April 12: Union minister of state for home I.D. Swami today promised to increase the Centre’s share in modernisation of the Assam Police during a whirlwind visit to Silchar to take stock of the Hmar-Dimasa clash that left thousands homeless. Chief minister Tarun Gogoi, too, stepped up efforts to send a team comprising ministers of thefour affected states to defuse tension.
Swami, who made the promise soon after his visit to three relief camps bordering Cachar district, said the Centre will now bear 75 per cent of the expenses incurred in the modernisation of Assam Police against the earlier 50 per cent.
The announcement should come as a huge relief to a cash-strapped Assam government which has been attributing the slow pace of modernisation of the police force to the earlier funding pattern where the Centre and state’s share were equal. Members of the Assam Assembly had expressed concern over the issue as it has taken a heavy toll on police force tackling insurgency.
Swami also assured that the expenditure incurred by Dispur in its rehabilitation programme for the displaced Dimasa and Hmar families would be reimbursed by the Centre. While visiting the camps at Ganganagar, Hmarkulin and Dhaligram, Swami assured the victims of help under the Indira Awas Yojana and announced an ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh to the next of kin of those killed. The official toll is 32 so far.
The situation in the affected areas, particularly in the neighbouring North Cachar Hills district, remained tense with an official release claiming that suspected NSCN (I-M) activists torched 15 houses in Dimasa-dominated areas near Haflong. The official release also claimed that the outfit was behind the torching of 80 houses at Semkhar in the district.
North Cachar Hills was relatively calm today with the district administration relaxing curfew for four hours from 10 am to 2 pm except for Maibong where fresh arson took place yesterday morning. Deputy commissioner, I. Hussain also warned of a looming food crisis.
Chief minister Tarun Gogoi today said in Delhi that a ministerial team, comprising delegates from Meghalaya, Mizoram, Manipur and Assam, was likely to visit NC Hills in an attempt to defuse the ethnic crisis.