Most of the dead are settlers from nearby Bihar state in a conflict triggered by competition for jobs in Assam.

   

Thousands of settlers, some leaving behind their possessions, crowded railway stations across the state to catch trains headed for Bihar.

   

"We want to leave this place at the earliest. Our lives are at risk," said Raghu Narain, a Bihari labourer, waiting at Guwahati's railway station with his wife and three children.

 

"Most of them (Biharis) are travelling without ticket as they fled leaving behind whatever they had in their houses and they have no money," said Ashim Dey, a railway ticket collector.

 

Peace returns

   

Peace has returned slowly to the state after troops were deployed to quell violence that began on Monday. But that has not stopped the rush to leave.

   

"The situation has fast returned to normal though some minor incidents of assaults have taken place in interior areas," K D Tripathi, Assam's interior commissioner, said.

   

The violence was triggered by attacks on Assamese train travellers in Bihar last week. This followed reports of assaults on Bihari students who came to Assam to do tests for railway jobs. Assamese students feared Biharis would snatch the prized jobs.