The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fresh clashes in riot-hit Assam district

Silchar, April 10: Two persons were killed and over 100 houses set ablaze in fresh clashes between the Hmar and Dimasa communities in North Cachar Hills district of Assam, where a 48-hour curfew has been in force since yesterday.

Suspected Dimasa militants set fire to 10 houses at Heronbasti near Umrangshu. Armed Dimasas set ablaze another 25 huts in neighbouring Rekzol and 72 houses in the remote Saranbasti village. The toll in the clashes since March 31 has risen from 24 to 32.

Police sources in Haflong said there was heavy exchange of fire between armed groups at Saranbasti. However, there were no casualties.

Union minister of state for home I.D. Swami will visit the state on Saturday for an “on-the-spot assessment” of the situation in Cachar and the North Cachar Hills. BJP Legislature Party leader Bimalangshu Roy today said deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani informed him over phone two days ago that Swami would be touring the twin strife-torn districts.

Roy said the Centre was “very concerned” over the spate of violent incidents, starting with the massacre of 24 Dimasas by Hmar militants on March 31.

Accompanied by a team of senior home ministry officials, Swami will visit Cachar and North Cachar Hills on an IAF chopper and later hold a meeting with chief minister Tarun Gogoi. Though no untoward incident was reported over the past 24 hours, the situation in Cachar and North Cachar Hills remained far from normal. The army said another carnage could have taken place in Mahur block of North Cachar Hills district yesterday had its troops not been on maximum alert.

A senior army official said Dimasa youths had attacked Hmar and Kuki tribesmen at Sharon and Samban villages, but “speedy deployment of troops” prevented a massacre. He said columns of the Red Shield Division rushed to the villages from different directions and took control of the situation.

Veterinary minister G.C. Langthasa, who is from the Dimasa tribe, told The Telegraph that he planned to form peace committees comprising representatives of the warring communities. The Hmar community of Manipur is preparing to welcome hundreds of fellow tribesmen displaced during the clashes in south Assam.

Nearly 500 Hmars are on their way to Imphal via Dimapur in six buses, adds our Imphal correspondent.

Displaced Hmars who had fled to Jiribam in Manipur after the first wave of clashes have, however, returned to Cachar.

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