Delhi | PTI | Agencies | 23-07-2012 | updated on 26-07-2012 :: Ethnic violence between Indigenous Bodo Tribals and Illegal Bangladeshi Immigrants today escalated in more areas of western Assam with 11 fresh casualties in clashes and police firing, forcing the Centre to rush 1,500 more paramilitary personnel to control the unrest that has claimed 40 lives so far.
The violence has spread in and around the Kokrajhar district all the way to the Bengal border, reported CNN IBN.
The Centre had rushed nearly 1,400 paramilitary personnel earlier to Assam to assist local administration in bringing back peace in violence-hit Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) as the ethic clashes have now spread to 8,000 sq km areas.
The forces have been sent in addition to 9,000 paramilitary personnel already deployed in the north-eastern state to maintain law and order there, official sources said.
As new areas came under the grip of the ongoing clashes that began last week between Muslim immigrants from Bangladesh and culturally enriched Bodo tribal people – mainly familiar to Hindu faith, the state government sounded alert in Sonitpur, Baska, Kamrup (rural) and Darrang districts, official sources said.
The Prime Minister 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.
Shoot-at-sight order was issued today and indefinite curfew clamped in entire Kokrajhar, where the toll in the ethnic violence mounted to 40.
The death toll in the ongoing ethnic clash between Bodo and Bengali speaking Muslims in the Bodo heartland inKokrajhar district since Friday, rose to 40 subsequently as additional central paramilitary forces from different parts of the country are on their way to the troubled area.
Over 50, 000 people belonging to both the communities have been affected in the spate of violence so far. The population of Bodos, the largest tribal group among the 23 notified scheduled tribes, is just over five per cent of the total population of the state while Muslims constitute nearly 33 per cent.
Located at the western end of Assam and bordering West Bengal on its west and Bhutan on north, Kokrajhar district is the cauldron of simmering communal mistrust leading to hatred in Assam’s western territory that is boiling again.
Four ethnic clashes in 60 years involving the Bodos, the first human race in this part of the country, Bengali speaking Muslims (mainly from Bangladesh) and Adivasis have all been borne out of mistrust among the communities.
Concerned over the violence, Home Minister P Chidambaram called up Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who briefed him about the latest developments and the steps taken by the state government to bring back normalcy in the troubled areas.
Home Ministry officials, including Union Home Secretary R K Singh, are in regular touch with the state government officials and offered all possible help to defuse the situation.
Sources said Assam government officials informed the Home Ministry that the violence has spread to 400 villages located in 8,000 sq km areas.
Fresh clashes and arson were reported from the Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts (BTAD) where two more bodies were recovered taking the toll to 40 in the ethic violence.
The bodies were recovered from the banks of Gouranga river on Monday morning, police said.
People stopped the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express at Pratapkhat between Kokrajhar and Gossaigaon on Monday last alleging that their houses were damaged by miscreants when they moved to relief camps, IGP (BTAD) SN Singh told PTI.
According to official sources, the violence started after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari Thursday. Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead Friday.
An abandoned hostel of Bodo students was set ablaze at Bidyapara in Dhubri district with the fire brigade initially being prevented access before police intervened.
Police fired in the air when bandh supporters tried to forcibly close down shops in Golokgunj and Gauripur towns of Dhubri during a 12-hour bandh called by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union to protest attacks on the minorities in BTAD districts, SP Pradip Saloi said. Seven person were injured in the clashes on Monday.
It may be mentioned that the AAMSU president has hinted out the hand of Bodo militant in the Gossaigaon killing incident. So by framing Rajbongshi youths as the killer of the minority people, the BTC administration and police is trying to hide the truth, Ahmed alleged. He also directly blamed Tarun Gogoi and BTC chief Hagrama Mahilary for all sortsof atrocities meted out to non- Bodo people in BTC.
Erstwhile, the AAMSU president also announced their agitational programme and sit- in-demonstration in front of Raj Bhavan on July 16. He also demanded immediate transfer of Kokrajhar SP and DC besides the arrest of the culprits, adequate compensation to the victim’s family and protection to non-Bodo people living in BTC.
The student leader also criticised Minister Chandan Brahma for simply announcing ex-gratia to the victim’s family.
It may be mentioned that one person died on the spot and another three were injured in the firing incident that took place on Friday evening in Gossaigaon area under Kokrajhar district.
Meanwhile, the two minority student organisations namely All Assam Minority Students’Union (AAMSU) and All BTAD Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) after visiting the spot at Gossaigaon on Saturday said that if culprits are not nabbed a massive agitation will be intensified statewide.
Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Nazrul Islam reached Kokrajhar and appealed to people to maintain peace and calm and not heed rumours.
Assam Transport Minister Chandan Brahma had on Saturday announced Rs.3 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of the dead and Rs.50,000 to those injured in the violence.
Kokrajhar falls under the jurisdiction of BTAD which is dministered by Bodoland Territorial Council. the council came into existence after the signing of a tripartite peace accord among Bodo Liberation Tigers militants, the Assam government and the Central government in February 2003.
Courtesy: The Hindu | IBN Live | TOI | First Post.