GUWAHATI: Three people were killed in Assam Wednesday when police fired at thousands of angry adivasis who took to the streets, a day after Bodo militants massacred 65 unarmed tribals.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told the media that 37 tribals were killed in Sonitpur, 25 in Kokrajhar and three in Chirang districts as the Bodos went on a killing spree late Tuesday.
Those slaughtered include 21 women and 18 children.
Gogoi said curfew had been imposed in the affected areas and he had briefed both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh about the situation.
"The central government has taken the matter seriously, and we are going to deal with the militants firmly," he said. "We are not going to surrender to them. We cannot allow these forces to continue."
Modi expressed grief over the killings, and announced Wednesday ex-gratia of Rs.2 lakh each to families of the dead and Rs.50,000 to the seriously injured.
The Prime Minister's Office said Rs.86 lakh will be released to the Assam government.
Rajnath Singh is set to visit Assam Wednesday evening. He will be accompanied by Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju and they are likely to visit the areas hit by the violence.
Rijiju said: "It is very unfortunate this kind of violence has taken place... If we have to develop the northeast, peace must prevail."
Both Modi and Rajnath Singh telephoned Gogoi Tuesday night and promised all help to deal with the situation.
The killings have been blamed on the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB). The attacks in all three districts began around 6.15 p.m. Tuesday, almost simultaneously.
On Wednesday, three people were killed in police firing after thousands of adivasis who took out a procession at Dhekiajuli in Sonitpur district indulged in violence.
"The army and paramilitary forces have been assisting the police in handling the situation," Gogoi said.
He said the central government had promised to send 55 companies of paramilitary forces. Twenty companies were likely to reach Assam Wednesday evening.
The NDFB faction opposed to peace talks had warned it would retaliate after Assam Police launched an operation against them, particularly in the area bordering Bhutan.
The police Sunday killed two Bodo militants and seized arms and ammunition from them.
Gogoi said: "The NDFB militants have targeted innocent people as they wanted a soft target to retaliate.
"It is barbaric and inhuman. They have killed minor children. There cannot be any justification for such killings."
He urged the electronic media not to show graphic images of the dead and wounded.
Officials said additional forces had been sent to the affected areas. Curfew has been imposed in parts of the three districts.
"Our first priority will be to restore peace. We will take all measures to ensure there is no escalation in the violence," the chief minister said.
Tension has gripped the three districts, where scores of people have fled their homes and taken shelter in safer places fearing further attacks by the militants.
The Assam government has announced ex gratia of Rs.5 lakh to families of the dead and Rs.50,000 to those injured in the violence.