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Delhi fortifies Assam

Nov. 20: The Centre today rushed 13 Border Security Force companies to violence-racked Assam as sanity seemed to be returning to the state after two nights of murder and mayhem.

The toll of the backlash, a fallout of the mob raids on passengers of trains passing through Bihar, climbed to 27 with the death of three people last night.

Another person, injured in the Ulfa attack in Bongaigaon, died at Guwahati Medical College Hospital.

Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee spoke to Tarun Gogoi and Rabri Devi, the chief ministers of Assam and Bihar, as well as Laloo Prasad Yadav, the man who wields the baton in Bihar. Sources said Vajpayee also asked railway minister Nitish Kumar to return to the capital for consultations and directed C.P. Thakur, the minister in charge of the Northeast’s development, to go to Assam.

The deployment of the BSF followed a request from Gogoi to Vajpayee and deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani early in the day, which also saw Congress chief Sonia Gandhi call up the chief minister and tell him to crack down on trouble-mongers.

Three companies each have been deployed in worst-hit Tinsukia and neighbouring Dibrugarh, while seven are on their way. The army has been assisting the local administration in curfew-clamped Tinsukia, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur and Nagaon.

The Union home ministry has assured that it would provide more forces, if required, after polls in four states are over on December 1.

Union minister of state for home Swami Chinmayanand, scheduled to reach Assam on Saturday, is expected to visit some of the affected areas.

State home secretary B.M. Mazumdar said the death count stood at 27, with Tinsukia and Dibrugarh at the top of the list with seven each, Bongaigaon six, Dhubri four and Nalbari three. Curfew has been extended to Barpeta, Nalbari, Moran, Tengakhat, Khowang, Namrup, Tingkhong and Duliajan.

Tinsukia deputy commissioner Bhupendra Nath Das told The Telegraph no incident was reported from any part of the district during the day.

But fear was palpable and the Guwahati railway station saw a heavy rush of people bound for Bihar. Debraj, a hotelier in Tinsukia, talked about mistrust everywhere.

 

“We are no longer Biharis. For generations we have been living in Assam and have lost all touch with kinsmen in Bihar. To be segregated and harassed in this way is painful,” he said.

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