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Assam on high alert after Bodo militant attack kills 68 people, Indo-Bhutan border sealed

A high alert has been issued in Assam after death toll in separate incidents of violence killed 68 people in the state. While 62 people were killed by Bodo militants, three adivasis were killed in police firing at Sonitpur and three Bodo villagers were killed by Adivasi villagers in Chirang on Wednesday. Curfew has been clamped in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur to avert any untoward incident.

A counter insurgency operation has also been launched in the state. Calling it an act of terror, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said that 50 companies of central armed forces have been sent to maintain law and order. Meanwhile, the Indo-Bhutan border in lower Assam has been also been sealed. The centre has assured Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of full support.

“The security forces are already doing their job. Assam is requesting 50 extra companies of central forces which we will mobilise. It will be immediately done. It is very unfortunate this kind of violence has taken place. If we have to develop the northeast, peace must prevail,” Rijiju said.

Protesting against the violence in the state, Gogoi’s effigies were burnt in Kokhrajhar. Hundreds of plantation workers armed with spears and bows and arrows defied a curfew imposed in response to the rebel attacks and surrounded police stations in Sonitpur district, claiming that the authorities had failed to protect them. Some protesters set fire to shops and others blocked a railway line and roads. Police said they had to disperse the crowds.

Pressure is also building on the Gogoi government to take action as sources say that intelligence warnings to the state police for a possible attack were ignored.

Condemning the incident, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called the killing of innocent people an act of cowardice. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of the deceased,” he tweeted. Modi said that he had spoken to Tarun Gogoi and assured all help from the Centre.

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