Assam Violence: Death Toll Rises To 38, Train Services Hit

by
staff
Six more persons fell victim to unabated violence between minority immigrants and Bodos in three districts of lower Assam, taking the death toll in the ethnic strife to 38 even as the entire Northeast remained cut off by rail for the second day today.

Flames erupt from huts built on the banks of river Gourang during violence near Kokrajhar town in the northeastern Indian state of Assam July 24, 2012. Police shot at a roving mob in Assam on Tuesday as security forces struggled to contain ethnic fighting that has killed 22 people and left remote hamlets in flames, forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

Six more persons fell victim to unabated violence between minority immigrants and Bodos in three districts of lower Assam, taking the death toll in the ethnic strife to 38 even as the entire Northeast remained cut off by rail for the second day today.

Four more bodies were recovered today from Bijni in Chirang district and two from worst-hit Kokrajhar where shoot-at-sight orders remained in force, the police said.

Curfew was relaxed in Kokrajhar district from 8am to 12 noon, but has since been reimposed indefinitely while shoot-at-sight orders were on, official sources said.

Curfew has been extended indefinitely in Chirang and Dhubri districts where night curfew was earlier in force.

Thirteen columns of the Army were deployed in the four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Bongaigaon where they staged flag marches accompanied by a magistrate.

Colonel S Phogat, defence spokesperson, said that 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 Guwahati, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi held a meeting of government officials, including the chief secretary, to monitor the situation. Kokrajhar accounted for 25 deaths, including four killed in police firing yesterday, and Chirang 13.

The Northeast remained cut off from the rest of the country as train services remained stalled for the second day today with no trains leaving Guwahati station today and none entering Assam, North East Frontier Railway spokesperson S Hajong said.

More than 30,000 passengers were stranded yesterday in different places along the route since Monday, but now many of them have made alternative arrangements. Still more than 10,000 passengers remained stranded.

"We have urged the state government to provide us adequate security so that the Railways can operate the trains to ease the suffering of the passengers," Hajong said.

Railway Minister Mukul Roy spoke to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi yesterday and urged him to provide adequate security to allow movement of trains and ensure safety of passengers.

The Centre has so far sent 2,900 para-military forces to quell the violence which escalated since Friday last.

An estimated two lakh people have fled their homes and taken shelter in 150 relief camps set up in the three districts as nearly 500 villages have been abandoned following the violence.

A 20-member all-party team of the Assam Legislative Assembly, led by Deputy Speaker Bhimananda Tanti, is scheduled to visit the violence-affected districts.

Assam Director General of Police JN Choudhury was camping in the area and monitoring the situation.

Five Assam ministers Prithbi Majhi, Nilamoni Sen Deka, Nazrul Islam, Rockybul Hussain and Chandan Brahma are also camping in the affected areas.