Curfew hinders relief work in Assam

July 28, 2012 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

Assam, July 27, 2012: Missionaries of Charity Sisters could not extend their help to those hit by the clashes due to the curfew.

As the toll in the ethnic violence in Assam rose to 58, relief agencies are finding it difficult to reach out to those affected.

“The curfew in the affected areas is keeping us handicapped but still we are trying to assess the damage,” said Babita Alick, incharge of the disaster management team of Caritas India, the social service wing of the Catholic Church.

Indefinite curfew and shoot-at-sight orders have been imposed in the worst-hit Kokrajhar district of the northeastern Indian state.

Chirag and Dhubri districts have been placed under night curfew.

Nearly 200,000 people have been rendered homeless in the violence started on July 20 when tribal people accused Muslims of killing four indigenous Bodo youths.

This led to a series of clashes in which both groups have been torching houses in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts.

Missionaries of Charity Sisters could not extend their help to those hit by the clashes due to the curfew.

Sr. Jacoba, superior of the community in Bongaigaon, said they tried to go twice to the violence-affected areas with relief material but could not succeed.

She said that Bodo women were attending regular prayer service in their church.

Amrit Gilsmith, a Baptist Christian leader from Guwahati, said, “We cannot reach out to the affected because of the curfew. All we are doing now is praying in all our churches and planning our next course of action.”

Schools, institutions, health centers and church premises are serving as relief camps to those affected by the violence.

However, train services Thursday resumed after two days of complete disruption. Three special trains have been started to ferry stranded passengers.

Bishop Thomas Pulloppillil of Bongaigaon has appealed for peace in the violence-hit districts.

The prelate has constituted a relief team and peace mission committee and is continuously monitoring the situation.

Kokhrajhar is the headquarters of the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts, an autonomous region in the state that has witnessed ethnic violence for more than 20 years.

All the four districts that form the Bodoland Territorial Area Districts come under the diocesan jurisdiction. Out of that two of the districts- Kokrajhar and Chirang- are hit by the ethnic violence.

Alick said that there has been heavy displacement of people from both the communities and they are planning to provide food and medical assistance to the affected from Sunday.

– ucan

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