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Ultra attack alert for candidates

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has issued a warning to all candidates in the fray asking them to be on their toes in the event of possible militant attacks.
PTI | By Rahul Karmakar, Guwahati
PUBLISHED ON APR 08, 2004 03:59 PM IST

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has issued a warning to all candidates in the fray asking them to be on their toes in the event of  possible militant attacks.

Gogoi’s words of caution — for parliamentarians belonging to all parties — have been prompted by the belief that the Chittagong arms haul in Bangladesh last week and a series of Ulfa attacks over the past few days followed a pattern.

In less than a week, an Army jawan and a policeman have been killed in an encounter with militants in the state capital and an ambush in Dhemaji district, while several were injured in two bomb blasts in cinemas in Upper Assam.

“Granted that militant camps in Bhutan have been uprooted and the law and order situation in Assam is under considerable control, but there is no denying the fact that the militants have shifted base to Bangladesh and Myanmar,” Gogoi said.

“It would thus be wise on the part of all candidates to watch out for militants. The ultras have had a history of being hyperactive during polls, and it could be no different this time, particularly with fewer companies of security forces around. Even I had been a target,” he added.

The Ulfa — the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and Kamtapur Liberation Organisation too — is learnt to be nursing a grouse against elected governments in the Northeast as well as the Centre for the Bhutan flush-out operations.

This, according to officials, has been precisely the reason why all political parties have been avoiding any reference to the Bhutan operations. Even Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee skipped the issue during his rally here on Tuesday, presumably as it could increase the threat against BJP candidates in Assam.

Despite his call to candidates to play it safe, Gogoi chose to be stern with the Ulfa. He rejected Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa’s call for a referendum on the issue of independence of Assam. The referendum idea was mooted by a rights group as a solution to the decades-old insurgency problem in the state. “We are against any referendum,” he said. “Any solution has to be within the framework of the Indian constitution. The NSCN (Isak-Muivah) is not insistent on an independent Nagaland; I see no reason why the Ulfa should be.”

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