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Assam: Militants may spend more time in jail

K Anurag in Guwahati | August 24, 2008 17:37 IST

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In order to keep arrested hardcore insurgents in jail for longer duration, the Assam government is mulling to enact a new legislation in view of the demand for the same from police and security forces fighting insurgents in the state.

There has been a disturbing trend in the state of arrested militants going back to the ranks of the banned outfit once they are released from the jail. An official source informed that the state is trying to take a leaf out of an existing act in neighbouring Meghalaya that was formulated to ensure longer jail term for the militants.

The army, engaged in counter-insurgency operation in Assam, has been advocating for a tougher law to facilitate longer jail terms for arrested militants of banned outfits so that they are not able to join their groups once they are released on bail by the court of law.

The Assam government has already asked its advocate general to do the spadework to have such an act that will keep militants behind the bars for longer duration.

The issue came up for discussion during several meetings of the strategy group of the Unified Command in recent times with the officers of the police and the army expressing serious concern at the disturbing trend of militants indulging in acts of violence immediately after their release on bail.

Under the provisions of the National Security Act, a person could be detained for a period of one year, and the possibility of detaining dreaded militants for longer duration under new laws is being explored.

However, the government has taken a cautious approach in this regard not to allow human rights groups to exploit the situation.

There is a possibility that the existing Assam Preventive Detention Act, which was enacted during the Assam agitation against illegal Bangladeshi migrants, may be put in use with more stringent provisions incorporated in it.

Lt Gen B S Jaswal, general officer commanding, 4 Corps of Indian Army [Images], which heads the operation against the insurgents in Assam under the three-tier unified command structure, recently advocated for a stringent law to prevent arrested insurgents to rejoin militant groups immediately after their release from jail.

The Assam police has also underlined the need for making the laws more stringent to prevent arrested militants from getting bail easily.

What worries the government is that police investigating officers often fail to file chargesheets before the court in time that indirectly facilitates early release of arrested militants on bail.

In this regard the state government has instructed all district superintendents of police to personally monitor the investigation of the cases related to hardcore militants.

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