Security alert in the northeast ahead of Republic Day | india | Hindustan Times
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Security alert in the northeast ahead of Republic Day

india Updated: Jan 24, 2008 12:54 IST

A massive security alert has been sounded in three of the seven northeastern states with militant groups calling for a boycott of Republic Day celebrations.

Four separatist groups in Assam, Manipur and Tripura have announced a 17-hour general strike to enforce the boycott call.

"We have deployed security forces in strength across the state, especially around vital installations, to thwart any possible militant attacks," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

The militant groups that called for a boycott of the Republic Day celebrations include the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), 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, and the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF).

The ULFA is blamed for three explosions earlier this week in which seven people were injured, including one in Guwahati.

"All the three blasts were carried out by the ULFA ahead of Republic Day to create panic. We have intelligence inputs about plans by the ULFA to carry out attacks," a senior Assam police official said. Similar security alerts were sounded in Manipur and Tripura.

"We are taking no chances and hence have deployed security forces across the state," a senior police official in Manipur's capital Imphal 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, road and rail bridges as well as targeting 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.