Mobile boat camp for Kaziranga

- UK charity equips park with a river patrol device to curb poaching
Guwahati, April 25 : Tracking the movement of poachers along the mighty Brahmaputra on the northern fringes of the Kaziranga National Park might just get a little easier for the forest guards, thanks to a new facility making its debut in the game sanctuary.
The park, known worldwide for the one-horned rhino (Rhinoceros unicornis), today got its first mobile boat camp — a facility that will allow forest guards to keep better vigil on the river along the northern boundary of the park through which poachers frequently operate.
The boat camp — equipped with a powerful motor for high speed — was presented to the park authorities today by the BBC Wildlife Fund in association with the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation and Aaranyak, a local NGO.
The BBC Wildlife Fund had raised money from wildlife lovers in the United Kingdom for improving the security of rhinos at the Kaziranga National Park.
Patrolling on the Brahmaputra is considered the most difficult task among anti-poaching activities in Kaziranga because of the large area the small boats have to cover.
Bibhab Talukdar, the secretary general of Aaranyak, who was present in the hand-over ceremony today, said that a minimum of eight guards could stay on the boat camp.
“Small boats are not strong enough to negotiate the turbulent Brahmaputra. This one is strong and also has good speed,” he said.
The custom-made wooden boat is fitted with wireless sets and also has walkie-talkies for effective communication.
The boat also has enough space for carrying provisions, which would allow the guards to spend days together on water.
“There are no major camps along the entire stretch of the northern boundary of Kaziranga and this boat will be very useful in tracking the movement of poachers,” Suren Buragohain, the director of the park, said.
The latest rhino census had put the number of rhinos at 2,048.
Mary Nugget from the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation said the organisation had faith on the Kaziranga authorities to protect wildlife from all challenges.

Dispur to promote tourism on hills

April 25 : Guwahati’s hills, which have become an eyesore with encroachment and rampant cutting, might get back their place of pride soon with Dispur deciding to convert them into tourism spots.
The plan will achieve three objectives at a go — beautify the hills, prevent encroachment and check antisocial activities.
Sources said the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority was working on the plan with the help of the tourism department and the Assam Tourism Development Corporation.
An Assam government official said, according to the plan, the GMDA and the tourism department would first regenerate the forests in the hills and then dot them with eco-friendly resorts, flower gardens, water fountains and watch towers.
The first phase of the project will cover Nilachal and Sarania hills, where the Kamakhya temple and Gandhi Mandap are situated.
“Guwahati is the only city in the country that is surrounded by 14 hills. Unfortunately, the condition of the hills has become a cause of woe for the city dwellers. The rampant destruction of the hills because of human encroachment causes landslides and flash floods. The city’s green cover is fast declining because of encroachment on the hills. Something must be done on a war-footing to develop and protect the hills for the city’s future,” the official said.
AC Nielsen, a New York-based global marketing research firm, suggested that urgent steps be taken to develop and protect the hills for the beautification and ecological balance of Guwahati.
The US firm is currently conducting a survey to create a comprehensive database of hill dwellers.
The official said the government would involve the hill dwellers in the plan.
“The people who have been living in the hills for more than 15 years will be given permanent settlement by the Kamrup (metro) district administration on the condition that they will be actively involved in tourism promotion and anti-encroachment activities,” the official said.
According to the government records available, 1,23,979 people resided on the 14 hills in 2000. The survey recorded 26,985 number of households on the hills with 8,681 permanent structures, 7,510 semi-permanent structures and 10,794 temporary structures.
“Another aim of the project is to prevent antisocial activities. Since the hilly areas are not easily accessible, criminals usually take shelter in such places to carry out subversive activities in the city. Beautification of the hills will not leave space for such elements to take shelter,” the official said.

AUDF worker hacked, clash in Kokrajhar

Zero voting in 12 booths
April 24 : An AUDF leader was hacked to death while seven persons were injured in a group clash soon after polling ended in the state today, registering 62.5 per cent turnout.
In another incident, the body of an AGP worker, who had been missing since yesterday, was recovered today.
AGP leader Puspa Deka was arrested for allegedly manhandling an election official and preventing voters from casting their votes at a polling station at Dadara in Kamrup district today.
However, Deka’s supporters said he was arrested on false charges because he was protesting against rigging by Congress workers at the polling station at Dadara.
However, a dozen polling booths spread over various constituencies in Assam recorded zero voting with voters refusing to exercise their franchise in protest against non-redressal of grievances.
Polling passed off peacefully in Tripura, too, but the weather played spoilsport. A heat wave worsened by high humidity marred the otherwise peaceful polling for the state’s two Lok Sabha seats today with additional chief electoral officer Dilip Acharjee putting the initial polling percentage at 80, pending final computation of data from the interiors of the state.
In Assam, general secretary of AUDF Goalpara district unit and treasurer of the party’s Goalpara (East) Legislative Constituency Committee, Ganesh Hazarika, 40, was chopped to pieces by one Ramu Das at Dubapara under Matia police station of Goalpara district around 5pm today.
Police arrested Das, a supporter of Arun Chandra Das, an Independent candidate backed by the AGP-BJP in Dhubri parliamentary constituency.
According to an eyewitness, Hazarika was sitting near a polling station at Dubapara when Das attacked him with a sharp weapon. Hazarika died on the spot. Irate villagers later set Das’s house and his cycle repairing shop at Dubapara on fire. The situation at Dubapara is tense but under control.
At around the same time, seven persons were injured when supporters of the All Koch Rajbongshi Students Union and the BPF clashed at Kalipukhuri under Kokrajhar police station over allegations of attempts at booth capturing. According to preliminary information, some members of the student organisation had caught hold of a BPF supporter accusing of having tried to instigate others to capture a polling booth in the area. As the news spread, a large number of BPF supporters descended on the spot and the clash ensued.
The assistant secretary of the AGP’s Hariamukh anchalik committee under Raha Assembly constituency, Jadav Das, was abducted from near the party office. His body was recovered from Hariamukh this evening. The body did not bear any injury mark. Police suspect it to be a “political murder”.
The AASU alleged that a large number of people had to return disappointed from the polling booths without casting their vote because of “widespread confusion” over the set of documents accepted by the Election Commission as valid identity proof of the voters in place of voter identity cards, which is yet to be issued to voters in Assam.
A polling officer checks the name of a voter by candlelight at a polling station in Tiamari village near Guwahati on Thursday. (Reuters)
AASU adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said several people could not vote as poll officials in some polling booths insisted that only seven documents — passports, driving licence, PAN cards, bank passbooks, insurance documents, caste certificates and job cards issued under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act — could be used as authentic identification proof.
Bhattacharyya said he was not initially allowed to vote at a polling station in South Sarania Lower Primary School as he does not possess any of these seven documents. “I had to argue with the polling officer for more than 30 minutes after which he allowed me to vote after confirming my identity from one of my telephone bills which I had with me.”
At the South Sarania Lower Primary School, former director-general of Assam police Harekrishna Deka and his wife Anjali were denied their right to vote as their names could not be located on the voter’s list.
Two polling officials, Samudra Rajkhowa, deputed at number 15 polling centre at Rajadhap under Sonari sub-division in Sivasagar district and Anil Bhattacharyya, deputed at number 126 polling station at Ulubari in Sonitpur district, were arrested after they were found in an inebriated state inside the polling booths.

