Thursday, February 9, 2023

Vigil upped in Assam on eve of Republic Day

Security arrangements have been tightened across Assam, with the banned ULFA (Independent) outfit calling for its routine boycott of Republic Day celebrations, a senior police officer said on Wednesday.
All districts administrations have been asked to keep a strict vigil, particularly in the sensitive areas, to avoid any untoward incident during the celebrations.
“The ULFA (I)’s boycott of Republic Day and Independence Day is routine but we do not want to take any chances with security arrangements,” he said.
The ULFA (I), in a press release emailed to media houses, gave a call for the boycott of the Republic Day celebrations in the state.
“There are intelligence inputs, however, that the outfit is trying to regroup in some Upper Assam districts such as Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar and Charaideo and they may try to create disturbances but the security forces are prepared to thwart any such attempt,” the official added.
Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) G P Singh has also visited the districts in Upper Assam to review the prevailing scenario.
Patrolling has been intensified in the districts sharing the international borders, and also those along the inter-state boundaries of the neighbouring states of Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland.
Vehicular checking has also been increased across the state.
District administrations have been asked to ensure tight security in the grounds where the Republic Day parades will be held.
The security threat during Republic Day or Independence Day celebrations has reduced considerably over the years with militancy on the wane and most outfits coming forward for talks, besides surrendering their firearms, the official said.
The ULFA(I), however, is yet to come forward for talks though Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, on assuming office in May 2021, had sent out an olive branch to the banned outfit for negotiations.
The outfit had announced a ceasefire which was renewed every three months but there has been no progress in negotiations with Sarma recently urging the people of the state to exert pressure on ULFA chief Paresh Barua to give up the demand for sovereignty which is acting as a hindrance in the peace process. There are also reports of the ULFA(I) trying to regroup in some districts of Upper Assam, leading to encounters with security forces and seizure of firearms and ammunition.
In Dhubri, for the first time, the official function of the district will be held in Satrasal near the India-Bangladesh border to involve local people in the celebration.
Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma will hoist the tricolour at the Khanapara Veterinary Ground in Guwahati in the state function.
ULFA-I’s boycott call of R-Day will have no impact: Assam Minister
Amid a boycott call by the banned militant outfit ULFA-I, Assam Minister Pijush Hazarika has played down the insurgent group’s statement, saying the people of Assam will celebrate Republic Day with full enthusiasm.
Speaking to reporters here on Wednesday, he said: “I do not know why they have called for a boycott. But I want to make it clear that, whether ULFA leader Paresh Baruah likes it or not, the people of the state will not abide by his statement. Everybody will come out in huge numbers and celebrate Republic Day here.”
Hazarika has also advised Baruah to shun violence and return to the mainstream. “We have repeatedly invited him (Paresh Baruah) to the negotiating table. I am requesting him again. We should concentrate on the development of the state in a peaceful way,” he added.
The disbanded militant group United Liberation Front of Asom – Independent (ULFA-I) had earlier called for an 18-hour bandh on Republic Day in Assam. It has asked people to remain indoors and mark the day as a protest on the occasion of Republic Day.
In a statement, the ULFA-I slammed the celebration of Republic Day. It requested that everyone boycott the occasion.
Also, the other insurgent group, the National Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K), has also issued a similar statement to boycott the Republic Day celebrations in the northeast. The conglomeration of six militant outfits KCP, KYKL, PREPAK, PREPAK (Pro), RPF, and UNLF also issued a statement to boycott the Republic Day celebration in Manipur.

SourcePTI
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