Uneasy calm in Assam, violence toll 40
An uneasy calm settled over Assam's Kokrajhar and Chirang districts Thursday with no fresh incidents reported in the communal violence that has claimed 40 lives and affected more than 170,000 people.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will visit the worst-hit Kokrajhar district and interact with people besides reviewing the law and order situation with top officials. Gogoi will reach Kokrajhar in a special helicopter and is expected to return to Guwahati by evening, the sources said.
The worst affected in the riots were Kokrajhar and Chirang, which form the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) along with Baksa and Udalguri districts. The two districts have become a cauldron of communal tension since July 19 with violence breaking out between the Bodos, who are tribals, and Bengali-speaking Muslims.
According to an Assam government statement, 40 people have died in Kokrajhar and Chirang since July 19 - 21 people were killed in Kokrajhar, 15 in Chirang; the dead also include four people shot dead by police. Ten people are missing.
The statement disclosed that the violence had affected about 170,000 people in the two districts.
Curfew was relaxed in both districts, where thousands of people have fled their homes and are living in refugee camps.
"There are reports of some minor incidents but no major incident has been reported since Wednesday. We have relaxed the curfew from 12 noon to 4 p.m.," Chirang Deputy Commissioner U.N. Bora told IANS.
Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner Donald Gilselon added that there had not been any incident in the district since Tuesday. "We have decided to relax curfew from 8 a.m. to 12 noon," he said.
Sixty-seven companies of central paramilitary forces had been deployed in the areas. Some forces had also been deployed in Dhubri, where violence had spread but had been contained later.
Apart from this, close to 4,000 troops have been deployed in the violence affected areas, an official said.
The army had Wednesday staged a flag march in the violence affected areas and in the sensitive areas of BTAD.
Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri share a contiguous landscape. While Dhubri shares the border with Bangladesh in the south, Kokrajhar and Chirang border Bhutan.
According to official sources, the violence started July 19 after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari. Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead.
Both the communities then began attacking each other, accusing each other of orchestrating ethnic cleansing.