PM calls for end to Assam violence, assures proper probe

PM calls for end to Assam violence, assures proper probe

Sharing the "pain" of Assam riots victims, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday called for an immediate end to the violence and promised "a proper inquiry" into the clashes that have claimed 45 lives and left lakhs homeless.

Manmohan Singh, who reached Kokrajhar earlier in the day to visit relief camps for victims of the clashes between Bodos and Muslims, also appealed to the people of the state to foster peace.

"The ethnic conflict which has occurred is unacceptable and must come to a stop," the prime minister said in his interaction with the media following a visit to a relief camp where around 1,500 people driven out of their homes are staying at present.

"I have come here to share your sorrow and pain. This is a time for healing...this is no time for recriminations. We need to first help the people to rehabilitate and bring peace," he said.

To a query, the prime minister, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Assam, said: "Yes, there will be a proper inquiry into the circumstances of these tragic incidents."

Announcing a total of Rs.300 crore in aid and relief for the riot victims and the violence-hit areas, he also noted: "We must address causes of the conflict. We will work closely with state government to provide sense of security to all the effected areas, ensuring that they all go back to their houses in the knowledge that their lives and livelihood are secure."

Manmohan Singh also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the kin of those people who had lost their lives in the violence. The injured persons will also be paid Rs.50,000 to Rs.30,000 depending on the nature of their injury.

Kokrajhar and Chirang, which form the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) along with Baksa and Udalguri districts, were severely hit the past week after clashes broke out between the dominant Bodos and the Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers since July 19. The violence soon spread to contiguous Dhubri and Baksa districts.

The violence has till now claimed the lives of 45 people and a estimated 2.5 lakh people have been rendered homeless.

Manmohan Singh is accompanied on his Assam visit  by Congress leader Digvijay Singh.
He had earlier in the day arrived in Guwahati and left by a helicopter to Kokrajhar district. However, his helicopter had to initially return to Guwahati and he could reach Kokrajhar only in the second attempt.

Indian Air Force sources said the first attempt to reach Kokrajhar was aborted due to a minor technical snag in the helicopter. However, the same chopper had got airborne with the prime minister on board after the snag was rectified and had reached Kokrajhar, they added.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Governor J.B. Patnaik too joined the prime minister on his visit to the riot-hit parts of the state, where he also visited two relief camps and met victims, civilian officials, police and the army troops that are at present deployed there.

The prime minister also spoke to Bodo Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilary and Kokrajhar MP S.K. Bwiswamuthiary after the on-the-spot survey.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by its chief Badaruddin Ajmal met the prime minister at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and asked him to step up efforts for the safety and security of people in the district.

Ajmal submitted a memorandum to the prime minister, urging him to dissolve the Bodoland Territorial Council that runs the administration in four districts on the ground of total breakdown of law and order in two districts.

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