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Assam live: CM says govt to institute judicial inquiry into attacks

5.16 pm: Assam CM says govt for judicial probe into attacks

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said his government would institute a judicial enquiry by a retired judge to probe into the outbreak of violence in the Bodoland territorial Area Districts (BTAD) areas, PTI reported.

In a statement released here today, Gogoi said instituting the judicial inquiry would help to unravel the conspiracy angle behind the incidents and to bring the culprits to book.

"The government which has already moved the National Investigation Agency to probe into the incidents would leave no stone unturned to unearth the truth behind the incidents," Gogoi was quoted as saying in the release.

10.30 am: Govt to arm Muslims to fight militants?

Even as the National Investigation Agency took charge of the probe into militant attacks in two districts of Assam that left 34 Muslims dead, the Assam government was reportedly toying with the idea of arming Bengali-speaking Muslims in Bodo areas. The idea, apparently, is not to raise a civil militia but to give villagers the means to defend themselves.

A report in the Times of India said the government even sought applications for weapons licenses from villagers.

The report quoted the state's forest minister Rockybul Hussain as saying Bengali-speaking Muslim villagers should be given licensed arms by the state government. "Since the home department in Bodoland Territorial Council area is under the state government, the government can provide licensed arms if anyone applies for it," he was quoted as saying. Read more here.

8.33 am: Assam Police arrest 6 forest officials after complaint by survivors

The Assam Police on Sunday arrested six forest guard officials after complaints by survivors of the violence that instead of protecting them, they fired and set their houses on fire.

Speaking to The Indian Express, Assam Home Secretary GD Tripathi said some of the survivors had made a specific complaint that when villagers rushed to the forest beat office in Khagrabari as the armed miscreants attacked them, the forest personnel, instead of helping them, allegedly fired at them and set some of the houses on fire.

“The police have arrested a Ranger of the Manas National Park and five others on the basis of specific complaints of some of the survivors. Some departmental rifles that were in the forest beat office in the village are also missing,” Tripathi told the Indian Express.

8.00 am: NIA to probe Assam attacks

An National Investigation Agency team will reach Assam today to probe into the attacks allegedly by National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants in three districts - Kokrajhar, Baksa and Chirang.

Two militants were killed after four NDFB(S) activists hurled grenades at an Assam Police patrol. Two other militants managed to escape leaving behind two pistols, two magazines and a hand grenade, IBNLive reported.

Updates for 4 May end

9.16 pm: Protestors relent, hold last rites for loved ones

After initial refusal, family of 18 people killed by Bodo militants today buried their dead after the Assam government assured to punish the culprits and provide security to the people living in Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD).

Assam Cooperation and Border Areas Development Minister Siddique Ahmed visited the affected areas in BTAD and met family members of the victims, all of whom belong to minority community.

Ahmed said the government was determined to punish the guilty and would take all steps to protect the lives of the minority community in the state.

The minister then appealed to the people to perform the 'janaza' (last rites) of the dead.

Accepting his request, the last rites of the 18 persons took place in the afternoon in Baksa district in the presence of the minister.

4.16 pm: Shinde condemns attack, urges people to stay calm

The Centre today said it is determined to curb attacks on minorities as the violence there was aimed at starting a  "full-fledged communal conflagration". Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde said that in the last few days, mindless acts of violence have led to the death of 32 people, mostly women and children, and of them, 31 belonged to the minority community.

"These innocent lives were lost at the hands of cadres of certain group. The objective of this group seems to be aimed at starting a full-fledged communal conflagration," he said in a statement here.

"The central government cannot remain unaffected by these killings and is determined to ensure the safety and security of innocent human lives. "This determination is all the more important since these incidents are targeted at the minorities," he said. Strongly condemning the acts of the militant group, Shinde said the Home Ministry has already deployed 43 companies (4300 personnel) of central armed police forces and 10 more companies (1000 personnel) are being sent.

From PTI

10.00 am: Locals refuse to perform last rites till Gogoi visits them

Demanding that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi visit their area, people of Salbari in Assam's violence-hit Baksa district today refused to bury their kin killed in attacks by NDFB-S militants.

Angry protestors in Nankekhadrabari area today said they will not perform the last rites of the bodies of the 18 people, including children and women, till Gogoi comes and personally assures to provide security to their lives and property.

"Does our life have no value? We are only demanding that we are protected and we are not attacked and killed in future" they told reporters.

8.30 am: Gogoi calls for NIA probe, vows to apprehend those responsible for violence

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has asked for a probe by NIA into the violence by Bodo militant group NDFB(S) in the state and vowed to apprehend those responsible for the killings.