Assam MP's convoy ambushed, three killed

Kokrajhar, apr 24 : Suspected NDFB (Daimary) militants ambushed the convoy of Kokrajhar MP Sansuma Khungur Bwiswmuthiary in the district today, killing three persons.

Mr. Bwiswmuthiary escaped unhurt in the attack though his vehicle was damaged, official sources said.
The Bodoland Peoples Front MP Mr. Bwiswmuthiary and some journalists in the convoy came under heavy fire of the militants from hills on both sides of the road near Panbari.

Two security guards and Bodoland Territorial Council executive member Mono Kumar Brahma's driver were killed, while four others in the convoy were seriouly injured, the sources said.

None of the journalists accompanying in a separate vehicle were hurt, though all the vehicles were damaged in the firing, the sources said.

The insurgents fired indiscriminately at the MP's convoy forcing even the locals moving in the area to lie down on the ground for safety, one of the journalists travelling in the convoy said.

The MP along with BTC speaker Jeruwa Narziary and the local media persons was travelling towards Hengrabari to take stock of the violent situation there arising out of the torching of 11 houses by unidentified persons last night.

BTC chief executive Hagrama Mohilary along with police rushed there, while the army, police and paramilitary forces under the Unified Command Structure had launched a search operation to nab the culprits.

The injured had been admitted to hospital, the sources added.

People upbeat about PM casting vote in Assam

Guwahati, Apr 22  : Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's decision to cast his vote in Assam during the second phase of polling on April 23 has created enthusiasm among the people of the state.

Singh, who did not exercise his franchise in the last Lok Sabha election in 2004, announced to cast his vote here along with his wife Gursharan Kaur at a press conference here on April 19.

The Prime Minister, a Rajya Sabha member from the state, has his residence at the Sorumotoria area of Dispur.

"Last time we waited and waited with a hope that the Prime Minister will turn up. Even the security here was tight suggesting that he might, but he never came. This time we are lucky," said Purnendu Kalita, an employee of the state secretariat whose house is near Singh's residence.

Singh is scheduled to arrive at Dispur Higher Secondary School, which is polling booth number 166 of Guwahati parliamentary constituency, to cast his vote on April 23, official sources said.

A top police official on condition of anonymity said the prime minister was planned to visit the booth later in the day. Elaborate security arrangements will be made in and around the area in view of Singh's visit.

Travelling through Assam's battleground

By Gayatri B

Nowgong, Apr 20 : Ahead of the elections, travelling through Assam's battleground, one gets a feel of the political heat in the state. In different constituencies, amidst varying expectations and sentiments of the people, the performances of the politicians are being rated, discussed and debated. And here's how the scenario looks.

Bad roads and a broken school - shows the tardy pace of development in Congress's crorepati candidate's constituency. Mani Kumar Subba in his 11 years has been as elusive to his voters as he has been with us today while we tried to track him down."

"We have never seen him," says a village woman. Whereas, holding a poster of his, another little boy says, "This person is a king."

As one moves to the towns the resentment is more pronounced. "He doesn't know to speak any language properly," says one. We have been allowing a fool to rule us, no more," puts forth another local. But Mani Subba knows how to win elections. Just before elections, his party comes and distributes money to the voters but right after elections, he vanishes. The mood in the neighbouring constituency, however, is upbeat.

Kaliabor is in many ways Assam's real battleground. This is AGP's bastion, Prafulla Mahanta's homeground, Tarun Gogoi's turf and now his brother's and to take the battle on are the two crorepati brothers Sirajuddin and Badruddin Ajmal of AUDF - a party which threatens to change the political landscape of Assam.
With a 30 per cent minority population in the state Ajmal cannot be ignored.

"Our party is 85 per cent for the benefit of the minority. We are challenging Tarun Gogoi by contesting from this seat which was long misruled by Congress," says AUDF President, Badruddin Ajmal.

Not far from this battleground, it's the BJP which is in full bloom in Nowgaon. It is candidate Rajen Gohain expected to return for a third time.

"We will vote for Rajen Gohain, but he could have done more substantial work," says a local.
It's been an intensely political election this time where issues don't seem to matter. The rise of the AUDF and the alliance of the AGP-BJP has penetrated into Congress strongholds and could well throw up some surprises.

Assam BJP MP denies Congress allegations

Nagaon (Assam), Apr 20 Sitting BJP MP of Nowgong Rajen Gohain today denied Congress&aposs allegations that he had written letter to party president Rajnath Singh suggesting poll understanding with Asom United Democratic Front (AUDF).

Gohain told reporters here that if he had"written any such letter, how come Rajnath Singh does not possess it but Assam Health Minister and Congress leader Himanta Biswa Sarma has allegedly got hold of it".

Congress has been making repeated allegations that AGP-BJP combine and AUDF, a party of the minority community, have entered into an understanding to divide the minority vote on which Congress largely depends.

"Moreover, if the letter was sent to Rajnath Singh, then how can Sarma claim that he has the original which he got tested in the forensic laboratory," Gohain said.

The BJP MP, however, agreed that the signature in the letter may be his as he had"signed blank letter heads and kept it in BJP office for emergency use".

"I believe this could have been manipulated by a former trusted aide of mine who later joined Congress,"he said.

