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Third death stokes riot fears in BTAD

Kokrajhar/Guwahati, Nov. 12: Fears of a re-run of the July riots loom large in BTAD after another person was killed today, taking the toll to three since Saturday and prompting Dispur to review security measures.

The recent incidents have fuelled tension in Kokrajhar and adjoining districts of lower Assam with an overriding fear that these might once again lead to full-blown riots.

These come in the midst of the exercise to rehabilitate those displaced by the recent riots, with only few thousand people now left in relief camps. The fresh violence has sown seeds of fear, particularly among those who had left the security of relief camps and gone back to their villages.

A security review meeting was held in Guwahati this afternoon under the chief secretary after chief minister Tarun Gogoi took stock of the situation on Sunday and directed a crackdown on trouble-mongers. In-charge chief secretary P.P. Verma chaired the review meeting, which was also attended by director-general of police J.N. Choudhury.

A senior official said after today’s review, “All-out action to recover illegal arms and identify trouble-mongers and operations by central security personnel have been ordered. A high alert has also been issued for vulnerable districts.”

In Kokrajhar, the tension, which has been on the rise since Saturday’s twin killings, grew another notch today following recovery of a bullet-riddled body from a forest area at Banglabari under Tulsibil police outpost in Gossaigaon subdivision of the district.

Police had to fire in the air to disperse an irate mob, which had laid siege to the Tulsibil police outpost after the body was taken there. The mob also blocked the railway tracks at Chautara, disrupting movement of trains for two hours.

On Saturday, one person of Onthaibari village was killed at Bedlangmari under Kokajhar police station while he was on his way back home from Kokrajhar, while a farmer, who was shot in his paddy field at 2 No. Bajugaon village under Gossaigaon sub-division, had died on way to hospital.

The police have since arrested 14 suspects — 10 in connection with the Bedlangmari incident and four for the Bajugaon killing. The recent riots, which had claimed around 100 lives, too, had broken out after a series of scattered killings involving two communities.

A senior administrative official in Kokrajhar said security had been beefed up and executive magistrate had been detailed thana-wise to monitor law and order maintenance and to convene peace committee meetings.

Citizens here blamed the district administration for the incidents, alleging that insufficient security for rehabilitated people had resulted in the deaths. It has been alleged that the local administration, trying hard to meet the deadline set by Dispur, is reportedly doing everything possible to push people back from the relief camps without ensuring proper security.

A memorandum by the Religious Minority Council of BTC regarding rehabilitation, ex gratia and foreigner influx in the state was submitted to chief minister Tarun Gogoi today.

The council has demanded Rs 7 lakh for each and every family affected in the BTAD riots, Rs 10 lakh each for those killed and Rs 3 lakh each to those injured. The organisation demanded sealing of the Assam-Bangladesh border in a bid to solve the influx issue and update of the NRC with March 25, 1971, as the cut-off date.