Union home secretary VK Duggal will visit Assam and Manipur next week to review the security arrangements in the two states that would be put to test over the next few months.
Assam is playing host to the National Games in mid-February under the shadow of a boycott call from the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), around the same time that another sensitive state in terms of security; Manipur will go to polls. Duggal will visit Imphal on 3 January and be in Guwahati the next day.
It does not help that the home ministry's assessment is that the elections in Punjab too could be a little tricky from the security perspective; state police officials have told the Centre that they expected a significant number of young candidates to contest in the polls. The understanding is that the younger age profile of the candidates - and the voters - could make the elections a little too tense.
For the home ministry that prides itself on providing enough security cover for the elections over the last two years to be perceived as peaceful as well as fair. This implies they will have to juggle with a limited number of central forces that are already spread thin in the country's hot spots, the north-east, Jammu and Kashmir and the naxal-affected areas.
"We can hardly empty the naxals or J&K belt," a senior home ministry official said, pointing that it would be nearly impossible for the central government to pull out central forces from any part of the country before the Republic Day celebrations pass off peacefully.
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