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Rajnath favours reducing security forces in NE

By The Assam Tribune

Guwahati, July 11 (IANS): Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday expressed concern over the large-scale deployment of security forces in the Northeast and asked the Chief Ministers to conduct a "reality audit" for deployment in their States.

Rajnath Singh, who reached Assam on Friday evening, chaired a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the northeastern States on security and development on Saturday. Singh assured deployment of Central forces when actually needed, saying reduction in deployment in the region without compromising on security was needed to encourage outsiders to think positively about the Northeast.

"There has been significant improvement in the security scenario in the entire Northeast in the past few years. The overall insurgency level is at an all-time low," he said.

Stating that Mizoram, Tripura, a large part of Assam and Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh were "almost free of insurgency", he said there was a strong desire for peace in Nagaland and Manipur too.

Rajnath Singh said that at present, the deployment of forces was even more than when insurgency was at its peak. "We must plan to reduce the security deployment so as to make the environment easy to encourage positive thinking among outsiders about the region. I would like to urge all the Chief Ministers to have a realistic audit of deployment of the Central Armed Police Forces," he said.

Singh expressed concern over the recent activities along the India-Myanmar border, saying there were reports of insurgents, weapons and drugs crossing the international border.

"I have constituted a committee headed by Joint Intelligence Committee chairman RN Ravi to review how to effectively manage the India-Myanmar border. The committee has reviewed the matter and is expected to submit its report soon," he said.

The Home Minister said there was a need to tighten vigil along the Bangladesh border too. Singh also took up the issue of people living near the international border.

"We should not ignore the people on the border. There are some 240 villages along the India-Mynamar border and over two lakh people within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. This large population is without any worthwhile security cover and they are at the mercy of insurgents. A similar situation prevails along the India-Bhutan border," he said, appealing to the chief ministers to pay attention to this crucial area.

"You may consider opening and strengthening of police stations in the border areas," he said.

Rajnath Singh also appealed to the chief ministers to provide land for border fencing.

On the issue of withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) from the region, the home minister said it would be withdrawn wherever the situation improves.

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