Security forces on Friday launched a major offensive against the banned National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Sangbijit) responsible for the massacre of over 70 adivasis in Assam's Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts.
On Friday morning, Indian Army chief General Dalbir Singh met Union home minister Rajnath Singh and discussed about the ground situation in Assam and ways to intensify operations against the militant outfit.
"We are definitely going to intensify our operations in Assam," the army chief told reporters in New Delhi after a meeting with Singh.
The home minister, who returned to the national capital on Thursday evening after a two-day visit to Assam to take stock of the situation after the violence perpetrated by the Bodo militant group, discussed the current situation in the state with Gen Singh.
"The meeting was to review the security situation in Assam," the army chief said.
Suhag said 66 army columns (70 personnel in each column) have been deployed in Assam for counter-insurgency operations.
The GoC of the 4 Corps, located in the worst-hit Sonitpur district, heads the Unified Command which conducts the counter-insurgency operations in Assam.
Sources said the home minister asked the army chief to ensure that peace returns to the violence-hit areas and there is no flare up.
Rajnath told him that army presence should be increased on the field in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, where there is a presence of NDFB(S) militants.
Sources said the home minister is also believed to have discussed the issue of coordinated operations with armies of Bhutan and Myanmar against the NDFB(S), which has bases in the two neighbouring countries.
External affairs minister Sushma Swaraj has already spoken to the Bhutan government which assured her of action against terror outfit.
Myanmar has also given assurance to flush out terrorists from their territories.
The army chief told Rajnath local army commanders have been directed to ensure peace and bring confidence among common people, sources added.
The home minister had on Thursday promised a "time-bound" action against the Bodo militant group which carried out the massacre of adivasis, ruling out talks with the insurgent outfit.
At least 85 people have been killed since last Tuesday after NDFB(S) militants attacked adivasis in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar district. While 14 Bodos were killed in adivasi's retaliatory attacks, 3 adivasi protesters died in police firing at Dhekiajuli on Wednesday.
In Kokrajhar district, both adivasi and Bodo villagers have fled to safer places amid fear of renewed attack on their villages.
"Additional forces of central paramilitary forces will be arriving Kokrajhar today (Friday) evening. Thereafter situation will be improve in the district," said LR Bisnoi, IG of Bodoland Territorial Area District.
Villages of Bodos and adivasis were torched by miscreants in the district in retaliatory action.
A 12-hour Assam bandh called by All Adivasi Students' Association ( AASA) and All Assam Tea Tribe Students' Association (AATTSA) in protest against the massacre evoked a good response across the state. Barring Guwahati, the capital city, the bandh has been total.
There were clashes between police and bandh supporters in different places. At Gahpur in Sonitpur district, three policemen were injured in after adivasi protesters pelted stones at them. The protesters also set police vehicles on fire.
In Gossaigaon of Kokrajhar district, police resorted to blank fire at two places to disperse bandh supporters.
In Assam's tea belt, bandh supporters came out on the streets to block vehicle movement on NH 37 and NH 52.
A truck was set ablaze by protesters in Dibrugarh. Trains were also blocked by bandh supporters at Golaghat, Jorhat and several other places in the state.
Bandh call in West Bengal
Tribal organisations in six north Bengal districts have given a call for a 12-hour bandh on Saturday to protest the attack and killing of adivasis by NDFB(S) in Assam.
The bandh will begin at 6am and essential services would be exempted from its purview, Adivasi Vikas Morcha state president Birsa Tirkey said today.
The bandh has been called by the Morcha and at least 15 other adivasi organisations of north Bengal.
At least 500 affected people from Assam - both adivasis and Bodos have taken refuge in Kumargram, Barovisa, Changmari, Bitiibari, Balapara and Jashodanga areas in neighbouring Alipurduar district of West Bengal.
"More people are streaming in from Assam," district additional superintendent of police Akash Megharia told PTI.
While, many of them are living at their relatives' homes, the Bengal government has also offered them temporary shelter in various schools in the area and at a community hall at Changmari, he said.
Food, water and blankets are being provided to them, he added.
(With PTI inputs)