Assam violence: CM Gogoi wants more cooperation with Bhutan

  • Digambar Patowary, Hindustan Times, Guwahati
  • Updated: May 08, 2014 23:07 IST

The state is looking forward to more cooperation with the Bhutan government to cut off a suspected escape route of militants and stop them from fleeing the country, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said on Thursday.

The government is also mulling the formation of special forces comprising local residents to thwart violence in the state's ethnically volatile Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), where more than 40 people were killed and thousands were displaced earlier this month.

After a security review meeting, Gogoi held a press conference on Thursday and said the tough geographic terrains in BTAD made it difficult for security forces to respond quickly after the violence broke out.

BTAD comprises four districts: Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri. The trouble-torn area is infamous for frequent clashes between Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh and the indigenous Bodo tribe.

While the Assam Police blamed the recent attacks on the anti-talks faction of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) – Sangbijit faction, the banned outfit trashed the charges.

Gogoi said the Assam government had sought 50 companies of additional forces from the Centre to maintain law and order.

Security agencies have reportedly alerted the government about more trouble after the announcement of the Lok Sabha election results on May 16.

There are allegations that the violence broke out after a legislator of the Bodoloand People's Front (BPF), an ally of the ruling Congress, said the party candidate from Kokrajhar could find it hard to win because Muslims did not vote for him.

Chief minister Gogoi said his government was eyeing more coordination with Bhutan as well as neighbour state Arunachal Pradesh to foil attempts of militants and other armed miscreants flee Assam.

"We need more coordination with the Bhutan government to foil any attempts by militants, miscreants to enter its territory after committing violence in BTAD… We also asked Arunachal Pradesh government to keep a close watch on the border."

In the late 80s as well as the 90s, three militant outfits of Assam, including the NDFB — Sangbijit, had camps in southern Bhutan. With the support of the Indian Army in 2003, the Royal Bhutan Army had flushed them out.

Pointing out that the people of BTAD have better understanding of the cause of conflict in the territory, Gogoi said, "Special forces will be formed to curb incidents of violence. Training will be imparted to them by police… Selected people from all communities will be included the force."

Leaders from the minority community have demanded arms be provided to the youth for self-defence in view of the three-decade-long crisis in the BTAD region.

Gogoi also said the government would launch a judicial probe into violence.

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