Guwahati, July 25 (IANS): The Army today staged a flag march in the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) of Assam as there was no let-up in tensions with three more bodies recovered from Chirang district and five villages set on fire.
The Army staged a flag march in the four districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Baksa and Udalguri that comprise the BTAD. Kokrajhar and Chirang have become a cauldron of communal tension since July 19 with 35 people killed and thousands rendered homeless in the violence between the Bodos, who are tribals, and Bengali-speaking Muslims.
Mobs continued to set fire to houses left vacant by thousands who have fled to safer areas. On Tuesday night, five villages were set on fire in Chirang district - Makhanguri, Goyaripara, Choirabari, Majrabari and Bhaoraguri.
Railway officials said train traffic was hit today too. All inbound and outbound trains were halted at various stations between Guwahati and Alipurduar, leaving thousands of passengers in the State stranded.
Curfew in Kokrajhar was relaxed from 8 am to 12 noon today.
"The Army has staged a flag march in and around the BTAD today morning. We are also forming peace committees in various parts of the BTAD, mainly in the two violence affected districts, involving members from both the communities to defuse tension," said a senior police official in Kokrajhar. Close to 4,000 troops have been deployed in the violence affected areas, he added.
A three-member team from the union home ministry will also arrive in Kokrajhar Wednesday to assess the situation. An all-party delegation of the Assam assembly is also likely to visit the violence hit areas.
On Tuesday, a worried Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi urged Home Minister P Chidambaram and Defence Minister AK Antony to rush more paramilitary forces and troops to end the savagery. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi called up Gogoi to know the latest situation.
The violence, which also spread to Dhubri district, however, recorded some improvement today.
Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri share a contiguous landscape. While Dhubri shares border with Bangladesh in the south, Kokrajhar and Chirang border Bhutan.
According to official sources, the violence started July 19 after gunmen attacked two student leaders in Magurbari on Thursday. Following this, four former Bodo militants were shot dead.
Both the communities then began attacking each other, accusing each other of orchestrating ethnic cleansing.