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Will Take Steps to Curb Maoist Menace: Gogoi
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today admitted that Maoist outfits "have made some headway" in the state and sought the Centre's economic and technical assistance to wean away youths.

Addressing a press conference here, Gogoi said he had apprised prime Minister Manmohan Singh about the issue during the latter's trip to Guwahati on April 20.

"They (Maoist) have made some headway and got in touch with some local organisations. They will grow if we do not take preventive steps", he said.

"To defeat them (Maoist) we need schemes to generate employment among youths not only in Maoist affected districts but all backward and rural areas. I have apprised the Prime Minister about the issue and sought his help", Gogoi added.

The Centre had recently raised an alert about growing Maoist presence in some parts of the state, mainly in the upper Assam districts of Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh, Tinsukia, Dhemaji and Lakhimpur.

Gogoi said a proposal has been placed before the Centre and the Planning Commission for land reclamation in Brahmaputra in line with similar projects in Bangladesh.

"While flood is a temporary problem, the problem of erosion is a permanent one. Assam has lost over four lakh hectares of land due to erosion since the 1950s", he said.

The state government has already tied up with the Asian Development Bank for anti-erosion projects.

"But we want to do it in a bigger way. For that purpose we also need to strengthen the Brahmaputra Board. I have raised the matter with Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia during his trip to Jorhat last week," the Chief Minister said.

He said the state has sought a special package for promoting small and cottage industries in Assam.

Lauding Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha member from Assam, Gogoi said "After Rajiv Gandhi, Manmohan Singh is the Prime Minister who has done the most for the state. No other Prime Minister, in between, has been able to do even half or even one-fourth of what Singh has done for Assam."

Gogoi also called upon the Central government and various parties and organisations to formulate a policy for giving shelter to people of Indian origin who had to leave their country and come to India on account of persecution.

"We should look at such people with humanitarian consideration. Whether they can be given citizenship or some other status can be decided after broad-based discussion at the national level," he said.

According to him, the proposal is based on the Congress party's manifesto for the 2011 assembly polls in Assam.

"I raised the matter before the Prime Minister and he said he will look into it. BJP only talks of Hindu refugees. I am talking of people irrespective of religious or ethnic identities," he said.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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