Assam continues to burn, toll reaches 32

Assam continued to burn on Tuesday, as sectarian strife raged in interior areas of its three districts, even as security personnel shot dead four miscreants, taking the death toll in the region to 32. A worried Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi urged the union home minister P Chidambaram and the defence minister A K Antony to rush more paramilitary forces and troops to end the violence.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi called up Gogoi to know the latest situation. An estimated 40,000 people have fled their homes looking for safer areas. Many who lost their dear and near ones wept openly.

The centre rushed 1,500 more paramilitary personnel and a senior official to riot-hit state on Tuesday and assured the state government all help to control the violence. The fresh batch of paramilitary personnel were sent just a day after the home ministry dispatched 1,400 security personnel. 'We have sent 29 companies. Fourteen companies we have sent yesterday. Fifteen more companies were sent today,' the union home secretary R K Singh said.

A total of 28 people died in the violence till Monday in both Kokrajhar and Chirang districts since 19 July as mobs of Bodo tribals and the Bengali-speaking Muslims set upon each other. On Tuesday, security forces gunned down four miscreants in Kokrajhar, pushing the death toll in the two districts to 32, authorities said. Shoot-at-sight orders and an indefinite curfew have been imposed in the worst-hit Kokrajhar district. In Chirang, a night curfew has been clamped from 6 pm to 6 am.

At least 26 trains were cancelled and 31 stopped at different stations due to violence in Assam, prompting the railway minister Mukul Roy to seek enhanced security from the home minister for safety of over 30,000 passengers stranded midway. 'It is a matter of serious concern, and I have spoken to home minister P Chidambram, asking for more security for passengers and train movement,' Roy said.
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