Hijack conspirator produced before court

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Guwahati, Feb 12 (UNI) Police today produced four persons before a magistrate seeking police custody for them in the ULFA's plane hijack case, even as the outfit's supporters depicted the episode as a conspiracy.

Official sources informed that police would seek 14 days' custody for Pradeep Gogoi, Lachit Bardoloi, Nekibur Zaman and Suman Dutta, all arrested yesterday for plotting to hijack a plane. Police sought to further interrogate them.

ULFA leaders Manoj Tamuly and Dhariti Sharma, already in police custody, spilled the beans about the hijack conspiracy which was hatched in New Delhi last year with the support of some jihadi elements.

Amongst the arrested Mr Gogoi is a television journalist, Mr Bardoloi and Mr Zaman are human rights activists and advocate respectively while Dutta was an employee of Air Deccan.

According to police, all were involved in the case through which ULFA planned to hijack an Indian Airlines flight to Thimphu en route to Rawalpindi.

However, the ULFA today once again denied any such plan. In an e-mail statement spokesman Raju Barua said Manoj Tamuly, on whose confession the drama was 'enacted', surrendered before the authorities not once but twice since 2004.

''He first surrendered at Nalbari and again in Tamulpur and he had long been used by the Special Branch of the Assam Police,'' said Mr Barua adding that the surrender of 29 militants at Dinjan army base was also fake.

IGP, Special Branch, Khagen Sharma said all the arrests were made on the basis of confessional statement of Manoj Tamuly. The ULFA had already infiltrated into the Borjhar airport and could pick an Air Deccan employee Suman Dutta into their team.

Meanwhile, Hiranya Saikia, initiator of the ULFA peace process, today told newsmen that he was threatened by unknown callers last night. He alleged that these threatening phone calls came from the surrendered ULFA men at the insistence of a section of the police officials.

''A vested interest circle does not want resolution of the peace process and hence they are conspiring to either get me arrested or kill me,'' Mr Saikia, who has been consistently trying for a negotiated settlement to the ULFA problem, said.

UNI MT PL DB1711

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