AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
GUWAHATI: The death toll from ethnic unrest in India’s northeast rose to 50 today while at least 400,000 languished in relief camps.
The national government has dispatched medical teams to Assam to tend to the victims of the fighting that erupted eight days ago between indigenous Bodo tribes and Muslim settlers over long-running land disputes. The chief minister of far-flung Assam state, Tarun Gogoi, said the region was now calm after what he called ‘unprecedented’ violence as the focus shifted to providing relief to the 400,000 people who fled their homes. The death toll climbed to 50 as police reported in a statement that the bodies of five more people killed in the riots had been recovered.
The chief minister described the violence as the worst crisis his government has faced, with rival groups from both sides attacking villages, beating people to death with sticks and burning down homes. People in the camps have said they were afraid of returning to their homes. “We are living in fear and we can’t even think about going back to our homes,” Bimla Basumatary, one of the displaced, told India’s NDTV.
Singh visits riot survivors
GUWAHATI: India’s prime minister promised on Saturday to help hundreds of thousands of survivors of brutal ethnic rioting in the country’s remote northeast that killed at least 53 people. Manmohan Singh, who represents Assam in the Indian Parliament’s upper house, flew to Kokrajhar district, one of the worst affected by the clashes between ethnic Bodos and Muslim settlers in Assam state, and met with people in two relief camps in the area’s main city. Singh called the fighting ‘a blot’ on the country and promised the families of those killed 200,000 rupees ($3,600) in compensation. The killing of four Bodo men last week sparked the violence. While the rioting is now mostly under control, thousands of troops continue to patrol the districts of Kokrajhar, Dibrugarh and Chirang. Night curfews are also in place in several areas. The fighting forced about 400,000 people to flee their homes in western Assam.