Two killed in Assam clashes over Bangladeshi migrants issue

August 18th, 2008 - 11:25 am ICT by IANS  

Guwahati, Aug 18 (IANS) Two people were killed and six others injured when miscreants set ablaze dozens of huts in Assam in clashes between two communities over the issue of harassing genuine Indians in the name of detecting illegal Bangladeshis, officials said Monday. A police spokesman said there was simmering tension in northern Assam’s Udalguri district over the weekend when clashes first broke out during a 12-hour general strike enforced by a minority students’ group.

The students’ group called the strike Friday, alleging harassment of genuine Indian minorities in the name of detecting illegal migrants from Bangladesh.

“So far two people have died and six injured and about 30 odd houses set ablaze in sporadic incidents of violence in the district,” a senior police official said.

The two deaths were reported Sunday. Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain are camping in the district along with senior civil and police officials to prevent the incident from escalating.

“The need of the hour is to show restraint and calm and not to believe in rumours as it could flare up the situation,” Sarma said.

Community leaders were holding meetings and visiting villages to stop further clashes. Fearing more attacks, some 300 families fled their homes and took shelter in schools and offices.

“Adequate security measures have been taken with army, police and paramilitary troopers deployed in strength, besides community meetings being held to restore calm in the area,” the police official said.

The infiltration issue is on the boil in Assam after the Gauhati High Court recently pronounced a verdict declaring 61 people as foreigners after which police swung into action and began a drive to arrest the accused and push them back across the border.

During the past fortnight, the All Assam Student’s Union (AASU) and the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chattra Parishad (AJYCP) activists rounded up hundreds of people, suspected to be Bangladeshis, from various parts of the state and later handed them over to the police.

“We appeal all groups not to take law into their own hands,” Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said. “The need of the hour is to show restraint and calm and not allow the situation to drift.”

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