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Violence escalates in Kokrajhar, death toll rises to 12

Kokrajhar (Assam): Violence escalated in trouble-torn Kokrajhar district today with a senior DIG rank police official and three others injured in mob attack prompting police to fire in self-defence, while the death toll in the last two days' clash between Bodos and immigrants rose to 12.

IGP (BTAD) S N Singh told PTI that DIG S Kumar and Kokrajhar Additional Superintendent of Police Amar Choudhury were on their way to assess the situation in Fakiragram area today when their convoy was blocked by a mob demanding release of 10 people held in connection with the killing of four former Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) cadres.

The police has extended the curfew in the region. Reuters

The police officials urged the mob to move out but were instead pelted with stones. Kumar was hit on his head, while two of his personal security officers also got injured.

The police resorted to lathicharge and finally opened fire to disperse the crowd in which another person was injured while the vehicles of both the DIG and ASP were damaged by the mob, Singh said.

Meanwhile, the death toll in the last two days' clash rose to 12 with the recovery of three more bodies, including of a woman and her child, from the banks of river Gouranga while another body was recovered from Kathalbari area, he said.

Night curfew was reimposed from 6 p.m today to 6 a.m tomorrow with Section 144 CrPC in force in the entire district till further orders, Deputy Commissioner, Kokrajhar, Donald Gilfellon said.

The district administration has set up 12 relief camps where more than thousand people have taken shelter and more relief camps would be opened if necessary, the DC said.

The violence also spread to neighbouring Chirang district where a vehicle was burnt.

Singh said that the army and para-military forces were assisting the police in controlling the situation which was under control though there were undercurrents of tension. Strict vigil was kept in sensitive pockets and already six additional companies deployed with three more on way.

The district and police administration of the neighbouring districts have also been asked to be vigilant. Transport and Tourism Minister Chandan Brahma who is camping in Kokrajhar, also appealed the people to "maintain calm and not pay heed to any rumour."

The violence in the district was triggered off with the firing on two student leaders who were critically injured - Mohibul Islam of All Bodoland Minority Students' Union (ABMSU) and Abdul Siddique Sheikh of All Assam Minority Students' Union (AAMSU).

In a retaliatory attack four former BLT cadres were killed on Friday night and this led to further attacks and counter-attacks resulting in the death of 12 people so far.

PTI