Companies flee, night train stopped in NC hills in Assam

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Guwahati, May 13 (UNI) Construction companies have wound up and night trains suspended in violence-scarred North Cachar Hills of Assam, even as the district administration today blamed the Army for the ''avoidable'' killings of Dimasa ultras.

The NC Hills district administration confirmed that 16 companies engaged in road and rail network expansion work had wound up giving a serious jolt to the railway and national highway expansion projects.

The district administration blamed the Army, which last week killed 12 Dimasa militants in an encounter. Incidentally, the outfit had announced a unilateral ceasefire for three months in mid March.

''The killings has changed the situation. Had it been avoided, the projects would have continued. Now it will take months to return to normal and another few months to convince the construction companies to return to the site,'' said senior officials of the district administration requesting anonimity.

Spokesman of the North Cachar Autonomous Council Mohit Hojai had also urged the state and the Centre to announce ceasefire in the district for early return of normalcy.

In a retaliatory act the Dimasa rebels killed 13 people in the last two days. The victims included labourers engaged by the construction companies and the railway authorities.

The killing triggered mass exodus of work force from the troubled NC Hills district leaving the two most important national projects of the North East in limbo.

These are the East West Corridor of the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) through which a four lane highway is being constructed from Silchar in Assam to Porbandar in Gujarat.

The other is the broad gauge railway tracks between Lumding to Silchar and eventually to Tripura where railway lines have just been inaugurated.

Both the projects have to cross the district and the projects have been bogged down there because no one wants to work fearing raids by the militants. The contractors have also wound up and decided not to return unless things improve.

A worried NHAI, today called an emergent meeting in New Delhi to take stock of the situation.

''We are extremely concerned with the situation and I have asked the DGP to take every possible measure,'' said Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi before leaving for China.

Railway authorities here were trying to resolve the situation as heightened security had not yielded any results in the last two years where work had been progressing at snail's place.

The state intelligence agencies were trying to find a way to improve the situation.

Three states of Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura are looking up to the projects as better road and railway connectivity will ease the communication problem.

UNI MT PL SP RN1643

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