The political impact of the killings was felt in the election campaign in other States.

As tension remained high in parts of Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) in Assam after last week’s killing spree in which the death toll has now risen to 31, the Centre said it was an attempt to trigger a full-fledged communal conflagration.

The bodies of two more victims were recovered on Sunday. Angry residents had to be persuaded to bury 18 victims by Siddique Ahmed, Minister of Cooperation and Border Areas, sent to stand in for Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

The political impact of the killings was felt in the election campaign in other States.

A day after Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah alleged that Narendra Modi was responsible for stoking communal fires in Assam, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee made a similar, but veiled attack on the BJP prime ministerial hopeful.

“Certain comments of some political parties, including the aspirant of high offices are adding fuel [to the violence in Assam],” she posted on Facebook.

At a rally in Nadia district, she said: “Fires would burn throughout the country” if a candidate who talked about driving away certain sections of people, was elected to head the nation.

Campaigning in Bankura in West Bengal, Mr. Modi, however, repeated a line that has been a controversial theme of his campaign in the Northeast: “Illegal Bangladeshi migrants who are being brought to India in the name of vote-bank politics will have to go back to Bangladesh.”

Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said in New Delhi that the objective behind the massacre was to trigger a communal conflagration as the victims belonged to a minority community. “These acts started only after the [Bodo] group began steadily losing its cadres either through surrender or eliminations during counter-insurgency operations.”

(Additional reporting from New Delhi Bureau)