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Govt yet to learn lessons from Oct 30 blasts

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Oct 29 � Two years have passed since the day Assam faced its worst ever militant attack in the form of serial blasts killing more than 90 persons. But unfortunately, till date, the State Government has not yet been able to take adequate steps to deal with any such eventuality and most of the recommendations of the committee headed by former Director General of Assam police, DN Dutt, who probed into the circumstances leading to the incidents and the mob violence thereafter, have not yet been implemented. The attitude of the Government raises questions whether the State has learnt its lessons from the attacks and is ready to face any such eventuality in the days to come.

The serial blasts had totally exposed the lack of preparedness of the law enforcing agencies to deal with a militant attack of such magnitude and the late arrival of police and fire tenders led to a public outcry. An irate mob had even set fire to a fire tender and an ambulance, while, the men in uniform also had come under attack from the people. Of course, the Government has taken certain measures, including increasing the strength of the city police force and providing additional vehicles to the force. But it is doubtful whether the measures taken are adequate to deal with any major militant attack.

The day after the blasts, the State Cabinet had taken a decision to appoint a Police Commissioner for Guwahati city but the decision is yet to be implemented. Official sources told The Assam Tribune that immediately after the decision, the State Home Department prepared a proposal for appointment of a Police Commissioner for Guwahati after a detailed study of the system introduced in most of the major cities of the country. Even a Cabinet memorandum in this regard was prepared, but the Government has not yet appointed a Police Commissioner. It may be mentioned here that appointment of a Police Commissioner was one of the main recommendations of the DN Dutt commission of enquiry.

Installation of CCTV cameras in vital and vulnerable locations of Guwahati city was another main recommendation of Dutt and this issue has been discussed for years. Official sources said that the Government has cleared a proposal for installation of CCTV cameras in vulnerable locations of the city and �the process is taking time�. Sources also admitted that it would take some more time before the cameras are installed.

Dutt recommended that a specialized state disaster response force with training and equipment in line of the NSG should be created to deal with any eventuality. After two years of the incident, the State Government decided to create two companies of state disaster response force under the Fire Services. Sources said that the recruitment process would start soon and the training of the personnel would take some time.

The former state police DG also highlighted lack of coordination between the senior police officers on the fateful day and stressed the need for carrying out mock drills, but so far, the authorities concerned have failed to carry out mock drills to ensure that any eventuality is dealt with properly.

After the serial blasts, the Government has prevented parking of vehicles under the flyovers to ensure that the flyovers are not damaged in any blast. Though specified parking places are earmarked in several localities of Guwahati, the persons engaged by the lessees of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation are not trained to look for any suspicious movement in the parking places and their only job is to collect the parking fees.

The Centre also did not respond to the State Government�s request to set up a hub of the National Security Guards (NSG) in Assam to deal with any major terrorist attack. With the NE region having long international borders and a number of active militant groups, a hub of the NSG could have been vital for the region. But instead of accepting the demand for setting up an NSG hub in Assam, the Centre decided to set up a hub of the elite force for the Eastern Region in West Bengal.

However, the Centre has agreed to set up the headquarter of a Cobra battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Assam and the State Government has already allotted a plot of land in Dalgaon for the setting up the headquarter of the battalion. However, official sources said that it is still not clear as to when the process of setting up the headquarter of the battalion will be completed.

Though the level of violence in Assam has come down in recent months, the possibility of blasts in public places cannot be ruled out as long as the problem of insurgency remains solved and the Government cannot afford to be complacent only because of the slight improvement of the situation.

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Govt yet to learn lessons from Oct 30 blasts

GUWAHATI, Oct 29 � Two years have passed since the day Assam faced its worst ever militant attack in the form of serial blasts killing more than 90 persons. But unfortunately, till date, the State Government has not yet been able to take adequate steps to deal with any such eventuality and most of the recommendations of the committee headed by former Director General of Assam police, DN Dutt, who probed into the circumstances leading to the incidents and the mob violence thereafter, have not yet been implemented. The attitude of the Government raises questions whether the State has learnt its lessons from the attacks and is ready to face any such eventuality in the days to come.

The serial blasts had totally exposed the lack of preparedness of the law enforcing agencies to deal with a militant attack of such magnitude and the late arrival of police and fire tenders led to a public outcry. An irate mob had even set fire to a fire tender and an ambulance, while, the men in uniform also had come under attack from the people. Of course, the Government has taken certain measures, including increasing the strength of the city police force and providing additional vehicles to the force. But it is doubtful whether the measures taken are adequate to deal with any major militant attack.

The day after the blasts, the State Cabinet had taken a decision to appoint a Police Commissioner for Guwahati city but the decision is yet to be implemented. Official sources told The Assam Tribune that immediately after the decision, the State Home Department prepared a proposal for appointment of a Police Commissioner for Guwahati after a detailed study of the system introduced in most of the major cities of the country. Even a Cabinet memorandum in this regard was prepared, but the Government has not yet appointed a Police Commissioner. It may be mentioned here that appointment of a Police Commissioner was one of the main recommendations of the DN Dutt commission of enquiry.

Installation of CCTV cameras in vital and vulnerable locations of Guwahati city was another main recommendation of Dutt and this issue has been discussed for years. Official sources said that the Government has cleared a proposal for installation of CCTV cameras in vulnerable locations of the city and �the process is taking time�. Sources also admitted that it would take some more time before the cameras are installed.

Dutt recommended that a specialized state disaster response force with training and equipment in line of the NSG should be created to deal with any eventuality. After two years of the incident, the State Government decided to create two companies of state disaster response force under the Fire Services. Sources said that the recruitment process would start soon and the training of the personnel would take some time.

The former state police DG also highlighted lack of coordination between the senior police officers on the fateful day and stressed the need for carrying out mock drills, but so far, the authorities concerned have failed to carry out mock drills to ensure that any eventuality is dealt with properly.

After the serial blasts, the Government has prevented parking of vehicles under the flyovers to ensure that the flyovers are not damaged in any blast. Though specified parking places are earmarked in several localities of Guwahati, the persons engaged by the lessees of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation are not trained to look for any suspicious movement in the parking places and their only job is to collect the parking fees.

The Centre also did not respond to the State Government�s request to set up a hub of the National Security Guards (NSG) in Assam to deal with any major terrorist attack. With the NE region having long international borders and a number of active militant groups, a hub of the NSG could have been vital for the region. But instead of accepting the demand for setting up an NSG hub in Assam, the Centre decided to set up a hub of the elite force for the Eastern Region in West Bengal.

However, the Centre has agreed to set up the headquarter of a Cobra battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Assam and the State Government has already allotted a plot of land in Dalgaon for the setting up the headquarter of the battalion. However, official sources said that it is still not clear as to when the process of setting up the headquarter of the battalion will be completed.

Though the level of violence in Assam has come down in recent months, the possibility of blasts in public places cannot be ruled out as long as the problem of insurgency remains solved and the Government cannot afford to be complacent only because of the slight improvement of the situation.

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