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Wednesday, 10 January, 2001, 11:14 GMT
India Republic Day boycott call
Republic Day parade
Republic Day is celebrated on 26 January
Separatist rebel groups in north-east India have called for a boycott of the country's forthcoming Republic Day celebrations.

In a joint statement, 14 groups said they were determined to disrupt the celebrations at all costs and have called for a general strike.

"To all the people of our region, this [Republic Day] is an event that symbolises their colonial bondage under repressive Indian occupation," the statement said.

"We call upon the people to prevent any such celebration from being held."

However, essential services such as hospitals and printing presses would be exempted from the day-long strike.

The BBC correspondent in the region says rebels boycott celebrations every year, but this is the first time that all seven states in the region are participating in the strike.

Our correspondent says one rebel group in West Bengal has also supported the strike call.

Arrests

Security forces across the region have been put on alert, amid fears that militants may attack vital installations ahead of Republic Day, 26 January.

In another development, police have arrested six Kashmiri rebels suspected of planning bombings and other attacks in the run-up to Republic Day.

Ashok Bhan, the Kashmir police chief, said four members of the pro-Pakistan Jamiat-ul-Mujahideen group had been arrested in Srinagar, and two others in Calcutta.

Mr Bhan said the group was behind a number of recent explosions in Srinagar, and those arrested had confessed to plotting bomb attacks to target political leaders and senior officials.

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See also:

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