Sarmah yesterday alleged that Gohain had written a letter to BJP President Rajnath Singh to garner support of the AUDF to defeat Congress.

Bandh hits trade in Guwahati

Guwahati, April 19 : Business activities were disrupted here today following a 12-hour trade bandh called by the Sodou Guwahati Byabasayee Sanstha in protest against a “steep” hike in trade license fee by the Guwahati Municipal Corporation.
Shops in most areas, including Ganeshguri, Chandmari, Bhangagarh, Ambari, Panbazar, Maligaon and Adabari remained closed during the bandh. However, in Fancy Bazar and Lakhtokia, the city’s oldest and busiest business hubs, the bandh generated a mixed response.
Prantosh Roy, general secretary of the sanstha, said the hike in the license fee was three-fold and would impose an additional burden on small traders. He said the GMC was yet to respond to its demand for the withdrawal of the licence fee hike order.

Congress eyes paradise lost

The stage is set for a high voltage contest between Congress warhorse and president of the Asom Chah Mazdoor Sangha, Paban Singh Ghatowar, and young Sarbananda Sonowal of the AGP, the sitting MP.
While the Congress is trying to regain its lost fortress with Ghatowar again deciding to use the trade union platform to garner votes from the tea community, the AGP — the main Opposition particularly after the reunification — is determined to retain the Dibrugarh Lok Sabha seat.
Since Independence, Dibrugarh has always been considered a Congress bastion. Ghatowar has been representing the seat since 1991 and was seen as an “invincible person” for the Congress in Dibrugarh that has a sizeable number of tea tribe voters.
The party, however, not only lost the seat during the 2004 parliamentary elections, but Ghatowar was pushed to a pathetic third spot. Kamakhya Prasad Tasa of the BJP came second.
This time, because of the seat-sharing arrangements between the AGP and the BJP, the BJP did not field any candidate in Dibrugarh.
The seasoned Ghatowar, who is trying to regain his “lost paradise,” is busy campaigning. He is seen almost everywhere these days along with either his parliamentary secretary and legislator wife Jibantara, or the state water resources and labour minister, Prithibi Majhi.
Ghatowar’s main campaign manager is power and industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi, who is a spokesman for the PCC and the government.
Other Congress MLAs, including Pranati Phukon, Rajendra Prasad Singh and Rameswar Dhanowar, too, have been accompanying Ghatowar on one occasion or the other.
The Assembly segments that come under the Lok Sabha seat are Moran, Dibrugarh, Lahowal, Duliajan, Tinsukia, Tingkhong, Naharkatia, Margherita and Digboi.
There are nearly five lakh voters from the mainstream Assamese community, three lakh from the tea community and another three lakh comprising Bengalis, Hindi-speaking people, Nepalese and others. There are around 80,000 voters from the minority community.
Unlike last time, the constituency is witnessing a straight contest between Ghatowar and Sonowal, with a total of 10 candidates in the fray.
While Ratul Gogoi of the CPI and Romen Chandra Borthakur of the NCP are expected to take away some of Sonowal’s votes, candidates like Gangaram Koul of the CPI (M-L) and Francis Dhan of the National People’s Party (NPP) will make some dent in Ghatowar’s vote bank.
However, the fight will be basically a direct one to one between Ghatowar and Sonowal.

Veterans shower fragrance of memories

Sudakshina Sarma and Lakshyahira Das perform during the concert at Rabindra Bhawan on Tuesday.
Pictures by Eastern Projections
An enchanting musical evening, Sowaran, organised by All India Radio, Guwahati, swept the audience in waves of nostalgia at the packed Rabindra Bhawan on March 24.
Those present had the privilege of listening to the first batch of veteran singers who had passed the audition of AIR Calcutta during the era of the weekly 30-minute-slot for Assamese music. Their talented successors, who performed regularly for AIR Guwahati during its early days (after it was established in 1948), also held the audience spellbound.
Rani Paul, an AIR singer in Assamese since 1946 who is now based in Shillong, was the first to unfurl the wave of nostalgia. The lady with shining grey hair expressed her emotions with a pair of moist eyes as she presented her evergreen number Jonbaair Deshote Saajim Gaon Ekhanee.
Another singing sensation of yesteryears, Sudakshina Sarma, the talented wife of music legend late Dilip Sarma and the sister of maestro Bhupen Hazarika — touched hearts by presenting the famous Maniram Dewan number, Sangraam Lagne Aaji. She also presented a medley of her haunting melodies, including Dhanbor Aaru Ratani.
Birendranath Dutta, eminent folklore scholar and an elite vocalist who was unquestionably one of the most illustrious contemporaries of Hazarika during the fifties and sixties, lent a rare flavour to the ambience with his scintillating number Borsha Tomaar Chokut Meghor Anjan. The magical tune of the number and its sensitive lyrics, penned by Navakanta Barua, continued to infuse the atmosphere with nostalgia.
Lakshyahira Das, renowned academician and a singer-lyricist in her own right, left no stone unturned to shower musical fragrance on the audience with a heartfelt rendition of her popular number Ethengiyaa Bogoli Hoi Naache.
All these much-admired, seasoned singers are now above 75 and, naturally, their pace of rendition differed from yesteryears. But the passion and clear resonance of their distinctive style was still intact.
Others who enthralled Rabindra Bhawan that evening included Tarulata Das (Chin Paabaa Taair Khojate), Amiya Mohan Das (Aajir Ei Madhur Raati), Jogesh Barua and Mihir Bordoloi (Mosgul Duniyaat Haaire Dil Aase) and Mridula Das (Dingir Saatesori), among others.
Designed and produced by Dinesh Das and Nayan Prasad respectively, the programme was flawlessly compered by Abani Bora and Rituparna Das.

