NE Airports on high alert as ULFA plans to hijack flights

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Shillong, Jan 2 (UNI) A red alert has been sounded and security beefed up at airports across the North East following reports that the outlawed ULFA planned to hijack flights to demand release of its jailed founding members, airport authorities today said.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and other para-military forces, deployed at all the airports, had enhanced vigil to prevent any untoward incident.

''Airports in the North Eastern states have been put on high alert following specific reports that the United Liberation Front of Asom was planning to hijack flights from the region,'' Meghalaya's Superintendent of Police (Special Branch) L B Rapthap told UNI here.

CISF officials said Quick Reaction Teams (QRT) deployed at the airport were activated, while Bomb Disposal Squads and sniffer dogs pressed into service.

Entry of visitors to the airport had been banned and 100 per cent manual checking of cabin baggage in flights was on, even as surveillance was stepped up at aerodrome parking lots and ticket counters, they said.

ULFA had been demanding the release of its five jailed leaders, as one of their prerequisites to hold 'peace dialogue' with the government. They felt that the release of Bhimkanta Buragohain, 'vice-president' Pradip Gogoi, 'publicity secretary' Mithinga Daimary, 'cultural secretary' Pranati Deka and senior member Ramu Mech would enable the outfit members to meet and decide on the course of the peace talks.

Recently, ULFA peace interlocutor Dr Mamoni Raisom Goswami had claimed that the Centre would decide the demand for the release of the jailed members by January 5 to re-launch the peace process.

However, Home ministry officials said the government was not in favour of the idea. Instead it wanted ULFA to come forward for talks unconditionally.

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