"We have decided to recommend a probe by the NIA. Nobody responsible for the killings of so many innocent people will be spared," Gogoi told reporters.

"We have reports that the NDFB(S) group is responsible for these attacks. We have directed the security forces to take the strongest possible action against them," he said.

8.00 am: Ten companies of central paramilitary forces will be arriving in Assam today
Ten companies of central paramilitary forces will be arriving in Assam today, according to CNN-IBN, even as a tense calm prevails in the districts of Kokrajhar and Baksa, the affected areas of the Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts. (BTAD)

No fresh violence occurred last night, but those in the villages are still living in fear. Curfew relaxation to be reviewed today.
End of updates for 3 May

7.07 pm: Bodo outfit denies involvement in killings

In a press release the Bodo militant outfit has denied any involvement in the Assam violence that has killed at least 32 people.

6.40 pm: Here's the full text of Manmohan Singh's statement

The Prime Minister, Dr. Manmohan Singh, has condemned the violence in Assam in which many a precious lives have been lost and a large number of people injured. He has urged the people to remain calm and assured that the Central Government and the state government will take all measures to maintain law and order and restore normalcy. The Prime Minister spoke to the Chief Minister and Home Minister directing them to restore normalcy.

Expressing his shock and grief the Prime Minister said the attacks are cowardly attempts to spread fear and terror among our citizens. He said that his heart reaches out and grieves for all those who lost their near and dear ones and other affected people.

The government stands committed to fighting terror in all its forms. The people of Assam have been braving terrorist attacks with courage and fortitude in the past. They have voted in large numbers in the polling for the General elections and I am confident they will continue to fight terror resolutely, the Prime Minister added.

He urged the people to remain calm, ignore rumours and carry on their activities normally. The Central Government he said will assist the State Government in taking all measures to defeat the forces of terrorism.

5.07 pm: 22 people arrested for helping militants

Police said Saturday they have arrested 22 people for helping separatist rebels accused of killing 29 Muslims in the worst outbreak of ethnic violence in the remote northeastern region in two years.

Authorities called in the army to restore order in Assam state and imposed an indefinite curfew in the wake of the violence blamed on rebels from the Bodo tribe, who have long accused Muslim residents of sneaking into India illegally from neighboring Bangladesh.

No fresh violence was reported on Saturday.

A state minister for border areas, Siddique Ahmed, said after visiting the violence-hit areas that his government and the ruling Congress party failed to protect the victims, who included at least eight children.

"Even 2-year-old children who could barely walk have been shot dead. I have never witnessed such scenes in my life," he told reporters.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh condemned the violence and urged the people to remain calm. He asked state authorities to take urgent steps to restore normalcy in the troubled area.

"The attacks were cowardly attempts to spread fear and terror among people," he said.

Regional police inspector general L. R. Bishnoi said those arrested either burned homes or provided shelter to the insurgents. He gave no other details.

He said the rebels belong to a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which has been fighting for a separate homeland for the ethnic Bodo people for decades. The Bodos are an indigenous tribe in Assam, making up 10 percent of the state's 33 million people.

However, the rebel faction in an email to reporters Saturday denied the charge and blamed the killings on the state government.

5.00 pm: BJP slams PM over Assam violence

The BJP today criticised Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the attacks in Assam.

"What have the sitting MP & the Prime Minister done to restore order?" asked the BJP.

3.21 pm: Gogoi says he won't step down as CM

Amid criticism on the Assam government over the militant attacks, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that he is not planning to step down as the Chief Minister.

"I will not step down as chief minister, I am not a coward," Gogoi told NDTV, and added, "I take responsibility but can't blame home department completely."

3.16 pm: Govt seeks NIA probe into militant attack

The Assam government today said that it would seek a probe into the militant attack that killed at least 30 people.

The prime minister and the government have been blamed for violence in the state.

2:20 pm:Omar Abdullah blames the violence on polarising elections

He may be far from where the incident took place but Chief Minister Omar Abdullah claims that the massacre in Assam is a result of a highly polarised election.

"When you fight an election that has such strong communal overtones you run the risk of inflaming passions, and it can't be a coincidence that you run a campaign in that part of the country, and were you paint all the Muslims as Bangladeshi illegal immigrants and suddenly thirty Muslims are killed in unprovoked violence, clearly there is some connection," Abdullah said, reports Firstpost correspondent Sameer Yasir from Srinagar.

He's undoubtedly pointing the finger of blame at the BJP's prime ministerial candidate but its not clear if the party will bite.

