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                     Vol.2, No.23  [*] June 13, 1997

   Words of elders are bitter to hear, these are truth you have to bear.
              (sar alam ke lamdak, kachekok ke la thak thak)
                           - Karbi Proverb

   In a tense race against the clock, a team of  Border  Security  Force
   (BSF)  bomb-disposal  experts defused an RDX time-bomb planted on the
   Delhi-bound Avadh-Assam Express primed to go off at  3:30  pm  (IST).
   Official  sources  said  that the BSF acting on a tip-off conducted a
   joint search along with personnel of the  Government  Railway  Police
   (GRP)  and  managed  to  detect  the bomb under the lavatory of coach
   number six, a second class  sleeper  three-tier  compartment  of  the
   train  when  it pulled into the Barpeta Road station in the afternoon
   on June 11.  The bomb was defused just about 40 minutes before it was
   time to go off.  The bomb was powerful enough to have ripped apart at
   least three coaches, sources said.

   Guwahati City Police recovered a large number of explosives including
   35 gelatin sticks, 17 detonators with connecting wires, 100 metres of
   flexible wires, two iron casing for planting bombs concealed  in  two
   used  cement  sacks  behind the driver's seat from a mini-city bus at
   Chandmari area of Guwahati during a stop-and-search operation on June
   11.  Police sources said that  they  had  definite  information  that
   militants  may  try  to  transport explosives in a city bus and since
   June 10 evening the checking of vehicles  were  intensified.    Three
   persons,  driver  of  the  bus,  the  conductor and the handyman were
   arrested by the police.
   Meanwhile, in Dhubri, acting on hard intelligence that a shipment  of
   arms  was  to be brought into the country, the BSF recovered nine .32
   pistols,  18  magazines  and  28  rounds   of   ammunition   from   a
   Nalbari-bound bus  and  arrested  an ULFA cadre on June 11.  The arms
   were smuggled from Bangladesh.
   The  ULFA  leaders Paresh Baruah, Raju Baruah and Sashadhar Chowdhury
   were opposed to the talks while Arabinda  Rajkhowa  and  Anup  Chetia
   were  in  favour  of  talks,  according to Government sources, having
   definite information that the ULFA is  clearly  divided  over  talks.
   The division is getting sharper by the day and the faction opposed to
   the talks  are indulging in sabotage and terrorist violence.  Sources
   added that this faction had now decided to intensify their subversive
   activities in the State.
   Official sources say that the chairman of the ULFA is not in  overall
   control  of  the  outfit  at this moment and the Government is not in
   favour of holding talks with only one faction as it would not help in
   bringing a permanent solution to the problem  of  insurgency  in  the
   State.   Sources added that the Government believe holding talks with
   only one faction may only complicate the problem.

   The ULFA on June 11 strongly opposed the proposed 10-hour Assam bandh
   on June 13,  called  by  the  six  political  parties  of  the  State
   including  the  AGP  in  protest against the bomb attack on the Chief
   Minister on June 8.  The publicity secretary of  the  banned  outfit,
   Mithinga  Daimary,  in  a strongly-worded communique to the press has
   flayed the call for the bandh.
   Holding  the  Mahanta Government responsible for the 'perpetration of
   the reign of  exploitative  forces',  the  ULFA  spokesman  said  the
   Government had 'no moral right to call for a bandh.' Calling upon the
   people  to  frustrate the bandh call, the press release urged them to
   give a fitting rebuff to the 'autocratic and hypothetical regime.'

   The summary suspension of the Guwahati City SP, Mr Kuladhar Saikia by
   the government on  June  10  on  grounds  of  being  responsible  for
   security  lapses in the attempt on the life of the Chief Minister, Mr
   Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on June 8, has evoked widespread resentment in
   a wide cross-section of the people including in the rank-and-file  of
   the police force. 
   The  City  SP  was  said  have been adhering to a government circular
   which made it mandatory for all SPs and DCs to rush to a spot  within
   24  hours  of  receiving  reports  of allegation of harassment by the
   army.  It was while he was at  Sonapur,  where  a  demonstration  was
   being  staged  by an irate mob protesting the sinister killing of AGP
   leader, Prasanta Boro.
   Police officials contacted by the Press expressed that the suspension
   would have a demoralizing effect on the  police  force.    They  said
   while  they did not fear Mr Saikia during his tenure as City SP, they
   worked with a will because they had deep respect for him.  They added
   that Mr Saikia had never made any 'demands' on the  'thanas'  and  he
   seldom  drank  even a cup of tea while he visited the police stations
   under his charge.  Senior citizens felt that Mr Saikia who enjoyed  a
   'clean  image'  had  been victimized because he had 'swam against the
   current,'  and  that  he  had  kept   away   from   extortion   which
   characterized the tenures of his predecessors and seniors.

   Defence analysts, who are deliberately distancing themselves from the
   probe into the bomb attack on the Chief Minister said the  amateurish
   and  slipshod  manner in which the explosion had been carried out and
   the fact that it had mercifully not  caused  any  casualty  indicated
   that  the  saboteurs had been under pressure from the elders of their
   outfit to blow up the bomb and get done with.  Sources said that from
   all available indications  it  had  become  quite  evident  that  the
   explosion  was  not really intended for the Chief Minister at all and
   that he had become a 'target by default.'
   It may be mentioned that intelligence agencies, on  the  eve  of  the
   Prime  Minister's  visit  to  the  North-east,  had intercepted radio
   messages of rebel groups instructing  its  cadres  to  trigger  three
   explosions in separate places Mr Gujral was scheduled to visit during
   his five-day  sojourn.    The  main  aim,  however,  was  a  'show of
   strength' to  indicate  that  the  rebels  might  be  down  but  were
   certainly not out.
   Significantly,  while  the  Army had informed the State Government in
   writing on June 8 that the militants were planning a strike on a  top
   leader,  based  on  hard  intelligence,  they  had even sought that a
   magistrate be deputed to accompany them to carry out searches in  the
   jurisdiction  of  the  Jalukbari  'thana' to pre-empt such an attack.
   Top level sources in the Government said, however, that the Army  had
   been informed that no magistrate was available at the time.  The Army
   has already given a written complaint to the State Government in this
   Moreover, the IGP(SB) had provided definite information to the police
   on June 7 that  either  Mr  Mahanta,  the  Food  and  Civil  Supplies
   Minister,  Mr  Digen  Bora  or  the  state Flood Control Minister, Mr
   Promode Gogoi were in danger of being attacked by the militants  over
   the following two days.

Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation only.
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]