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Security beefed up in northeast for I-Day

More than 100,000 army, police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in India's restive northeast to foil any plans by separatists to stage violent attacks ahead of Independence Day today.

india Updated: Aug 14, 2010 11:34 IST

More than 100,000 army, police and paramilitary troopers were deployed in India's restive northeast to foil any plans by separatists to stage violent attacks ahead of Independence Day on Sunday.

Among the states declared as vulnerable to rebel attacks include Assam, Manipur, Tripura, Meghalaya, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh.

"We have been able to put our forces in various vulnerable areas to ensure that rebels cannot stage violent attacks," an army commander said on Saturday.

Army soldiers late on Friday averted a major disaster by defusing a time device planted in a bus terminus in the eastern Assam town of Sivasagar.

"The bomb was concealed in a bag and placed between two buses. We managed to defuse it on time," the commander said.

Five guerrilla groups called a 17-hour general strike Sunday in the northeast to boycott Independence Day celebrations.

The militant groups include the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), 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).

These groups are active in Assam, Manipur and Tripura. As part of their boycott call Aug 15, the militant groups have called for a general strike from 1.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. on Sunday.

Militant groups in the northeast have for years boycotted national events to protest New Delhi's rule over the region.

"We are taking no chances and hence deployed security forces at all vital installations like road bridges, oil facilities, railway tracks and bridges," Assam Inspector General of Police P. Bhattacharya said.

Special security measures were taken in Manipur, Meghalaya, Tripura, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh as well.

"Desperate attempts are being made by militants to sabotage Independence Day celebrations. But we are equally alert" Manipur police chief Joy Kumar Singh said.

The Northeast Frontier Railway announced cancellation of all night trains through Assam from Saturday evening until Aug 17 citing security reasons.

'We have decided to cancel 26 long-distance trains running in Assam at night and suspend or terminate 26 more in view of the Independence Day,' NEF Railway spokesperson S. Hajong told the news agency.

The restrictions would come into effect from 6 p.m. on Saturday and remain in force till 5 a.m. of Aug 17, Tuesday.

There are more than 30-odd rebel groups active in the northeast with demands ranging from independence to autonomy.