OffStumped For All Things Right of Center, Bringing a Right of Centre Reality Check to Indian Politics, News Media Reporting and Opinion through Blogs and Podcasts.

ELEVEN PEOPLE were killed and 53 injured in twin blasts in Guwahati on Sunday. Police suspect the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) was behind the explosions. the first blast ripped through the busy Chaigoli area in Fancy Bazaar, a crowded business hub, at 6.30 p.m  The second explosion took place 10 minutes later. Two motorcycle-borne men suspected to be ULFA militants lobbed a grenade at a group of people at Mathghoria on the outskirts of the city. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has strongly condemned the twin blasts in Guwahati. Union Home Secretary V K Duggal is likely to visit Guwahati on Monday for a first hand assessment of the security scenario in the wake of the blasts. The Assam government is not ruling out the involvement of ULFA or Jehadi groups like Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Toiba in the blasts. That the needle of suspicion has such a wide range raises a lot of questions on the internal security situation in Assam. What is even more alarming is the stark indifference with which the rest of the nation has reacted or rather not reacted to these twin blasts, especially given the news the slightest of non-events in the Malegaon and 7/11 blasts investigations make.

Offstumped takes a critical look at the internal security situation in Assam to raise some tough questions that unfortunately the principal opposition BJP has not had the time to ask of the Congress UPA Government.

First a look at the last 30 days in Assam. Offstumped’s analysis of news from Assam reveals a startling pattern.

October 7th – Army convoy hit in Assam

October 7th – 3 army jawans were also killed in a separate incident

October 9th – A lone bomber was roughed up by vigilant civilians in Digboi

October 11th – An army vehcile was blown up in Tinsukia district

October 16th – A major disaster was averted when a the Brahmaputra Mail escaped a bomb blast near Boingaon

October 16th – In a separate incident an ULFA militant blew himself up when the IED misfired

October 27th – 3 killed and 27 injured in a powerful explosion in Sonitpur

October 28th – Twin blasts kill two children and injure 12 on durring Chhath puja celebrations

And then of course you have yesterdays blasts. In all 10 serious terrorist attacks in Assam in just the last 1 month.

Offstumped also examined the last 12 to 18 months, to put these 10 incidents into perspective.

March 2005 – 4 incidents of bomb blasts

April 2005 – 2 incidents including one invovling a pipeline

Jan 2006 – 4 incidents including serial blasts in Guwahati which also targetted the state-owned Assam Gas Company Limited (AGCL)

Feb 2006 – A road bridge was blow up Assam’s Cachar district

March/April 2006 – 4 separate incidents in the run up to the assembly elections

May 2006 – A cop was killed in a blast

June 2006 – A blast in a Guwahati market killed 4

The story goes on………

One may very well be mistaken that this sounds more like the situation in Iraq if references to Assam  were taken off these news reports. The sad reality is, there is a functioning democractic government, recently elected in a popular election with a high voter turnout. Despite this the situation in Assam is beginning to resemble a complete breakdown of internal security. Perhaps in no other democracy would this kind of breakdown of security be tolerated as it is in India. There is hardly a murmur from the opposition while the Government of the day is in blissful in denial. While the Prime Minister waxes eloquently on fair share for minorities his Government is once again caught napping on the security front. The Prime Minister has completely lost all credibility on the security front. His Government has been a dismal failure with nothing to show by way of securing the nation. What is worse, his Government continues to be in abject denial of its lack of a basic strategy to tackle terrorism and to secure the borders. A look at how the talks with ULFA have been conducted to date goes to show how the Government has been floundering on this front.

Feb 2005 – Govt in dilemma on whether to hold talks

May 2005 – Govt invites ULFA for talks with a formal letter despite designating the group as a terrorist outfit

June 2005 – Govt mulls releasing jailed ULFA leaders to boost talks

Sept 2005 – October is set for actually conducting the talks with a ceasefire against ULFA

October 26th 2005 – Manmohan singh finally holds talks

Jan 2006 – ULFA ups violence while Govt mulls date for 2nd round of peace talks

Feb 2006 – Govt reports 2nd round of talks positive on feb 7th

April 2006 – As elections near, Manmohan Singh talks tough and rules out sovereignity

Jun 2006 – Post elections with a Congress government once again at the helm, ULFA ups the ante and warns of impending failure of talks

From there on the situation goes downhill with a complete breakdown of talks and the Army resuming active operations against ULFA and the spiral of violence continuing.

Offstumped Bottomline: With the Army operations gaining steam, the series of incidents occuring at an alarmingly high frequency in Assam may be a last putsch by a desperate ULFA or maybe not. The fact that the Assam Government is speculating wildly on who could be behind yesterday’s attacks goes to show that despite the Army’s efforts the political leadership is clueless about the security situation and how to deal with. Manmohan Singh Government is playing the fire messing the internal security situation from Malegaon to Guwahati while cosying upto Muslim Vote Bank brokers in the run upto the  Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. In any other democracy this sorry performance on the security front would be inexcusable and grounds for immideate dismissal of the Government of the day.

Where is the Opposition in pinning down the Government on these issues ?

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