Maoists, a concern in Assam

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Guwahati, Feb 24: The Assam government is taking serious note of growing influence of Maoists in the state, specially in tea gardens.

The Assam Branch of Indian Tea Association (ABITA) called an urgent meeting of its members last week to discuss the problem.

the state has close to 800 tea estates.

''This is real big threat and much bigger than any insurgent groups operating in Assam,'' said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

''Unless some tough measures are taken, many parts of India will soon face situation like in Nepal'' said BJP president Rajnath Singh, here yesterday.

''Assam has ethnic insurgency. But it does not have communist insurgency. Once that arrives, then it will be real chaos,'' said Wasbir Hussain, member of the National Security Council (NSC).

The state intelligence agencies confirmed the infiltration of the maoists from Jharkhand and across the border from Nepal via Bhutan. Llast week Bhutan confirmed the demolition of Maoist camps inside their territory adjoining Assom.

Mr Singh further added that he had definite information that they were entering the state.

The Assam government sources informed that it had moved the Centre to ban both the All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) and as Dimasa militant group Black Widow.

''Such a possibility of penetration by the Maoist elements is not unlikely, considering the fact that the situation in the tea garden areas is very fluid now,'' Madhusudan Khandait, general secretary of the Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha (ACMS), told reporters today.

The workers in the state's 800-odd tea plantations are tribal who had migrated to the state nearly 200-years-ago from Jharkhand, Orissa, Chattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

Meanwhile Bhutan's security forces have busted two Maoist militant camps and captured at least eight Communist rebels with weapons in a crackdown that began last week, the Bhutanese authorities said.

The Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) personnel stationed on the Indo-Bhutan border have launched an operation codenamed ''Night Dominance'' to prevent the Maoists crossing over to escape a crackdown by the Royal Bhutan.

Inspector-general H C Kharkwal confirmed that all SSB units were on maximum alert. ''We have increased the level of troop deployment and arranged for modern equipment like night-vision devices and fast-moving vehicles. We need to be prepared to deal with any situation,'' he said.

Mr Kharkwal said the SSB was focusing on the stretches through which infiltration was most likely, including the Bengal-Assam-Bhutan junction and Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district.

UNI

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