Indian media back federal probe in Assam violence

Media in India are criticising poll-related violence in the north-eastern state of Assam as a federal team starts an investigation into the killings of 32 people.

A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) reached Assam on Monday to investigate the killings of mainly Muslim villagers by a separatist group.

Police blame the attacks on the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).

The NDFB wants an independent homeland for the ethnic Bodo group to be carved out of Assam. Thursday's attacks took place in areas populated by non-Bodo people.

The incident comes in the middle of India's ongoing general election, and Muslim groups allege their community has come under attack because they did not support Bodo candidates.

Newspapers on Monday support the decision of the NIA to investigate the killings, saying the state government has failed to rein in the rebels.

The Indian Express criticises Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's inability to meet the "developmental needs" of the region and provide protection to the people.

"Nothing can explain the Mr Gogoi-led government's failure to anticipate and guard against such attacks during a fraught election season," the paper says.

The Deccan Herald feels that the government should promote a "sense of unity" in the ethnically mixed north-eastern India.

"The entire north-east is a crucible of different ethnic, religious and other groups… It should be the endeavour of the governments of the region to promote a sense of unity and commonalities among them," the paper says.

Mr Gogoi has rejected the opposition's demand to step down, saying he is "not a coward to flee the battlefield", the India Today website reports.

Temple reopens

Meanwhile, in another tragic case, 18 people died and 124 others were injured after a train derailed in Raigad district of the western state of Maharashtra on Sunday morning, The Indian Express reports.

The train's engine and its first two coaches suffered massive damages, the paper said.

The Indian Railways has ordered an investigation into the cause of the accident and announced compensation of 200,000 rupees (£2000; $3,300) for the families of the dead, the paper adds.

And finally, the mountain temple of Kedarnath in the northern state of Uttarakhand has reopened to pilgrims after last year's devastating floods, the Hindustan Times reports.

"The yatra (pilgrimage) is regulated this time around and only 1,000 pilgrims have been allowed to go ahead from Sonprayag, the last stop for the vehicles," the paper says.

The route to the temple had suffered major damages in floods that left over 5,000 people dead in the state.