Assam riot toll 32, Army called out


The situation in Kokrajhar and two adjoining districts turned from bad to worse on Tuesday with the death toll rising to 32, while more than 1.70 lakh people have fled their homes to take shelter in relief camps. The Assam government called out the Army to bring the situation under control.

Confirming this, Assam Home Secretary G D Tripathi said the clearance from the Defence Ministry to deploy the Army in internal security mode finally came in the evening. "The Army has started moving out to dominate the areas and instil a sense of security among the people," Tripathi said. He said violence increased "by leaps and bounds" during the day, spreading to newer areas not only within Kokrajhar district but also to adjoining Chirang and Dhubri districts. This had happened despite an indefinite curfew.

Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the Union Home Ministry, will be touring some of the violence-affected areas on Wednesday. Assam DGP J N Choudhury, who toured Kokrajhar on Tuesday, said it would take three-four days to bring the situation fully under control.

Even as the riots raged unabated, there was a clamour for adequate security forces from all sides — the Bodos, Muslims, Hindus — in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council area and its surrounding districts.

"It is difficult to keep a count of the relief camps now, it is breeding at such a fast rate," said Majendra Narzary, the MLA representing Gossaigaon. "These are no proper relief camps but locations where people from Bodo and Muslim families have congregated to escape death," said Narzary.

Jahanuddin, MLA from Assam United Democratic Front, echoed Narzary. "No community is sparing the other in a conflagration unseen before. What has acted as an impetus is the total lack of security forces," he said. The MLA went on a recce of his constituency and said, "If one camp has sheltered 16,000 Bodos in Chapar, bordering Dhubri and Kokrajkhar districts, Gohaingaon at a distance would be having 10,000 Muslims. There are such unending number of camps and with inadequate forces any attack could end in a worst carnage."

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