Won't talk to terrorists, Rajnath says in Assam



Home Minister Rajnath Singh Thursday ruled out talks with Bodo "terrorists" who massacred 73 tribals in Assam.

After visiting some of the affected areas in Kokrajhar and Sonitpur districts, Rajnath Singh said: "The violence is not merely a case of insurgency but one of terrorism. We are going to deal with this sternly."

He said the central government "will adopt a zero tolerance policy" towards terrorism and declared that "there would be no talks at any cost" with such militant outfits.

The comments from Rajnath Singh, who flew into Assam Wednesday evening, came as the death toll in the Tuesday horror in Kokrajhar, Sonitpur and Chirang districts rose to 73 Thursday, officials said.

Those slaughtered include 21 women and 18 children. Scores of others have been injured in the mayhem. On Wednesday, three more tribals died when police fired at thousands who took to the streets.

The minister asked the Assam government to take time-bound action and promised all help from the central government.

Rajnath Singh said 50 companies of paramilitary forces had been rushed to the state, and the army and Assam Rifles had been asked to cooperate with the police to control the situation.

He said the central government had taken up with Bhutan and Bangladesh the issue of militants from India's northeast hiding there.

"One country has assured cooperation, and we are sure the other will also cooperate."

Rajnath Singh Thursday morning visited Sonitpur and Kokrajhar, where he went to a few relief camps where hundreds have taken shelter after fleeing their villages. The Bodo militants had torched many homes.

The minister also met with security personnel.

Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju, who is from Arunachal Pradesh, and Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram accompanied Rajnath Singh to Assam.

Rajnath Singh has already met Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, Director General of Police Khagen Sarma, Chief Secretary Jitesh Khosla and other heads of security forces in the state.

The Tuesday violence has been blamed on a hardline faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). - IANS