Pointing out that 31 of those killed in the Assam violence were from the minority community, Union Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde on Sunday said the objective of the group behind the killings seemed to be aimed at triggering a full-fledged communal conflagration.

“During the last few days, there have been wanton acts of depredation leading to the deaths of 32 persons, mainly women and children. Of these, 31 belonged to the minority community. These innocent lives were lost at the hands of cadres of a certain group,” said Mr. Shinde, appealing all to maintain calm and peace.

Stating that the Armed Forces would definitely control the situation, Mr. Shinde also called upon public leaders of both the Bodo and minority communities to ensure that the situation did not deteriorate further.

These acts started only after the group began steadily losing its cadres either through surrender or eliminations during the operations when they opened fire at the Armed Forces, he said. “The Central government cannot remain unaffected by these killings and is determined to ensure the safety and security of innocent human lives. The determination is all the more important since these incidents are targeted at the minorities. I strongly condemn the acts of this group which is targeting women and children of the minority community,” said Mr. Shinde.

The MHA has already deployed 43 companies of Central Armed Forces and 10 more companies are being sent. “The Defence Ministry has also deployed 15 columns of Army comprising approximately 1,500 soldiers. These numbers are not fixed and can be increased as per requirement,” he added.

Condemning the act of violence, the Amnesty International India on Sunday said: “The first incident of shooting took place in a village in Baksa late on Thursday evening (May 1), and two other shootings occurred in Kokrajhar and Baksa the following day, with bodies continuing to be found on Saturday morning. All the victims were from Muslim families.”

The organisation said the Assam government and the police had alleged that the killings were perpetrated by an armed group, the Songbijit faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), which has denied responsibility. In July 2012, clashes broke out between the Bodo and Muslim communities, resulting in the killing of over 75 people and displacement of thousands, it said, urging the Assam government to protect the rights of all communities and bring the guilty to justice.

While Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has decided to hand over the probe into the killings to the National Investigation Agency, the agency is yet to receive a formal communication in this regard.