Jan. 7: Union minister of state for home Sriprakash Jaiswal and a team of top officials today took stock of the security arrangements in trouble-torn Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts.
The minister reached Mohanbari airport on a special aircraft around noon. From there, he rushed to Tinsukia in a chopper to preside over a security review meeting at the circuit house.
The death toll rose to 49 with another seriously injured person, Jagadish Shah, dying at the OIL hospital in Duliajan. Shah was injured in the attack on a brick kiln near Phakial village under Joypur police station in Dibrugarh district.
All officials from the Union home ministry accompanying the minister, state ministers Pradyut Bordoloi and Prithibi Majhi, chief secretary Prafulla Chandra Sarma, director-general of police R.N. Mathur, inspector-general of police (law and order) D.K. Pathak, IGP (Special Branch) Khagen Sarmah, general officer commanding (GOC) of the Tezpur-based 4 Corps Lt Gen. R.K. Chabbra, GOC of 2 Mountain division Maj. Gen. N.C. Marwah and senior intelligence officials and officers of the Tinsukia district administration were present at the meeting.
Speaking to the media outside the venue of the meeting, Jaiswal said some major decisions on intensification of operations against Ulfa had been taken. “I can only say that the incident should be condemned by all in the strongest possible words and we will do everything to prevent such incidents,” the minister said.
Sources said the Assam government is moving the Arunachal Pradesh government for organising concerted operations against the outfit.
Jaiswal, who was scheduled to visit the affected areas, could only visit Longsual under Doomdooma police station in Tinsukia district owing to flight delays. Jaiswal also visited the eight patients at the Assam Medical College and Hospital (AMCH) here.
A team from Bihar also arrived in Tinsukia today. Another delegation despatched by Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar reached Dibrugarh around 3.30 pm and went straight to Balijan, where five brick kiln labourers were killed.
The delegation included PWD minister Nand Kishore Yadav, sports minister Janardhan Sidriwal, power minister Dijendra Yadav and Bihar inspector-general of police (security) Anil Sinha. The delegation will camp in Tinsukia and visit other affected areas tomorrow. Railway minister Lalu Prasad, who discussed the situation in Assam with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today, will arrive in Tinsukia tomorrow.
The indefinite curfew imposed in Tinsukia subdivision from 5 pm yesterday continued today. Security forces continued to patrol all sensitive areas.
The army has also intensified operations in the twin districts as well as areas adjoining Arunachal Pradesh.
DGP R.N. Mathur stated that the state police would conduct operations in conjunction with Arunachal Pradesh police.
“Around 30 companies of paramilitary forces will reach here within the next couple of days. Some of them are coming from Karbi Anglong while the rest will come from outside the state. We have launched massive operations and these will be intensified,” Mathur stated.
Governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh will visit the affected areas tomorrow. Condemning the incident, the governor said, “If they (Ulfa) think that by subjecting the peace-loving Assamese society to a fear psychosis through such heinous acts of violence they can sabotage the successful holding of the National Games, then I must impress upon them that my government would go to any extent to ensure that the Games are stage-managed befitting the dignity and pride of the state of Assam.”
To condemn the mindless killing, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) has decided to observe a “black day” on January 11 by holding sit-in demonstrations in all district headquarters by wearing black masks.
The Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) and the Peoples Committee for Peace Initiatives in Assam (PCPIA), too, have condemned the killings.
The Opposition BJP and the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) have demanded President’s rule in the state.
BJP president Rajnath Singh will visit Assam on Tuesday to assess the situation. Senior Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh will also visit the state on Friday.