CONFERENCE OF CHIEF MINISTERS
ON INTERNAL SECURITY
SRI TARUN GOGOI
HON’BLE CHIEF MINISTER, ASSAM
17 th August, 2009
Respected Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Union Ministers present, Chief Ministers of different States and Union Territories, Ministers from different States and Union Territories, Senior Officials of Government of India and various State Governments.
At the outset, I must thank Hon’ble Prime Minister and Hon’ble Union Home Minister for the help and guidance that the Government of Assam has been receiving from the Government of India in tackling the problem of Militancy and Terrorism in the state.
At present the militant organizations such as United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) Dima Halam Daogah (Joel Group) DHD (J), Karbi Longri N C Hills Liberation Front (KLNLF), National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB - Pro Ranjan Daimary), All Adivasi National Liberation Army of Assam (AANLA) are active in the State and have been indulging in violent Acts. I am happy to state that because of the relentless Counter Insurgency operations by the Security Forces under the Unified Command Structure, the violent activities of the militant outfits have been controlled to large extent in the state during the year 2009 except in the NC Hills district. Because of continued pressure from the Security Forces and unilateral ceasefire by the A&C Company of the most active 28 th Battalion of ULFA, the subversive activities of ULFA have been limited to the central and lower Assam during the year 2009. The NDFB (Pro- Ranjan Daimary) has however, increased its violent activities in the North Bank of Brahmaputra mainly to prove its existence after its split with the NDFB (ceasefire group).
In the NC Hills district, there has been an increase of the violent activities of the DHD(J) in the first half of the year. The NC Hills has borders with Manipur and Nagaland and because of its difficult terrain with thick jungles and the safe shelter and hide outs of the militants in the adjoining States and Countries, it has not been possible to achieve satisfactory results during C.I. operations launched by the security forces. In view of the prevailing situation, the works of 4 laning of NH-53 taken up by the National Highway Authority of India has not progressed. Similarly, the progress of works of gauge conversion of the railways is also slow even though all the necessary security has been provided by the Government.
The district also witnessed ethnic violence perpetrated by the militant groups since 19 th March, 2009 which resulted in loss of lives of 64 innocent persons in addition to burning down of 520 houses. At present the situation in the district is under control and the train services on the Lumding - Badarpur Hill section of the district are running normally. The affected families have been given shelter in the relief camps. The State Government would also take up necessary rehabilitation measures for their return to the villages. The vulnerable villages of both the Dimasa and Zeme (Naga) communities have been identified and security arrangements for these villages have been made. The district Administration has also taken steps to hold peace meetings with the Apex Bodies of the Dimasa and Zeme tribal groups of the district.
The Assam Police with assistance of Central and State’s own Intelligence Agencies, succeeded in arresting Joel Garlosa, the Chairman of the DHD(J), a banned outfit and P.Dilli, the Chairman of KLNLF in the recent past. This has been a big blow and demoralizing factor for the cadres of both the outfits. The newly created National Investigation Agency (NIA) has also taken up the cases related to siphoning out of NC Hills Autonomous Council Funds to the DHD(J) to continue their terrorist activities.
At present three militant groups namely, DHD, UPDS and NDFB are in Suspension of Operation Agreement with the Government of India and the Government of Assam and their cadres are now located in the designated camps. The Revised Ground Rules of Suspension of Operation have also been signed with all these three outfits. Since these SoO Agreements has been continuing now for more than 4 years, it is urgently necessary to accelerate the dialogues with these groups and come to a final settlement of their demands including rehabilitation of the cadres of these militant outfits. Although these cadres are in designated camps, reports of extortion and other crimes committed by the cadres of the SoO Groups staying in the designated camps are received and therefore final settlement and rehabilitation is urgently necessary.
Again, the cadres of SoO Groups of Nagaland, are also involved in violent activities in NC Hills and Karbi Anglong. It is necessary to strictly enforce the Ground Rules and restrict their movements outside Nagaland.
At present the neighbouring countries of Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar have posed as a challenge to the internal security of the State. Bangladesh has emerged as hub of Fundamentalist elements facilitating cross-border terrorism. I am afraid that the Government in Bangladesh has not taken action as per our expectation regarding both the extradition of wanted terrorists and about destruction of terrorist camps in its soil. Assam continues to be not only hunting grounds for the fundamentalist elements from Bangladesh, but has become veritable gateway for groups such as Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HUJI) to the rest of the country to carry out terror attacks. The unholy nexus that exists between ULFA, NDFB and these Fundamentalists elements who have their common mentor in a Foreign Intelligence Agency, is adding a new dimension to the internal security scenario of the State. These groups have reportedly developed operational understanding for launching bigger scale of violence in the state in the coming days.
