M A I N   N E W S

More forces, choppers for Assam, Nagaland
S. Satyanarayanan
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
In a bid to check the sudden spurt in insurgent-triggered violence in Assam and Nagaland, the Centre today directed immediate dispatch of 30 additional companies of the Central forces to Assam and Nagaland and “agreed in principle” to accede to the request of the Assam Government for the deployment of IAF helicopters for search and counter-insurgency operations in the state.

The Centre also decided to appoint a Central nodal officer for each of the seven North-Eastern states for better security and intelligence coordination and activate the Strategic Group headed by the Chief Secretary of Assam and the Unified Operational Group, headed by a Divisional Commander of the Army in Assam.

A decision to this effect was taken at a high-level meeting chaired by Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who recently paid a two-day visit to Assam and Nagaland to assess the situation after a series of bomb blasts that left over 70 persons dead.

The meeting was attended among others by Army Chief N.C. Vij, Director-Generals of Central para-military forces, Intelligence Bureau Director A.K. Doval, Home Secretary Dhirendera Singh.

As part of the multi-pronged strategy drawn to deal with the explosive situation, the Centre decided to convene a two-day DGPs’ meeting of the North-Eastern states in Guwahati on October 14 and 15 to bridge gaps in coordination between the state police apparatus and intelligence agencies and also maintain and develop further liaison with village defence groups, which are already existing in Assam.

“Since there was more thrust on surveillance and cracking down on insurgent groups which are fomenting trouble, the Centre has agreed to the request of the Assam Government for additional forces and decided in principle to deploy IAF helicopters to track down militants,” Special Secretary (Internal Security) Anil Choudhary said.

The Home Ministry would formally approach the Defence Ministry seeking the services of the IAF for the deployment of its helicopters, he said, adding that this would be in additional to the already existing air support to the BSF’s Air Wing.

The Centre had also directed the Railway Protection Force (RPF) and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) to increase vigilance and deployment all along the railway tracks and stations in Assam and Nagaland and vital installations like oil and gas plants and pipelines, respectively.

In the over two-hour-long meeting it was decided that the deployment of additional forces would be done in a phased manner.

While 30 companies of the Central forces would be made available immediately, some more companies would be committed after the end of the Arunachal Pradesh Assembly poll tomorrow and another 10 to 15 companies after the end of the Maharashtra poll on October 13.

“It is not physically possible for the forces to cover every nook and corner of the troubled states but our thrust is to instill confidence among the people by increasing the presence of security personnel, stepping up vigilance and developing tactical intelligence to pre-empt attacks,” Mr Choudhary said.

On the ongoing investigations, Mr Choudhary said although the investigating agencies had not been able to identify the culprits behind the explosions in Nagaland, “preliminary investigations indicate that it can’t be the handiwork of Naga groups, going by the type of explosives used, but that of the NDFB and ULFA.”

In both explosions, he said adding that “the nature and the target indicate that Naga groups are not behind these incidents... Nagas had never targeted innocent people, they always attacked security personnel or their rival groups.”


Centre tries to downplay FBI offer
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
In an apparent attempt to silence the critics within the UPA, the government today asserted that the US offer for an FBI probe into the recent terrorist attacks in Nagaland and Assam "was made as part of the bilateral cooperation on counter-terrorism."

The US Ambassador David C Mulford wrote a letter expressing his country's concern over these acts and extending the help was part of such cooperation, Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil told newspersons here today.

He was replying to a question about the charges made by the Opposition and Left allies of the ruling coalition that the US offer amounted to "interference" in the internal matters of India.

"I see the offer as an offer in line with the realisation in the global community for jointly fighting terrorism...and it was for the Ministry of External Affairs to look into the offer," Mr Patil said.

Asked pointedly about the Centre's stand on the offer, Special Secretary (Internal Security) Anil Choudhary in the Home Ministry said the country had a “fairly good” capability to investigate such matters but held this was also not “rejection” of the offer.

“We have adequate expertise in both counter-insurgency and investigation of insurgency-related incidents, rather much better than many other countries,” Mr Choudhary added.

In his letter to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Mr Mulford was quoted as having stated “Should you find it helpful that the FBI should be pleased to provide technical support for investigation. I have also made this offer to Home Minister Shivraj Patil. I hope you will be free to contact me if there is any other way that we can be helpful.”

On the possible involvement of the ISI in the recent bomb blasts in Nagaland and the heightened militant attacks in Assam, the Home Minister said, “We are neither implicating anyone nor giving anyone a clean chit... the investigations will reveal the truth.”

Asked about the attitude of Myanmar and Bangladesh on India’s request for smashing insurgent camps in their soil, Mr Patil said, “The cooperation of Myanmar is certainly better than that of Bangladesh and we hope that both the countries would extend full cooperation.”



Assam told to pay relief to kin of firing victims
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 6
Saying that the Home Secretary and the Director General of Police, Assam, have not responded to its show-cause notice, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Assam Government to pay an interim relief of Rs 1 lakh each to the next of kin of the three persons who had died in a firing incident.

Passing the directions on September 22, the commission gave six weeks time for compliance to be reported and pointed out that the failure to comply with the recommendations would necessitate it to call upon the Home Secretary and the DGP, Assam, to appear in person before the commission on November 22.

A complaint was received by the commission, alleging the killing of three persons and injury to six others, in the firing incident, which was reported to have occurred on November 3, 2002, in front of the Langkhasi police outpost of Tinsukhia district in Assam.

According to the NHRC, the magisterial inquiry submitted had clearly shown that the entire incident had taken place because of the lack of command and control and the irresponsible behaviour of the sub-inspector who was in charge of the Langkhasi police station.

It also stated that the sub-inspector had been placed under suspension with effect from November 4, 2002, and departmental proceedings were drawn against him.

In view of the findings, the commission considered it a fit case for the award of interim relief. On October 14, it issued a notice to the DGP and the Home Secretary to explain why the compensation of Rs 1 lakh had not been paid to the next of kin of the three deceased.

The commission also directed that it be informed about the departmental proceedings against the sub-inspector.

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