Appealing to students and people from Assam living in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh not to panic, chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Thursday said that unidentified forces were fomenting violence in lower Assam and trying to destabilise the central and state governments.
"It is true that there are some forces who are trying to destabilise the Centre and the state government. There are game plans against the state government also. There are forces. I do not deny that," Gogoi told reporters.
He said some people were using text messaging and other methods to create panic, not only in the strife-torn areas, but also among students and professionals from Northeast, and Assam in particular, who are staying in states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka.
"It is also true that rumour has created a lot of problems. We are looking on ways to curb such things," he said.
Gogoi urged them not to panic and said he was in constant touch with his counterparts in both the states.
"There is no threat to them. Even the Prime Minister and the Home Minister have spoken to the chief ministers of the two states. The exodus is the result of rumour."
Asked if his government is contemplating a temporary ban on bulk SMSes to stop spread of rumours, Gogoi said, "We are looking at it to see how far we can go legally. We have not taken any final decision."
He admitted that new technology has created problems.
"With new technology, rumours are now spreading faster. Besides, this time the ethnic violence has also got far more publicity than previous such incidents in the state."
Gogoi said the state government has put in place security measures to ensure that the Eid festival passes off peacefully.
The chief minister claimed that despite new incidents in Baksa and imposition of curfew in Rangiya on Thursday, the overall situation in the state has improved.
"Over 1.88 lakh people have returned to their homes from relief camps, while 2.92 lakh people still remain in the camps. We have also set up 104 fixed security pickets in the violence hit areas and plan to increase their number," Gogoi said.
He said it would take some time for all displaced persons to return to their homes.
"We had earlier thought that camps will be closed down soon but now we know they will be there for some time. We have decided to decongest the camps so that inmates do not face the problem of over-crowding," Gogoi said.
"I accept that the sense of fear and insecurity still exist among victims of both the communities (involved in the clashes) and we are trying to remove it," he added.
The state government will hold an all-party meeting on Friday on the ethnic violence.
"I ask the media to behave responsibly. One Guwahati-based channel even flashed a news that I have asked our people to come back. This is totally wrong," he said.
Gogoi said a delegation of MPs from the Northeast would be meeting Sonia Gandhi today on the issue.
"We are sending a two-member intelligence team today to Karanataka and Andhra Pradesh and a ministerial team will leave tomorrow," he said.