Gun, convoy shield for trains in hills

Guwahati, April 17 : Dispur has chalked out a security plan to counter strikes by insurgents in Assam’s twin hill districts. It will set up light machine gun posts on trains running in North Cachar Hills and run passenger trains in convoys with pilot engines from Dimapur to Lumding.
The security arrangement follows four attacks by militant on trains in the twin hill districts of NC Hills and Karbi Anglong in the past week.
A highly placed source today said goods trains having LMG posts would soon start plying along the vulnerable Badarpur-Lumding route in NC Hills till the situation becomes normal.
To start with, each train will have two posts, one at the front and the other at the rear, manned by at least 10 security personnel. These posts will be set up in open wagons, giving a wider vision of the surroundings and more leg space to security personnel who will be protected by sandbags.
“It is an arrangement similar to the one used during a war to cope with sudden enemy fire. It will be tried first on goods trains and then on passenger trains. This has been necessitated as security personnel inside a compartment were ineffective in checking such attacks because of hindered vision. It is an old army proposal for the vulnerable NC Hills terrain,” the source said.
Railway sources said the police had placed a requisition for the wagons and it was trying to meet it.
Hoping that the new measure would succeed, the source said an LMG can hit a target 500 metres away while the AK series rifles and SLRs generally used by rebels can cover a distance of 100 to 200 metres.
With terror on trains frequently haunting the twin hill districts, the railways had also introduced bullet-proof engines and distributed bullet-proof jackets among security personnel and drivers to instil confidence in them for the smooth running of trains.
But the rebels continued to attack with impunity, disrupting train schedules and even leading to cancellations.
On April 10, suspected militants of the Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel Gorlosa) sprayed the Badarpur-Lumding Barak Valley Express with bullets in NC Hills district, killing one and injuring 17. On April 11, the outfit attacked a goods train in the district, killing two and injuring one.
On April 12, suspected Karbi Longri North Cachar Hills Liberation Front militants triggered two blasts on the Howrah-Dibrugarh Kamrup Express route in Karbi Anglong. While the train reached Diphu safely, the engine of the special security train, which is run ahead of a passenger train, was derailed by the second blast. The back-to-back attacks in the twin districts saw the NF Railway reschedule and cancel passenger trains for a few days.
On Monday, Dispur ordered resumption of train services after a high-level review by the chief secretary here. The meeting was attended by senior officials of the CRPF, BSF, railways, army, police and Intelligence.
The participants tried to find ways to neutralise the attacks by Dimasa and Karbi rebels to ensure smooth running of trains in the twin hill districts and the smooth conduct of elections.
It was decided that the army would be used for track domination (to sanitise and provide security cover to tracks) in the two districts.
The meeting also approved the railway’s proposal to run passenger trains in a convoy at an interval of 15 minutes between Lumding and Dimapur after the providential escape of the Howrah-Dibrugarh Kamrup Express on Sunday night. It also decided to run security pilot and advance pilot engines ahead of the convoy.

“The convoy plan was first tried on Monday night. There will be some inconvenience to the commuters, but it is for their safety and also makes a lot of sense,” the source said.
An attempt was made to run a goods train in NC Hills yesterday, but it had to be aborted following firing by DHD (J) rebels near Migrendisa railway station, 19km from Haflong town around noon.

Polls open in India

Indo-Tibetan Border Police personnel patrol a road in Jehanabad in eastern Indian, as the country goes to the polls.

Thu, 16 Apr 2009 01:39:33 GMT
India's general election starts while neither of the two main parties is deemed capable of securing an absolute majority in the five-stage polls.

Reports say that there has been little in the campaign for Thursday's election to unite a nation of nearly 1.2 billion people accustomed to divisions.

Neither the incumbent Congress nor the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is expected to come up with a splintered result and government by an unsteady coalition which would struggle to see out a full term.

Consequently, the result will have to depend on the support of smaller parties to form a coalition government.

More than 700 million people are eligible to vote around the country, while around 143 million registered for the first phase alone which would take in large swathes of northern and eastern India, including insurgency hit tribal areas.

The Indian government has deployed more than two million security personnel around the country over the five phases of balloting that end on May 13 to ensure safety.

Final results are to be announced on May 16.

Poll presiding officer attempts suicide in Assam; voting unaffected

DIPHU (ASSAM): A presiding officer at a polling booth in Autonomous District (ST) constituency on Thursday allegedly attempted suicide by slitting his throat but polling remained unaffected there.

Election office sources said, presiding officer Dinanath Basumatary was found with his throat slit in the bathroom of polling station 40 at Dokmoka, under Howraghat police station, in the morning even before the commencement of polling.

Basumatary was immediately admitted to hospital in a serious condition, the sources said.

Voting at the polling station, however, began at 7am, as per schedule. The exercise there is being conducted under the supervision of the other personnel of the polling team, the sources added.

Assam heralds New Year amid campaign

The beat of drums and the rhythm of the bamboo flute, accompanied by gyrating Bihu dancers, is reverberating in the hills and valleys of Assam as the state celebrates Rongali Bihu or the Assamese New Year Tuesday.

'Bihu is the time for rejoicing and merrymaking and let us all hope the New Year brings good luck and ushers in peace to the state,' Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

But Bihu this time round is being celebrated in a rather subdued manner with general elections round the corner - voting in the state takes place April 16 and 23.

'The celebrations are a little subdued this time, but no one can take away the sheen of the Bihu festivities from the Assamese people,' said Runimala Das, a young Bihu dancer who is preparing to perform on stage Tuesday night as part of a cultural show here.

But politicians are not too happy - they are unable to draw crowds to their election meetings.

'We are also celebrating Bihu and exchanging greetings and wishes among the people. No politics during Bihu,' said Robin Bordoloi, Congress party candidate for the Guwahati parliamentary seat.

Some of the candidates are taking this opportunity to mingle with Bihu revellers during community celebrations across the state.

'We saw candidates and other political leaders simply trying to take advantage of Bihu by attending community functions in the morning, although they refrained from making political speeches,' said Saran Deka, an organiser of a Bihu event here.

