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ULFA won't be spared: Antony

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HOME-BOUND: With little prospect of finding work back home, this Bihari fleeing violence-torn Assam, along with hundreds like him, is looking into an empty future. A scene at the Guwahati railway station on Tuesday. PHOTO: RITU RAJ KONWAR
HOME-BOUND: With little prospect of finding work back home, this Bihari fleeing violence-torn Assam, along with hundreds like him, is looking into an empty future. A scene at the Guwahati railway station on Tuesday. PHOTO: RITU RAJ KONWAR

Sandeep Dikshit

Manmohan announces compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to families of victims

TEZPUR: Normality will be restored in Assam "in a few days'' and the culprits behind "this heinous crime'' of killing 62 Bihari migrant workers will not be spared, Defence Minister A. K. Antony said on Tuesday.

"Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked me to convey his total support to the Government of Assam to deal with this difficult situation. The Prime Minister, as a mark of solidarity with the victims, has announced compensation of Rs. 2 lakh to the family of each of the killed,'' he said at a joint press conference with Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi here.

"We will not allow the United Liberation Front of Asom to get away. It will be dealt with seriously. I am sure within a few days we will be able to restore normality in joint action by the Centre and the State,'' added Mr. Antony. The sanctuary allegedly provided to the top ULFA leadership in Bangladesh was a "matter of concern for us." "We will take it up [with them]."

"In joint cooperation with the State Government, we will deal strongly with ULFA. At the same time, we are very clear that we can't be complacent as there are many forces behind this. In future, we will strengthen the security atmosphere as well as the local peace committees,'' the Minister said.

The Government had essentially embarked on a two-pronged initiative enhancing people-to-people cooperation and strengthening the security machinery. "With all these, we also have to be more alert,'' said Mr. Antony.

Mr. Gogoi said, "We had a long discussion on dealing with the situation jointly and we will be more vigilant. We can't allow this kind of senseless killings to take place.''

Chief of the Army Staff Gen. J. J. Singh said that about 3,000 troops had been redeployed, from their current location in Dinjan to the violence-hit Sibsagar and Dhemaji districts. They were carrying out `area dominance patrol' and would possibly launch operations against ULFA militants along with the police and Central paramilitary forces.

"We have the support of the people of Assam. We are happy that despite provocation by ULFA, harmony has been retained. It shows the culture of the country,'' said Mr. Antony. The suspension of action against the ULFA was done with good intention but "just the opposite happened'' and the militant organisation used this period to regroup, he said.

"Hereafter we have to be more careful.''

The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary P. C. Sharma, Director-General of Police R.N. Mathur, and the Chief of the Army's Eastern Command, Lt. Gen. K. S. Jamwal.

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