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Crude oil theft racket busted, 6 arrested

By Correspondent

SIVASAGAR, June 11 - Six persons were arrested by Sivasagar and Amguri police on Tuesday night on charges of crude oil theft. The six were arrested following an FIR registered at Amguri PS against theft of crude oil from the high pressure Duliajan Barauni Oil India Ltd pipeline at Namti Kharagarh.

The six were identified as Krishnamoni Nath (Melachakar), Bedabrat Gogoi and Dwijendra Nath (Jotakiya), Tolan Sonowal (Gaurov Nagar), Pankajyoti Sarmah (Jorhat) and Helimuddin Ahmed (Namti Misajan). They were produced before a magistrate and were remanded in police custody for five days.

Sivasagar SP Amitabh Sinha said that police, on receiving information, acted swiftly and nabbed the culprits from the place while they were siphoning crude oil from the pipeline, causing huge loss to the government. Later, OIL officials rushed to the area and filed another FIR in Sivasagar PS.

Police also seized a car (AS-04-X-6200) from the gang. Police suspect that two ONGC security guards � Mintu Oza and Gunan Gogoi � engaged at an adjacent well, may be the leaders of the gang who are now absconding. Involvement of security guards has been detected in several oil theft cases in the past and has become a cause for concern for the PSUs operating in the region.

Police said that Helimuddin, a motor mechanic and an expert in valve-making, told the investigating officer that he helped the gang in setting the valve in the high pressure pipeline initially for just Rs 3,000 but later became involved full-time with the gang as it brought him easy money in lakhs. The crude oil collected was stored in a godown at Jhanji before supplying it to different buyers.

Theft of oil and other valuable chemicals is a regular phenomenon at the ONGC Assam Asset, Sivasagar, and Nazira.

In November 2018, a 38-member CBI team conducted raids in different locations and residences of businessmen Sanjeev Kakoti, Babul Dihingia, Dhandev Mahanta, Jyoti Dutta Phukan and others in connection with theft of chemicals.

The CBI arrested one Arbind Kumar Sing, DGM (Drilling), a couple of years ago on similar charges. There has been numerous complaints over crude theft from tankers along the NH-37 at Desang Japisakiya and Dehajan Sakaliya.

The drivers of the crude oil tankers allegedly allow unscrupulous traders to siphon off part of the contents for easy cash and later fill it with water at secret locations.

Another modus operandi is that the drivers who are permitted to carry away the water, a by-product in crude production, for dumping it in remote places, carry away crude oil instead with the help of security guards deployed in the production centres.

To avoid detection, they even disable the GPS devices in the vehicles.

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