The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Singh to visit scarred Assam

Jan. 12: A week after more than 70 migrant workers were killed in Assam by Ulfa militants, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has decided to visit the affected families in the state on Tuesday.

During his daylong visit to Assam, Singh will also hold talks with officials of the state government and the army.

The Prime Minister will visit the state immediately after he returns from a trip to the Philippines.

The situation has eased somewhat and the atmosphere of fear is slowly subsiding in Assam. In Tinsukia, which had witnessed some of the worst massacres, curfew was relaxed from 7 am to 10 pm in view of the improvement in the situation. Another reason for relaxation of curfew is the Bihu festival.

In Jorhat today, over 5,000 people, mostly schoolchildren, took out a procession headed by a local musical band, the Brahmaputra Boys, in a bid to spread the message of peace. It was organised under the aegis of the district administration, adds our correspondent.

The procession took to the main streets with songs calling for peace, including compositions of Assamese literary giants Bishnu Prasad Rabha and Jyoti Prasad Agarwalla. Jorhat deputy commissioner L.S. Changsang flagged off the peace rally in the morning.

Even as Manmohan Singh’s visit to Assam was being planned, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar today sought the Prime Minister’s intervention to instil security and confidence among the people. He expressed apprehensions of a backlash in his state if the killing of migrant workers in Assam was not contained immediately.

“I am afraid that the situation, if not contained immediately in Assam, may lead to a backlash in many parts of Bihar,” Kumar said in a letter faxed to the Prime Minister.

He drew Singh’s attention to the “extremely grim” situation in Assam, pointing out that according to information collected by a high-level ministerial team sent to that state, at least 60 migrant labourers from Bihar had lost their lives.

“Despite claims by the Assam government that it has taken steps for controlling the situation, a sense of insecurity in certain sections of the state has not faded away yet,” he said.

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