Assam refugees to return home by Aug 15: Gogoi

Guwahati: With the situation improving in violence-hit districts of Assam, refugees have started returning home with the state government setting a August 15 deadline for all displaced persons to return. Clashes between Bodos and minority immigrants in the violence hit districts had left 56 dead last month.

"The situation is returning to normal and people want to return home. We have fixed August 15 as the date by when we want all displaced persons to return home," Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters here. A total of 278 relief camps had been opened to shelter 4.06 lakh persons in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaigaon and Dhubri districts.

Gogoi said refugees were being given food, medicine, baby food and Rs 500 in cash to buy clothes and utensils and prefabricated structures and tents were being provided for those who lost their homes. Speaking about security measures, Gogoi said 10 police pickets have been set up and 19 more were expected by today. "We plan to have 104 pickets in place soon."

On deployment of army and paramilitary forces, he said the Centre has assured the state that forces would be in place as long as necessary. Asked about the allegation by a former Bodoland Liberation Tigers leader that newly-formed United Muslim National Army was involved in the recent clashes, Gogoi said "As we have not investigated it, we cannot comment on it. There have been many allegations and counter allegations.

"There will definitely be a high-level inquiry into the origin of the clashes. Even the Prime Minister has talked about it. Currently our priority is to ensure rehabilitation," he said. Gogoi said the state government plans to involve local people in affected areas so that such events do not recur. "We want to involve all communities to remove misunderstandings. We want to involve the Village Defence Committees, the local police. We want to ensure that nobody feels insecure," he said. Curfew has been relaxed during the day though night curfew will continue in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts, official sources said.