India

Indian media: Assam violence

Many have been displaced after Tuesday's attack Image copyright AP
Image caption Many have been displaced after Tuesday's attack in the north-eastern Indian state of Assam

Papers in India express horror at a separatist group's killing of more than 70 people in the north-eastern state of Assam.

Militants from a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) attacked remote villages in Sonitpur and Kokrajhar districts on Tuesday, reports say.

The group wants an independent homeland for the ethnic group to be carved out of Assam.

"This is the third occasion in two years that Bodo militants have struck with such tragic consequences. Bodo insurgents unleashed terror killing 40 Bengali-speaking Muslims in June this year," The Times of India says.

The incident exposes "security forces' failure to coordinate intelligence and counter-insurgency operations", the paper adds.

It also urges the federal government in Delhi to step in and crack down on the separatist group.

"The centre must step in and provide additional paramilitary forces to the disturbed region with the aim of intensifying operations against the banned NDFB," the paper says.

Most papers feel both the federal and the state governments should have anticipated the attack.

The Indian Express says the violence "should not have caught the government unaware".

Despite a history of violence related to the Bodo movement, "the government still engages with it", it adds.

The paper calls for definite measures to address the ethnic issue.

"While stemming the flow of violence must be the government's first imperative, curbing militant groups will not be enough," it adds.

The paper instead calls for a "more imaginative addressing of ethnic demands in Assam".

The Hindu also says the government should "address at the earliest the genuine aspirations of the Bodo people in terms of development and entitlements".

And it urges "the government to ensure that the killings do not lead to ethnic clashes on a wide scale".

The Hindustan Times reports that the home minister, Rajnath Singh, has promised a crackdown on the Bodo militants.

Citing former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's visit to Assam in 2012 after a similar violent attack, the paper warns that such tactic may "not materialise into much".

Honour for Vajpayee

Meanwhile, papers welcome the government's decision to honour former prime minister and BJP leader Atal Behari Vajpayee with the Bharat Ratna (Jewel of India) - the country's highest civilian award.

In the early 90s, when the Hindu-nationalist party was "seen by many as a political 'untouchable'", Mr Vajpayee "single-handedly made it look a more affable and coalitionable political force," The Indian Express says.

The Asian Age also praises Mr Vajpayee for his oratory skills and ideological tolerance in a Hindu-nationalist party.

"This BJP leader, alone among his ranks, showed the sagacity in his long political career to shake hands across ideological and political walls and was generally not swayed by the heat of the moment. His silver tongue was known to promote tolerance, the paper says

Along with Mr Vajpayee, educationist and freedom fighter Madan Mohan Malaviya, who is known for setting up the Benaras Hindu University (BHU) in Varanasi in 1916, has been given the award posthumously. He died in 1946.

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