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Indian gov't places army on alert amid ethnic riots
Publication Date : 09-08-2012
The Indian government has placed its army on alert to deal with the escalating ethnic riots in the northeast state Assam.
Replying to a five-hour long debate on the adjournment motion in the Lok Sabha (Lower House) moved by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stalwart L K Advani, the new home minister, Sushil Kumar Shinde, said officials will be visiting Guwahati today to take stock of the situation.
The government has already agreed to the request of the Assam government and ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the month-long violence between native Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims that has claimed 77 lives.
Condemning the violence, the home minister said the central government is providing all possible assistance to the government of Assam. “The government strongly condemns the act of depredation in Assam. Leaders from both communities have been asked to intervene” to restore normality, Shinde said.
Stormy moments prevailed in the Lok Sabha on the opening day of the Monsoon session as members from both sides articulated their views on the violence in Assam that has claimed 77 lives and already displaced an estimated four lakh people.
Initiating the debate on the adjournment motion, Advani said it was the Centre's direct failure that the situation in Assam had reached such a pass. The senior BJP leader’s charge that illegal immigration from Bangladesh was the major factor responsible for the incidents, caused heated exchanges, as several Congress members raised objections.
The lone Bodo MP, S K Bwiswmuthiary, shared the opinion of various opposition MPs, including Tatagatha Sathpathy of the Biju Janata Dal, that the illegal immigration from Bangladesh could force Assam to give away some of its parts as “Bangladesh-occupied Assam”.
Trinamul Congress leader and Union minister Saugata Roy slammed Advani for harping on the single point of illegal migration, saying what Assam needed was a healing touch.
The Rajya Sabha also saw a war of words between Congress and Opposition members when it took up a discussion on the Assam riots.
Balbir Punj, who initiated the discussion, demanded that infiltrators from Bangladesh should be declared “stateless persons, disfranchised and debarred from owning properties in the state”, a remark which drew sharp criticism from the Treasury benches.
In the Lok Sabha, Shinde said a comprehensive security plan has been chalked out to provide fool-proof security to the affected population. “104 fixed police pickets have been proposed in the vulnerable villages, of which 99 have been established. They have been given responsibility of ensuring security for the affected villages,” he said.
He said the present status of relief and rehabilitation measures indicates that during the peak time 340 relief camps were established with over 4.8 lakh inmates. “As on August 6, as many as 245 relief camps with approximately 3.64 lakh persons were running. 95 relief camps have been closed and over 1.15 lakh persons have returned to their villages,” he said. (1 lakh is equivalent to 100,000)