NE rebels call I-Day bandh

Ulfa taps withdrawal of forces for NRC duty

By Avik Chakraborty in Dibrugarh
  • Published 11.08.18
Women commandos of Assam police, rehearse for the Independence Day parade in Guwahati on Friday. Picture by Manash Das

Dibrugarh: The Ulfa (I) and the Coordination Committee (CorCom), an umbrella body of Manipur-based militant groups, have jointly called for a boycott of Independence Day celebrations and a general strike across the region on August 15.

A joint statement by Ulfa (I) and CorCom, emailed to the media houses on Friday, says "a total shutdown" will be observed from 1am to 6.30pm in the region. "We beseech the entire peoples of our region to be alert and make the boycott a complete success as was done before, as a mark of solidarity against Indian occupation," the statement said. Emergency services have been exempted from the purview of the strike.

Security has been beefed up in Upper Assam ahead of Independence Day with vital installations and border areas fortified to counter any threat from militant groups.

Night patrolling has been intensified and security at Chabua air force base and Mohanbari airport in Dibrugarh district tightened.

Sources said a 15- member Ulfa (I) group has entered Assam from Myanmar to carry out subversive activities ahead of Independence day. The group is led by dreaded Ulfa (I) leader sergeant major Pradip Asom and includes Sergeant Apurba Asom, Tiger Asom and Binoy Asom.

Sources said the entire planning and movement of the group is being monitored and co-ordinated by another leader, Ganesh Asom, from the outfit's Myanmar camp.

The main task for the group is to trigger blasts at installations belonging to ONGC in Sivasagar and Charaideo districts. The sources also said the Ulfa cadres will receive additional support from NSCN (K) cadres to carry out hit-and-run strikes, particularly on security forces.

The sources said the Ulfa is taking full advantage of the temporary withdrawal of paramilitary forces from Upper Assam for NRC duty.

Tinsukia district is especially vulnerable as it shares its boundaries with Arunachal Pradesh through which militants sneak in.

Recently, security forces destroyed a hideout of Ulfa (I) and recovered a huge cache of arms and ammunition from Lakhipathar area in Tinsukia district.

"We are carrying out joint anti-interagency operations against the militant group in vulnerable areas of the district. Security has been tightened to counter threats from militant outfits. We are doing round-the-clock checks and night patrolling is on in the sensitive areas of the district. CRPF and police have been patrolling the district by night," said Surjeet Singh Paneswar, additional superintendent of police (HQ), Dibrugarh.

"We are carrying out operations against the militant group and recently we apprehended many Ulfa (I) cadres and overground workers of Ulfa (I) from Upper Assam. Our operation is on,'' said an army source.

Additional reporting by Pankaj Sarma in Guwahati