Anti-Muslim violence continues in parts of Assam. The death toll has gone up considerably in the three days of mindless rioting. Meanwhile Army has been deployed to immediately control the rioting
By NVONews.Com Correspondent,
Even as the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh called up Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday and directed him to do everything possible to control the bloody clashes between Bodo tribals and Bengli- speaking Muslims fresh violence took place in Kokrajhar district of west Assam.
Four persons were killed in police firing in the district on Tuesday. With this the death toll in violence since July 20 has reached 31. Shoot-at-sight orders and indefinite curfew have been enforced in Kokrajhar while night curfew was clamped on Dhubri and Chirang districts.
According to IGP, Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD), S N Singh, four persons were killed in police firing on Tuesday morning when they were indulging in violence in the Rampur and Chaparkata areas of Kokrajhar.
Sporadic incidents of violence and arson were reported from Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts, while the situation was tense in neighbouring Bongaigaon and Udalguri districts. Bongaigaon and Udalguri districts fall under the BTAD.
Eighteen companies of paramilitary forces have so far been deployed in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts and additional central paramilitary forces from different parts of the country are on their way to the troubled area.
Over 50,000 people belonging to both the communities have been affected in the spate of violence and have taken refuge in 75 camps.
The Northeast Frontier Railway authorities have cancelled 11 trains to Howrah, New Delhi, Mumbai and southern states, including the Rajdhani Express, all of which pass through Kokrajhar. Thirty-one trains have been detained at various stations.
Stones were pelted at the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express at Gossaigaon in Kokrajhar district damaging four coaches. However, no injury was reported.
The train was turned back and was halted at Kamakhyaguri station bordering West Bengal. The authorities are considering to take it to Cooch Behar.
Kokrajhar is loscated at the western end of Assam bordering Bengal on its west and Bhutan on north. Ethnic violence is quite common in the region, dominated by Bodos, who otherwise form only five per cent of the state population. Muslims––Assamese speaking, Bengali speaking and Hindi speaking–– comprise about one-third of the population of Assam.
The first Bodo-Muslim clash was reported in 1952. In 1993 and 1994 Bodos clashed again with Muslims after the Bodo Accord, which gave autonomy to Bodos. More than 100 people were killed and at least 60,000 from both the communities were rendered homeless.
As the accord of 1993 failed, Bodos resumed their struggle for identity. They targeted Santhals in two attacks in 1996 and 1998. Over 300 people were killed and more than three lakh made homeless then.
The Santhals went to settle in the region from Bihar (and now Jharkhand) in 19th century.
The last time Bodos clashed with Muslims was in 2008.