Of stars, superstition and elections in Assam

Guwahati, April 15 : Come elections and fortune tellers, astrologers, and religious gurus are the most sought after by politicians in Assam seeking divine blessings and taking recourse to remedial measures to correct their stars.
“I am not superstitious, but I do believe in astrology and predictions,” Captain Robin Bordoloi, Congress party candidate from the prestigious Guwahati parliamentary seat, told IANS.
All eyes are now focussed on the Kalpurush Panjika, a highly regarded Assamese almanac based on the movement of planets and stars that came into effect Wednesday, when the Assamese new year began.
The Kalpurush Panjika, a mass circulation astrological calendar in Assam, is in its 26th year of publication.
“Well if you just sit tight and don’t work and campaign thinking that the stars are on my side, then one is surely going to lose. I believe in hard work and at the same time respect astrologers and religious gurus,” Bordoloi said.
The chief astrologer and editor of Kalpurush Panjika, Ranjit Kumar Saikia, predicts that it will once again be a coalition government at the centre, although the prospects of the Congress party-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) look bright.
“No single party would get a thumping majority but I would say the stars favour the Congress, although there is some worry for the health of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh,” Saikia told IANS.
Mani Kumar Subba, controversial Congress MP and candidate for the Tezpur seat, has a strong belief in astrology.
“I consult astrologers and believe in gurus (religious) for any big thing that I do…in fact astrologers are part of my daily life,” Subba told IANS.
Subba was more than curious to know from the team of astrologers of Kalpurush Panjika about his electoral fortune this time - in fact Subba had telephoned to get the predictions.
“I am happy to know that my stars are good in the month of May and that is the time when election results would be declared…so I am sure of becoming the MP from Tezpur for the fourth straight term,” a beaming Subba said amid loud cheers from his supporters.

IIE project to aid eri industry

- Project covering 200 Muslim and Rabha households
Guwahati, April 14 : The Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE) has kickstarted a project on commercialising traditional activities related to eri industry like eri rearing, reeling and weaving at Pyranga village in Boko area of Kamrup district.
The word eri is a derivative from Sanskrit nomenclature for castor plant, eranada. Castor leaf is the main food for the eri silkworms and so it was named eri. This is the only completely domesticated non-mulberry variety. Assam produces 63 per cent of the eri raw silk production in the country.
About 200 Muslim and Rabha households are engaged in activities relating to eri in Pyranga.The Rabhas are engaged in rearing the cocoons while the Muslims are engaged in reeling, but till now they have not been able to access the market despite the quality of eri being good.
“It is an ambitious project taken up with two diverse groups — indigenous and minority, each with its own set of competency, complementing and supplementing each other. The effort is to raise the income level of both the communities by suitable interventions like availing the benefits of different schemes to raise productivity along with design intervention and market linkages,” said K. Ahmed, IIE director.
A road has now been built for the project with the initiative of Kamrup district administration. Indian Institute of Entrepreneurship (IIE), an autonomous institute under the ministry of micro, small and medium enterprises, promotes entrepreneurship in micro, small and medium enterprises through training, research and consultancy.
The market tie-up has been made for the project and Fabric Plus, a private firm, has entered into a buyback arrangement with members of the village. An entrepreneurship development camp was also held at the village.
“We have now got an assured market as otherwise we were selling at the Chhaygaon market without assured returns,” said Surendra Rabha, president of Samanay Prakalpa, an NGO, which is looking after the implementation of the project. Efforts will be made to facilitate the community in availing the benefits of different schemes aimed at promoting eri industry. A diagnostic study revealed the tremendous potential existing for commercial development of the eri silk cluster and probable areas of interventions.
The project aims to work on the competence of traditional skill and enhancement of skill and combined with empowerment, would lead to greater social adaptability without any resistance to change. A clear vision for upscaling the activities has been developed with the commitment of various related departments like sericulture, handloom, DRDA, Central Silk Board and National Innovation Foundation.
“Being eco-friendly, the backward integration planned through plantation would lead to eco-restoration through increase in green cover and also reduce soil erosion besides enhancing soil moisture content. Being an industry based on natural-symbiotic relationship, enhanced productivity will augment natural balance and not cause environmental pollution,” Ahmed said.
A special purpose vehicle will be formed for the hard interventions like setting up common facility centre that will serve different purpose of eri rearers, spinners and weavers.

AGP worker shot dead in Assam

Tezpur (Assam), Apr 13 : An AGP worker and prominent businessman of the area was today shot dead by unidentified gunmen in Assam&aposs Sonitpur district.

The police said that Omprakash Hazarika died on the way to Guwahati Medical College and Hospital after he was shot two bullets outside his residence at Gohpur this afternoon.

Angry AGP workers blocked National Highway 52 in protest against the killing. Police lathicharged to disperse the mob even as the area was in a grip of tension.

In a separate incident, two bodies were recovered from the banks of Gouranga River at Haltugaon in Assam&aposs Kokrajhar district, police said.

Tight security in Shillong ahead of Sonia’s visit

SHILLONG, Apr 13 : Security has been tightened in Shillong in view of a shutdown call given by a rebel tribal group to protest against Congress party president Sonia Gandhi’s visit on Monday.

A 24-hour shutdown called by Khasi rebel group Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) started at 6:00 a.m.

Around 1,500 armed police personnel have been pressed into service to avoid any kind of untoward incident ahead of her visit.

A team of Special Protection Group (SPG) met state police officials to review security arrangements.

Governor Ranjit Shekhar Mooshahary also held review meetings with senior state government and police officials.

Meanwhile, patrolling has been intensified and control rooms have been set up for emergency.

DHD(J) acts add to security worries

By R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, April 13 – Despite having the highest concentration of forces among all the districts of Assam, the situation in the North Cachar Hills district has started deteriorating again with the militants belonging to the DHD (J), commonly known as the Black Widow group, launching a series of attacks.

The administration and security forces are apprehensive of the situation in the hill district, particularly in view of the ensuing Lok Sabha polls.

Within the last three days, the Black Widow militants fired at trains twice killing three persons while one election observer also came under attack from the militants.

Official sources admitted that the Black Widow group is turning out to be one of the most dreaded militant groups of the State as unlike the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), which resorts to planting of explosives, the Black Widow militants dare to fire at the security forces.

According to an assessment of the security forces, the militant group, established in 2004, has around 150 cadres, but the group has no shortage of funds and weapons, while the terrain in the hill district also puts the militants in an advantageous position. Sources said that the group has been collecting huge amounts of funds through extortions and there have been instances in recent past when members of the group even kidnapped people in the name of other militant groups.

The security forces came to know about a recent arms procurement deal by the militant group after the recent arrest of two persons while they were on their way to Shillong to hand over an amount of Rs 1 crore to the group. Sources revealed that according to information available, in the recent deal, the Black Widow group received more than 60 AK series rifles from a Mizoram-based clandestine arms dealer. But it is still not known from where the arms were brought, sources admitted. Security agencies also have evidences of Black Widow militants receiving payments in Kolkata, sources added.

