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No early withdrawal of forces from State

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, June 11 � The force availability in Assam at present is more than the forces deployed in the State during the last Lok Sabha polls and there is no chance of withdrawal of forces in the near future.

Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that the State had around 160 companies of Central forces during the last Lok Sabha polls, which passed off peacefully. But immediately after the killing of more than 40 people in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts in May, the force strength was increased to 181 companies and now the State has around 190 companies of forces including five additional companies of the elite Cobra battalion of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) rushed to the State immediately after the recent killing of Hamren Superintendent of Police, Nityananda Goswami.

Sources revealed that the present strength of Central forces would remain in the State, at least for some time, as the new Government at the Centre expects the State Government to act tough against the militant outfits active in the State. During his recent visit to Assam to review the situation, Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju also made it clear that the State Government should act tough against the militants and the Centre would extend all necessary help.

Security sources said that the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent) and the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) are maintaining a low profile for some time. The activities of the KPLT are a matter of concern as members of the outfit are still quite active in Karbi Anglong despite the setbacks received by it, including the recent death of its commander in chief in an encounter.

Sources admitted that till the killing of SP Goswami, the police and security forces underestimated the strength of the newly formed outfit UPLA and immediately after the killing, the police believed that it was the handiwork of the KPLT. The police team, which was led by Goswami, was not aware of the presence of such heavily armed militants in the area, sources admitted.

The police and security forces came to know about the activities of the UPLA only before the elections and now it is found that the group was formed mostly by former members of the United People�s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS), which signed a peace pact with the Government of India. It is now clear that the UPLA was using the weapons of the UPDS, which proved beyond doubt that at the time of surrendering before the Government, the militant outfit did not deposit all its weapons, sources pointed out.

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