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Northeast separatists call for Republic Day boycott

Imphal, Jan 22, 2013 (IANS): 11:36 IST
A massive security alert was sounded across the northeast Tuesday after separatist rebels announced a boycott of the Jan 26 Republic Day celebrations, an official said.

"We have placed security forces on high alert to thwart rebels from disrupting the Republic Day celebrations," Shambhu Singh, joint secretary (Northeast) in the home ministry, told IANS Tuesday.

Five frontline separatist groups in the region have called a boycott of the Republic Day and also a general strike from 1 a.m. to 5.30 p.m. that day as a mark of resistance against what it termed as "Indian occupation of the region".

The call has been given by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), the National Liberation Front of TWIPRA (NLFT), the Tripura People's Democratic Front (TPDF) and Coordination Committee (CorCom) - an umbrella of seven major separatist outfits - fighting for an independent state for the majority Metei community in Manipur.

These groups are active in Assam, Manipur and Tripura.

The five rebel groups announced their boycott Monday through a joint statement e-mailed to several media houses.

"There is a clear image of Indian colonial racism manifested in the suppression of human rights under martial and Draconian law such as the Armed Forces Special Power's Act (AFSPA), 1958 and other forms of suspension of fundamental rights," the statement said.

"Extra judicial killings, inhuman torture, fake encounter and sexual harassment in the region are routinely carried out to suppress the freedom struggle of our indigenous people.

"Freedom and independence is the only solution for the conflict as the region can never be a part of the Indian mainstream.

"India's Republic Day is nothing but bowing to country's perpetual slavery system when people are standing on the line of survival or extinction and it is becoming an urgency of paramount importance to free the region from this colonial rule," the statement stated.

Separatists rebel groups in the northeast have for years boycotted national events to protest New Delhi's rule over the region, and have staged violent attacks in the run up to the celebrations to make their presence felt.

"We are on full alert and shall see to it that we are able to foil any attempts by rebels to attack," an Assam Rifles official said.

Thousands of army, police and paramilitary troopers are standing guard in other northeastern states to ensure that militants are not able to create violence ahead of the Republic Day celebrations, particularly in Manipur.

"We are not taking chances. The police across Manipur have been put on high alert and we are bent on thwarting any subversive activity by the militants," Imphal district police chief Konsam Jayanta Singh told IANS.

Rebel groups often target vital installations like road and rail bridges, oil installations, and security forces as part of their design.

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