Assam violence claims 25, 1500 more jawans sent

Kokrajhar: Violence continued unabated in this western Assam district with four persons killed in police firing even as the Centre rushed 1,500 more paramilitary personnel to help to control the ethnic clashes which so far have claimed 25 lives. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi during the day and directed him to do everything possible to control the violence.

Violence and arson were reported from Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts, while the situation was also tense in neighbouring Bongaigaon and Udalguri districts. Bongaigaon and Udalguri fall under the Bodoland Territorial Areas District. In Kokrajhar, shoot-at-sight orders and indefinite curfew were in force and the army was deployed, while night curfew was in force in Chirang.

"Four persons were killed in police firing this morning when they were indulging in violence in the Rampur and Chaparkata areas of Kokrajhar," IGP, (BTAD), S N Singh told PTI. Prime Minister Singh spoke to Gogoi and took stock of the situation. UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister P Chidamabaram also called up the chief minister. "The Prime Minister has directed him to do everything possible to control the situation and for relief and rehabilitation of the affected," a PMO spokesperson said in Delhi.

State government sources said Gogoi sought for deployment of additional forces in the affected districts. "We have sent 29 companies. Fourteen companies we have sent yesterday. Fifteen more companies were sent today," Union Home Secretary R K Singh told reporters in Delhi. During the day, DGP J N Choudhury reviewed the situation.

Miscreants pelted stones and attacked the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar damaging four coaches though there was no injury. The train was turned back and was halted at Kamakhyaguri station bordering West Bengal with the authorities considering to take it to Coochbehar.

"The Centre is seized of the matter and is in constant touch with me," Gogoi told PTI. Noting that the situation was "volatile and tense", he said over 40,000 people have fled their homes. "People in remote areas have abandoned their houses out of panic and the figure may be even more by now, but strict instruction have been issued to provide them security," he said.

Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) Chief Hagrama Mohilary demanded sealing of international and inter-state borders near the affected districts. Train services to and from northeast were completely disrupted with more than 20,000 passengers stranded at different places. Railway Minister Mukul Roy drew the attention of Chidambaram and Gogoi to the tense situation and requested assistance for safe and smooth movement of trains in the state.

Till now, 26 trains have been cancelled due to the disturbance in the region. In addition, 37 trains have been regulated at various stations on the route resulting in trains running behind schedule. In Jalpaiguri in West Bengal, SP Sugato Sen said 275 people, including women and children, had crossed over to Alipurduar, which borders Assam, from BTADC till on Monday. Bus services between West Bengal and Assam via Alipurduar have been totally suspended.