Indian Troops Bid to Quell Assam Ethnic Violence as 37 Killed

Indian troops marched in areas of India’s northeastern Assam state as the death toll from ethnic clashes rose to 37, with 170,000 people forced from their homes.

Fighting broke out last week in the state’s Kokrajhar district between indigenous Bodo tribespeople and Muslims who have settled in the region from what is now Bangladesh over several decades. Violence erupts every few years between the communities, driven by competition for agricultural land.

“The army has been deployed in four districts,” G.D. Tripathi, Assam’s home secretary, the state’s top internal security official, said by phone. More bodies of victims have been found and police have confronted mobs attempting to burn down houses in neighboring Chirang district, he said.

A curfew remains in place in parts of the affected region, said Tripathi, adding that rail services have resumed after being halted due to attacks on trains. Relief camps have been set up, he said.

The riots came days after monsoon floods killed more than 77 people and destroyed homes and rail lines in Assam. The state shares a border with Bhutan and Bangladesh and is home to several rebel groups, including the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, which is fighting for an independent homeland for the ethnic group.

Soldiers took out a flag march today in Chirang, said Upendra Nath Bora, deputy commissioner for the district.

“The situation in Kokrajhar is still tense but is improving,” said Donald Gilfellon, who holds the same rank in the region at the center of the violence. “The army is continuing its operation and a curfew has been imposed.”

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