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Centre keeping watch on Assam situation
R Dutta Choudhury
 GUWAHATI, Jan 12 - The Centre is keeping a close watch on the overall law and order situation in Assam in the wake of the mass protests against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and has directed the State Government to take effective steps to ensure that the situation does not go out of control.

Highly placed sources in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) told The Assam Tribune that the State Government has also been alerted about the possibility of militant groups taking advantage of the fluid situation in Assam. Sources revealed that the Centre has advised the State Government not to allow the situation to deteriorate. However, at the same time, sources pointed out that it is primarily the responsibility of the State Government to maintain law and order.

“The Centre is keeping a close watch on the situation and has asked the State Government to do the needful to ensure that the law and order is maintained. But it is the responsibility of the State Government to take decisions on the ground. The Centre cannot give directions to the State Government on day-to-day maintenance of law and order. The State has to assess the situation and act accordingly,” the sources pointed out.

Sources asserted that the State Government did not register cases against Dr Hiren Gohain, Akhil Gogoi and Manjit Mahanta as per the advice of the Centre. The Centre only asked the State Government not to allow the law and order situation to deteriorate and did not offer suggestions to take action against anyone in particular, the sources clarified.

Meanwhile, the MHA has issued a general alert to the State Government to keep a close watch on the activities of militant groups as they may try to take advantage of the fluid situation. Sources said there have been inputs that militant groups, particularly the United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), may try to take advantage of the ground situation and in addition to recruitments, the outfit may also try to strike in areas where they still have some presence, particularly in the areas bordering Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. The State Government has been asked to keep a close watch on the situation to prevent any such bid of the militants.

Sources also pointed out that there have been reports of fresh recruitments by the ULFA(I) by taking advantage of the opposition against the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 and the outfit has also been issuing statements on the issue. The State Government would have to be careful to ensure that the militants cannot take advantage of the situation and hit innocent civilians, sources added.

Meanwhile, the appointment of RK Pachnanda, a former Director General of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police, as the security adviser to the Assam Chief Minister has also raised a few eyebrows among the officers in the MHA. Sources clarified that the former ITBP DG was not imposed by the MHA and it was the decision of the Chief Minister to appoint him as the security adviser.

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