Army Chief meets Rajnath Singh, says will intensify operations against NDFB militants in Assam

The Indian Army is going to intensify its operations against the NDFB militants, who carried out a deadly attack on tribals in Assam leaving more than 70 people dead.

Army Chief meets Rajnath Singh, says will intensify operations against NDFB militants in Assam

New Delhi: A day after visiting violence-hit areas in Assam, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday met Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag here to discuss the situation in the northeastern state.

After the meeting, General Suhag told reporters that the Army will “definitely going to intensify operations in Assam”.

"The meeting was to review the security situation in Assam," the Army Chief said.

Suhag said 66 Army columns (70 personnel in each column) have been deployed in Assam for counter-insurgency operations.

The GoC of the 4 Corps, located in the worst-hit Sonitpur district, heads the Unified Command which conducts the counter insurgency operations in Assam.

Sources said the Home Minister asked the Army Chief to ensure that peace returns to the violence-hit areas and there is no flare up.

Singh told Suhag that Army presence should be increased on the field in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Meghalaya, where there is a presence of NDFB militants.

Sources said the Home Minister is believed to have discussed the issue of coordinated operations with armies of Bhutan and Myanmar against the NDFB which has bases in the two neighbouring countries.

Later, the Home Minister's office tweeted: 

The Home Minister had yesterday ruled out talks with Bodo "terrorists", as the death toll in the two days of violence in Assam rose to 73.

"The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government has a clear policy against terrorism - zero tolerance. There would be no talks at any cost with the militants who carry out such heinous killings," he had said after visiting some of the affected areas in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts.

"The violence is not merely a case of insurgency but one of terrorism. We are going to deal with this sternly," the Home Minister said.

The comments from Rajnath Singh, who flew into Assam on Wednesday evening, came as the death toll in Tuesday's horror in Kokrajhar, Sonitpur and Chirang districts rose to 73 on Thursday, officials said.

Official sources said at least 60 adivasis were massacred by Bodo militants, while 10 Bodos were killed in retaliatory attacks. Three people died on Wednesday when police opened fire at thousands of people who took to the streets in Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district to protest the Bodo militant attack.

Those slaughtered include 21 women and 18 children. Scores of others have been injured in the mayhem.

Rajnath Singh was accompanied by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, some top officials of the Union Home Ministry and some state government officials during his visit to the affected areas.

Tuesday night's violence has been blamed on a hardline faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

Around 2,500 people have fled their homes and are staying in relief camps, official sources said.

The death toll was likely to increase further as there were reports of more bodies being found on Thursday in the three districts. However, there was no official confirmation.

The Home Minister asked Assam to take time-bound action and promised all help from the central government.

He, however, did not divulge any details about the operation.

Rajnath Singh said the central government has taken up with Bhutan and Bangladesh the issue of militants from India's northeast hiding there.

Many adivasi organisations have called a 12-hour Assam bandh today in protest against the killings.

(With Agency inputs)