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Rebels call for boycott of I-Day

india Updated: Aug 14, 2008 16:57 IST
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Security forces were put on high alert in northeastern India on Wednesday to prevent attacks by separatist rebels during national holiday celebrations this week, police said. Authorities also halted night train services until Saturday in India's four far northeastern states to reduce the opportunity for insurgent attacks, said Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta, the inspector-general of police in Assam state.

India celebrates its 1947 independence from British colonialists every Aug. 15.

"It's routine for the rebels to step up violence ahead of Independence Day," Mahanta said. "We are not taking chances and security forces have been put on high alert."

The move follows grenade attacks on a state Cabinet minister's home and a police station.

"We were woken up by a loud blast in front of our house. No one was hurt and my brother was not at home," said Sanjoy Singh, a brother of Manipur state Agriculture Minister Loken Singh. The blast occurred on Tuesday in Bishnupur, a town near the state capital, Imphal.

Mahanta blamed separatist insurgents for that blast and a separate grenade attack on a police station in Assam on Monday. He said no one was hurt in either attack.

Four key separatist groups on Tuesday called a general strike in the northeast for Aug. 15. Although the day is a national holiday, the rebels hope to disrupt public functions and deter shops and public transport from operating.

The United Liberation Front of Asom, Manipur People's Liberation Front, Kamatapur Liberation Organization and Tripura People's Democratic Front have been fighting for decades for autonomy or independence in India's northeast.

The militants say the national government exploits the region's rich natural resources while doing little for its indigenous people, most of whom are ethnically closer to people in nearby Myanmar and China than to the rest of India.