Assam violence: Toll reaches 40, Army stages flag march
Kokrajhar: Clashes between minority immigrants and Bodo tribals continued unabated as the toll in the ethnic violence shot up to 40 on Wednesday with the recovery of eight more bodies even as the Centre asked the Assam government to nab the "ring leaders" involved in unrest.
Five more bodies were recovered from Bijni in Chirang district and three from worst-hit Kokrajhar where shoot-at- sight orders and indefinite curfew were in force, police said.
Two fresh incidents of arson have been reported from Chirang and Kokrajhar districts, but no casualty have been reported. Thirteen columns of the Army were deployed in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Bongaigaon where they staged flag marches accompanied by a magistrate.
Defence spokesman Colonel S Phogat said the Army units had identified a number of sensitive and hyper-sensitive areas in the four districts to enable them to better patrol them.
In Delhi, Union Home Secretary R K Singh said 2,000 central security personnel have been deputed to guard Guwahati-bound trains and railway tracks which were disrupted.
"We have asked the state government to book ring leaders of both sides so that violence can be checked immediately. No one involved in the violence will be spared," he said.
Ruling out the possibility of involvement of anyone from across the border, he said, "The international border is sealed. It is simply impossible for any organised group crossing over to India from across the border to carry out the attacks."
Nearly two lakh people were rendered homeless in the violence and about 125 relief camps set up.
In Guwahati, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi held a meeting of government officials, including the chief secretary, to monitor the situation.
"25 people have been so far killed in Kokrajhar district while 15 others have lost their lives in neighbouring Chirang district," Assam IGP (law and order) L R Bishnoi said.
Indefinite curfew is continuing in Kokrajhar while night curfew is on in Chirang and Dhubri districts.
Bishnoi said, "The situation is stablising."
North Frontier Railway spokesman Nripendra Bhattacharjee said passenger and goods trains services had partially resumed this afternoon and the stalled trains would resume their journey with the 'improvement' in the situation.
More than 30,000 passengers, who are still stranded in
New Bongaigaon, Kamakhyaguri and New Jalpaiguri stations of the NFR section, complained of food and water crisis.
"With the resumption of train services, we hope that the stranded passengers will be taken to their destinations gradually," the NFR spokesman said.
Joint secretary, MHA in-charge of northeast, Sambhu Singh and Ajay Chaddha (special secretary, internal security) toured the affected areas in Kokrajhar to take stock of the situation.
Singh later said there was "no proof of Bangladeshi immigrants involved in the incident so far. The Bangladesh economy has improved and so infiltration possibilities have come down."
They have also assured to provide adequate security to the people.
The all-party team met the affected people in relief camps and held peace meetings in various places giving an assurance that the government would provide security to all sections of people.
Reports from Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, quoting superintendent of police Sugato Sen, said about 2000 people had taken shelter at Barovisa, Kumargram in the district, Baxirhat and Alipurduar junction station.
They have been put up in camps, he said, adding that the one at Alipurduar has been opened by the Railways, while the others by the state government.
At Alipurduar junction camp about 250 people have taken shelter.
Sen said that some of those who had taken refuge had returned to Kokrajhar following reports of improvement in the situation there.
Divisional railway manager of North Eastern Frontier Railway, Alipurduar section, Anirban Dutta said three trains had been allowed to start from Alipurduar and New Jalpaiguri stations after assurance from the army during the day.
Movement of trains in the section had been suspended for the last two days due to the violence in BTAD, he added.