Sources said that more than 50 companies of forces including 21 companies of Central paramilitary forces, Army and Assam Police battalion personnel are currently deployed in the NC Hills district, but unfortunately, the success rate of the forces in the counter-insurgency operations has been very limited, while a recent jailbreak incident also strengthened the hands of the outfit. Sources said that the senior leaders of the outfit are based abroad.

The chairman of the outfit, Jewel Garlosa, is believed to be in Nepal, while the Commander in Chief Niranjan Hojai is also controlling the operations from Nepal, sources added.

The attacks of the outfit have created havoc in the district and severely affected the implementation of mega projects like railway gauge conversion project and the National Highway project. In fact, train services in the hills section had been suspended for months last year because of the attacks and later the Railways had to spend a substantial amount of money to press into service bullet-proof engines on the trains.

Sources said that last year, the State Government was keen on having a ceasefire pact with the outfit, but the Centre was reluctant. The State Government even went to the extent of telling the Centre that it would not be possible to ensure smooth implementation of the railway and highway projects if a ceasefire pact is not signed with the Black Widow group.

But the Centre refused to be a party to such an agreement and directed the State Government to take a decision in this regard in the Unified Command meeting, following which, operations against the members of the group slowed down. But after the killing of ten police personnel, the Unified Command decided to intensify operations against the members of the group.

However, so far, the success of the operations against the group has been “very limited”, sources admitted.

Recently, the group faced a problem with around 40 to 50 cadres deserting the outfit and there have been several attacks on the family members of the ‘deserters’. Sources also revealed that the Black Widow group does not enjoy the close ties with the NSCN (I-M) as in the past and in fact there have been instances of Black Widow militants attacking Naga people.

EC seeks more forces for Assam hill districts

Guwahati, Apr 12 : The state election commission today expressed concern over the law and order situation in the twin hill districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar and demanded additional deployment of security forces to ensure violence-free polls in Assam.

"We are concerned about the security of polling personnel and voters in general and have asked the government to take measures and deploy more forces," state Chief Electoral Officer Himanta Narzary told reporters here.

Referring to the recent attack on the convoy of the election observer and the continuing violence in North Cachar hill, Narzary said the deputy commissioners have been asked to to ensure that there was zero casualty of polling personnel.

"An elaborate security plan has been chalked out with one platoon of security force posted for one particular polling station in N C hill district," he said.

Stating there was need for more forces, the CEO said, two choppers have been kept as standby for the twin districts in case of emergency.

Congress vote-bank politics has harmed Assam: Modi

GUWAHATI, April 12 – The choice in the coming Lok Sabha elections in Assam would be between vote-bank politics of the Congress party and the politics of development that the National Democratic Alliance stood for. It is the politics of vote bank that has created the gravest of problems in the State, which has been under Congress rule for several decades.

Asserting this at a campaign rally of the BJP’s candidate for the Guwahati constituency, Biyoya Chakravarty, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said that the time has arrived for the electorate to bury the Congress for good, so that much needed development can be ushered in. The future of the entire country would reside on the foundation of development, he said.

Contrasting the status of drinking water availability in Assam with Gujarat, he said that while a place like Guwahati had limited access to potable water, every village in water-starved Gujarat had access to water. “This shows the difference between vote-bank politics and what can be achieved by politics of development,” Modi thundered.

He agreed with BJP leader LK Advani, who had described Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a weak leader. “Had you been strong, you would have arrived in Assam the very next day after the blasts that killed and injured scores of people…You would have dismissed a cabinet minister who had favoured granting citizenship to Bangladeshi immigrants.”

Modi referring to the security scene in Assam said that the Congress Party has failed to ensure the safety and security of people across the State. “Vote bank politics would never eradicate terrorism from the State,” he said.

Appealing to the people of the State to vote for the NDA and the leadership of LK Advani, Modi noted that only if the NDA came to power would the fruits of development be enjoyed by the masses. “Unlike in the case of the Congress, the NDA believes that the first claim on the country’s wealth is that of the poor,” he commented.

“I have spoken at several rallies today, and I feel a change coming…the Congress Party would be finished in Assam!” the senior BJP leader claimed.

Addressing the gathering, Bijoya Chakravarty sought the blessings of the electorate, and promised a discernible difference to Guwahati and Assam when the NDA came to power.

AGP president Chandra Mohan Patowary told cheering crowds that no major development has taken place in Assam during the tenure of the Congress-led UPA government. “All the major benefits that the State has enjoyed was because of the initiatives of the AGP government and the BJP government,” he remarked.

Several other BJP AGP leaders attended today’s campaign rally, including SS Ahluwalia, Sudhangshu Mittal, Dhruba Baishya and Ramen Kalita.

Our Correspondesnts add:

Nagaon: “Vote for the BJP-AGP combine and save Assam,” said Narendra Modi here today while addressing a large crowd. He said that the voters had three options – to vote for the UPA whose partners share power with Congress in New Delhi, but turn into vocal critics of the Congress in their states, or the third front that does knows neither their leader nor its objective, or vote for the NDA which will never break.

It is the wish of the people that the NDA should come to power, Modi said, adding that Advani represents nationalism and the NDA is for the welfare of India and also for Assam. Modi criticized the UPA, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in particular, because he did nothing for Assam even though he was elected from the State.

Rangiya: Narendra Modi today accused the ruling UPA government in centre and the Congress Government in Assam of failing totally in providing the basic needs of the poor and the deprived. “Both the governments are turning a deaf ear to the burning problem afflicting the common man and the development process has been completely sidelined,” he said while addressing a public rally.

Criticising the Congress, the BJP leader said that the party was only trying to play vote-bank politics in Assam to woo the voters but failed to understand the problems of the people.

Urging the people to vote for the BJP, Modi said that if elected to power his party would accord top priority to development and providing a stable government. “The State of Assam has seen no development under the Congress regime ,” Modi said adding that it was high time the people ousted the Congress by putting up a united stand.

Jorhat: “The vote bank politics patronized by the ruling Congress party has crippled India during the last 60 years”, said Narendra Modi, addressing a huge election rally at Jorhat District Sports Association (JDSA) Field here today.

The prominent BJP leader, Modi arrived here at 11-30 am to campaign for Kamakhya Tasa, the young BJP candidate of the Jorhat constituency for the ensuing LS election.

