Millennium Post

Cong gets cracking on Assam, toll 44

Cong gets cracking on Assam, toll 44
The clashes between Bodos and minority immigrants in four Assam districts continued for the seventh day on Thursday, leaving 44 people dead, even as Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi insisted that the situation was 'improving' and rapped the media for portraying the state as 'burning'. The Congress in Delhi took stock of the situation, with the party general secretary Rahul Gandhi meeting the senior leader Digvijay Singh on the issue.

'Assam has 28 districts, and there is trouble in only four of them. Does this mean that the entire state is burning,' a visibly angry Gogoi said. He exhorted the media to exercise restraint and perform its duties in a responsible manner.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would visit Assam on Saturday to take stock of the situation and the steps being taken to control the unrest. In the meantime, as the opposition at the centre and the state guns for Gogoi, the Congress has set up a 10-member coordination committee to look into the riot-control mechanisms. This may mean some trouble for the chief minister, as some of his detractors from the state Congress have been included in the committee.

Indefinite curfew and shoot-at-sight orders were still in force in the worst-affected Kokrajhar district, while night curfew was on in Chirang and Dhubri districts. Nearly two lakh people are taking shelter in 150 relief camps, while 11 persons are reported to be missing.

Train services, which came to a complete halt for two days, have resumed with the railways starting three special trains – one each to New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore – from Guwahati to take passengers who were stranded at different places along the route.

IGP (law and order) L R Bishnoi said that Kokrajhar district executive magistrate Bipul Saikia was injured in an attack by unidentified miscreants and his vehicle damaged when he was on the way to a relief camp in Bhotgaon Kanchipara area of the district.

Meanwhile, the government warned the leaders of Bodo and minority communities in the affected districts that they would be held responsible if any side is found to be instigating violence. The home minister P Chidambaram said that there was no casualty in the past 24 hours. He said that the chief minister would brief him after his visit to the riot affected areas.

Meanwhile, Assam's main opposition party All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) urged the prime minister to dissolve the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and place the districts witnessing violent clashes under the Governor's rule. 'The BTC, headed by Hagrama Mohilary, should be immediately dissolved, as there is total breakdown of law and order and it has failed to protect the lives and properties of people,' the AIUDF chief and MP Badruddin Ajmal said in a letter to the prime minister.

He also demanded the scrapping of the Bodoland Autonomous Treaty, as it was against the interest of the non-Bodos in trouble-torn Bodoland Territorial Administered District.

[With agency inputs]
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