11.34 am: PM monitoring violent situation in Assam, says NSA

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is keeping a close watch on the Assam situation in the wake of violence in two communally-sensitive districts of the state that has claimed at least 32 lives.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon briefed Singh this morning, PMO sources said.

Appealing for calm, Singh also spoke to Cabinet Secretary Ajit Seth and told him that all help should be extended to the state government to ensure peace. - PTI

11. 02 am: Govt agencies behind Assam violence, says NDFB

The National Democratic Front of Bodoland denied any involvement in the mutiple attacks saying it was the Assam government that should be held responsible.

According to Times Now, NDFB, in a statement released, said government agencies were behind the Assam violence that has left at least 32 people dead.

10.40 am: Two more bodies recovered, death toll at 32

The Assam Police have recovered two more bodies this morning taking the death toll to 32. The bodies were recovered from  Shalbari in Baksa district. The Army has conducted flag marches and has also imposed shoot-at-sight orders in the disturbed districts.

10.32 am: 12 people arrested, eight detained, for violence

The Assam Police have reportedly arrested 12 and have detained eight  people in connection with the massacre of Muslims in Assam over the last three days.

Assam Home Secretary GD Tripathi told he Indian Express that curfew had been clamped in areas such as Dhubri, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Nalbari, Darrang and Sonitpur districts.

10. 17 am: Bengali-speaking Muslims targeted for voting against Bodos?

According a report in The Times of India, Bodos targetted Bengali-speaking Muslims because they apparently voted against their front's candidate.

A Bodoland People's Front leader told the daily: "Everything was fine till April 23. We were assured that we would get about 80% Muslim votes in the third phase of the Lok Sabha elections in Kokrajhar on April 24. But all Muslim votes went in favour of Naba Kumar Sarania alias Heera Sarania."

9.25 am: Indefinite curfew imposed, Army conducts flag marches

Army officials conducted flag marches in the communally sensitive districts of Assam, while authorities imposed an indefinite curfew in Kokrajahar, Chirang and Baksa.

This morning, seven more bodies, including that of five children, were discovered by the police.

 

8.37 am: Sonia condemns attacks, says won't let divisive forces succeed

Expressing deep anguish and sorrow over the death of people in NDFB(S) militant attacks in two communally-sensitive districts of Assam, Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Friday decried the role of sectarian and militant groups.

Condoling the death of victims in the attacks in two communally-sensitive districts of Kokrajhar and Baksa of Assam, Gandhi said, "the inherent plurality of India will never let divisive and violent forces succeed." - PTI

8.20 am: Kokrajhar death toll now at 30

This morning, seven more bodies, including that of five children, were discovered by the police in the Narayanguri area of Baksi district and indefinite curfew has been imposed, media reports said.

At least 30 people, including children and women, were killed and 14 seriously injured by heavily armed NDFB(S) militants in two communally-sensitive districts of Kokrajhar and Baksa of Assam since Thursday night.

Police officials at a village in Kokrajhar. PTI

Police officials at a village in Kokrajhar. PTI

Shoot-at-sight was ordered on Friday night in Kokrajhar and Baksa districts, falling under Bodoland Territorial Autonomous Districts (BTAD) area, which bore the brunt of the violence, while indefinite curfew imposed in Chirang district, also under BTAD, as a precautionary measure, police sources said.

Curfew went into force from 6 pm on Friday to 4 am on Saturday in Baksa district's Salbari subdivision and pockets of Mushalpur and Tamulpur subdivisions.

A group of 40 NDFB-Songbijit militants, armed with AK-47 rifles, swooped down on Balapara-I village in Kokrajhar district in the early hours of Friday and fired indiscriminately entering three houses one after another killing seven people on the spot, police said.

IGP L R Bishnoi told PTI that two children and four women of the minority community were among the seven gunned down.

The body of a three-year-old child, also killed in the attack, was recovered from the area later on Friday morning, police said, adding, 13 people there were also seriously injured.

Later on Friday, 12 bullet-riddled bodies, including five women and a child, were recovered from Nankekhadrabari and Nayanguri villages in Baksa district, police officials said.

At least 70 houses of the minority community were torched on the banks of Beki river near the Manas National Park in the district, IGP (Lawa and Order) S N Singh said.

Friday's attack followed the one by the militants last night when three members of a family, including two women, were shot dead and an infant seriously injured in neighbouring Baksa district last night.

The militants carried out the crime after entering the house near Ananda Bazar area in Baksa district also within BTAD, the police said.

The army's help has been sought to deal with the situation and troops were staging flag marches to instil confidence among the locals in the violence-affected places and to bring the situation under control, the Chief Minister's office (CMO) said in a statement.

With inputs from PTI