Edited by Sabyasachi Dasgupta | Updated: August 13, 2012 12:39 IST
Mrs Gandhi has arrived in Kokrajhar, the epicentre of the ethnic clashes that raged for almost a month between Bodos and Bengali speaking settlers.
The Congress chief told NDTV in Kokrajhar: "I have just arrived. I have spoken to the people. The situation is not so bad. People want to go home, but it will take time. The state government has assured all efforts."
The Congress president is accompanied by Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and the Assam Chief Minister. They will visit relief camps housing both communities affected by the violence - the Bodos and Muslims.
Over 200,000 displaced people in lower Assam still crowd ill-equipped relief camps after they fled their villages as the intense clashes broke out. There were reports of armed men attacking the villages and burning down houses, schools and vehicles.
About two-thirds of those still in relief caps and awaiting rehabilitation or just to go home are Muslims. There has been much concern about demands that the only people, who can prove with identity papers that they are Indian, be allowed to go home.
Tarun Gogoi had set a deadline for ensuring that people could go back home by Wednesday, August 15. But that target is unlikely to be met. "Our village has been completely burnt down, and we are scared to go back home. We don't think it'll be possible for us to return home by August 15, as promised by the Chief Minister because the situation is not right," said a person living at a Titagurhi relief camp said.
Parliament debated the Assam issue last week. The BJP accused the Congress of allowing Bangladeshi immigrants to cross over into India for political gains. The main opposition party says illegal immigration is the root cause of the Assam violence.
The politics over the ethnic clashes in Assam spilled over to Mumbai, where two people were killed and 55 others were injured after a peaceful protest turned violent near Azad Maidan on Saturday. 24 people have been arrested.
The police are investigating whether the riots at the Mumbai protest were instigated by an armed mob of lumpen elements that reportedly infiltrated the crowds of protesters.
The situation in lower Assam has been tense since early July, when two Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers were killed. Two more were killed on July 19, but the police failed to identify the killers. On July 20, four former Bodo Liberation Tigers men were killed. The Bodos retaliated by attacking Bengali-speaking settlers and the clashes began.
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