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Gogoi calls CBI, names culprits

Guwahati/Jorhat, Nov. 26: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today committed himself to a CBI inquiry into the ethnic backlash since November 17, but said he was convinced even without a probe that the AGP and the BJP were fomenting trouble to get President’s rule imposed.

Gogoi told reporters at his residence this afternoon that his government would like the country’s premier investigative agency to ascertain if there is any truth in Union minister C.P. Thakur’s claim about the reprisal against Biharis being engineered by a “third force”.

Thakur, who is in charge of the department for development of the Northeast, toured Assam last week. “We will formally move the Centre for a CBI inquiry and, if it is sanctioned, hand over all cases of violence since the attacks on train passengers from the Northeast in Bihar,” Gogoi said.

He praised the All Assam Students Union (AASU) for not being “provoked by the Opposition’s rabble-rousers”. He said the organisation had done its bit to restore order by organising peace rallies across the state.

The chief minister yesterday visited Tinsukia district, which accounts for the most casualties in the backlash. He beat a hasty retreat from one of the relief camps when displaced Biharis sheltered there became agitated. A Congress office was ransacked in the same district.

The chief minister said several BJP and Bajrang Dal activists had been arrested on charges of ransacking the Congress office. He claimed the government possessed a videotape showing these activists indulging in disruptive activity.

Accusing the BJP of being in league with the AGP, Gogoi said Union minister of state for water resources Bijoya Chakrabarty was one of those who instigated members of the AASU to vandalise the railway headquarters in Guwahati. He demanded the minister’s resignation.

The chief minister claimed that neither the AGP nor the BJP had yet criticised the Ulfa for targeting Biharis.

As many as 56 Hindi-speaking people have been killed and over 1,000 rendered homeless since the unrest began with Bihari candidates for railway jobs being assaulted when they came to Guwahati for a recruitment test on November 9. A section of Biharis and Hindi-speaking people has already fled the state, while some are sheltered in relief camps in Tinsukia and Kamrup districts.

A semblance of normality, however, seems to have returned over the past 24 hours. No untoward incident was reported, barring one in which miscreants torched six houses of Hindi-speaking people at Bhojoni village under Saikhowa police station of Tinsukia district.

A Bihari woman and her granddaughter were charred in a fire triggered by an LPG cylinder blast at their residence at Tirap Colliery in Ledo, leading to speculation that the house had been attacked. However, the police confirmed it was an accident.

Forest minister Pradyut Bordoloi and senior officials of the Tinsukia district administration visited the area this morning. The police investigators told them that the LPG cylinder exploded in a fire caused by a chullah at a nearby hotel.

In the brick kilns of Jorhat, Golaghat and Sivasagar districts, work resumed after a week. Almost all brick kilns in the interior areas of these districts were closed after suspected Ulfa militants shot dead 11 Bihari labourers at Bordubi in Tinsukia district.

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