The Army today vowed to intensify its operations in Assam in the aftermath of the massacre of tribals by Bodo militants, as authorities mulled coordinated action with armies of Bhutan and Myanmar to hunt them.
Normal life in Assam was, meanwhile, affected by a 12-hour bandh called by several organisations including some tribal outfits in protest against the killing of the tribals by militants belonging to National Democratic Front of Bodoland(Songbijit faction) on Tuesday.
A fresh incident was reported where NDFB(S)militants lobbed a grenade at SSB personnel and exchanged fire with them in Chirang district along the Indo-Bhutan border, police said.
Army Chief Gen Dalbir Singh Suhag met Home Minister Rajnath Singh in Delhi after which the General said the Army is going to intensify its operations against NDFB militants.
“We are definitely going to intensify our operations in Assam,” he told reporters after the meeting.
“The meeting was to review the security situation in Assam,” the Army Chief said. The Minister returned from Assam yesterday after a two-day visit to review the situation.
Sources said the Home Minister is believed to have discussed the issue of coordinated operations with armies of Bhutan and Myanmar against the NDFB(S) which has bases in the two neighbouring countries.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj also spoke to Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay last evening seeking action against the Bodi militants and was “assured of support”.
External Affairs Ministry Spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said Swaraj was also trying to seek help of other “friendly neighbouring” countries to tackle the scourge of terrorism which India sees as a “national endevour”.
“The External Affairs Minister has talked to the Bhutanese leadership at the highest level. We are also working on having others who could possibly help in this,” the spokesperson said, adding, “this issue came up following possible leads which indicated that there may be others beyond Indian borders where we require assistance.”
In Guwahati, a Defence spokesperson said Army is carrying out intensive area domination operation in violence affected areas of Assam. The death toll in attacks by NDFB(S), retaliatory violence by tribals and police firing since Tuesday rose to 81, according to police.
“We have intensified counter-insurgency operations and area domination in all the violence affected areas to stabilise the situation,” he said.
The army has, however, not launched any fresh operation codenamed ‘Operation All Out’ as reported in a section of the electronic media, the spokesperson said.
“The Commanders are keeping a close watch on the ground situation and reviews are being carried out dynamically to deal with the situation,” he added.
Aerial surveiilance of the area was also carried out by Army Aviation Helicopter sorties, he said.
Gen Suhag said 66 army columns (70 personnel in each column) have been deployed in Assam for counter insurgency operations.
The Indo-Bhutan border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) has also rushed 2,000 of its personnel to Assam.
An estimated 72,675 persons in the four affected districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Sonitpur and Udalguri have taken shelter in 61 relief camps, CEO of Assam State Disaster Management Authority P K Tiwary said.