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Compensation still a mirage for many martyrs

 STAFF REPORTER 

GUWAHATI, May 7: Adequate and suitable compensation package is still eluding many families of the Assam policemen who have lost their lives fighting militants in Assam since 1990. 
Sources told The Sentinel that even though nearly 490 policemen sacrificed their lives while fighting militants, particularly the ULFA, since 1990, successive governments at Dispur for nearly three decades have been able to give suitable compensation package to only 60 per cent of the families of the policemen killed by militants. The rest 40 per cent are yet to receive suitable compensation package, the sources said, adding that the previous Congress regime did not do much to expedite the process of rehabilitating the family members of those who succumbed to militants’ bullets. 
Apart from the latest casualty Bhaskar Kalita, a young officer who died in an encounter with the ULFA (Independent) militants in Tinsukia district on Friday, sources said 931 security personnel, including from the Army, paramilitary and State police, lost their lives between 1990 and April 2016. Out of the total casualties, nearly 490 belonged to the Assam Police, the sources said. 
Sources did not provide the details of the outfits involved in the deaths of security personnel. But for the majority of casualties the ULFA and other outfits in Bodoland Territorial Areas District and Karbi Anglong were responsible. The number of casualties in the Assam Police was more since they are the first responders in counter-militancy operations. As per the existing operational guidelines, the police first leads the operation against militant groups in the State. 
The number of casualties among Assam Police personnel is high due to inadequate facilities, lack of modern arms and training to counter militants. The latest killing of Bhaskar Kalita has already raised questions on the efficacy of bullet-proof jackets that the Assam Police personnel use during counter-militancy operations.  
The CAG in its report tabled in the Assam Assembly in 2009 stated that the pace of implementation of the modernization programme of the Assam Police was far from being satisfactory despite the fact that Assam was classified as an “A” category State in terms of militants’ violence by the Centre. The CAG report identified inadequate procurement of bullet-proof jackets by the Assam Police to be the contributing factors towards the increase in police casualties.
In 2014, Gulzar Hussain, a young additional superintendent of police, and Nitya Nanda Goswami, a superintendent of police and his personal security officer, were killed in similar attacks in Sonitpur and Karbi Anglong districts respectively.

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Ankur Kalita