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Shoot-on-sight orders in Assam, no overnight violence

Authorities in E Assam forms several peace committees involving leaders of all communities to instill confidence among the Hindi-speaking minorities.

india Updated: Jan 07, 2007 14:48 IST

Hundreds of soldiers on Sunday patrolled parts of violence-torn Assam in the wake of an indefinite curfew and shoot-on-sight orders issued after a wave of militant killings left 48 Hindi-speaking people dead.

There were no overnight reports of violence and the situation was gradually limping back to normal, said a police spokesperson.

The outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) went on a rampage for two straight days beginning from Friday killing 48 people and wounding 30 in separate raids in the three eastern districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, and Dhemaji, targeting Hindi-speaking migrant workers.

"Security forces have fanned out across the region with the army, police, and paramilitary troopers engaged in a systematic anti-insurgency offensive," Tinsukia district magistrate Absar Hazarika said.

Authorities in eastern Assam have formed several peace committees involving leaders of all communities to instill confidence among the Hindi-speaking minorities, many of whom are reported to be fleeing their homes in panic.

"These peace committees are working as vigilantes, helping the affected people come to terms with reality and trying to heal the wounds," a police official said.

Most of the victims were from Bihar and had made Assam their home for decades, doing odd jobs as brick kiln workers, fishermen and daily wage earners.

In 2000, ULFA militants killed at least 100 Hindi-speaking people in Assam in a series of well-planned attacks after the rebel group vowed to free the state of all "non-Assamese migrant workers". The ULFA is yet to claim responsibility for the recent attacks.

"There is no doubt that the killings are the handiwork of the ULFA," said Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal is likely to visit Assam for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation and review demands by the local government for additional paramilitary forces to deal with the rebel flare-up.

But for thousands of Hindi-speaking people residing in Assam, the savage killings have triggered panic.

"We want the entire area to be handed over to the army as we fear that the ULFA militants might come and strike anytime," said Ranbir Yadav, a timber merchant in Tinsukia.

Witnesses said hundreds of migrant workers have fled their homes in eastern Assam.

"People are leaving eastern Assam in all modes of vehicles and trains, moving to safer areas out of fear," said Bimal Tiwari, a businessman.

First Published: Jan 07, 2007 13:09 IST