Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gestures to displaced Muslim villagers at a relief camp in Butgaon village in Assam state's Kokrajhar district. (AFP Photo/Diptendu Dutta)
Under attack over his government's failure to control the ongoing ethnic violence in Assam, chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Friday blamed the Centre for delay in army deployment to riot-hit areas, a claim acknowledged by the UPA government.
The Congress also threw its weight behind him. “We have full faith in our chief minister,” party spokesperson Rashid Alvi said in Delhi.
Gogoi said in Guwahati that the situation would not have deteriorated had troops been deployed on the first day itself. “We wanted the army from day one of the crisis and now when it is there, the situation is gradually limping back to normal.”
In Delhi, the Centre backed him, saying local army commanders waited too long for completion of formalities in Delhi. The local commanders had refused to step in till they received an order from the defence ministry, which took two days.
Home ministry sources added this delay also forced North Block to double the deployment of central police forces to 6,000 personnel.
"Another 1,200 personnel tasked to complement the existing forces are on their way to the disturbed areas," a central paramilitary officer coordinating troop movements said.
Cabinet secretary AK Seth also reviewed relief arrangements in the camps ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Assam.
Two teams, comprising doctors, health specialists and nurses, were airlifted from Delhi on Friday evening.
Gogoi assured that the state had taken all steps to maintain law and order and four ministers were camping in Kokrajhar.
He alleged that the BJP had played a "vital role in flaring up" the clashes between two communities in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhubri areas. "BJP has been trying to project the violence as communal clash... They spread rumours that people from Bangladesh had sneaked into Assam and were indulging in violence. This is absolute lie.”