Disturbed at the continuing violence and the panic amongst migrant workers in Assam, the central government on Tuesday ordered more reinforcements of paramilitary forces and told the state government to make protecting the people from the ULFA onslaught its “key concern”.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has told a delegation of six MPs led by Union Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Minister Santosh Mohan Dev that he was “seized of the situation” and had promised the state all possible help.
Singh also pointed that instructions were being issued to increase the compensation for the next-of-kin of the dead by another Rs 2 lakh; the state government had earlier announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 3 lakh.
Already hard-pressed for security personnel, the home ministry had told Central police forces to send 20 companies, nearly 2,000 personnel, to the state on Monday.
The home ministry ordered 10 more companies to move to Assam on Tuesday; a primary concern at the central government was to give migrant labourers in the state a sense of security.
“The ministry has conveyed to the state that protection of lives of all sections of the society was a key concern,” a home ministry official said.
Assam has also been advised to raise the frequency of patrolling by security personnel, a strategy that is aimed at improving the police presence in the troubled districts.
There were also indications that the home ministry had noted gaps in the intelligence gathering machinery at the state level; officials suggested concerns in this context had been conveyed to the home ministry and the state government told to take remedial measures.
Union home ministry officials said there had been some intelligence inputs indicating the present round of violence directed at migrant labours; reports available with intelligence agencies several months back had been pointing to the possibility of the ULFA hitting out at soft targets.
If there were any doubts, the recent edition of ULFA mouthpiece, Freedom, had made it amply clear that Hindi-speaking migrants were on the top of their list.
Home Secretary VK Duggal has convened a meeting of chiefs of Central police forces and Army officials on Wednesday to work out details of the strategy to check the present round of violence and ensure that the National Games, scheduled for next month, go on peacefully.