Security on alert ahead of I-Day in Assam

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Guwahati, Jul 23: Security forces have shifted operations to the Lower Assam districts after intelligence agencies warned them of ULFA's "ISI-influenced" battalions carrying out subversive activities in the run up to Independence day.

More forces have been deployed in the Lower Assam districts to prevent the ULFA from carrying out disruptive activities to prove that the recent ceasefire had not affected them.

''Despite the peace process initiated by two companies of the ULFA's main strike force--28th Battalion, we cannot lower our guards and all precautionary measures are being taken to prevent militants from creating disturbance during the run up to the Independence day,'' Assam Director General of Police R N Mathur told newsmen here.

Already every district had been alerted with a special instruction that ULFA might try to cause bigger damage as they have been smarting from recent setback of the virtual surrender of their main potent weapon, the '28th battalion'.

''The ISI has an influence on the 109 and 709 battalions since they are controlled by the leadership sitting in Bangladesh, unlike the 28 battalion which has its bases in Myanmar,'' Inspector-General of Police (special branch), Khagen Sharma said.

Upper Assam, where the ULFA had always been very active, was neutralized after the change of heart of the two companies.

Sharma said they were apprehensive that the two battalions might try to carry out subversive activities in the run up to Independence day.

ULFA's 709 and 109 battalions generally operate in the Lower Assam areas.

Traditionally they target markets, railway tracks and sometime business installations. The police official said it was most unlikely that the outfit would be successful in carrying out any activities in Upper Assam, as these areas were under ULFA's 28 battalion.

''Since the 'Alpha' and 'Charlie' companies of the 28 battalion have declared a ceasefire, we expect a peaceful atmosphere in Upper Assam,'' Mr Sharma explained.

The strength of the 28th battalion is equal to the other three battalions of the outfit put together, the officer said.

Regarding the B Company of the battalion, which had stayed away from the ceasefire, he said there were reports that most of the cadres of the company had shifted to its camp in Myanmar.

Former 'commander' of the 28th battalion Mrinal Hazarika, who led the ceasefire group, recently said the cadres of the B Company of the battalion had been directed by the leadership to stay put in the Myanmar camp.

UNI

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