Assam asked to step up security in terror-hit region

May 28th, 2009 - 4:35 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati/Agartala, May 28 (IANS) The central government has asked the Assam government to step up security along the Lumding-Badarpur rail section in the North Cachar Hills district after repeated attacks by militants on trains.
A five-member central government team arrived in Assam Tuesday to review the security situation after frequent attacks by Dima Haolam Daogah or the Black Widow group.

The 221-km Lumding-Badarpur section, perhaps the only place in India where bullet-proof engines are run, serves as a life line between the rest of the country and southern Assam, southern Manipur, Mizoram and Tripura.

“The central team has directed the Assam government and other central security agencies to take all out efforts including deployment of army to curb militancy and restore normalcy in the southern part of the state,” a senior state government official told newsmen in Guwahati Thursday.

A North Cachar Hills district official said: “Since 2006, more than 80 people, including railway officials, have been killed in militant attacks on trains on this hill section of the Northeast Frontier Railways and nearby villages.”

A railway official confirmed that all train services have been suspended on the section since April 15.

“There has been no movement of trains on the Lumding-Badarpur section since April 15 creating serious problems of transportation of both passengers and essentials, specially food grains,” official said.

Besides the militant attacks on the trains, the tribal dominated district has also seen a spurt in ethnic clashes among different communities.

Assam Chief Secretary P.C. Sharma and General Manager of Northeast Frontier Railways Ashutosh Swami were also part of the review meeting held at Haflong in North Cachar Hills district and in Guwahati.

Sharma told reporters in Guwahati: “The Assam government is doing everything possible to restore normalcy and ensure the resumption of train services in the hill district at the earliest.”

Tripura Food and Transport Minister Manik Dey said in Agartala: “Restoration of train services ahead of the monsoon is highly critical to supplies of essential commodities to southern Assam and the adjacent states of Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.”

“Meanwhile, the implementation of the mega gauge conversion project in the Lumding-Badarpur section and the construction of East West Corridor project have been badly affected because of the terrorist activities in the area,” he said.

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