Assam riot toll 32, Army called out
Confirming this, Assam Home Secretary G D Tripathi said the clearance from the Defence Ministry to deploy the Army in internal security mode finally came in the evening. "The Army has started moving out to dominate the areas and instil a sense of security among the people," Tripathi said. He said violence increased "by leaps and bounds" during the day, spreading to newer areas not only within Kokrajhar district but also to adjoining Chirang and Dhubri districts. This had happened despite an indefinite curfew.
Shambhu Singh, Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the Union Home Ministry, will be touring some of the violence-affected areas on Wednesday. Assam DGP J N Choudhury, who toured Kokrajhar on Tuesday, said it would take three-four days to bring the situation fully under control.
Even as the riots raged unabated, there was a clamour for adequate security forces from all sides — the Bodos, Muslims, Hindus — in the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Council area and its surrounding districts.
"It is difficult to keep a count of the relief camps now, it is breeding at such a fast rate," said Majendra Narzary, the MLA representing Gossaigaon. "These are no proper relief camps but locations where people from Bodo and Muslim families have congregated to escape death," said Narzary.
Jahanuddin, MLA from Assam United Democratic Front, echoed Narzary. "No community is sparing the other in a conflagration unseen before. What has acted as an impetus is the total lack of security forces," he said. The MLA went on a recce of his constituency and said, "If one camp has sheltered 16,000 Bodos in Chapar, bordering Dhubri and Kokrajkhar districts, Gohaingaon at a distance would be having 10,000 Muslims. There are such unending number of camps and with inadequate forces any attack could end in a worst carnage."
Kokrajhar SP S N Singh said, "Over 1,000 villages have been affected by rioting. The peculiarity of the villages — scattered in small helmets, one far away from the other — are making them easy, soft targets for rioters."
Kokrajhar town has been put under curfew and shoot-at-sight orders. Administration sources said the police firing today was to warn rioters that shoot-at-sight order was not to be taken lightly.
The communication network too has taken a hit. Kokrajhar continued to be largely cut off. From West Bengal, one could only go upto Coochbehar, barring the few trains escorted through the dangerous terrain with security forces.
Abdur Rehman of Barpeta Road in Assam had a night of terror as the Howrah-bound train he was travelling in was stopped at Kokrajhar for 10 hours.
Four coaches of the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express were damaged when miscreants armed with match boxes and other weapons attacked it at 9 am on Tuesday. The train was moved back to New Coochbehar.
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