Militants, politicians and just about every group worth the name in India's troubled northeast gets shriller on the eve of any important day in the country's national calendar, especially Republic Day.
Separatist groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Kamatapur Liberation Organisation (KLO), fighting for a separate homeland comprising parts of Assam and West Bengal, the Manipur People's Liberation Front (MPLF), an umbrella group of several Manipuri rebel groups, and the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF) are among militant outfits that have called for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations on Saturday.
As the separatists call for a boycott and announce a general strike across the region starting 1 am on Saturday, political parties too do not lag behind.
In southern Assam's Karbi Anglong district, a local party called the Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) has collaborated with the Karbi Students' Association (KSA) to call for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations in the district dominated by people from the Karbi tribe.
"The republic is incomplete without implementation of Article 244(A) of the Constitution," the ASDC-KSA combine has said. The article provides for elevation of an area into an autonomous state. The ASDC-KSA is pushing for elevation of the district into an autonomous state within Assam. The timing to press for implementation of this demand cannot be missed, Republic Day eve.
Tribal Santhals, most of whom are associated with the state's tea industry, have also decided to press their demand for inclusion into the list of Scheduled Tribes (ST) that would bring the community reservations in jobs and educational institutions like Santhals in states like Jharkhand.
Tribal groups led by an outfit called the Jharkhand Disom Party have called an indefinite rail-cum-road blockade in Assam, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Andamans from January 27 seeking a probe into the November 24, 2007 violence against them in Guwahati and to press for ST status to the community.
If the tribals and political parties have their own reasons for calling for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations, the insurgents have theirs too. "We have reiterated time and again that the destiny of the region lies only in interdependent unity and coexistence with sovereign independence among the fraternal peoples of the region," a statement issued by ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa said.
This is enough for the authorities in the troubled region of 40 million people to put thousands of soldiers, policemen and paramilitary troopers on guard to thwart possible subversive acts on the occasion.