Modi further added that the illegal migrants from Bangladesh during the rule of Congress have changed the demography and socio-economic structure of Assam which is a serious threat for the indigenous people of the land.

Criticizing the Congress government and the MP of Jorhat constituency he said that the scarcity of drinking water in the district itself is the worst example of the vote bank politics of the party in power, while the river Brahamaputra is only 10 km away from the Jorhat town. Contrasting to it he presented the picture of Gujrat, where BJP government linked 1400 km of pipeline from Narmada within 700 days and provided drinking water to 8000 villages.

The insecurity of life in Assam according to the Chief Minister of Gujrat was due to the failure of the Congress government in both the state and Centre. It indicated the unheeded attitude of the government for the common folk. In Assam there occurred four blasts within a week which according to him was an astonishing instance.

Three major parties have three new candidates each in Assam

Guwahati, Apr 11 : Three major political parties in Assam - Congress, Asom Gana Parishad and BJP - have put up three new candidates each in the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls to elect 14 MPs in two phases.
The AGP-BJP combine, with a seat sharing adjustment, has more new faces with the former contesting six and the latter seven in the forthcoming polls while the Congress is banking more on veteran candidates.
The Congress, which won nine seats in 2004, has renominated seven sitting MPs, but denied tickets to two sitting MPs Kirip Chaliha from Guwahati and A F Golam Osmani from Barpeta who subsequently died on March 31.
Chaliha has been replaced by Guwahati East MLA Capt Robin Bordoloi, son of Assam's first Prime Minister and sole Bharat Ratna Gopinath Bordoloi, while Barpeta seat has gone to minority leader Ismail Hussain.
The third new face from the Congress stable is Anil Raja from Nowgong who replaces losing candidate Bishnu Prasad.
The Congress has renominated three defeated candidates - Ranee Narah from Lakhimpur, Paban Singh Ghatowar from Dibrugarh and Madhab Rajbongshi from Mangaldoi parliamentary seats.
The party is not contesting the Kokrajhar seat, but supporting its state coalition partner Bodo Peoples' Front candidate S K Bwismuthiary.
The AGP has renominated two of its sitting MPs - former student leader Sarbananda Sonowal from Dibrugarh and Arun Sarmah from Lakhimpur while its candidate Sabda Ram Rabha from Kokrajhar had contested as an Independent in 2004.
The regional party has put up three new candidates-- Gunin Hazarika from Kaliabor and Joseph Toppo from Tezpur, former ministers in both the AGP governments in the state, and former MLA Bhupen Roy from Barpeta replaces the earlier party candidates who had lost in these seats.
The BJP has renominated only one of its two sitting MPs Rajen Gohain from Nagaon while the other Narayan Chandra Borkotoky has been replaced by party's state unit President Ramen Deka from Mangaldoi Lok Sabha seat.
Assam's cultural icon Bhupen Hazarika had unsuccessfully contested the Guwahati Parliamentary seat on a BJP ticket in 2004 but this time the party's national Vice President Bijoya Chakraborty, who had won in 1999 and went on to become an Union Minister of state has been nominated.
Besides Mangaldoi, the party has put up a fresh face Kulendra Daulagapu from Autonomous Hills constituency while the nomination papers of another new candidate Nilimoy Prodhani from Dhubri were cancelled. He was later expelled.
Three other candidates who had lost - Kabindra Purukayastha from Silchar, Parimal Suklabaidya from Karimganj and Kamakhya Prasad Tassa - are also in the fray.

BJP for common debate on Article 370 in J&K

Jammu, Apr 11 : The BJP today expressed its willingness to hold a common debate on the imposition of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir.

”We are willing for a debate on article 370 in J&K with everybody, including Chief Minister Omar Abdullah,” BJP national general secretary Arun Jaitley said while commenting on J&K CM’s statement on the issue.

Mr Jaitely, who was addressing a press conference here, said there was no change in BJP’s stand on Article 370, which the party wanted to remove.

He, however, expressed helplessness, saying the removal of the controversial Article needed required strength in Parliament, which is difficult in the present political scenario.

Describing the imposition of Article 370 as a ”tragedy” for the northernmost Himalayan state of the country, the BJP leader said, ”Going for Article 370 is going from the separate status to separatism”.

”What Article 370 has given to this state since its imposition?,” Mr Jaitley asked, asserting that the counterproductivity of the Article in J&K will be clearly reflected in the years to come.

Two police officers killed as DHD(J) militants strike again

Haflong (Assam), Apr 11 : In a second attack in as many days, suspected Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel) militants fired at a goods train killing two police officers and injuring another in Assam's North Cachhar Hills district on Saturday.

The insurgents, also known as the 'Black Widow', fired at the train killing the two special police officers on board and injuring the constable at Warengdisa as it was heading towards Badarpur from Umding, official sources said.

The two officers were identified as Lalit Borgohain and Biseswar Bora and the injured contable as Bhupen Kalita.

After the attacks train services in the district were cancelled for an indefinite period, the sources said.

Suspected DHD(J) militants had on Friday attacked the Barak Valley Express in the same railway section killing a CRPF jawan and critically injured 14 passengers. 
Taking responsibility for the attacks, the DHD(J) said it was protesting the killing of its cadre by security forces.

Centre directs Assam to draw up action plan on security

assam2 Centre directs Assam to draw up action plan on security The Centre has asked the Assam government to chalk out a comprehensive security plan to prevent violence during the ensuing Lok Sabha election.

The Centre has directed the Assam government to draw up an action plan to ensure that militant attacks do not take place in Guwahati city, the two troubled hill districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar and other vulnerable areas of the state, official sources said in Guwahati on Friday.

The directive came after a high-level meeting held in Guwahati recently which was chaired by Union Cabinet secretary K M Chandrasekar and attended by top officers of the army, police and para military forces, they said.

The meeting reviewed the overall law and order situation in the state in the aftermath of the serial blasts in Guwahati, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh, sources said.

The meeting assessed the security force requirement in the North Eastern states to ensure violence free and fair election, they said.

The army and the state police gave separate presentations before the Central team with the police particularly pointing out the ULFA hand behind the blasts in collaboration with Pakistan’s ISI.

The police apprised the meeting that National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) members are on ceasefire and staying in designated camps but there is an anti-talk faction of the outfit, which is out to create trouble in the disturbed Kokrajhar district of the state.

