Shoot-at-sight orders have been issued in the violence-hit Rabha Hasong Autonomous Council (RHAC) areas of lower Assam’s Goalpara district, where ethnic clashes between Rabhas and non-Rabha groups claimed seven lives on Tuesday night, taking the death toll in police firing earlier in the day to 13 and from the subsequent clashes to 7 — 20 in total. Of those killed, 13 died in the police firing and seven in clashes.
The violence has triggered an exodus of people from affected villages, forcing over 12,000 people to take shelter in 12 relief camps till Wednesday afternoon, even as the Army has been continuing flag marches. There was no relaxation in the curfew clamped in Krishnai and Mornoi police station areas.
Admitting security lapses behind the outbreak of violence in RHAC areas Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists here on Wednesday that the State government had decided to order a judicial probe into overall incidents find out lapses and would also seek a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to identify the culprits. He alleged that some political forces instigated the violence but declined to name them as the government has already decided to order probe. Mr. Gogoi said about 100 houses have been burnt by miscreants. He appealed to the people not to believe in rumours spread by miscreants.
Mr. Gogoi also justified the State government’s decision to hold panchayat polls in RHAC areas saying that the majority of the people took part in the panchayat polls. Earlier on Tuesday, the Chief Minister said the State government had to hold the panchayat elections in the RHAC areas “as it considers it to be its constitutional duty” and that the State government promised to hold the RHAC polls after the panchayat polls.
Prior to the clashes, 12 people had died as a result of police firing when violent mobs of comprising the Rabha people attacked polling centres and polling teams to obstruct the holding of panchayat polls in RHAC areas. One more person later died in the police firing on a mob that was indulging in arson and looting. Besides this, bodies of seven persons killed in clashes between Rabha and non-Rabha groups were recovered late on Tuesday and in the early hours of Wednesday.
A team of ministers visited the violence-hit areas and reviewed the prevailing situation with top police and other government officials.