To curb this challenge posed by Bangladesh following measures are recommended.
- Comprehensive fencing of the entire Indo-Bangladesh border,
- Optimum deployment of BSF,
- Diplomatic pressure on Bangladesh Govt. for action against the Indian Insurgent Groups ( IIGs)
- Close monitoring of the flow of foreign funds for educational and religious institutions along the international border.
The international border with Myanmar is another major concern for the internal security of the State. The States which share International Border with Myanmar viz. Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram are used by ULFA and DHD(J), for their movement as well as arms transhipment into the State. There are instances, where arms consignment entered through Cox Bazar of Bangladesh which were dispatched through Mizoram-Myanmar, Manipur-Myanmar border into Assam. Only strict vigilance along the International border with Myanmar will bring these activities to a halt. Diplomatic pressure is also to be built upon the Myanmar Govt. for initiating a pro-active action against the militant outfit ULFA.
Assam does not have any common border with Nepal, yet the nexus between the Communist Party of Nepal ( CPN) and CPI (Maoist) of India has been a matter of serious concern. The VISA free regime between India and Nepal has also been exploited by anti-national elements to import Maoist ideology into the country including Assam. The North Bengal area especially the Siliguri corridor has been silently intruded by the activities of CPI (Maoist) to enlarge their bases in Assam. Its influence has even spread inside Bhutan where these elements in the garb of Communist Party of Bhutan (CPB) is leading an anti-monarchy propaganda. The ULFA and NDFB are also in search of an opportune moment in collusion with these forces to regain its lost base in Bhutan. In view of the complexity of the problem, we may consider streamlining the movement of foreigners in Indo-Nepal border.
Issues relating to Naxal management :
Left Wing Extremism has not yet been able to make any visible inroads in the state of Assam. Nevertheless, my State cannot afford to be complacent to the growing menace as Left Wing Extremist Organizations have been trying to influence the sizeable Adivashi population through two militant organizations namely Adivashi Cobra Militant and Birsa Commando Force who have been demanding ST status for Adivashis in Assam, protection to the life and properties of the Adivashis and employment opportunities for the Adivashi youth. These two outfits with about 600 trained cadres are presently under ceasefire agreement with Government of Assam. We are giving due attention to the grievances of the Adivashi community to prevent the entry of Maoist into Assam. Maoists have also made attempts in the past to influence and indoctrinate the yout of tribal communities in Assam but could not succeed because timely intervention by the police. Reports of Maoist trying to make inroads into the Nepali dominated areas along the Indo Bhutan border have been received and my Govt. is taking all required actions to prevent the move. However, we need to keep a close watch on the activities of the Maoist in the State of Assam. We also need to ameliorate the perceived feeling of neglect and alienation among the communities and empower these communities to take up their own development schemes. The Government of Assam have already constituted six Autonomous Councils for the Rava, Mishing, Tiwa, Sonawal Kachari, Thengal Kachari and Deuri tribal communities. During the current year, my Government proposes to constitute Development Councils for the Moran, Matak, Ahom, Chutia, Koch Rajbangshi, Tea tribal/Adivashi, Sarania Kachari, Amri Karbi and Gorkha communities.
Creation of Quick Response Teams ( QRTs) and Special Intervention Units (SIU) at the Police Station level:
The QRTs have been created in all the Assam Police Battalions which are located in every district. The Team comprising of one Sub Inspector of Police with 25 Constables are ready with vehicles, weapons and other equipments to move immediately on receipt of orders. The Teams are also equipped with Wireless sets, Mobile Phones and AK Series, INSAS Rifles. In addition to above, 2 QRTs of Commandos are located at Dispur Police Stations (Capital Complex) and at 4 th AP Bn. in Guwahati city. However, due to paucity of forces, Quick Response Teams (QRTs) / Special Intervention Units (SIU) could not be constituted at Police Stations level. However, every Police Stations in the State has a dedicated component of Armed Police (APBn./CPMF) for meeting any exigencies within their jurisdictions, These Teams are also equipped with Wireless sets, vehicles and AK Series / INSAS Rifles.
