The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Security gets teeth & veil
- Must keep strategy under wraps: Duggal

Guwahati, Nov. 7: A string of brainstorming sessions involving all wings of the security establishment and Union home ministry bureaucrats today threw up yet another “comprehensive security strategy” for terror-stricken Assam.

Having seen militants making a mockery of security arrangements time and again, Union home secretary V.K. Duggal was understandably reluctant to spell out the outcome of the strategy review necessitated by the twin blasts in Guwahati on Sunday. “I can assure you there will be specific steps. But I don’t want our enemy to get prepared right from today by disclosing the steps we are going to take,” he said.

The latest in the line of anti-terror strategies took shape during the course of meetings between the visiting home ministry team and representatives of the police, paramilitary forces and civil administration since last evening.

Summing up the discussions he had with the core team and separately with the governor and the chief minister, Duggal said “appropriate and effective steps” would be taken in a time-bound manner to ensure the security of people and vital installations.

A source who was privy to the discussions said one of the steps would be deployment of a “huge contingent of additional troops”.

Intensive counter-insurgency operations in and around Guwahati, Upper Assam and North Cachar Hills district have already been ordered. North Cachar Hills district came into the picture because of the militant attack last month on a railway team engaged in the Silchar-Lumding gauge-conversion project. Eleven persons, including engineers and Railway Protection Force personnel, died in the ambush by suspected Dimasa militants.

While Ulfa remains the prime suspect in the Guwahati blasts despite its Upper Assam-based 28 Battalion issuing a disclaimer yesterday, Duggal said Delhi was keeping its doors open for negotiations with the militant group. “We still regard them as a misguided lot. They have to come to the mainstream…. The policy of the government is to hold discussions with all (militant) groups that are interested in talks. But the cornerstone is the sincerity of the outfit.”

Chief secretary S. Kabilan admitted that the brief period of “cessation of hostilities” that was announced in the run-up to Independence Day helped Ulfa regroup. He said it was a calculated risk the government took for the sake of peace. “Yes, they regrouped during that period. But it was the kind of calculated risk that we need to take at times.”

Apart from the home ministry team, the directors-general of the CRPF and the BSF participated in the security review. The BSF chief was called specifically to discuss cross-border terrorism.

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