The Death Toll in Communal Violence in Assam between Bodo Tribals and Muslims has taken more than 40 Lives so far and tension is increasingly spreading in other parts of Assam. The worst affected are Kokrajhar and Chirang Districts where 41 people have died so far and about 1,79,000 people have been displaced from their homes. Worse, thousands of people were seen leaving the relief camps due to lack of adequate security
The situation in Kokrajhar district has improved to some extent as there have been no reports of fresh killings and torching of villages. Official sources said around 1,79,000 people had been displaced in the communal violence in the BTAD and had taken shelter in 128 relief camps. The rescue and shifting of people from the risky zones are still continuing.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is likely to visit Kokrajhar on Saturday, amid reports that the clashes between Bodo tribals and the Bengali-speaking Muslims had spread to Baksa district.
The administration rushed more security forces to Baksa on Thursday after gunmen fired on a group of people injuring three. Baksa district shares a contiguous landscape with Kokrajhar and Chirang districts.
Inspector General of Police G.P. Singh met people from all communities and student bodies in Baksa in a bid to prevent the trouble from spreading further.
Kokrajhar and Chirang remain the worst hit. Both districts have become a cauldron of communal tension since July 19.
Although there was no fresh violence in Chirang, police recovered a body Thursday, taking the death toll in the state to 41.
Of this, 21 people were killed in Kokrajhar and 16 in Chirang. Police also shot dead four people. Ten people are reported missing.
Hagrama Mohilary, the leader of the Bodo council governing the region, warned that former militants had joined the violence to protect Bodo villages. He also claimed that the Muslim rioters has been joined and supported by Bangladeshis who have crossed over the border to engage in the riots.
The violence was triggered when four young men from the indigenous Bodo community were killed in a part of the Kokrajhar district inhabited mainly by Muslims. Those killings – and the ones that followed – are the unforgiving manifestation of the multiplying pressures on the land in this part of the state.
The Bodos – the indigenous advidasis – have sustained their community through agriculture for decades. But in recent years, wave after wave of Muslim immigrants – some from across the border in Bangladesh – has convinced them that they are being robbed of their land.
The Assam government said a total of 170,000 people were affected by the violence in the two districts. Thousands have fled their homes in sheer terror.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi Thursday toured Kokrajhar and reviewed the law and order situation.
“The government was not prepared for such a situation,” he admitted. “However, the situation seems to have improved. We have deployed adequate forces.”
Gogoi announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.6 lakh to the families of those killed in the violence and promised that all those who lost their houses would be rehabilitated.
Curfew was relaxed for four hours in the day. But it has been extended in both Kokrajhar and Chirang, where thousands are now living in makeshift refugee camps.
Locals appear to be feeling far from secure despite the deployment of security forces.
“The government is claiming improvement in law and order situation but curfew is on. They lift it only for a few hours. People are living in fear,” said Kamal Basumatary of Kajalgaon in Chirang district told IANS over phone.
Sixty-seven companies of paramilitary forces have been deployed in the areas. Some forces were also deployed in Dhubri, where violence had broken out but which is now calm.
Close to 4,000 troops have been deployed in the violence hit areas, an official said. The army Wednesday staged a flag march in Bodo territory.
Train services have resumed in Assam. Trains that were stranded outside Assam at different stations reached Guwahati Wednesday night.
The North East Frontier Railway said that from Friday three special trains will run to Kolkata, New Delhi and Bangalore to clear the extra rush at Guwahati station.
Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Dhubri share a contiguous landscape. While Dhubri borders Bangladesh in the south, Kokrajhar, Chirang and Baksa border Bhutan.