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Northeast India gears up against terror attacks

By K Anurag in Guwahati
July 16, 2006 17:00 IST
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Alert has been sounded along the India-Bangladesh border in the northeast India fearing that fundamentalist elements might sneak into this part of the country to carry out Mumbai-like subversions.

The police in the northeastern states particularly in Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya, which have borders with Bangladesh, have put their intelligence-gathering network on high alert owing to the needle of suspicion pointing towards the Students Islamic Movement of India.

Tripura police on Thursday rounded up 11 Muslim youths belonging to an Islamic mission called Tabligh-I-Jamaat from Malaya village located close to the international border with Bangladesh's Sylhet district. The youth are from Thane district of Maharashtra and had been staying in the village since later part of June last.

The youth are yet to be formally arrested even as Tripura police were trying to find out what they were exactly doing close to the international border coming from faraway Thane district of Maharashtra. This has led to high alert along other parts of the international border with Bangladesh in Tripura.

Assam police have stepped up vigil on vital installations and VVIP movements in the wake of alert sounded by the Union Home ministry after the serial explosions in Mumbai on Tuesday. A SIMI office in Guwahati was closed some time back after a ban was imposed on the organization in 2001.

Several Islamic fundamentalist outfits, including Harkat-ul-Jehad, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Islamic Liberation Army of Assam, Islamic Sevak Sangha, Muslim United Liberation Front of Assam and Muslim Volunteer Force, have tried to have a foothold in Assam, which has over the years been swarmed by lakhs of illegal immigrants from across the border.

Assam police blew the lid of presence of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence in the state when it arrested four ISI operatives in Guwahati in 1999. It led to the unearthing of Islamic terrorists' growing activities in the districts of Barpeta, Goalpara, Dhubri and Nalbari districts of Assam.

Assam police had last year arrested a former Indian Air Force personal and his son from a city hotel for alleged links with the ISI. It had found highly classified documents from their possession.

Meanwhile, security personnel have been put ob alert along the Indo-Bangladesh border sector in Garo Hills of Meghalaya. This stretch of border is notorious for cross-border movement of militants from the northeast to Bangladesh and vice versa.

On Wednesday, a joint team of Army and Meghalaya police shot dead four ULFA militants at Adogkrey village under Mendipathar police station in East Garo hills district of Meghalaya close to the border.

The North East Students Organisation, which is an umbrella organisation of the influential students' organizations of Assam, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh, recently warned the Union government that about 14 Islamic Fundamentalist Groups were active in the region.

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K Anurag in Guwahati