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ULFA shadow over Assam polls
K Anurag in Guwahati | March 27, 2006 11:38 IST
Last Updated: March 27, 2006 13:25 IST
Security remains a top priority for the forthcoming Assembly election in Assam where militants of the banned United Liberation Front of Asom are considered a major threat.
Three hundred additional companies of central paramilitary forces have arrived in the state for poll-time deployment. They will augment the strength of 117 companies of paramilitary forces already deployed in the state.
A source in the state police informed that with the arrival of additional companies, the state administration now has total 417 companies of paramilitary forces at its disposal.
All the three members of the Election Commission had reviewed the poll security scenario in the state with senior police and civil administration officials last week. The Chief Election Commissioner B B Tandon informed in the review meeting that the state government had termed the security scene "comfortable" before the polls.
Besides the paramilitary forces, 50 companies of Assam Police personnel will also be engaged in election duty while a large number of Assam Police battalion personnel are put on duty to keep vigil on vital installations, including railway property and oil installations in the state to prevent militant strikes on them.
Security arrangements for the election have left the army, which is engaged in counter-insurgency operation in the state, out of its purview. The army personnel will be nowhere near polling stations and will remained confined to "vulnerable" areas.
The banned ULFA has been considered a major threat during polls although the outfit leadership in a recent statement said they would remain neutral during polls, which it termed as nothing short of a "farce".
Besides ULFA, all other major militant groups are now in truce with the government of India, hence posing little threat during polls in 2006.
In the previous Assembly polls in the state in 2001, about 50 odd additional companies of paramilitary forces were deployed. The ULFA had targeted certain candidates belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the regional Asom Gana Parishad during the previous round of Assembly polls.
State BJP general secretary Jayanta Dutta, who was a candidate in Dibrugarh Legislative Assembly constituency, was killed by suspected ULFA militants in the heart of this city during the last Assembly polls.
The source informed that as per intelligence inputs, the AGP and BJP candidates stand more vulnerable during this round of polls too. All the poll candidates are being provided security in tune with the degree of threat to them.