Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday said he was concerned over the Maoist activities in the state and a strict vigil is being kept on their activities in nine districts.
"We are concerned over Maoist activities in parts of nine districts of Assam. Their presence is in 35 police station areas of the districts," Gogoi told reporters in Guwahati.
The nine affected districts are Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Golaghat, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Cachar and Karimganj, he said.
Gogoi said that security forces have killed 4 Maoists and arrested 58 of them so far in the state over the past couple of years. The arrests were primarily to scuttle a Maoist move to expand base in Assam and adjoining states in the Northeast.
“We have been working on intelligence inputs since 2006 to be alert against Maoist expansion designs. With militancy on the wane in Assam, it was natural for rebel leaders opposed to peace to forge strategic ties with the Maoists for supplying arms and providing safe havens,” Gogoi said.
A close watch was kept on particularly in the areas where poor people lived as Maoists attempted to make inroads in the districts, he said adding that under surveillance were also the activities of suspected sympathisers of the Maoist rebels.
According to the Assam police’s intelligence wing, there are some 200 Maoist activists and their sympathisers in Assam who are in touch or are providing training to their counterparts in central India. Five leaders including Jharkand-based Anukul Chandra Naskar alias Pareshji, who was lying low in south Assam, were arrested this year.
The Maoists, he added, have been working on local issues in nine districts in eastern and southern Assam. “But the security forces have been up to the task,” he said.
Pro-farmer and anti-dam activists said the government was hounding them with the Maoist tag. “It is convenient for the authorities to brand people fighting for their rights as Naxals. Besides, playing up the Maoist card ensures funds for the government,” said peasant leader and RTI activist Akhil Gogoi.