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Army cracks down on ULFA bases
January 11, 2007 01:15 IST
Last Updated: January 11, 2007 22:05 IST
The army on Thursday took up positions within dense forests in Arunachal Pradesh and along the border with Myanmar on the second day of its offensive to flush out United Liberation Front of Assam militants amidst indications that the crackdown would be a long-drawn affair.
Troops had fanned out into the forests of Arunachal Pradesh and areas near the frontier with Myanmar where the ULFA is suspected to have camps, said Maj Gen N C Marwah, commander of the army's 2 Mountain Division and in-charge of operations in violence-ravaged upper Assam.
The 3,000 army and paramilitary personnel deployed for the operatons had achieved 'a fair amount of success' and were in hot pursuit of the ULFA. Helicopters had been kept ready to ferry soldiers to remote areas, he said.
Minister of State for Defence M M Pallam Raju said in Bhubaneswar that the operation against the militants 'will continue indefinitely until they are flushed out.'
"No timeframe has been fixed for this," he told media persons, adding that if required, the Indian Air Force's help will be taken to deal with the rebels, he said.
Army chief Gen J J Singh told television channel NDTV that the ULFA was 'able to regroup and had consolidated' itself during a six-week truce last year. He said the army would put 'so much pressure on them (ULFA) that they come to the negotiating table for unconditional talks.'
The Centre has convened a meeting of army, paramilitary and Assam officials in Delhi on Friday to discuss ways to intensify operations against the ULFA. A representative of the sports ministry and the Indian Olympic Association's secretary general will also be present in view of the National Games to be held in Guwahati next month.
CRPF units in Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sibsagar districts have been asked to increase 'area domination' during the night and to synergise operations with other security forces engaged in the counter-insurgency operations, officials said.
The Centre has asked paramilitary forces and the army to take extra precautions in areas having sizeable minority and Hindi-speaking populations and steps have also been taken to prevent a backlash against the Assamese.
Army sources said troops in Arunchal Pradesh would demolish ULFA camps and seal off escape routes to Myanmar. Patrolling in rivers along the border with Bangladesh has been intensified to prevent ULFA cadres from sneaking in and out of the neighbouring country where the banned group has major bases, they said.
Meanwhile, the situation gradually limped back to normal in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia, where ULFA carried out a string of attacks against Hindi-speaking migrants. There were no reports of fresh violence in these areas, officials said.
The indefinite curfew in worst-hit Tinsukia district was relaxed between eight am and five pm.
In Dibrugarh, 3,155 Hindi-speaking people had taken shelter in relief camps, but 200 of them from Tengakhat returned home as the situation returned to normal, officials said.