Four ULFA militants killed ahead of I-Day in Assam (Lead)August 13th, 2008 - 3:34 pm ICT by IANS
Guwahati, Aug 13 (IANS) Four separatists have been killed Wednesday in two separate gun battles with security forces in India’s northeastern state of Assam, even as a massive security alert was sounded across the region with the rebels announcing a boycott of the country’s Independence Day. A police spokesman said two militants of the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) were killed in a shoot-out with a joint team of the police and the soldiers in western Assam’s Bongaigaon district.
“The two ULFA militants on bicycles were challenged by security forces, but the rebels lobbed a grenade and tried to escape when they were shot dead,” a police official said.
The security forces did not suffer any casualties.
In another incident in the adjoining Nalbari district, two more ULFA militants were killed in a shoot-out.
The police, the paramilitary and the army were put on a high alert across Assam, ahead of I-Day.
“We are not taking chances. The police across Assam have been put on high alert and we are bent on thwarting any subversive activity by the militants,” said Assam’s Director General of Police R.N. Mathur.
Thousands of army, police and paramilitary troopers are standing guard in other northeastern states, particularly Manipur, where militants Tuesday launched a grenade attack on the ancestral home of Manipur Agriculture Minister Loken Singh.
“The minister was not at home during the attack at our house in Bishnupur district. No one was injured,” said his brother Sanjoy Singh.
In Assam, unidentified militants lobbed a grenade Monday at the office premises of the superintendent of police in the western Bongaigaon district, creating panic, but no damage.
Four frontline separatist groups in the region have called a boycott of Independence Day celebrations Aug 15 and have called a general strike from 1 a.m. to 6 p.m. on that day.
The four rebel groups that have announced their boycott through a statement e-mailed to journalists are the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF) - comprising several major militant outfits in the state - the Kamatapur Liberation Organization (KLO) and the Tripura People’s Democratic Front (TPDF).
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) has cancelled all night trains passing through the region until Aug 16.
“We do not want to risk the lives of passengers. The people would certainly understand our compulsions,” said a NF Railway spokesman.
It has now become routine for separatist rebel groups in the northeast to call for boycott of all important days in the Indian national calendar, chief among those days being the Independence Day and the Republic Day Jan 26.
“This may be a routine call by the rebels but the authorities cannot afford to take things easy because Aug 15, 2004, the ULFA triggered a blast at an Independence Day parade in Assam’s Dhemaji town, killing more than 10 schoolchildren,” said Wasbir Hussain, director of the Guwahati-based Centre for Development and Peace Studies, a think-tank.