Violence spreads to Chirang district, where two bodies were found on Sunday

About 36,000 people have fled their homes in Lower Assam’s violence-torn Kokrajhar district and have taken shelter in 37 relief camps, as the death toll in attacks and counter-attacks mounted to 12 since Saturday. The violence has spread to the neighbouring Chirang district, where the bodies of two persons were recovered on Sunday.

The victims in the two districts include two women and a child.

Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner Donald Gilfelan told The Hindu on Sunday that 29,000 people had taken shelter in 27 relief camps opened by the district administration in the Gossaigaon sub-division and 7,000 people in 10 camps in the Kokrajhar sub-division.

Inspector-General of Police (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts) S.N. Singh said one person sustained a bullet wound on the leg on Sunday when the police opened fire at Sapkata to break up a mob that attacked police officers and personnel with stones, injuring a Deputy Inspector-General, personal security officers of an Additional Superintendent of Police and the commandant of an India Reserve Battalion.

The DIG was bound for Dhubri to review and improve security measures when some people squatted on the road, demanding the immediate release of 10 persons who had been picked up in connection with the violence. The police tried in vain to convince the protesters that the arrested were involved in the incidents and could not be released. The standoff continued for two hours, and the mob started throwing stones, injuring the DIG and other policemen and damaging police vehicles, Mr. Singh said. The police resorted to baton-charge first. But as the crowd turned more violent, they opened fire.

Later, the person with the bullet wound was admitted to a hospital at Fakiragram.

Mr. Singh said 10 companies of the Central paramilitary forces were deployed in sensitive areas; five-six more companies were expected to reach the district on Monday. The Army was making its presence felt to instil confidence in the panic-stricken people.

In Kokrajhar, curfew was relaxed during the day on Sunday, but was imposed again from 6 p.m. till 6 a.m. on Monday. Curfew was clamped in Chirang district after the bodies were recovered and sporadic violence occurred.

The July 6 killing of two members of the All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union in Kokrajhar by unidentified gunmen triggered tension in the district.