Home Ministry puts NE airports on high alert

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Shillong, Jan 3 (UNI) The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security (BCAS) has issued directive to Airports Authorities in Northeastern states to tighten security following threat from ULFA.

The directive was issued after the Union Home Ministry received intelligence inputs of possible ULFA strike in airports in the region.

On December 31, the Union Home Ministry asked the BCAS to beef up security in Northeastern airports, Director Media and Communication, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Maushumi Chakravarty told UNI over phone from New Delhi.

Based on intelligence reports, the banned ULFA plans to hijack planes from the region and then demand the release of five jailed founder members.

Ms Chakravarty said frisking of passengers and baggage, both manually and electronically at the airports, has been intensified.

Moreover, entry of visitors inside the airports has been restricted to the minimum.

The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) is being backed by additional paramilitary forces at the airports. Besides, anti-hijacking measures have already been put into place, the Civil Aviation official asserted.

The outlawed ULFA has been demanding release of its five leaders in jail as one of their prerequisite to hold ''peace dialogue'' with the government. They (ULFA) 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 ultras 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 five jailed members within January 5 to start the peace process.

However, Home ministry officials said the government was not in favour of releasing the arrested ULFA militants. Instead, the government wants ULFA to come forward for talks ''unconditionally''.

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