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Narendra Modi’s maiden visit to Assam as prime minister on Saturday coincides with the 24th anniversary of the government imposing a ban on the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), and has thus become a high security affair. Modi arrives on Saturday and leaves for Imphal on Sunday after attending a series of functions here.
“We are tightening the security in this VVIP visit like never before, especially in view of the visit coinciding with the ULFA’s protest day that the outfit has been observing since 1990,” Pallab Bhattacharya, additional DGP (Special Branch), Assam Police said here today.
An unidentified group has already created a sensation by sending an explosive device in Guwahati-bound train from Alipurduar (north Bengal) on Monday. The bomb however was detected on time and diffused, thus averting a major tragedy. A blast that occurred in Rajgarh, a township in Dibrugarh district in upper Assam on Friday that claimed two lives, meanwhile is suspected to be a handiwork of the ULFA.
Prime Minister Modi, who arrives in Guwahati on Saturday afternoon, will first inaugurate the first railway link to Meghalaya, and then attend the platinum jubilee celebrations of The Assam Tribune newspaper before meeting a number of delegations. The next day he will address an all-India conference of DGPs and IGPs, and then a meeting of BJP party workers before flying off to Imphal.
While Guwahati has been already put on high alert, all in-bound trains and buses to Guwahati are being regularly frisked for the past couple of days, with police saying this will continue till the prime minister returns back to Delhi after winding up his visit to the region on December 1. Modi is also visiting Nagaland where he will inaugurate the Hornbill Festival which also coincides with the 50th statehood of the hill state.
The ULFA, which has been routinely calling a “black day” on November 29 – the day the outfit was declared unlawful in 1990 – however is yet to announce its “black day” programme for this weekend. The ULFA however has since become weaker, with a major section coming overground to engage itself in peaceful negotiations with the government. The anti-talk faction led by its commander-in-chief Paresh Barua, who is holed up in Myanmar, continues to demand a “sovereign Assam” from there.
Security has been also beefed up in various strategic locations in Assam in view of the recent jihadi threats, especially after a sleeper cell of Jamaatul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB) based in West Bengal was found extending its tentacles to Assam. One of the 12 persons declared “most wanted” by the National Investigation Agency probing the Burdwan blast is from Assam and he is still at large.