Northeast under high alert, night trains cancelled
Guwahati/Agartala: A high security alert was sounded Friday across the northeast ahead of the Independence Day, and authorities cancelled all night trains through Assam in view of militants` threats to blow up vital installations and railway tracks.
"A state of high alert was sounded across Assam with security forces deployed in strength following intelligence inputs of militants planning violent strikes ahead of August 15 to make their presence felt," officiating Assam Chief Minister Bhumidhar Barman said.
The Northeast Frontier Railway announced cancellation of all night trains through Assam from Saturday evening until August 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 said.
The restrictions would come into effect from 6 p.m. Saturday and remain in force till 5 a.m. of August 17.
"The cancellation of night trains in Assam follows intelligence inputs of militant groups planning to blow up rail tracks or passenger trains as a show of strength ahead of August 15," a senior Assam Police official said.
Five guerrilla groups in India`s northeast called a 17-hour general strike Sunday to boycott Independence Day celebrations.
These 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 August 15, the militant groups have called for a general strike from 1.30 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. Sunday.
Militant groups in the northeast have for years boycotted national events to protest New Delhi`s rule over the region.
Meanwhile, security forces have been put on maximum alert across the region to thwart possible rebel strikes.
"The Border Security Force (BSF) has been put on maximum alert across the Bangladesh border. Additional paramilitary troopers and state security personnel have been deployed in sensitive and important locations to thwart possible strikes by extremists," a BSF spokesman told reporters.
Paramilitary personnel, accompanied by bomb disposal quads and dog squads, launched search operations at airports, hotels, bus terminals, major markets and national highways, Tripura police spokesman Nepal Das said.
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