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Republic Day: Himanta says no strike in Assam a ‘good sign’; Rio vows justice for those killed in Nagaland’s Mon district

On Saturday, the Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) had issued a statement that it will not call for the customary bandh on January 26.

By: Express News Service | Guwahati |
January 26, 2022 8:09:19 pm
Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma during Republic Day celebrations in Guwahati on Wednesday. (Photo: Tiwtter)

On the 73rd Republic Day, while Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said that it was a “very good sign” for the state that no militant organisation had called for a bandh on January 26, Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio promised that “justice will be delivered” to the families of those killed during the Mon incident.

“Militant outfits have invariably called for boycotts and bandhs during previous Republic Day celebrations. But in the last eight months, including Independence Day last year, we have seen no strikes. This is a very good sign,” Sarma said, after paying tribute to the martyrs at the Shraddhanjali Kanan in Guwahati on Wednesday.

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Earlier on Saturday, the Paresh Baruah-led United Liberation Front of Asom-Independent (ULFA-I) had issued a statement that it will not call for the customary bandh on January 26, citing the Covid-19 pandemic. The statement, however, urged people to wear black badges to register their protest.

The group, which has been on unilateral ceasefire since May last year, had done the same ahead of Independence Day in 2021— in what was described as a break from tradition.

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Sarma had termed the decision as a “welcome gesture”. “Such confidence-building measures may lead to a formal discussion between the ULFA and the Government of India in future,” he had said.

Since May, both the CM and Baruah have been hinting at the possibility of a dialogue. However, the latter’s demand for sovereignty remains a roadblock in the process.

Meanwhile, Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi after hoisting the National Flag said that the Assam government was committed to fighting crimes in all forms. He added that over 3,600 people had been arrested for drug trafficking, and 520 for cattle smuggling in Assam in 2021.

“The Assam government has zero-tolerance against any kind of crime, be it drug trafficking, crime against women and children, human trafficking, cattle smuggling or cybercrime,” said Mukhi.

The governor also announced the creation of a new district, Tamulpur, in the Bodoland Territorial Region (BTR). It is the 35th district in the state.

Nagaland CM ensures justice for Oting victims

In Nagaland, Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, in his Republic Day speech, paid tributes to the victims of the Mon incident, and ensured that “that justice will be delivered”.

“We are taking every measure to empathise with the family members,” Rio said, while adding: “We had constituted a Special Investigation Team, led by senior police officials, right after the incident. The SIT has made good progress. The Army has also instituted a court of inquiry and it is being completed at a fast pace.”

He said that the incident had led to a public outcry against the continuation of the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFSPA), which gives sweeping powers to the armed forces. “It brought to focus AFSPA’s potential for misuse. The Nagaland Assembly passed a resolution for repeal in a special session on December 20. The Central government is considering the matter and we are hopeful that a positive decision will be reached soon,” Rio said.

He added that the Opposition-less government in the state will also continue to push for an early solution to the Naga Peace Talks.

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