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Manmohan to undertake daylong visit to Assam

The PM is visiting the state for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the wake of deadly ULFA attacks.

india Updated: Jan 16, 2007 11:05 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is scheduled to arrive on a daylong visit to Assam on Tuesday for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation in the wake of a string of deadly separatist attacks that killed over 60 Hindi-speaking migrants and stunned the nation.

"The main objective of the prime minister's visit is to reassure and instil a sense of confidence among the Hindi-speaking workers, besides assessing the overall situation," Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoisaid.

The prime minister is expected to hold a security review meeting at the Mohanbari Airport in Dibrugarh in eastern Assam with the chief minister before visiting Masaldhari Chapori, a village in the worst-affected Tinsukia district, about 560 km east of Guwahati, where 13 migrant workers were killed.

"The prime minister is expected to address a small meeting of Hindi-speaking workers in the area and also interact with family members of those killed," said Tinsukia District Magistrate Absar Hazarika.

Singh would then visit Sepon Chokolia in Dibrugarh district and meet migrant workers currently lodged at makeshift shelters. Some 700 Hindi-speaking workers are staying at government-run camps at Sepon Chokolia after they were evacuated by authorities from their workplaces for security reasons.

Authorities blamed the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for a string of attacks targeting Hindi-speaking migrant workers from January 5 to January 8 in parts of eastern Assam.

The orgy of violence spread over four straight days had left 73 people dead - 61 Hindi-speaking migrant workers, five policemen, two government officials killed in a landmine explosion, and five ULFA rebels shot dead in separate encounters with security forces.

Cradling a nine-month old baby girl, young Kiran Devi was in tears. "The government should take stern steps to finish off the ULFA," said Devi, who lost her husband Dinesh Das in one of the massacres.

Like Devi, elderly Ram Chandra Mahato was equally angry. "The militants should be killed without any mercy," shouted Mahato, who lost his son Ajay in another rebel raid earlier this month.

Fear still haunts Pritam Yadav and his teenaged nephew who work at a brick kiln. "We are still worried with a general fear that the ULFA might strike again," Yadav said.

The two are among some 1,500 Hindi-speaking workers currently staying at one of the many relief camps in Tinsukia.

"We hope the prime minister would announce more security cover for people like us. We don't want to leave Assam as this is the place where we have been working for long and earning a living," said Ram Naresh Singh, another camp inmate.

Manmohan Singh is scheduled to address a news conference in Dibrugarh before leaving for New Delhi later in the evening.

First Published: Jan 16, 2007 10:01 IST