail the peace process. “I do not know why they have arrested me. It seems the state government wants to derail the peace process that we’ve been trying to revive.” Police said the Air Deccan employee visited New Delhi in November with Tamuli and Akash Thapa, another ULFA militant, to discuss the hijack plan with the outfit’s leadership.

Tamuli, who was produced in court on Monday, told reporters that the hijack plot was hatched at a restaurant in Karol Bagh. He claimed that four top ULFA leaders and a man called Zahid were present at the meeting.

“The others were Thapa, Bhagin, Bikram and Bhaskar,” he added. A state intelligence official said ULFA militants underwent a training for 18 days with the help of a wooden aeroplane replica in Baska district bordering Bhutan. ULFA had planned to hijack an aircraft to Rawalpindi via Thimpu where more hijackers were to board.