Anarchy in Assam: 32 dead in riots; 150,000 flee conflict

Fear is driving increasing number of people to flee homes in this Muslim-Bodo-Hindu conflict.

Written by Agencies | Kokrajhar (assam) | Published: July 24, 2012 12:13:12 pm

Violence continued unabated in this western Assam district with four persons killed in police firing even as the Centre rushed 1,500 more paramilitary personnel to help to control the ethnic clashes which so far have claimed 25 lives.

Shockingly,as many as 170,00 people have fled their homes fearing further escalation of violence.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi during the day and directed him to do everything possible to control the violence.

Violence and arson were reported from Kokrajhar,Chirang and Dhubri districts,while the situation was also tense in neighbouring Bongaigaon and Udalguri districts. Bongaigaon and Udalguri fall under the Bodoland Territorial Areas District.

In Kokrajhar,shoot-at-sight orders and indefinite curfew were in force and the army was deployed,while night curfew was in force in Chirang.

“Four persons were killed in police firing this morning when they were indulging in violence in the Rampur and Chaparkata areas of Kokrajhar,” IGP,(BTAD),S N Singh said.

Prime Minister Singh spoke to Gogoi and took stock of the situation. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram also called up the chief minister.

“The Prime Minister has directed him to do everything possible to control the situation and for relief and rehabilitation of the affected,” a PMO spokesperson said in Delhi.

State government sources said Gogoi sought for deployment of additional forces in the affected districts.

“We have sent 29 companies. Fourteen companies we have sent yesterday. Fifteen more companies were sent today,” Union Home Secretary R K Singh told reporters in Delhi.

During the day,DGP J N Choudhury reviewed the situation. Miscreants pelted stones and attacked the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar damaging four coaches though there was no injury. The train was turned back and was halted at Kamakhyaguri station bordering West Bengal with the authorities considering to take it to Coochbehar.

“The Centre is seized of the matter and is in constant touch with me,” Gogoi said.

Noting that the situation was “volatile and tense”,he said over 40,000 people have fled their homes.

“People in remote areas have abandoned their houses out of panic and the figure may be even more by now,but strict instruction have been issued to provide them security,” he said.

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Chief Hagrama Mohilary demanded sealing of international and inter-state borders near the affected districts.

Train services to and from northeast were completely disrupted with more than 20,000 passengers stranded at different places.

Railway Minister Mukul Roy drew the attention of Chidambaram and Gogoi to the tense situation and requested assistance for safe and smooth movement of trains in the state.

Till now,26 trains have been cancelled due to the disturbance in the region. In addition,37 trains have been regulated at various stations on the route resulting in trains running behind schedule.

In Jalpaiguri in West Bengal,SP Sugato Sen said 275 people,including women and children,had crossed over to Alipurduar,which borders Assam,from BTADC till yesterday.

Bus services between West Bengal and Assam via Alipurduar have been totally suspended.

Assam is Cong’s “laboratory of communal experiment”: BJP

New Delhi: BJP today charged Congress with turning Assam into an almost a “laboratory of communal experiment” by not taking adequate steps to prevent the spread of violence from Kokrajhar in the state and sought an explanation from the Prime Minister on the issue.

BJP,which has already sent its team to assess the situation in Assam,alleged violence-hit people coming to relief camps are being sent away and not accommodated while the Army and Police are not taking action to control the violence which is spreading.

The party also alleged there is no governance in the state as no government representative visited the violence-affected areas.

“The communal riots have spread to more than 11 districts and more than 80,000 people have fled from their homes. Houses were burnt…The information coming from our team says the camps are also sending away people and not accommodating everybody who is running away from their homes,” BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman said.

“We demand a statement from the Prime Minister,who is an MP from Assam,and the communal experiment of Congress should be immediately stopped. They should face up to the situation and make sure peace is restored at the earliest,” Sitharaman said.

She also alleged the Army and the police are all there but are “just marking their presence” and not initiating action to control violence from spreading.

“Assam,we know,has been almost a laboratory for the Congress party’s communal experiments,” she said.

Sitharaman said the law and order situation in Assam has been deteriorating as and demanded perpetrators of the current round of violence should be brought to book sooner.

“We hear from our team,which is touring there,that no Minister,no MLA,no representative of the government is actually coming to the affected areas. There is no governmental presence,except for the Army and the police”.

“Probably,the instructions have not been given to them in such a way to contain the violence…There is only one minister who apparently is seen in only a section of the camp and is not attending to the other sections which are desperately calling for help,” she said.

The BJP leader said that even after the Prime Minister has written to the Assam Chief minister to take all efforts to contain violence,he is describing the situation as “not communal”.

“I think the Chief minister should divert his attention from describing this or that of the whole situation in Assam and get into action to get the people back in the villages,” she said,adding Congress has “just failed” to recognise the problem in the case.

“Had sufficient action been taken,this (situation) would not have come this far…We allege that the Congress government in Assam has not taken adequate action firmly to stop the violence resulting in such deaths and such numbers of families fleeing from homes,” Sitharaman said.

BJP President Nitin Gadkari has deputed a four-member team,headed by party’s Assam affairs incharge Vijay Goel,to assess the situation in violence-hit parts of Assam and make a first-hand assessment of the happenings in the eastern state.

Other members of the fact-finding team are party general secretary Kiran Maheshwari,who is also the co-in-charge of party affairs in Assam,besides party MPs Vijay Chakravarty and Raman Deka.

Certain parts of Assam,including Kokrajhar district,are badly affected following violent clashes between Bodo tribals and minority immigrants.

Railways seeks PC’s help as over 30,000 passengers stranded

New Delhi: At least 26 trains were cancelled and 31 stopped at different stations due to violence in Assam,prompting Railway Minister Mukul Roy to seek enhanced security from Home Minister P Chidambaram for safety of over 30,000 passengers stranded midway.

“It is a matter of serious concern and I have spoken to Home Minister P Chidambram asking for more security for passengers and train movement”,Railway Minister Mukul Roy told reporters here.

He said he has spoken to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi following disruption of rail services,which has cut off the entire Northeast from the rest of the country.

Several trains,including Rajdhani Express,to and from Guwahati have been regulated at New Jalpaiguri,New Cooch Bihar and Guwahati stations.

Till now,26 trains have been cancelled due to the disturbances in the region. In addition,37 trains have been regulated at various stations on the route,resulting in trains running several hours behind schedule.

Railways have sought deployment of adequate number of security forces specially at the 54km-long route,the badly affected area between Srirampur and Salakati stations,to ensure smooth and safe movement of trains.

Roy said the Railways is trying its best to regulate the train movement in the zone.

He also said railways is taking steps to position affected trains at bigger stations so that the stranded passengers could be provided with food,water and security.

He pointed out that Railways has geared up to provide best possible care of stranded passengers in given circumstances.

Roy said safety and security of passengers are of uppermost concern and movement of passengers carrying trains in affected areas will be governed keeping in view this objective.

Zonal Railways,especially North-east Frontier Railways and Eastern Railways,are issuing regular bulletins informing the public about cancellation and regulation of trains in the violence-affected area.

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