Northeast unaffected by militants' R-Day boycott call
Officials say public and private vehicles are plying normally with people participating in the national day celebrations.india Updated: Jan 26, 2008 14:03 IST
A 17-hour general strike enforced by separatist rebels on Saturday to boycott Republic Day celebrations has failed to impact India's northeastern states of Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, and Tripura.
Officials said public and private vehicles were plying normally with people participating in the national day celebrations.
Five rebel groups, including the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), have called a 17-hour general strike that began at 1 am on Saturday to boycott the Republic Day.
The other groups are the 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, the All Tripura Tiger Force (ATTF), and the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF).
"It is quite heartening to see people coming to participate in the Republic Day and this shows that militants are losing support among the masses," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said.
There have been some incidents of violence in Assam in the run-up to the Republic Day with four explosions in which eight people were injured, including one at the western Nalbari town late on Friday.
Tripura Governor Dinesh Nandan Sahaya unfurled the national flag at the Assam Rifles ground in Agartala where the day's main function was held.
"People came out in large numbers across the state to participate in the celebrations defying the boycott call of the militants," police spokesman Nepal Das said.
Militants in the insurgency-hit northeast have for years been boycotting India's Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations to protest New Delhi's rule over the vast region rich in oil, tea and timber.
The run-up to the events has always been violent, with rebels striking vital installations including crude oil pipelines, trains and road and rail bridges, besides targeting federal soldiers.
More than 30 rebel armies operate in the northeastern states, their demands ranging from secession to greater autonomy and the right to self-determination.
More than 50,000 people have lost their lives to insurgency in the northeast since India's independence in 1947.