By NJ Thakuria
Guwahati, 4 February 2016
As northeast India is preparing for the 12th South Asian Games 2016, to be held in Guwahati and Shillong on 5-16 February 2016, both the capital cities have turned into fortress under security nets.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to inaugurate the spectacular sporting event on Friday in presence of nearly 4500 athletes, officials and sport lovers from Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Afghanistan with the host country India.
The mascot of the event is designed with the campaign for conservation of world’s precious one-horned rhinoceros, which has sizable population in various forest reserves of the region and the theme song ‘Ai Prithibi Ek Kringagon….’ has been picked up from the immortal creations of legendary Assamese music maestro Dr Bhupen Hazarika.
Meanwhile, the security agencies have already expanded its nets to all sensitive locations to make the first biggest ever international multi-sporting event held in the region hassle free. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has ensured a ‘fool-proof security system’ for the mega event ensuring smooth conduct of the Games. “The government has arranged fool-proof security for sportspersons as well as spectators for the smooth conduct of the games,” said Gogoi after attending a review meeting with the representatives from the army, para-military forces, police, intelligence agencies and sports administrators to discuss the last minute preparations of the event. The Congress veteran as well as Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma have appealed to the people of the alienated region to welcome and co-operate with the sportspersons and officials who are coming from eight south Asian countries for the event spreading camaraderie & good will.
Guwahati city police commissioner Mukesh Agarwala, while talking to the media persons, elaborated that over 90 hotels, guest houses and resorts would be used for the Games, where the security personnel would be deployed for 24 hours a day during the occasion. He also added that additional 500 officials would be deployed in the city to control the traffics.
Meanwhile, the banned United Liberation Front of Assam (Independent), which is waging a war against Indian Union government for a sovereign Assam, has also come out with a statement welcoming the event saying that the participants from the south Asian nations would ‘find our region have similarities with their own lands’ that should make them feel at home.
“The sporting spirit quality in human interactions is recognized as an extremely valuable asset which can evaporate petty differences, break barriers, remove misunderstanding, strengthens bonding of old friendship and create new ones,” said the statement issued by Ulfa (I) chairman Abhijit Asom.