Pakistan's flag hoisting in Assam creates major controversy

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Guwahati, Oct 11 (UNI) A war of words broke out today between the ruling Congress and the opposition BJP and AASU over the hoisting of Pakistani flags in Northern Assam during the recent communal violence, even as the government ordered an inquiry into the episode.

The flags were hoisted in Darrang and Udalguri districts.

Addressing a press conference Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said there was a conspiracy behind the flag hoisting and ordered a CID inquiry into the issue though he favoured a CBI inquiry as demanded by the main opposition party AGP.

''I want a quick result to know who hoisted the flag and why,'' Mr Gogoi said as the BJP and AASU took potshot at him saying that he was 'soft' towards the immigrant Muslim community, shifting the responsibility towards indigenous people for starting the riot.

''This is a most dangerous sign. With a porous boundary and a soft government our fear of jehadi elements taking control of rural Assam can be more true,'' BJP national vice-president Bijoya Chakravarty said, while releasing media reports of Pakistan which had purportedly equated the event with that of Jammu &Kashmir and egged on the Pak media and intelligence agencies to focus on Assam to "turn it into another J&K".

Health Minister Hiamnata Biswa Sharma, however, explained that it was not a Pakistani flag.

According to eye witness reports in Bhakatpur, Punia and Mohanabari areas, visited by this correspondent, flags were hoisted by elements from immigrant Muslim settlers having a large presence in Udalguri and Darrang districts.

''For obvious political reasons the Assam government has framed Boro militants for the violence. But the fact is that Jihadi elements provoked immigrant Muslim settlers for the attack,'' AASU adviser Dr Samujjal Kr Bhattacharya told a press conference while exhibiting video clips of Pakistani flags.

The BJP criticised the UPA government for sending Mr E Ahmed, MoS, External Affairs, rather than the home minister to visit the disturbed areas.

''Is it because of the fact that the Congress wants to send a signal that they are soft towards the immigrant Muslims?'' Mrs Chakravarty questioned.

Meanwhile, Udalguri and Darrang, where 60 people had been killed, 520 houses torched and over 154 villages attacked in the recent violence, were limping back to normal.

Mr Gogoi announced that relief measures had already been launched.

UNI MT PL KLC1638

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