Released driver Surjit recounts two day kidnapping ordeal

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IMPHAL, April 24: Nagaland based outlawed Underground outfit Naga National Council (Federal) has strongly instructed all oil tankers including LPG Bullets of Manipur to pay an annual tax of Rs 10 thousand each, said S Surjit Singh who was released yesterday after being kidnapped by the NNC and kept in custody for two days.

The tanker driver who is from Shriba village of Cachar, Assam and presently staying at Sagakpham bazaar addressed a press conference today at the Khuman Lampak Inter-state Bus Terminus complex this morning around 9am. 

Elaborating further, the driver told media persons that as usual, he reached Khatkatti in Assam on the fateful evening of April 21 along with other empty oil tankers from the state.

Released tanker driver S Surjit addressing the media persons on Wednesday morning
Released tanker driver S Surjit addressing the media persons on Wednesday morning

He continued after filling his tanker (regd no MN 02 6268) with 12 KL diesel, he was coming out for Imphal along with other oil tankers escorted by CRPF from Nagaland at serial no 43.

During the journey, as he was trying to   maneuver the “Q turning” in Nagaland, a yellow and black Maruti 800 taxi came from the opposite side and blocked his way, he said.

Four individuals including the driver of the car brandishing small fire arms came out and signalled him to stop his tanker on the sideways, the driver continued.

After snatching his tanker keys, they put him in the Maruti car and sped away.

Surjit further said that when he inquired why he was being held captive, his kidnappers told him to be silent in Nagamese and punched him.

After driving for about 45 minutes, he was taken to a camp which was well guarded by combat dressed NNC (F) cadres, he informed the media persons.

Inside the camp he was not assaulted, but was kept under lock and guard.

They further took his tanker owner’s mobile number and further told him that even though the outfit had not served any prior demand letters or notice to the Manipur oil tankers, he has been kidnapped as the first warning, he said.

He was told to inform the tanker that each oil tanker from Manipur passing through Nagaland should pay an annual tax of Rs 10 thousand each.

He was also intimidated that for this year, the tax should be paid before April-end, he said. 

He said he was released somewhere in Kohima yesterday from where he reached Imphal around 7pm yesterday.

Following his revelation, the All Manipur Petroleum Tanker & Drivers’ Union president, Y Bhupenchandra Gosh lamented that the drivers and handymen of the Union are in perpetual danger now.

He further demanded that the Indian government, Manipur government and the Indian Oil Corporation should ensure that the tankers are provided adequate security cover throughout the journey from Imphal to the IOC depot and that Road opening Patrol duty is also provided throughout the highway stretch for the safety of the drivers and handymen.

He also announced that the Union has called off its agitation and further thanked all organizations, civil bodies and public of the state for their support.

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