The Army was called out in Assam on Tuesday after the situation in the violence-torn Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri districts deteriorated. The rail link between the State and the rest of the country got snapped and miscreants among Bodos and Muslims torched houses in a large number of villages.
In a serious humanitarian crisis, more than 1,70,000 people have taken shelter in 121 relief camps.
Assam Home Secretary G.D. Tripathi told The Hindu that the Defence Ministry had cleared the deployment of the Army in the three districts after the State made the request, as sought by the administration of these districts.
He said the death toll had gone up to 32, including five who were killed in confrontation with the police. Of the 121 relief camps opened in the three districts, 88 were set up in Kokrajhar district.
In another incident, miscreants stoned the Guwahati-bound Rajdhani Express at Srirampur in Kokrajhar district, damaging four coaches. The train was pulled back to New Coochbehar in West Bengal.
The rail link was snapped, what with the escalation of violence and the lack of adequate security along the 54-km stretch between Srirampur and Salakati in Kokrajhar. Thousands of passengers have been stranded at six stations in West Bengal and six others in Kokrajhar district, besides in Guwahati.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and United Progressive Alliance chairperson Sonia Gandhi spoke to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and assured him of all assistance from the Centre.
Mr. Gogoi also spoke to Defence Minister A.K. Antony and Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram; both promised to send more troops to the State, an official release said.
Inspector-General of Police (Bodoland Territorial Area Districts) S.N. Singh said five persons were killed in Kokrajhar, when the police opened fire at those who tried to indulge in violence.
Railway Minster Mukul Roy spoke to Mr. Chidambaram and Mr. Gogoi and requested them to provide adequate security, especially in the “badly affected” stretch between the Srirampur and Salakati stations, so that the trains held up in the region for more than 24 hours could run to their destinations, said a release from the Press Information Bureau. Till 5 p.m. on Tuesday, 26 trains were cancelled and 37 trains regulated.
All-Bodo Students Union president Pramode Boro alleged that though the student body identified 27 vulnerable places and urged the State government to deploy adequate forces, their presence was not visible in most of these places, resulting in people fleeing their homes and miscreants continuing with violence.
Mr. Boro said the ABSU was ready for talks with the All-Assam Minority Students Union and the All-Bodoland Minority Students Union, if a meeting was facilitated by the district administration.