GUWAHATI, July 28 (IANS): Sharing the "pain" of Assam riots victims, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday said it was now "time for healing" and assured them of government help to meet their needs.
Manmohan Singh, who reached Kokrajhar earlier in the day to visit relief camps for victims of the clashes between Bodos and Muslims, also appealed to the people of the state to shun recriminations and to help efforts for rehabilitation and to foster peace.
"I have come here to share your sorrow and pain. This is a time for healing," the prime minister said at an interaction with media persons following a visit to a relief camp where around 1,500 people driven out of their homes by rioters are staying at present.
"This is no time for recriminations. We need to first help the people to rehabilitate and bring peace," he added.
Kokrajhar and Chirang, which form the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) along with Baksa and Udalguri districts, were severely hit the past week after clashes broke out between the dominant Bodos and the Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers since July 19.
The violence soon spread to contiguous Dhubri and Baksa districts.
The violence has till now claimed the lives of 45 people and a estimated 2.5 lakh people have been rendered homeless.
Manmohan Singh is accompanied on the visit to Assam, a state he represents in the Rajya Sabha, by Congress leader Digvijay Singh.
He had earlier in the day arrived in Guwahati and left by a helicopter to Kokrajhar district. However, his helicopter had to initially return to Guwahati and he could reach Kokrajhar only in the second attempt.
Indian Air Force sources said the first attempt to reach Kokrajhar had been aborted due to a minor technical snag in the helicopter. However, the same chopper had got airborne with the prime minister on board after the snag was rectified and had reached Kokrajhar, they added.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Governor J.B. Patnaik too joined the prime minister on his visit to the riot-hit parts of the state, where he also visited two relief camps and met victims, civilian officials, police and the army troops that are at present deployed there.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by its chief Badaruddin Ajmal met the prime minister at the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport and asked him to step up efforts for the safety and security of people in the district.
Ajmal submitted a memorandum to the prime minister, urging him to dissolve the Bodoland Territorial Council that runs the administration in four districts on the ground of total breakdown of law and order in two districts.