Guwahati, July 25 (IANS) The army Wednesday staged a flag march in Assam's Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) as there was no let-up in tension with three more bodies recovered from Chirang district and five villages set on fire. Police claimed the situation had improved in Kokrajhar and Dhubri districts.
The army staged a flag march in the four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri that comprise the BTAD. Kokrajhar and Chirang have become a cauldron of communal tension since July 19 with 36 people killed and thousands rendered homeless in the violence between the Bodos, who are tribals, and Bengali-speaking Muslims.
Mobs continued to set fire to houses left vacant by thousands who have fled to safer areas. On Tuesday night, five villages were set on fire in Chirang district - Makhanguri, Goyaripara, Choirabari, Majrabari and Bhaoraguri.
The indefinite curfew in Chirang was extended Wednesday, sources said.
Police claimed some improvement in the situation in Kokrajhar and Dhubri districts.
"There is a substantial improvement of situation in Kokrajhar and Dhubri. However, Chirang still remained disturbed with reports of more bodies being recovered from the district," Inspector General of Police (Law and Order) L.R. Bishnoi told IANS Wednesday.
Bishnoi said 21 people had died in the communal clash in Kokrajhar while another 15 people were killed in Chirang district since July 19 - when the violence started after the Bodos and the Bengali-speaking Muslims attacked each other.
"Apart from this, four miscreants were gunned down by police in Kokrajhar district on Tuesday," said Bishnoi.
Union Secretary (northeast) Sambhu Singh, who had visited the violence-affected areas of Kokrajhar, ruled out any "Bangladeshi hand" in the violence.
Earlier, the chief of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), that runs the administration in Assam's BTAD areas, claimed that miscreants from Muslim community had entered the BTAD to attack the Bodos.
Sambhu Singh, however, regretted the government's failure to deploy the army on the first day of violence.
"I agree that the situation would not have been so bad if we had deployed the Army on the first day of the violence. But certain things take time and that cannot be helped," he told reporters in Kokrajhar.
He said that enough security forces were there on the ground to deal with the situation. "The 44 companies of additional forces, which are on the way, will be deployed in the whole of the BTAD," he said.
"Confidence building among members of both the affected communities is the major task before the administration now," he said.
A total of 13 columns of the army were deployed in the four district of BTAD on Wednesday morning.
Sambhu Singh also instructed the administration to deploy more forces for the smooth movement of trains.
He said that over one lakh people were displaced due to the communal violence which mainly gripped two districts of BTAD and said that efforts were on to send back the affected people safely.
Police said there were no reports of any fresh incident or casualty from Kokrajhar Wednesday.
Curfew, which was relaxed for four hours in Kokrajhar from 8 a.m. to noon, was extended indefinitely in the evening, police said.
Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri share a contiguous landscape. While Dhubri shares the border with Bangladesh in the south, Kokrajhar and Chirang border Bhutan.
According to official sources, the violence started July 19 after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari Thursday.
Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead.
Both the communities then began attacking each other, accusing each other of orchestrating ethnic cleansing.