Sharing the "pain" of Assam riots victims, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Saturday called for an immediate end to the violence and promised "a proper inquiry" into the ethnic clashes -- which left 45 people dead and lakhs homeless -- as well as aid to the affected people.
Manmohan Singh, who reached the affected Kokrajhar district to visit relief camps for victims of the clashes between Bodos and Muslims, also appealed to the people of the state to foster peace.
"The ethnic conflict which has occurred is unacceptable and must come to a stop," the prime minister said in his interaction with the media following a visit to a relief camp housing 1,500 displaced victims.
"I have come here to share your sorrow and pain. This is a time for healing... this is no time for recriminations. We need to first help the people to rehabilitate and bring peace," he said, adding that the central and state governments would work together to bring back normalcy.
"I have seen that hundreds of thousands of people were affected due to the communal violence in Assam and I appeal all of you to cooperate with the government in extending relief and rehabilitation works," said the prime minister while reading out a statement before media at the Kokrajhar Circuit House.
Announcing a total of Rs.300 crore in aid and relief for the riot victims and the violence-hit areas, he also noted: "We must address the causes of the conflict. We will work closely with the state government to provide sense of security to all the affected areas, ensuring that they all go back to their houses in the knowledge that their lives and livelihood are secure."
The aid comprises special central assistance of Rs.100 crore for relief and rehabilitation, another Rs.100 crore under special plan assistance for development works in the affected areas and Rs.100 crore under the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) scheme for re-building damaged houses.
Manmohan Singh also announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs.2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the kin of each of those killed in the violence. The injured will also be paid Rs.50,000 to Rs.30,000 depending on the nature of their injury.
He also assured that an amount of Rs.30,000 will be provided to those whose houses have totally burnt down while an amount of Rs.20,000 will be given to those whose houses were damaged partially.
As per the state government, the violence has left 3.92 lakh homeless over three affected districts.
To a query, the prime minister, who is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Assam, said: "Yes, there will be a proper inquiry into the circumstances of these tragic incidents."
Kokrajhar and Chirang, which form the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) along with Baksa and Udalguri districts, were severely hit after clashes broke out between the dominant Bodos and the Bengali-speaking Muslim settlers July 19. The violence soon spread to contiguous Dhubri and Baksa districts.
Aaccompanied on his Assam visit by Congress leader Digvijay Singh, the prime minister had Saturday arrived in Guwahati and left by helicopter for Kokrajhar. However, his helicopter had to initially return to Guwahati following a snag and he could reach Kokrajhar only in the second attempt.
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Governor J.B. Patnaik too joined the prime minister on his visit to the riot-hit areas, where he also visited relief camps at the Kokrajhar Commerce College and at Bhotgaon, located close to Kokrajhar and met victims, civilian officials, police and the army troops that are at present deployed there.
The prime minister also spoke to Bodo Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilary and Kokrajhar MP S.K. Bwiswamuthiary after the on-the-spot survey.
Meanwhile, a delegation of the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) led by its chief Badaruddin Ajmal met the prime minister at the Guwahati airport and asked him to step up efforts for the safety and security of people in the district.
Ajmal submitted a memorandum to the prime minister, urging him to dissolve the Bodoland Territorial Council on the ground of total breakdown of law and order in the area.