Edited by Prasad Sanyal | Updated: July 27, 2012 19:44 IST
Mr Gogoi said 45 people have died in the seven days of ethnic clashes between Bodos and Bengali-speaking settlers. Almost four lakh people are in 203 relief camps set up by the government, he said. (Read: Of ghost towns and relief camps)
The focus now is on Mr Gogoi, who is under tremendous pressure; it took the CM a full week after ethnic clashes began in his state to reach Kokrajhar, the epicenter of the violence. There he had said yesterday, "Assam is not burning." He has been universally slammed for what is being called his inept handling of a sensitive situation.
Mr Gogoi has denied that his government had acted late. He said he had asked for Central forces as soon as news came in that four people had been killed. It took those forces four days to reach, he pointed out. (Watch: Tarun Gogoi hits back)
Central paramilitary forces are now out in full force in Assam. The situation is volatile - there has been no violence in the last one day, but there are reports of a relief camp being set afire and a woman being shot dead two days ago in Duramari village near Kokrajhar.
The relief camps - over 250 have been set up - are overcrowded and have poor sanitation. PTI reports that people at these camps say there is insufficient food, drinking water and medicines. The government has denied this. A two-year-old child and a 60-year-old man have died in different relief camps in Bilasipara in Dhubri district; the cause of death of either is yet to be ascertained. (Read)
The Congress has announced a 10-member coordination committee to look into the violence in Assam. It includes critics of Tarun Gogoi. Sources say senior Congress leader Digvijay Singh discussed Assam with Rahul Gandhi yesterday. Earlier on Thursday evening, a team of Muslim MPs, including Congressmen, met Home Minister P Chidambaram and said they had lost faith in the Gogoi government. "We have lost confidence in the state government and in its ability to control violence and that is why we have asked the Centre to intervene," said Congress Rajya Sabha member K Rehman Khan.
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who is also a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam, will visit the state tomorrow. The PM has asked the Assam government to do whatever it takes to catch the culprits who instigated the violence. Home Minister P Chidambaram will visit Kokrajhar on Monday. The Cabinet Secretary, Ajit Seth, today reviewed relief arrangements with the Chief Secretary of Assam, PC Sharma. A team of doctors has been sent from Delhi to provide medical aid.
Towns have largely been secured, but there is much fear and uncertainty in villages; the exodus of people continues. Over 10,000 people have reportedly escaped to neighbouring West Bengal.
13 columns of the Army have been deployed in Kokrajhar, Chirang, Dhubri and Baksa. Indefinite curfew and shoot-at-sight orders are also in place in these four districts of lower Assam, most affected by the violence. The Army on Wednesday mobilised about 1000 troops to enforce peace in the areas. Officials said troops were carrying out flag marches in these areas.
The situation had been tense since early July when two Bengali-speaking migrants were killed. Two more were killed on July 19, but police failed to identify the killers. On Friday last (July 20), four former Bodo Liberation Tigers men were killed. The Bodos retaliated by attacking Bengali-speaking settlers and clashes began.
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