The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Assam law & order challenge

Guwahati, April 6: The efficacy of a depleted law and order machinery and the nerves of an already jittery government will be put to the test tomorrow by three divergent entities — the Ulfa, the BJP and Sanmilita Janagosthiya Sangram Samiti (SJSS), reports our correspondent.

The cause for worry is the Ulfa’s “raising day”, an occasion it observes by attacking security forces and vital installations.

Coinciding with the Ulfa’s programme will be the last leg of the BJP’s rath yatra and a 12-hour state-wide bandh called by the SJSS as part of its anti-Bodoland Territorial Council campaign. Ironically, tomorrow is also the Assam Assembly’s foundation day.

The ongoing ethnic conflict between the Dimasa and Hmar tribes in southern part of the state is also a headache for Dispur.

A series of clashes over the past week have necessitated diversion of security forces to the strife-torn belt.

Police and paramilitary companies today fanned out to “vulnerable” locations across the state. As a precautionary step, the state government advised Northeast Frontier Railway to cancel night train services on the Lumding-Badarpur section and restrict the maximum speed in other parts of the state to between 30 and 40 km an hour.

Home commissioner B.K. Gohain told The Telegraph that the state government was banking on intelligence from village defence personnel to foil attempts by the Ulfa to strike at vital installations.

“The police are trying to requisition the services of as many village defence personnel as possible to keep an eye on rail tracks,” he said.

The security ring around the Dispur capital complex and the Assembly was tightened, too.

The only consolation for the government as it braced for a tough day was the Union home ministry’s decision to send 10 additional companies of paramilitary forces to the state. Dispur had sought 30 paramilitary companies to make up for the shortage of security forces.

The home commissioner claimed the situation in Cachar district was “absolutely under control”. On law and order in the rest of the state, he said security forces were engaged in area-domination exercises round the clock.

Apart from possible attacks by the Ulfa, the state government is worried over the prospect of trouble during the BJP’s four-pronged rath yatra. Members of organisations opposed to the yatra had yesterday pelted stones on BJP members participating in the yatra that originated at Dhubri.

The incident took place at Goroimari under Palasbari police station. The BJP yatra, which began simultaneously at Sadiya, Jonai, Karimganj and Dhubri, will culminate in a rally at the Judges Field.

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