Unabated violence on Monday forced the Assam government to issue shoot-at-sight orders in Kokrajhar district. Miscreants from among Bodos and Muslims set ablaze houses in several villages forcing residents to take shelter in relief camps on Sunday.
The death toll in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts went up to 20. The Army staged a flag march in sensitive areas of Kokrajhar district for the second day, even as over 40,000 people fled their homes and took shelter in 47 camps.
Inspector-General of Police (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts) S.N. Singh told The Hindu that shoot-at-sight orders were issued as the situation was threatening to take a serious turn. So far, 15 bodies had been recovered in Kokrajhar and five in Chirang. The violence had also left 18 persons injured.
Kokrajhar Deputy Commissioner Donald Gilfellon said incidents of arson were widespread on Monday with miscreants torching houses left abandoned by panicked villagers.
Indefinite curfew was clamped again on Monday night after relaxation during the day. Violence spread to the neighbouring Dhubri district during a bandh called by the All Assam Minority Students’ Union to protest the attack on minorities in the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD), prompting the district administration to clamp indefinite curfew in areas under six police stations. The Army has been called in to assist the civil administration in preventing escalation of violence.
The 24-hour bandh called by the All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union affected life in all four BTAD districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri. The violence-hit people blocked the Delhi-bound Rajdhani Express between Bongaigaon and Gossaigaon for several hours, disrupting running of 18 trains. The train left after the administration persuaded the agitators to lift the blockade.
A meeting of political parties and socio-cultural organisations was held at the Kokrajhar Circuit House. Environment and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, Transport Minister Chandan Brahma, Food and Civil Supplies Minister Nazrul Islam, Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrma Mahilary, and representatives of the All Bodo Students’ Union attended the meeting. It urged the people to maintain peace. Dhubri District Superintendent of Police P.K. Saloi said sporadic incidents of violence occurred in Gauripur, Golokganj and Dhubri during the bandh. In Dhubri, miscreants set ablaze a tribal students’ hostel.
At Dispur, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi reviewed the situation and ordered that additional forces be rushed and steps taken to curb violence and restore peace.