File: A woman affected by the recent ethnic clashes at a relief camp set up on the premises of a college in the violence-hit Kokrajhar district.
Assam Violence: Death Toll Rises to 44
Clashes between Bodos and minority immigrants in four Assam districts continued for the seventh day today, leaving 44 people dead even as Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi insisted the situation was "improving" and rapped the media for portraying the state as "burning".
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would visit Assam on Saturday to take stock of the situation and the steps being taken to control the unrest.
Indefinite curfew and shoot-at-sight orders were in force in worst-affected Kokrajhar district, while night curfew was on in Chirang and Dhubri districts.
Nearly two lakh people are taking shelter in 150 relief camps while 11 persons are missing.
Train services, which came to a complete halt for two days, have resumed with three special trains - one each to New Delhi, Kolkata and Bangalore - being run from Guwahati to take passengers who were stranded at different places along the route.
Gogoi, who arrived here this morning, said the toll had risen to 44 with three more deaths reported from Chirang district and one from Dhubri while 11 were still missing.
He said more than two lakh people were rendered homeless due to the violence.
IGP (Law and Order) L R Bishnoi said Kokrajhar district executive magistrate Bipul Saikia was injured in an attack by unidentified miscreants and his vehicle damaged while he was on his way to visit a relief camp in Bhotgaon Kanchipara area of the district.
Claiming that "Assam is not burning", Gogoi admitted initial security lapse and said the situation was gradually improving with the deployment of adequate security forces, including the army.
He was critical role of the media with a section portraying the state as "burning".
"Assam has 28 districts and there is trouble in only four districts. Does this mean that the entire state is burning," a visibly angry Gogoi said.
He exhorted the media to exercise restraint and perform its duties in a responsible manner.
Gogoi said deployment of Army had led to quelling of violence and "though normalcy was yet to be restored completely, we hope that within two or three days it will be restored".
He said curfew, imposed in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri, would be relaxed in a phased manner according to the prevailing situation.
After reviewing the situation in a meeting with senior officials, he claimed, "This is not an ethnic clash but an act by miscreants and stern measures will be taken to punish the guilty according to the law of the land."
On reports of affected people fleeing to neighbouring West Bengal, the chief minister said that there was "no need to panic and all measures will be taken to provide them safety and security in their homes".
After arriving here, Gogoi held a closed-door meeting with BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Administered Districts) authorities, senior police, Army, para-military officials to review the situation.
He also announced compensation of Rs six lakh to the next of kin of those killed and homes for the homeless.
He said the injured would be provided financial assistance and medical help while property losses would be assessed and the affected people provided with adequate compensation.
The cost of education of the affected students would also be borne by the government, the chief minister said.
Meanwhile railway services resumed fully.
"The Rajdhani Express, the North East Express and the Kamrup Express left Guwahati on time this morning," an official of the North East Frontier Railway said.
Train services, which were disrupted for two days due to the violence, have also been restored and "adequate security is being provided to ensure smooth movement of trains", he said.
Joint Secretary in Union Ministry of Home Affairs Sambhu Singh and Special Secretary (Internal) Ajay Chadha visited Dhubri and reviewed the situation.
The chief minister also held meetings with several organisations including the All Bodo Students' Union, Bodoland Peoples' Front, All Bodoland Minority Students' Union, leading citizens and others and urged them to restore peace in the affected areas at the earliest.
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