Inmates at a relief camp in Uriamghat on Sunday. Picture by UB Photos
Golaghat, Aug. 17: The toll in the border skirmish in Golaghat district of Assam since August 12 rose to 13 with the recovery of two more bodies today while talks for the release of nine persons from the neighbouring state being held by protesters failed to make any headway.
The two bodies were recovered from No. 2 Chainpur village in Sector B of the disputed area this morning.
Pradip Kumar Sutradhar, border magistrate of sector B, said the bodies were decomposed beyond recognition. Believed to be that of males, the bodies were sent to Kushal Konwar civil hospital here for post-mortem.
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today squarely blamed the CRPF for the escalation of violence on the Assam-Nagaland border in Golaghat district.
“The violence escalated due to the failure of the CRPF to act swiftly. Time to time skirmishes take place along the Assam-Nagaland boundary with Golaghat district having a history of violence and in view of that the CRPF should have acted immediately,” Gogoi said at Jorhat, a day ahead of his scheduled visit to the trouble spot.
He said so far 12 persons have been killed and over 200 houses burnt by miscreants from Nagaland.
Gogoi said the state government has proposed that Assam police personnel should be placed under the command of the CRPF in the area.
The chief minister has asked chief secretary Jitesh Khosla and his principal secretary, Jishnu Baruah, to submit a detailed memorandum about the incident to the Union home ministry.
Gogoi said the memorandum should suggest the measures to be taken to prevent a repeat of such violence.
The chief minister also announced one-time financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased and Rs 50,000 to the families of those injured.
While there was no report of any fresh violence, a sense of panic hung heavy in the air.
The affected people today alleged that CRPF personnel in charge of policing the disputed area belt were putting up barbed wires on the road leading to Chetia Gaon, the epicentre of the violence. This was preventing people from going back to their burnt and abandoned houses to retrieve belongings. “We suspect there may be more bodies and they (CRPF) want to hide facts,” a villager of Chetia Gaon, now sheltering in a relief camp, alleged.
Additional director-general of police (law and order) A.P. Raut today visited the affected areas.
Raut said Assam police have set up nine camps in the area and police pickets were posted in every village. “We hope that people staying in relief camps will be able to return to their homes from Tuesday,” Raut said. More than 10,000 people are living in the relief camps.
The All Assam Students Union today asked the district administration to furnish the names of people killed and injured and number of houses burnt.
“We want that list before the chief minister’s visit tomorrow, otherwise we will launch an agitation,” Monowar Hussain, chief executive member of AASU, added.
He said while the chief minister had put the death toll at 12, the local administration claimed it was nine, showing a complete lack of coordination.
Meanwhile, the blockade against the Nagaland today entered its sixth day.
A meeting between the officials of the both the states and representatives of the 13 organisations carrying out the blockade was held today in the conference hall of the deputy commissioner’s office here. Deputy commissioner of Golaghat Julie Sonowal, additional deputy commissioner of Bhandari, Orenthung Lotha and sub-divisional police officer of Wokha in Nagaland C.J. Kinghen attended the meeting.
The Nagaland government officials appealed to the protesters to release the nine personnel attached to the Nagaland parliamentary secretary, Paiwang Konyak, who were being held for the last three days.
But the protesters said until the ongoing violence by Naga miscreants at the border is stopped and the two schoolboys who went missing since 26 of last month were found, there was no question of lifting the blockade.
The meeting ended without arriving at any fruitful solution.
In Nagaland, the Opposition Congress said the recent border clashes in the Ralan area of Wokha district and the resultant blockade of Nagaland by various organisations in Assam was a cause of serious concern for the Nagas and urged the state government to “wake up from its reverie”.
In a release issued this evening, the PCC said people were faced with a grave situation posed by illegal migrants deliberately settled along the disputed border areas by the Assam government to create a “buffer zone”. The indiscriminate attempt of various organisations in Assam to enforce blockade at the slightest provocation has generated bad blood between the two states.