Guwahati, July 23 (IANS): An alert has been sounded in 10 districts of Assam following communal violence in the Bodoland area, officials said on Monday.
The situation was still tense in the Kokrajhar and Chirang districts where the clashes took place, with indications that people were fleeing to safer places fearing backlash, police said.
As many as 14 people were killed in violence in the two districts since July 19. However, unofficial sources said the toll in the two districts of Kokrajhar and Chirang was higher than elsewhere.
To stop the violence from spreading, the State government has sounded alert in 10 districts on the north bank of the Brahmaputra river, an official said. A night curfew is still in force in the Kokrajhar and the army has been called in to help police and paramilitary forces.
Inspector General of Police of Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) SN Singh said 14 people had been been killed so far and there were no incidents of fresh violence since Sunday night. "However, we have come across several abandoned houses which indicate that people are fleeing to safer places, fearing backlash," Singh told IANS.
Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain and Food and Civil Supplies Minister Nazrul Islam are expected to visit the violence-hit areas on Monday while Transport Minister Chandan Brahma has been camping in Kokrajhar for two days.
An Assam government statement on Sunday evening said there were seven incidents of violence in the districts and more than 26,000 people had taken shelter in 36 relief camps in Kokrajhar.
The two districts have been divided into 31 sensitive zones and additional forces have been deployed in the two districts to contain the situation.
The National Disaster Response Force and the Assam Forest Protection Force are also being deployed in the districts to assist the civil and police officials.
According to official sources, the violence started after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari on Thursday. Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead on Friday.