Strengthening of State Special Branches (SB) and creation of separate Intelligence Cadre :
As per decision taken in the meeting on 6 th January, 2009, a proposal for an amount of Rs. 20.00 crores for strengthening of SB of Assam Police have already been submitted to the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India for its approval and placing of the funds with the State Government for providing modern equipments to the Special Branch of Assam Police and also for arranging training of the Assam Police SB personnel. The State Government also sanctioned additional funds during 2008-09 for procurement of modern equipments by the SB HQrs.
It has also been decided to create a separate cadre from constable to the Dy SP level for the Intelligence Branch under the Special Branch of the Assam Police. 25% of the intelligence staff of SB will be drawn from the regular Assam Police Forces and the remaining 75% staff from constable to S.I. will be appointed through special recruitment to be conducted by the SB Headquarters so that right type of human resources having aptitude for intelligence work can be selected for collection of real time intelligence at field level. This separate cadre will be retained permanently in the SB Organization and will be given special training for intelligence collection etc. along with scope for promotion to the level of Dy SP/ Addl. SP. At present, there are districts Special Branch in all the districts headed by a Dy SP level officer. It is proposed to strengthen this district branches with man-power, vehicles and other equipments. Now, there is no existence of any intelligence set up in the Sub-divisional Headquarters or in Police Stations. It is proposed to post an officer of the rank of S.I. of Police with two constables in each Police Stations for the intelligence collection in the urban Police Stations and one ASI and one constable for the rural Police Stations for the intelligence work. It is also proposed to create facilities for Training of SB personnel.
The State Government is also actively considering the proposal for creation of “Research & Analysis Cell” under the State Government for evaluation and follow-up of the intelligence inputs received in the SB HQ from the field as well as other human and technical sources and analyzing the same to predict future trend of the likely activities. The Special Branch Organisation of Assam Police already has a Special Operation Unit (SOU) headed by IG of Police for investigation of important terrorist related crimes under UA(P) Act in the line of NIA.
The State Government has recently created a Special Task Force (STF) headed by a IG of Police to exclusively deal with terrorist and insurgency activities in a proactive manner. This STF apart from having of 128 specially selected officers and constables is also given support by the Commandos of the Commando Bn. of the Assam Police. The State Government has also taken decision to train up the 23 rd AP(IR) Bn. as a Commando Bn. to tackle the insurgency and terrorist activities in the State. This IR Bn. will be ready for deployment shortly after completion of training.
Creation of Special Cell within CID or Economic Offence Wing comprising of intelligence, investigation, operation and prosecution in the pattern of Anti-Terrorism Squad:
The State Government is giving utmost importance to the FICN (Fake Indian Currency Notes) cases. There is a Cell in the CID Organization in the HQ which is looking after FICN cases and they are directly supervising the investigation of the cases in the districts as SR cases. It is proposed to take up the investigation of such cases directly by the CID HQ Police Station after up-grading man power in the CID.
The fake currencies are generally introduced in the markets, Bazaars in the rural areas and therefore, it is also felt necessary that all the Police Stations especially in the districts with International Border are equipped with fake currency detection equipments so that these can be detected easily.
Filling up of Existing Vacancies in the State Police Force and Creation of Additional posts:
The State Government has taken up recruitment of police constables in big way. During the last 3 years, a total of 10949 number of posts of different categories have been filled up. The State Government has also created more than 7000 posts in Assam Police Organization during last 2 years. In view of the new creations and retirement of existing personnel, we still have more than 7500 vacancies in the State Police as on date. The State Government proposes to start the recruitment process for these 7500 vacant posts of constables and Sub Inspectors of Police within the current financial year after the completion of ongoing recruitment process for the 2400 posts of Constables.
To meet the shortage of the Police personnel, the State Government has approved engagement of 10,000 Home Guards and 3,500 Special Police Officers including 1500 SPOs for deployment in the markets, Bazars and Parking Places and another 2000 SPOs for Railway/NHAI Projects under implementation in the State.
The Government of India has sanctioned 9 IR Bns for the State of Assam out of these, 7 IR Bns has already been raised. The process of recruitment for the 8 th IR Bn is going on. The sanction of the 9 th IR Bn is under process.
The State Government has also decided to separate crime investigation from the general law and order in the city of Guwahati. In order to have adequate number of man power in the Police Stations of Guwahati City, 800 additional posts of different categories are being created shortly over and above the existing strength of 871 posts in 21 Police Stations.
