Majority of chars still out of security radar

R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, Feb 10 Though the Assam Police and security forces are trying to bring the char areas along the international border with Bangladesh in the face of threats from the fundamentalist forces, severe shortage of infrastructure and other facilities are hampering the efforts and majority of the chars are totally out of reach of the security radar.

Highly-placed police sources said that the threat perception increased in recent years with fundamentalist forces establishing roots in Bangladesh and efforts are on to improve vigil in the vulnerable places to prevent such forces from establishing their foothold in Assam.

But unfortunately, the infrastructure facilities to carry out the job are far from adequate and several proposals to increase the strength of the force in the char areas are pending with the Government. However, on the positive side, the State Government has recently accorded sanction to create a river police battalion after sitting over the proposal for years.

Sources said that Dhubri district of Assam has more than 47 kilometres of international riverine international border with Bangladesh and there is urgent need for improving vigil in the area. But the strength of the police is far from adequate to carry out the job. Of course, the strength of the Border Security Force (BSF) along the Indo-Bangla border has been increased and the border guarding force has presence in some of the chars along the international border, which are of permanent nature, but majority of the chars near the international border are totally out of the security radar.

Sources revealed that the district has around 400 chars but unfortunately there is almost no presence of police or administration in those and no one knows if any fundamentalist force has established bases in those. "It is impossible for anyone to ascertain whether the chars are safe as police personnel visit those only if any major crime is reported," sources admitted.

Proposals for establishing police stations and outposts in the chars to keep a close eye on those are pending with the Government for years and only recently two police outposts in chars are being upgraded to full-fledged police stations. Sources said that the Government recently issued the draft notification for upgrading the outposts at Sukhchar and Fakirganj to police stations and the Finance Department has also accorded necessary sanction to it. The Government is likely to issue the formal notification in this regard shortly.

Sources admitted that up gradation of the two outposts would be beneficial as the strength of police personnel would increase to around 20 in each of the station from the existing strength of around 10 and the stations would be headed by one sub-inspector of police. But the creation of the stations will become useless if necessary infrastructure is not provided. At present, the police has to hire engine fitted country boats to move to any char if any crime is reported and if the Government is really serious in improving policing in the char areas, adequate number of motor boats along with adequate fuel should be provided to ensure regular patrolling of the areas considered vulnerable.

Moreover, proposals for creation of one more police station and two outposts in the chars near the international border are still pending with the Government and sources said that creation of the same without any further delay in vital for improved vigilance.