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Biharis leaving Assam in droves

Source: PTI
November 22, 2003 16:51 IST
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With reports of renewed attacks from different parts of Assam, panic-stricken Biharis have started to leave the state.

Twelve Biharis were killed in two incidents on Saturday, taking the toll in the week-long anti-Bihari violence to 46.

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Eleven migrant brick-kiln labourers were shot dead by militants belonging to the United Liberation Front of Asom in Tinsukia district of Assam, while another Bihari was killed in Kakopathar in Dibrugarh district in a group clash.

"Enough is enough...every day there are killings. It has become dangerous for us to stay here," Munna Bhai, a cart-puller in Guwahati for more than 20 years, said.

The Guwahati railway station on Saturday resembled a refugee camp with unending queues for tickets.

"There is absolutely no point in staying back for livelihood as our lives are at stake...I will try my luck elsewhere," Munna said. He is leaving the state with his wife and two-year-old son.

While a section of Biharis staged a peace rally in the city, there were hundreds and hundreds of others willing to take any mode of transport to safety.

"I am prepared to travel standing all the way back to Bihar," Ruksana Begum, who lost her husband in the violence, said. "I am not safe with my grown up daughter and she is my only concern now," she said and burst into tears.

A Northern Frontier railway spokesperson said there is a great rush for tickets for Bihar-bound trains from Guwahati. Katihar, Kishanganj and Patna are the most sought after destinations, she added. "We cannot, however, identify the travellers...they are just passengers for us not Biharis or Assamese," she said.

Another railway official said the number of Assamese travelling from Guwahati to Bihar has dwindled ''probably due to the fear of reprisals in Bihar.''

In the past week, several trains entering Bihar from the northeast have been targeted.

Some Biharis, however, are defiant. "There is no point in leaving a state which has been our home for years together. An effort should be made to bring back the confidence," Murali Mishra, who participated in the peace rally, said.

Accusing the government of not doing enough to restore peace, he said now it is the turn of the people of both states to ensure there is no more violence.
Meanwhile, army staged flag marches in Guwahati on Saturday. Additional traffic check posts and security pickets have been installed in Bihari-dominated areas of the state, official sources said.


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