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Centre for coordinated efforts

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, July 14 - The Government of India wants coordinated efforts by all the State police forces and the Central agencies to thwart any move by terrorist outfits like the Islamic State (IS) from establishing bases in the country. The government may also review the earlier order of not using lethal weapons by the Border Security Force (BSF) personnel along the Indo-Bangla border.

Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the Ministry recently held a meeting with the heads of anti-terror units of the State police forces to discuss the threat posed by terrorist outfits, including the IS, to chalk out plans to deal with such threats. Sources said that the police officials of the States facing the threat were involved in the meeting and as the threat perception in Assam cannot be overlooked, the head of the Special Branch of the Assam Police was also made a part of the plan.

Sources pointed out that all the vulnerable States must work in a coordinated manner with the Central agencies, including the Intelligence Bureau and the National Investigating Agency (NIA), to thwart any move by the IS to establish roots in the country. Among the States of the Northeast region, Assam is considered most vulnerable because of having international border with Bangladesh and also because of ethnic and linguistic similarities between the people living on both sides of the international border.

Sources said that there is no specific input of entry of IS members into Assam from Bangladesh, but the threat perception cannot be overlooked and the State police and the Central agencies are working in close coordination. Moreover, security along the international border with Bangladesh has become a major issue as after a major crackdown launched by Bangladesh against jehadi and radical elements, there is every possibility of such elements making efforts to sneak into India.

Sources revealed that the Secretary, Border Management, of the MHA also chaired a meeting with the police officials of the States having international border with Bangladesh to discuss the issue. Senior officials of the BSF were also present in the meeting, which discussed ways to increase vigil along the international border.

Sources said that the government may review the order of not using lethal weapons by the BSF along the international border with Bangladesh. The order was issued during the UPA regime at the Centre and the personnel of the border guarding force were asked to use lethal weapons only on self defence. However, there were reports that the UPA order was encouraging anti-social and anti-national elements and in view of it, the government may soon review the order, sources added.

MHA sources said that setting up of markets near the international border is another major problem in maintaining a close vigil. Ideally, the markets should be established at least 8 kilometres inside the Indian territory, but in some places, such markets are very close to the international border and the government will soon review the situation and the problems faced by the border guarding forces.

Smuggling of cattle and other materials is another key issue discussed in the meeting and a high level committee has been formed to examine the issue.

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