During the last 3 years, the State Government has created 55 number of new Police Stations and 21 number of new Police Out Posts. At present, the total number of Police Stations sanctioned in the State of Assam is 312 numbers. In addition, there are 203 Police Out Posts.
Guidelines on Security of Places of Worship, Malls etc :
The security of the places of worship, historical monuments, iconic installations, malls, multiplexes, hotels and other places of large footfalls have been beefed up as per the security perception in the districts. The private agencies have been deployed for checking and access control. The places of religious importance like temples, Masjids and Churches are given special security coverage on special occasions like festivals.
Some of the other important vital installations like refineries, bridges, TV stations, Radio stations, banks, railway stations and bus stations are covered round the clock by armed police. The malls, multiplexes and hotels are also kept under surveillance by the district special branch and mock drills are carried out to check the security apparatus deployed at these places. The matter of creation of statutory provisions for mandatory clearances is under examination of the State Government.
In order to have police citizen interface, Nagarik Santha (Community Liaison Groups) has been constituted in the districts and at the police station level which meet once a month to discuss various aspects of policing including impact and fall out of the on going fight against militants. Further, around 19,000 Village Defence Parties (VDPs) formed at the village level under the Assam Village Defence Party Act. have been assisting the police in the fight against terrorism and normal crimes. The VDPs are also being used for guarding the Railways bridges and has been a major source of intelligence input in the rural areas. At present the VDPs are paid monthly allowance varying from Rs.200/- to Rs.1500/- to meet the cost of batteries, Tea etc. during night patrolling. This is too meagre for a party consisting on the average of 10 persons. We would request financial support from Government of India to increase the allowance to Rs. 3000/- per month to all the existing VDPs in the State.
State Industrial Security Force:
The State Government has created 2 Battalions of Assam Industrial Security Force (AISF) during the year 2008-09 for providing security to the tea gardens as well as industrial undertakings in the State both public and private. Another Assam Police Battalion dedicated for the security of ONGC installations in the State has also been sanctioned during the year 2008-09 and the recruitment for the same is going on at present.
Border Management :
Assam has got international border with Bangladesh and Bhutan. Assam has international border with Bangladesh covering 247.72 km out of which 110 km are riverine border. Moreover, it has got 255 km of international border with Bhutan guarded by SSB. The international border of Assam and Bangladesh is mainly guarded by BSF covering Karimganj, Cachar and Dhubri districts having total of 92 BOPs. There is also second line of Defence BOPs manned by Assam Police and at present 12 such BOPs and two Tact HQ are functioning from the existing resources of Assam Police Border Organization.
The International Border Management is very crucial for the Internal Security of the country in the wake of support to the Terrorist / militant activities from across the border and also because of smuggling of arms and ammunitions from the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar to Assam and other North Eastern States. Effective vigilance is also necessary in the international border if we want to tackle the menace of fake Indian Currency notes which are being pumped from across the International Borders. The sealing of International Border is also crucial to check the infiltration of illegal immigration / foreigners into the State of Assam and the rest of the country. It is necessary to erect border fencing covering the complete length of Indo Bangladesh border to effectively check the infiltration, smuggling of Arms and FICN as well as entry and exit of the militants.
Deportation of Foreigners:
The State Government has been facing certain problems in deportation of the foreigners detected by Foreigners Tribunal. As per the procedure, the persons detected as foreigners by the Foreigners Tribunals are handed over to Border Security Force by the State Police for deportation to Bangladesh. In some cases, the BSF could not deport the detected foreigners as the BDR refused to accept the persons. There are also instances that detected foreigners are not accepted by the BSF at the Immigrants Check Posts (ICPs) in Dhubri and Karimganj districts. The explanation given by the BSF is that they are facing problems from the BDR due to their reluctance to accept the Bangladeshi nationals identified through due process of law. Government of India may take up the matter with Government of Bangladesh for an understanding in this regard so that the Foreigners can be deported without any difficulty.
Further, as per the suggestions in the last meeting, it is necessary for immediate introduction of the immigration controls like photography and finger printing of foreigners entering through the immigration check post ( ICPs) in the Indo-Bangladesh Border. All immigration check post should also be inter-connected through computer network to verify and ensure that all foreigners who enter India return to their country after completion of their approved period of stay.
Detection of foreigners in Assam is done by the Tribunals constituted under the Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964. Presently there are 32 Foreigners Tribunals ( FTs) in the State and recently four additional Tribunals have also been approved by the Central Government. The staffing pattern approved by the Ministry of Home Affairs for these tribunals is inadequate and needs to be augmented with the required manpower so that functioning of the FTs improves. The paucity of posts has also resulted in slow progress in the disposal of cases and also posed as hurdle for getting judicial officers for appointment as Members.
