| A man makes the Tricolour at a shop in Agartala ahead of Independence Day. (PTI) |
Guwahati, Aug. 11: Security has been beefed up across Assam following the “customary” Independence Day boycott call made by 12 rebel groups in the Northeast today.
Assam police officials here told The Telegraph that vigilance over vital installations had been heightened and “spotters” deployed to prevent untoward incidents and smooth conduct of the celebrations.
“We are continuing frisking of vehicles and other possible targets on or before the Independence Day celebrations and make sure that people can celebrate the day without any untoward incident,” a police official said.
A joint statement issued by 12 militant groups called a general strike between 1am and 5.30pm on August 15 to protest against “Indian colonial occupation” of the region.
The 12 groups include Ulfa (Independent), National Democratic Front of Boroland and Kamtapur Liberation Organisation (Assam), Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (Meghalaya), National Liberation Front of Twipra (Tripura) and the co-ordination committee of six Manipur-based rebel groups — Kangleipak Communist Party, Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup, People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak, Revolutionary People’s Front, United National Liberation Front and United People’s Party of Kangleipak.
The statement, significantly appealed to the rebel groups which are either in ceasefire, suspension of operation or in talks with the government to join them. “These are mere tricks of political game,” the statement said. It is seen as an appeal to Arabinda Rajkhowa-led group of Ulfa and factions of NDFB who are in talks with the government, both at the Centre and in Assam.
Essential services, including emergency measures, media and religious activities, have, however, been exempted from the purview of the strike.
Security in Guwahati, where chief minister Tarun Gogoi will hoist the national flag at the central function of the 77th Independence Day, has been intensified, with both police and CRPF personnel being deployed in markets, at the railway station, bus stops and other installations.
The police sources said though the main focus was on Ulfa (Independent) and the Songbijit faction of the NDFB, district police across the state had been alerted against small and splinter rebel groups such as GNLA in Goalpara and Kamrup, KPLT and UPLA in Karbi Anglong too. “These small groups might be used by Ulfa (I) to carry out attacks,” a source said.
Gogoi, while talking on internal security in his budget speech today, said here suspension of operation agreement has been signed with 13 militant groups, including the Ranjan Daimary group of the NDFB.
“The government is trying to bring Ulfa (I) and NDFB (S) to the negotiation table. Time and again I have been saying that peace and development must go together. Law and order situation has improved because of our persistent efforts,” Gogoi said.
The Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) will provide free bus services to people in Guwahati to take part in the celebration of Independence Day at College of Veterinary Sciences playground here at Khanapara. The buses will be available from 7am on August 15.