Guwahati: “Complete normalcy” has been restored in Assam and no further violence has been reported after December 12, says GP Singh, additional DGP (law and order). Singh, who was repatriated to his parent cadre from National Investigation Agency (NIA) following the mob violence and arson that erupted in wake of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests on December 11 and 12 in particular, said that peaceful protests are allowed and are taking place across the state. But if they go violent, they will have to face “might and wrath” of law, he warned.
In an exclusive conversation with EastMojo, Singh informed that the biggest security challenge for the state currently is to ensure that ULFA and NDFB do not re-emerge in the state or work together. “Assam has faced wrath of militancy from NDFB and ULFA. Some activities of ULFA have come to light in upper Assam in Tinsukia and Dibrugarh. It is significant given the protests. We have to ensure these two silos or streams do not open up and mix with each other,” said Singh.
Meanwhile, investigations are underway into the cases of recent violence that erupted and conspiracies involved. Altogether 60 police personnel and 75 civilians have been injured in the protests. Of the 75, 28 civilians faced rubber bullets and bullet injuries and four people died, informed Singh. One case of conspiracy is being investigated by NIA, one by Assam CID and another by Guwahati City Crime Branch, he added.
Following the Gauhati High Court directive, Internet and broadband connections have been restored in Assam since last Friday. However the agencies are keeping a close watch on social media chats and online activities to identify “miscreants inciting violence”. Six arrests have been made till Sunday in some 179 cases lodged for social media posts that were “inflammatory or in conflict of law”, Singh told EastMojo.
“There have been isolated cases of inflammatory posts. Of these we have identified 179 social media posts which were either inflammatory or in conflict of law. As a matter of general policy, we have tried to not take strong action against such people. In most cases we have called family members and friends and people from those localities and counselled those people writing such inflammatory posts. In most cases posts were taken down. Howsoever, we have registered 26 such cases, six people have been arrested and we intend keeping a very close watch on the situation,” said the ADGP (Law & Order).
“Be careful about what is being written and specially with whatever is being forwarded. Let us strive to keep normalcy,” he further cautioned adding that normalcy is required to ensure the peak tourism season doesn’t get impacted adversely in the state.
An IPS officer of the Assam-Meghalaya cadre, GP Singh has served in Punjab and Kashmir too in the past prior to his stint with the National Investigation Agency where he dealt with cases related to Islamic State as well as alleged saffron terror.
“Have seen pitfalls of misuse of internet, social media and chat platforms. It does pose a security challenge specially since it is a global technology and likelihood of misuse by actors and non-state actors from across the borders poses a security challenge,” he said in response to a question about justification of prolonged internet shut downs in the face of violence or sensitive situations.
Asked about the recent cases of police brutality and aggression on display pan-India in Jamia University and Uttar Pradesh to criticised detention of intellectuals, including Ramchandra Guha in Karnataka, Singh remarked, “In the long run, legitimacy and fairness of police count with people. If you are seen as a fair and legitimate force, people will not test you.”
(Smita Sharma is a senior independent award-winning journalist. You can engage with her on Twitter/ @smita_sharma)