The situation in Kokrajhar district deteriorated further on Monday with sporadic clashes between the Bodo tribals and the migrant Muslim community spreading across the district and beyond. With two more deaths today,the toll rose to 18,while dozens of villages belonging to both communities were torched.
Violent mobs also blocked the railway tracks,delaying the New Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express and a few other trains between Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon stations by several hours today. The trains left for their destinations after security forces cleared the railway tracks.
Clashes also spread to the adjoining Dhubri district with the authorities clamping down indefinite curfew in six police station areas. A 75-year-old tribal students hostel was set ablaze by miscreants in Dhubri,while houses were torched in some villages.
Curfew,which was earlier imposed only in Kokrajhar town,was extended to the whole of the 3169-sq km Kokrajhar district in the evening,even as the state government sent in more paramilitary forces. Late at night,a shoot-at-sight order was issued in Kokrajhar.
Over 40,000 people have fled from their villages to take shelter in relief camps in schools and government buildings.
The situation has definitely deteriorated today due to spreading of the clashes between the two communities. A large number of houses have been torched,while people are continuing to abandon their villages to take shelter in relief camps, Donald Gilfelon,deputy commissioner of Kokrajhar told The Indian Express over the telephone.
S N Singh,IGP of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts,said while two more companies of paramilitary forces had reached Kokrajhar,the Army has been deployed and flag-marches were conducted. The clashes that were local so far have spread since last evening and taken a communal turn with both communities trying to score by burning down houses and attacking unarmed people, said IGP Singh.
While there was an undercurrent of tension in Kokrajhar with the All Bodoland Minority Students Union accusing the ruling Bodoland Peoples Front in the Bodoland Territorial Council of curtailing rights of the religious minorities,two ABMSU members were killed on July 6. Last Friday,a violent mob hacked four members of the erstwhile Bodoland Liberation Tigers,triggering off clashes that have gone out of control in the past three days.
Meanwhile,the BJP demanded Presidents Rule in Assam,with the partys national vice-president Bijoya Chakravarty saying the Congress government led by Tarun Gogoi had totally failed to tackle the situation. AGP president and former CM Prafulla Kumar Mahanta too hit out at the Gogoi government for failing to control the situation.
Former Rajya Sabha member U G Brahma said there was no administration in Kokrajhar now. The district has been witnessing the worst kind of violence for three days now…. The union home minister should himself rush to Kokrajhar, Brahma said.