ARCHIVAL RECORDS: SITUATION IN ASSAM DURING BANGLADESH LIBERATION WAR IN 1971-PART 2
(Second part of the extract from a statement made by then Assam Chief Minister Mahendra Mohan Choudhury in the Assam Assembly on October 25, 1971)
( Continued from the Part 1 published on 21-02-2017 )
In order to deal with a fast developing emergent situation in the country and in a bordering state like ours, we have tken all possible steps to gear up the administration and to ensure protectionand guarding of all vulnerable points and vital installations. The matter has been subjected to detailed discussions with the highest authorities in the Government of India and their advice and assistance obtained to strengthen and streamline arrangements to cope with the serious problems created by a virtual national emergency. The forces at our disposal being inadequate to fully implement our Internal Security Scheme, as approved by the Government of India, we have had to call up 5000 addtional Homeguards for immediate deployment at strategic areas and vital installations. The Govt. of India has also arranged to send some additional Armed Police battalions from outsides the State. The Village Defence Organisation has been mobilised to take up security duties throughout the State and to keep up the morale of the civilian population. Border security measures have been considerably tightened and due vigilance maintained against infiltration of Pakistani agents and saboteurs.
As advised by the Govt. of India, a regular machinery at the highest level has already been set up with Military, Border Security, Intelligence and concerned Agencies to constantly review and coordinate all measures for internal security, maintenance of essential supplies, organisation of civil defence and maintenance of civilian morale. Steps have been taken to set up a State Citizensâ€™ Council in line with the national scheme already initiated. Constant liaison is being maintained with Central authorities and administrative measures duly initiated in line with the national security plan. Steps have been taken to make sure that administrative bottlenecks and procedural hurdles do not impede the quick and effective implementation of measures to deal with the problems of an emergent situation.
Strict surveillance is being maintained on antisocial and subversive elements specially in the border reas to facilitate quick actionto counteract any possible move in that direction taking advantage of a different situation.
In connection with sabotage incidents in Cachar 64 arrests have so far been made of 55 happen to be Indian nationals. The House will appreciate this unfortunate feature of the situation is a matter of grave concern in the context of persistent reports of Pakistani scheme to train a large number of saboteurs for operation on a wide scale in vulnerable areas in our border.
426 persons have so far been arrested in connection with suspected espionage activities. 83 of them happen to be Indian Nationals.
The House may be assured that Govt. will not also hesitate to take recourse to the Maintenance of Internal Security Act on a wide scale to deal with such anti-social activity as and when the situation demands.
Due to recurrence of sabotage attempts in a particular area in the Karimganj subdivision, Govt. have already imposed a collective fine of Rs. 10000 under the Assam Maintenance of Public Order Act. We shall unhesitatingly extend this in other areas with the situation demands.
As the House is aware, following happenings in Bangladesh very large number of evacuees had to be given shelter in evacuee camps with Assam and Meghalaya. Till date we have accommodated 7,36,384 evacuees in various camps including 5,39,847 in camps in Meghalaya. 1,44,562 evacuees are staying outside the camps after registration.
All these evacuees are required to be registrered with detailed particulars under the Foreignersâ€™ Act so that ther may be no difficulty in identifying these evacuees for convenient return to their homes in due course. It may be appreciated as to what stupendous work is involved in this registration under the Foreignersâ€™ Act of such a large number of evacuees. I am happy to be able to tell the House that despite various difficulties this work is progressing steadily and it is expected to complete the process by about the middle of November, 1971. The Government of India have given great importance to this work in the interest of easy return of these evacuees to their homes and the State administration has been geared up suitably to ensure that there is no default in completing this work in time.
It may also be noted that along with those evacuees about 12287 persons have entered Assam as evacuees who had earlier been deported from the State as illegal Pakistani infiltrators. In view of their past antecedents these 12,287 evacuees are being maintained in a few special camps and they have not been allowed to get mixed up with the general body of evacuees.
It is quite possible that along with this large body of evacuees many Pakistani agents and saboteurs might have infiltrated for which very comprehensive security checks have become necessary in the evacuee camps. Due to inadequate forces at our disposal it has not been possible in all cases to make ideal arrangements in that respect and we had to take up strongly with the Govt. of India for special assistance by deputing additional police battalions for our use in that connection.
Maintenance of such a large number of evacuees in camps near the border with difficult communication facilities in many cases has posed stupendous problems due to which arrangements for supply of essential commodities, medical help and other services may not have been all that could be desired in that respect. But the administration is constantly trying to improve arrangements in these camps and the Govt. of India have been systematically approached for special help to the State govt. in that connection. The problem of malnutrition and lack of adequate child welfare work for a large number of children and old and infirm persons in the evacuee camps caused serious problem. It is hoped that unsatisfactory position in that respect will register steady improvement in the near future as a result. (To be continued)