GUWAHATI, Dec 2 - Coordinated operations among police forces of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland have started in the inter-state border areas to check the activities of the militant groups, while, officers in charge of the vulnerable districts have been directed to maintain close coordination with the village defence parties and village headmen to prevent youths from joining the militant outfits.
Highly placed police sources told The Assam Tribune that inter-state movement of militants has become a major problem as the ultras sneak into Assam from their hideouts in Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts of Arunachal Pradesh and Mon district of Nagaland to indulge in acts of violence in the state and retreat back immediately. Sources said that in a recent meeting, which was also attended by senior officials of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), a decision was taken to increase coordination between the State Police forces and the Army and paramilitary force personnel deployed on the ground. The coordination has improved considerably after the meeting and coordinated operations have been launched in the vulnerable areas along the inter-state borders, sources added.
Sources revealed that force deployment along the vulnerable areas has been increased and officers and men of the police force have been deployed near the inter-state borders. However, there is a problem in construction of permanent outposts in some of the inter-state border areas because of border disputes with the neighbouring states. Some of the Assam Police personnel, who were trained in jungle warfare, have also been deployed in the jungle areas to intensify operations. Senior officers of the Assam Police including the Director General of Police have also been visiting the border districts frequently to hold discussions with the district level officers to monitor the operations.
Replying to a question on reports of a number of youths joining the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), sources admitted that a few boys have joined the militant outfit. To deal with the problem, the officers in charge of the police stations of the upper Assam districts have been directed to maintain close coordination with members of the VDPs and the village headmen to check whether any youth from any village is reported missing. If any youth is missing, efforts would be made to trace his or her whereabout, sources added.
Though there have been reports that the ULFA(I) launched an extortion drive in Upper Assam districts, particularly in the tea gardens, sources said that not many reported receipt of such demands to the police. However, police and security forces are maintaining a close watch on the situation. Efforts are also on to keep watch on the suspected linkmen and sympathizers of the militants.
On the steps taken to ensure peaceful Panchayat polls, sources said that the vulnerable areas have been identified and adequate deployments have been made. The police personnel, who were sent to Mizoram for election duty, would arrive back by November 30 and as the Panchayat elections would be held in two phases, it would be possible to redeploy forces accordingly.
Sources also admitted that the State Police force is hard pressed at this moment as the process of updating the National Register of Citizens is going on, while, there is possibility of violence in the movements against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. At the same time, the police cannot lower their guard in the operations against ultras, while, the possibility of group clashes during the run up to the Panchayat polls cannot be ignored.