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Manmohan to visit Assam on Tuesday

india Updated: Jan 12, 2007 22:13 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh will visit Assam on Tuesday where security forces have launched a major operation to flush out ULFA insurgents who killed 70 migrant labourers over the last week.

Manmohan Singh, who had condemned the killings as “an act of cowardice and inhumanity, is expected to meet some of the victims of the recent violence 0targeting the migrant population in Assam besides holding meetings with representatives of the state government and security establishment.

Singh’s visit comes in the backdrop of the security establishment – that has been advocating the futility of talking to the insurgent group whose links with the ISI were increasingly becoming more apparent – articulating its stand on talking to the ULFA.

Union home secretary VK Duggal on Friday said keeping the doors open for talks with any group that abjures violence was one part of the framework; the other part was that if a group indulged in violence, the government had to respond.

The home ministry that had convened a high-level meeting on Friday to assess the situation in the state and draw up a broad action-plan is understood to have centered on the second part of this policy. Duggal insisted that there was no dilly-dallying on part of the government, nor was there a lack of political will.

“There is no lack of will our policy is clear, our strategy is clear,” he said.

The PMO-drive ceasefire with the ULFA last year has been criticised by a significant section of the security establishment; intelligence reports after the ceasefire collapsed have also suggested that the insurgent group had used this period to regroup and recoup losses in earlier security operations.

After Friday’s review meeting, the home secretary said the situation in Assam was “fairly under control”. The meeting also took a close look at the preparations for the National Games in Guwahati that Duggal acknowledged was a “huge image building exercise” for Assam.

The home secretary, who spoke about operational successes against the ULFA – 16 have been arrested, three killed – however, insisted that restoring the confidence of people in a safe and secure society was the prime concern of the people.

It is for this reason that para-military forces had intensified patrolling. Officials said the CRPF – that has nearly 140 companies posted in the state – had even gone to the extent of drawing security personnel from administrative duties to raise the presence of security personnel on the roads.

At the same time, a significant proportion of the force has also been deployed in the five districts of Upper Assam and Baska district bordering Bhutan in lower Assam; officials said the objective was “aggressive area domination”.

Email Aloke Tikku: atikku @hindustantimes.com

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