Aug. 9: A day after the Ulfa targeted two major power installations in the chief minister’s constituency, Assam petitioned Delhi for 30 additional companies of paramilitary forces to prevent militants from spreading terror in the run-up to Independence Day.
Minister of state for home Rockybul Hussain said in Nagaon that the additional forces would be deployed in “sensitive” areas, mostly in the twin districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills.
The anti-talks splinter group of the United People’s Democratic Solidarity has called a 72-hour bandh from midnight on August 14. The group calls itself the Karbi Longri NC Hills Liberation Front.
Hussain said security had been beefed up across the state, but more forces were required to keep the major militant groups in check.
The Ulfa, which ritualistically targets oil pipelines and vital installations before Independence Day, yesterday signalled its intentions by trying to destroy two power transmission towers.
Five blasts in succession damaged the 400 KV tower of the PowerGrid Corporation and the 132 KV installation of the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) in Titabor subdivision of Jorhat district, but neither fell. Power supply was not interrupted either.
The police rounded up 20 people during combing operations after the blast. A senior police official in Jorhat said all 20 were suspected to have links with the Ulfa. “We hope to catch the culprits soon as we believe they are in the district itself. All exit points have been sealed. They could not have escaped.”
The twin towers withstood the Ulfa attack, but the explosions did resonate in Dispur, which was already jittery over heightened militant activity in several districts.
A senior police official in Cachar district of south Assam said forces had been asked to intensify patrolling and routine checking of vehicles, particularly in Lakhipur subdivision on the border with Manipur.
Several militant groups, including the NSCN (Khaplang), the United National Liberation Front of Manipur and the Dima Halam Daoga are active in Cachar and adjoining North Cachar Hills district.
Posters and handbills exhorting the people to boycott Independence Day celebrations have, however, yet to surface in Lakhipur subdivision.
The 45 battalion of the Border Security Force (BSF) today handed over a Bangladesh national named Mahmud Ali, arrested while crossing the border without a valid passport, to its intelligence wing in Karimganj town. A source said Ali would be interrogated to ascertain if he has links with any of the militant groups that have camps in the neighbouring country.
The Bangladeshi was apprehended during a routine BSF patrolling exercise near Fakira Bazar village.