Army Chief to visit violence-hit Assam today; death toll at 81

Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag is expected to visit Assam on Saturday, where ethnic violence has claimed over 80 lives, reports said on Friday.

Army Chief to visit violence-hit Assam today; death toll at 81

Guwahati: Army Chief General Dalbir Singh Suhag is expected to visit Assam on Saturday, where ethnic violence has claimed over 80 lives, reports said on Friday.

Gen Suhag will take stock of the situation in Assam and oversee the progress of the Army's ongoing operations against the NDFB(S) militants who had recently killed several tribals in one of the worst incidents of violence in the northeastern state.

General Suhag, after meeting Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh Friday morning, had announced that the Army will “intensify operations in Assam”.

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 that the Home Minister had asked the Army Chief to ensure that peace returns to the violence-hit areas and there is no flare up. Singh also reportedly 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.

The Home Minister had Thursday ruled out talks with Bodo "terrorists".

Meanwhile, the death toll in the Assam ethnic violence Friday rose to 81.

Normal life was, meanwhile, disrupted by a bandh called by several organisations in Assam.

Two persons, one each in Sonitpur and Chirang, injured in Tuesday's attack by NDFB(S) militants succumbed to their injuries Thursday night, while a charred body was recovered from Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district Friday morning, a police spokespersons said.

A day after Home Minister Rajnath Singh made it clear that there will be no talks with terrorists and "zero-tolerance policy towards acts of terror", operations by security forces have been intensified along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sonitpur district, which bore the brunt of NDFB's attack.

A defence spokesperson said troops along with the police and paramilitary forces had intensified counter-insurgency operations along the border with the neighbouring state to flush out militants and smash their hideouts.

Aerial surveillance of the area was also carried out by Army Aviation Helicopter sorties, he said.

Army was also extending full support to the civil administration to instill confidence among the affected people and restore peace.

Meanwhile, a 12-hour bandh called by the All Assam Adivasi Students' Association (AAASA), Assam Tea Tribes Students Association (ATTSA) and Asom Yuva Parishad (AYP) disrupted normal life across the state.

The bandh was total in the affected districts of Sonitpur, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Udalguri and Baksa along with tea garden dominated districts of Jorhat, Golaghat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia in Upper Assam.