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Govt ‘soft’ on militants: Cops

- Police association in Assam demands filling up of 12000 vacant posts

Guwahati/Tezpur, Jan. 29: The Tarun Gogoi government today came under fire from policemen for going “soft” on militants which they held responsible for the rise in militant attacks on police personnel in Assam.

Condemning yesterday’s ambush by the Songbijit faction of the NDFB that left additional superintendent of police (security) of Sonitpur district Gulzar Hussain dead and five other cops injured, the All Assam Police Association (AAPA) today blamed the “soft attitude” of the state government towards militants for the incident.

The association also accused the state government of adopting a step-motherly attitude towards policemen and demanded stern action against those involved in yesterday’s attack.

“We demand immediate filling up of 12,000 posts lying vacant in the state police force, besides creation of 30,000 new posts,” the general secretary of the association, Taheruddin Ahmed, said.

Around 60,000 policemen, right from constables to Assam Police Service (APS) senior-grade officers, are members of the association.

Assistant secretary of the association Mahendra Sarma demanded compensation of Rs 45 lakh to the family of the slain officer and Rs 10 lakh each to policemen who were injured in the line of duty.

The association also held a condolence meeting at its office in city’s Ulubari area and extended its deepest sympathy to the bereaved family.

The Sonitpur district unit of the All Assam Minority Students’ Union took out a rally today in Tezpur against yesterday’s attack. The students’ union also submitted a memorandum to Union home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde through Sonitpur deputy commissioner Lalit Gogoi, seeking a CBI inquiry into the incident.

The protest was led by state organising secretary of the union, Abdul Munnaf.

Munnaf later told the media that the state home department had miserably failed to maintain the law and order situation in Assam. He said that so far 150 persons from the minority community had died in militant attacks in the state.

Munnaf said that since 2009 the NDFB militants have been harassing people in the northern part of Sonitpur district such as Batachipur, Misamari, Rangapara, Charduar, Jaishidhi, Biswanath Chariali, Pabhoi and Gohpur subdivisions.

Sonitpur SP Sanjukta Parasar told The Telegraph today said three militants suspected to be involved in yesterday’s incident and identified as B. Naihab, Chiju and Bishu, are believed to have taken shelter somewhere in the Batachipur area.

Parasar said three police personnel, who were undergoing treatment at Gauhati Medical College and Hospital, had been operated upon and bullets had been removed. They would take some more time to recuperate.

Parasar also attended the janaja (burial) of Hussain at Bihpuria in Lakhimpur district, about 180km from Tezpur.

The funeral was held with full state honours amid a 21-gun salute by Assam police around 12.30pm.

The SP said the police were carrying out operations with the army and CRPF’s Cobra commandos in Batachipur and adjoining areas to apprehend the militants involved in the ambush.

Bihpuria MLA and Congress secretary Bhupen Kumar Borah, who attended the janaja, came down strongly on the militant group. “Songbijit is not a revolutionary but a leader of armed dacoits. I appeal to our police force to take all possible steps to check him or else it will only embolden people like him,” he said.

Officers of Lakhimpur district administration and police, besides members of different organisations of Bihpuria, attended the funeral.

Sonitpur deputy commissioner Lalit Gogoi today told The Telegraph that curfew had been extended in Dhekiajuli till 6am tomorrow.

The district administration imposed curfew yesterday after the attack till 6am today.

Gogoi said that curfew is likely to remain in force till the situation improves.