JORHAT, March 3 - The Assam Police has created a new police range with its headquarters based at Tinsukia under a deputy inspector-general (DIG) of police in upper Assam by bifurcating the Jorhat-based Eastern Range, which is under a DIG as part of its plan to step up efforts to tackle militancy in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sadiya police districts.
With this new range named as North Eastern Range, the total number of DIG ranges in the State has gone up to seven.
The first DIG posted in the North Eastern Range, Prasanta Bhuyan, today assumed charge. Bhuyan earlier served as the superintendent of police in Tinsukia and Jorhat districts during his postings in upper Assam.
A highly-placed police source told The Assam Tribune today that the State government as per proposal from the police headquarters has created the new range as part of its strategy to tackle militancy, especially the ULFA(I) that has been active in Tinsukia, Sadiya and Dibrugarh police district.
The source stated that for more effective operational and administrative control, and management of police forces, the government has formed this range as the police districts under the range have been witnessing a spurt in miltant activities in the past five-six years.
A DIG based in Tinsukia will have better mobility as earlier more time was required from Jorhat to reach the site of incidents in these districts, the source said, adding that monitoring of the situation could now be done more closely.
It may be mentioned here that apart from kidnappings, extortion threats, bomb blasts, targeting (killing) Hindi-speaking people, reportedly by the ULFA(I), the officer in-charge of Bordumsa Police Station, bordering Arunachal Pradesh, Bhaskar Kalita was killed in May last year in an encounter with extremists. On November 1 last year, five people from Bengali community were gunned down by suspected ULFA(I) militants.
Moreover, Left-wing insurgency too had tried to gain foothold in the police districts under the new range with one and the only encounter between police and the Maoists taking place in in a Sadiya village on May 5, 2012. Four extremists, including Siddhartha Buragohain, then second-in-command of the armed wing of the CPI(Maoists) in Assam, were killed in that encounter, the source pointed out.
Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sadiya police districts share a large area of inter-state border with Arunachal Pradesh covered by thick forests and a hilly terrain, giving an advantage to the militants to carry out subersive activities in view of which there was a need of a new range under a DIG to strengthen counterinsurgency operations.
The source stated about 18 years back, Golaghat district was separated from DIG Eastern Range jurisdiction and attached to the DIG Special Range having its headquarters at Diphu in Karbi Anglong for better policing and tackling militant groups based in the hill district that used to operate in border areas of the two neighbouring districts.
The other six police ranges under a DIG are Eastern Range based in Jorhat, Southern Range (Silchar), Central Western Range (Guwahati), Western Range (Bongaigaon), Northern Range (Tezpur) and Special Range (Diphu). For the BTAD areas, there is a separate range under an inspector-general (IG) of police based at Kokrajhar.