The Telegraph
Friday , January 18 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Border alert ahead of polls

- Assam support ‘crucial’ for neighbours

Guwahati, Jan. 17: Assam today activated the administrations in eight of its districts bordering poll-bound Nagaland, Meghalaya and Tripura as part of the Election Commission’s efforts to ensure trouble-free Assembly elections in these states next month.

Sources said Dispur, in association with the state election department, will issue a formal directive by tomorrow to the deputy commissioners of Jorhat, Sivasagar, Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao, Karimganj, Kamrup, Kamrup (metro) and Goalpara to step up vigil along the inter-state border to prevent entry of criminals, militants, illegal arms and liquor through Assam, besides facilitate movement of security forces and polling personnel to the poll-bound states. They will also be asked to seal theinter-state border on polling day.

The move followed a nearly two-hour-long video conference conducted by the full bench of the commission with all the northeastern states, including the three poll-bound states. While Tripura goes to the polls on February 14, Meghalaya and Nagaland will have theirs on February 23.

Assam’s role vis-à-vis the elections will be “bigger and critical” than the other neighbouring states because it shares its border with all the three poll-bound states. Arunachal Pradesh, on the other hand, shares its border with Nagaland, Mizoram with Tripura and Manipur with Nagaland. The commission’s concern stems from the fact that all the three states have a history of militancy and law and order related issues. In fact, the entire region is seen as volatile by the poll panel.

Following the interaction with poll panel, sources said, chief secretary N.K. Das also convened a meeting in Guwahati, involving the chief secretary and DGP of Meghalaya on January 24, along with the nodal officers of Nagaland and Tripura to finalise the requirements of these states vis-à-vis the Assembly elections.

IGP (law and order) S.N. Singh, who is the nodal officer for Assam, will also be briefed by the Election Commission in Delhi tomorrow on how Dispur can help in the smooth conduct of the polls. Assam DGP J.N. Choudhury, who attended the video conference, told The Telegraph that Assam will have a supporting role as a neighbouring state. “There are issues related to movement of forces, sparing of forces, supply of vehicles through our state. There are also issues related to Garo militants. We will extend all possible help because our state, too, has panchayat polls,” Choudhury said. Others who attended were Das, chief electoral officer M. Singh and senior home department officials.

A security official said, “All rebel groups are active in Nagaland while the GNLA is a concern in Meghalaya. Even groups in Tripura, lying low for now, may become active. The availability of illegal arms in these states has only compounded the worry. Therefore, all border districts have to be put on high alert.”

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