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Assam trouble: Delhi sees ISI hand

G Vinayak in Guwahati | November 22, 2003 20:25 IST

The Centre on Saturday chose to parrot the line taken by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh that Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence is out to create trouble in the northeast.

Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region C P Thakur declared at a press conference in Guwahati: "The killings of Biharis in Assam and the tension between the two states is part of a big game designed to create bigger trouble in India's eastern parts."

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When asked to identify the forces behind this big game, Thakur initially hemmed and hawed but then relented and said that "Bangladesh and ISI based in Bangladesh is behind the trouble."

He pointed out that the United Liberation Front of Asom has bases in Bangladesh and the outfit is carrying out the killings at the ISI's behest.

Thakur declared the Centre's intention to curb the violence in Assam with a firm hand. "We and the state government will work together to bring the situation under control. More forces are being sent to the state," Thakur said.

He was addressing a joint press meet with Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi after a high-level review meeting with the state government.

Thakur and Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayananda had earlier arrived from Delhi to take stock of the situation in Assam. They went to Bongaigaon in lower Assam where four people were shot dead by ULFA two days ago. Tomorrow, Thakur and Swami are scheduled to visit the worst-affected Tinsukia district, where fresh killings took place on Saturday. Twelve labourers were killed by suspected ULFA militants at a brick kiln.

Shaken by the killings, the state government transferred the District Magistrate B M Das and suspended Superintendent of Police Satyen Gogoi. Guwahati Municipal Corporation Commissioner Sanjay K Lohia was asked to take over as the
new DM and A J Baruah, who was commandant of an armed police battalion in the same district, has taken over as the new SP.

Meanwhile, residents of Guwahati city are feeling the pinch of Bihari labourers fleeing the state. In many areas washermen, carpenters, barbers and manual labourers have left, making life difficult for the Assamese middle class.

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