Security alert in Northeast as rebels call for boycott of R-Day

January 25th, 2009 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Jan 25 (IANS) A maximum security alert was sounded in three of the seven northeastern states with militant groups calling for a boycott of Monday’s Republic Day celebrations, officials said.Four separatist groups in Assam, Manipur and Tripura, have announced a 17-hour general strike from 1 a.m. Monday to 6 p.m. to enforce the boycott call and warned of action if people violated their diktat.

“We have deployed security forces in strength across the state, especially around vital installations, to thwart any possible militant attacks,” Assam police chief G.M. Srivastava said Sunday.

The militant groups that called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations include the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), fighting for a separate homeland comprising parts of Assam and West Bengal, the Manipur People’s Liberation Front (MPLF), an umbrella group of several Manipuri rebel groups, and the Tripura People’s Democratic Front (TPDF). Similar security alerts were sounded in Manipur and Tripura.

“We are taking no chances and hence have deployed security forces across the state,” a senior police official in Manipur’s capital Imphal said.

Militants in the insurgency-hit northeast have for years been boycotting the Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations.

The run-up to the events has always been violent, with rebels striking vital installations including crude oil pipelines, trains and road and rail bridges, besides targeting soldiers.

“There are reports of militants trying to stage violent acts,” the Assam police chief said.

More than 30 rebel armies operate in the northeastern states, their demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination. More than 50,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in the northeast since India’s independence in 1947.

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