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Blast-hit Assam expedites force transfer to Guwahati

Guwahati/Kokrajhar, Jan. 10: Faced with “unprecedented” terror attacks on the capital city over the past weeks, Dispur today decided to expedite its plan to rush in additional forces from “peaceful” districts of the state for shielding Guwahati.

The toll in yesterday’s Ulfa strike went up to two today with Azharuddin Ahmed, 26, succumbing to his injuries at the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital in the wee hours. He was a resident of Jalukbari.

Police intensified operations by gunning down two suspected Ulfa cadres in two separate encounters since last night for their alleged links with the January 1 blasts.

Ulfa today made a ritual denial of charges of its involvement in last evening’s blast, saying this was “a ploy of the security forces” to tarnish the image of the outfit.

It claimed the blast was engineered by director-general of police G.M. Srivastava and inspector-general of police (Special Branch) Khagen Sarma.

The Assembly today unanimously passed the Assam Preventive Detention (Amendment) Act, 2009 which is aimed at making the Assam Preventive Detention Act, 1980, “more effective” by increasing the period of preventive detention of a person from six months to two years.

Senior superintendent of police (city) P.C. Saloi said “area domination” and search operations had been intensified.

“An Ulfa cadre was killed in an encounter at Kalipur near Bharalumukh and many suspected militants have been picked up from different parts of the city,” Saloi said.

The encounter at Kalipur took place around 3am. One rebel managed to flee. Police seized an unexploded grenade, explosives and batteries from the encounter site.

A self-styled sergeant major of Ulfa’s 709 battalion, identified as Harilal Das, alias Kushal, was gunned down in a joint operation by the army and the police at Khagrabari in Baksa district at 6.30 this morning.

The additional superintendent of police, Baksa, Rajen Singh, said a 9mm pistol, six rounds of live ammunition, a mobile phone and some incriminating documents were seized.

Police said two NDFB members, Babul Basumatary alias Bullet, and Sanjay Boro, alias B. Soroi, who were allegedly on an extortion drive in the area, were arrested following an encounter at Dolbari in Borbori area of Baksa around 2pm. Two grenades were seized from the arrested NDFB cadres.

An official at the Assam police headquarters said, “The main problem is shortage of policemen at the ground level. They play the most important role in preventing subversive activities such as bomb blasts.”

Of the seven injured in last evening’s blast at Maligaon, all except Rajib Sharma and Ismail Ali of Jalukbari were discharged from hospital late this afternoon.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi visited the blast site and met the victims this morning.

 A member of the investigating team said they had ascertained that the bomb was kept under the seat of the cycle.

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