The State Government earlier in the year 2006 submitted the requirement of posts for the Tribunals on the basis of a work study conducted through the Director of Financial Inspection, Government of Assam. As per their assessment, the requirement was for 13 supporting staff for one Foreigners Tribunal. The State Government strongly request Government of India to adequately equip the Foreigners Tribunal so that they can effectively function and dispose off the huge number of cases pending before the Foreigners Tribunal under the Foreigners Act.
Issues relating to Modernization of Police Force scheme:
An amount of Rs.424.37 Crore have been sanctioned and released under MPF Scheme for Assam since 2000-01. Out of the fund released till 15 th July, 2009, an amount of Rs.357.39 Crore have been utilized. The process for utilization of balance amount of Rs. 66.97 Crore is in progress. The Government of Assam has already submitted the Action Taken Report on the CAG’s concurrent audit of MPF Scheme, conducted in the last quarter of 2008-09 to the MHA, Government of India.
Regarding concerns raised by the C & AG about the slow pace of expenditure of MPF Schemes, it may be stated that Fast changing Technology leading to constantly changing Technical Specifications of different products under procurement, tender formalities to be followed during the procurement of equipments including Bullet Proof Vehicles, Non supply of Weaponry items by Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) in time has contributed to the slow pace of expenditure under the scheme. OFB may be directed to expedite the delivery of the weaponry items for which advance payments have been made by Government of Assam.
The Government India may kindly consider the increase in allocation to the State under MPF Scheme since adequate the number of essential items like Bullet Proof Jackets, Armored vehicles (BP vehicle) etc are not available for the present. Similarly, State Government has been postponing the procurement of the sophisticated security equipments and gadgets including Bomb Disposal items and surveillance equipments owing to lack of funds.
Special Scheme to Prevent Youth from joining militant Outfits:
We are aware of the fact that underdevelopment and lack of employment opportunities facilitates breeding of militants. It was observed that there are certain areas in the State which contributed maximum number of youth to the militant organizations. We have identified 1152 such underdeveloped villages located in the remote areas of 20 districts of the State. These villages are located in riverine or remote areas along the inter-state and international borders of the State and are without basic infrastructure of roads, water supply, electricity etc. There is a feeling of neglect and alienation among the youth of these villages. Therefore, in addition to the counter terrorism measures, the State Government is giving special attention to the development of these remote villages and also employment of the youth of these villages to wean away these youth from joining the militant organizations. We request the Government of India to come forward to help us in this respect.
Rehabilitation of Surrendered Militants:
In Assam a large number of militants have surrendered and joined the mainstream. The Government of India has formulated rehabilitation scheme for the surrendered militants. It is felt that if we make the rehabilitation package more attractive, many more disgruntled cadres would be tempted to leave the militant outfits and joined the mainstream. I would request the Government of India to review the rehabilitation scheme for surrendered militants to make it more attractive.
Before I conclude, I would like to state that the State of Assam have made rapid progress inspite of Assam having terrorism during the last 8 years and this is borne out by the fact that the Economic Growth Rate of the State of Assam during the 10 th Plan period (2002-07) has been 5.75% against 2.8% during the 8 th Plan period and 3.04% during the 9 th Plan period (at 1999-2000 constant prices). As per the “Doing Business 2009” data of World Bank for selected cities in India, Guwahati has been ranked as the 8 th best city for doing business.
I can confidently say that the militant groups in the State of Assam have lost popular support at present and the general public are participating in the economic development of the State. I strongly believe that in addition, counter terrorism measures, we will have to fight terrorism through economic activities including creation of employment opportunities to attack to some of the root causes of terrorism.
I have tried to provide the august gathering an over view of the problem of my State and the steps that are being taken to over come these. As was evident from the presentation, the issues that confront my State are multifarious, and a holistic approach is needed to successfully tackle these. Issues that should attract our immediate attention, however, are the issue of terrorism, and the new dimension it is taking. Along with the already existent problem of ethnic insurgency, which has already graduated into terrorism, the future foretells the possibility of inroads by Naxalism and fundamentalism. We must prepare for these now. Indeed, if immediate heed is not paid to these issues, all of us would have more trouble on our hands in the near future.
Chief Minister, Assam