Kokrajhar (Assam): Home Minister P Chidambaram on Monday asked the people in the ethnic violence-hit areas of Assam to maintain peace, and assured them that both the Central and State Governments will provide all help in rebuilding their houses destroyed in the clashes.
The Home Minister, who was on a day-long tour of the strife-torn areas of the state, also directed the state authorities to immediately ensure basic amenities, including clothes, food and medicines.
"All people I have spoken to are anxious to go back to their villages, but naturally they want security and their houses to be rebuilt. I have assured them on behalf of the Government of India and Government of Assam that we will help them in rebuilding their houses and we will provide security in their villages", Chidambaram assured.
"Our immediate task is to ensure that peace and harmony is restored, rehabilitation takes place and that confidence comes back and the displaced people are able to go back to their villages," he told reporters here.
Chidambaram visited a shelter camp at the Titaguri High School and at Bhutgaon each inhabited by Bodos and minority community affected by the clashes and interacted with some of the people whose houses were burnt down.
Asked about the security scenario, the HM said, "a plan is being drawn up for the deployment of security pickets and mobile posts. I have looked into the plan. The plan is eminently doable. It will be put in place and security will be provided to all the affected villages".
The state government and the Bodoland Territorial Council were capable of taking steps in this direction, he said.
"We will take all measures to mitigate the suffering of the people. Peace will soon return," Chidambaram assured the affected people.
On apprehension about mis-utilisation of relief funds, he requested the media to report such cases if they came to their notice.
During the meeting with the Minister, people said they were able to get medicine and food but complained about not receiving sufficient clothes. To which, Chidambaram directed the Assam Relief Commissioner to make arrangement for clothes.
He also met other people in Kokrajhar district, which was the epicentre of the violence. The Home Minister asked the people of both the communities to live peacefully.
Chidambaram also held a review meeting with the district administration officials about relief and rehabilitation work.
According to an official estimate, so far 57 people have lost their lives and 47,936 families have been affected due to the ethnic clash which has displaced over four lakh people.
"57 lives have been lost. Loss of every life is a matter of sadness. But there has been no violence in the last 72 hours. Our present concern is to look after the people, give them food, medicine, drinking water and gently persuade them to go back to their villages," the Home Minister said.
The Government has set up 278 relief camps in the state.
To a question whether people were carrying illegal arms, he said, "we are aware of that. What you say is an important thing. It is an arms mine. Whatever will have to be done, we will do that".
The visit came two days after Prime Minister Manmohan Singh visited the district and announced a Rs 300 crore relief package.
Chidambaram was accompanied by Union Minister of state for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Paban Singh Ghatowar and state Transport Minister Chandan Brahma.