Tension in Assam areas, day curfew relaxed

Guwahati, Dec 28: Curfew was relaxed for a few hours on Sunday in Assam's violence-hit districts where the death toll in ethnic violence now officially stands at 75, officials said.

Tension persisted in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts in particular which accounted for most killings, Home Secretary Pratik Hajela said.


Hajela added that the army and other security forces had intensified their operations against Bodo militants who massacred unarmed adivasis Dec 23 in three districts, inviting retaliatory violence.

The security crackdown is taking place along the border with Bhutan. "We hope the situation will improve soon," Hajela said.

The army has deployed 66 columns for the operation. The central government has sent 50 companies of paramilitary forces to Assam.

Another official said the district administrations Sunday relaxed the curfew imposed after the violence for a few hours but said the night curfew will continue.

Security forces are particularly active in the four Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri.

Operations are also going on along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sonitpur, the worst affected district.

On Saturday, army chief Gen Dalbir Singh reviewed the situation in Assam in the wake of violence unleashed by the anti-talk faction of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

The violence has displaced over one lakh people in four districts.

Hajela said Bodo militants killed 41 people, including 15 women and 14 children, in Sonitpur district.

Another 31 tribals, including 10 women and four children, were killed in Kokrajhar district. The militants killed another three people in Chirang district.

Three people also died in police firing at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur when thousands of tribals took to the streets to denounce the violence.

Hajela said the dead included 61 adivasis, including the three in police firing, 12 Bodos and two Bengali-speaking people.

"Although the NDFB's violence affected three districts initially, its backlash spread to neighbouring Udalguri district. A total of 364 houses have been set on fire in the four districts.

Hazela said the state government had prioritised relief work for the over one lakh people living in 81 relief camps.

There are over 80,000 people in 52 relief camps in Kokrajhar, about 12,000 people in 11 camps in Chirang and 6,485 people in nine other camps in Sonitpur, he said.

The government has opened centres across the state to collect donations to help out the homeless.

"If anyone wants to donate clothes, foods or cash, they can. We will distribute these," the official said.


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