The Central official revealed that more companies of para military forces will be sent to Assam particularly in view of the government’s request for more reinforcement during poll.

At present, 140 companies are engaged in counter insurgency operations and with the Centre agreeing to deploy additional force taking the total number of company’s deployment near to 200, sources said.

Although the army, which is currently deployed for counter insurgency operations in the state, will not be engaged in poll duty but kept as a stand by.

Rebel link slur on Opposition

Guwahati, April 10 : Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi today alleged that some Opposition parties were hand-in-glove with the secessionist and proscribed Ulfa.
Leaders of the A and C companies of Ulfa’s 28 battalion had recently stated that the outfit had helped parties during successive elections, thus lending credibility to popular perceptions about a militant-politician nexus.
All major political parties, in a rare show of unanimity, had, however, denied the assertion. The leaders had not named the parties the outfit had helped.
Addressing a news conference at Rajiv Bhawan here this evening, Gogoi said his charge was based on available reports. He also did not name the parties allegedly having a nexus with Ulfa saying: “We have reports and are verifying them.”
“There are reports about Ulfa creating problems during the polls with help of some political forces. I won’t name the parties as we are trying to verify the reports. You can also assess for yourself as to who is supporting Ulfa and who is soft on Ulfa, which is a pawn in the hands of foreign powers.” Gogoi said. The happenings in Pakistan and Bangladesh were a warning to all of us to remain vigilant, he added.
Dismissing the demands of the AGP-BJP that Gogoi should resign, he said the performance of his government was better than that of the AGP-led governments. Gogoi also reminded everybody present that the Congress won the panchayat elections that followed the Beltola incident on November 24, 2007. He took a dig at the BJP’s Bijoya Chakravarty for joining hands with “secret killers” (meaning the AGP) with which the BJP has an electoral tie-up.
The other parties were swift to react. AGP spokesman Apurba Bhattacharjee said, “Coming from a responsible person such as the chief minister, the allegation only reflects the government’s inability to tackle the situation. One fails to understand why he had to go public before verifying the facts. This only reflects his irresponsible nature. We have always condemned violence. How does it help if we take the name of Ulfa? Will these incidents not happen then? Will innocent people stop dying?”
The BJP went a step further with its spokesman Charan Deka accusing the Congress of having a nexus not only with some militant groups of some northeastern states but also of Pakistan.
“The Congress is encouraging extremist groups of Pakistan and also anti-Assam activities of Muslim fundamentalists. Gogoi is levelling this allegation only to cover up the guilt of his own party. Therefore, Gogoi should stop levelling such baseless allegations,” Deka said. 
As proof of better governance, Gogoi cited figures about the number of incidents, security personnel and civilians killed in the five years of the AGP regime between 1996 and 2001 and the Congress-led government from 2001 to 2009. “Things have improved under us. From an annual average of 528 incidents, death of 80 security personnel and 307 civilians during the AGP-led government, the average during our tenure has come down to 425 incidents, death of 28 security personnel and 199 civilians.”

Poll observers ambushed

Nagaon, April 9 : Suspected DHD (Jewel Gorlosa) militants today ambushed a convoy of central elections observers in North Cachar Hills district but nobody was injured in the attack.
Elections for the Diphu seat will be held on April 16.
The attack at Gunjung, about 45km from the district headquarters town Haflong, is the third ever since the poll process got under way with Ulfa triggering a blast close to the election venue of external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee on March 31 and a string of explosions across the state on Monday on the eve of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit.
Sources said Ulfa was likely to step up its disruptive activities targeting the elections in the coming days.
The observer, Arun Chanda Singh, an IAS officer from Bihar, was travelling to Umranghsu when his convoy was ambushed. Security personnel escorting him fired back. The encounter lasted for nearly 15 minutes after which the militants fled.
Police said the official was in a bulletproof car and accompanied by inspector of schools, Phanindra Jidung. There are three observers for the Diphu seat which covers North Cachar Hills and adjoining Karbi Anglong district where another militant outfit, the Karbi Longri North Cachar Liberation Front (KLNLF), has imposed a 36-hour bandh.
“The militants attacked the fifth vehicle while Singh was in the second. Security forces retaliated as soon as the rebels started firing from sophisticated weapons,” a police source said. An IED planted at the site was later recovered by the team after the militants left the spot. A high-level team of NC Hills administration, led by deputy commissioner S. Jagannathan, superintendent of police Mridulananda Sarma and officials of the Assam Rifles reached the spot just after the incident.
The observer cancelled his scheduled visit and returned to the district headquarters. “Investigation is on to find out which group was involved in the attack,” Jagannathan said.
This is the second strike in the constituency since last night. Around 9.30pm, suspected KLNLF rebels attacked a police patrol jeep in which a constable was seriously injured. 
According to Diphu police, militants targeted the Maruti Gypsy at Tissomgaon under Manja police station. The rebels exploded an IED on the road and then fired on the vehicle from sophisticated weapons. These incidents occurred just two days after a high-level meeting of Karbi Anglong police in which DGP G.M. Srivastava took part to review the law and order scenario.
Srivastava said in Guwahati today that parking of vehicles within a 50-metre radius of election offices of political parties has been banned across the state, indicating that the police were not taking any chances in view of increased militant activities in the run-up the elections.

‘Why are we the targets?’

Last straw, cry residents
Relatives of blast victims break down at the GMCH on Monday. Picture by Eastern Projections
Guwahati, April 7 : Residents of Maligaon gave vent to their anger this afternoon following the powerful blast that left seven dead and several injured in the busy area today.
Police, fire-tenders and even mediapersons bore the brunt of the wrath of the people over the spate of bomb blasts in the city in recent times.
A few photographers, police and fire brigade personnel sustained minor injuries as bottles and stones rained on them in a throwback to the scenes at Ganeshguri after the October 30 blast in the busy commercial area.
Police had to resort to a mild lathicharge to restore order amid chants of “government murdabad”.
The people lambasted the government for failing to provide security, which had resulted in militants carrying out blasts as per their whims.
The anger among the residents erupted after the initial phase of shock and anguish, brought about by scenes of bodies strewn around on the road, wounded victims lying in pools of blood, gasping for breath and mangled frames of charred bikes, giving the place a war-ravaged look.
Much of the public ire was directed towards the government and the police for their alleged failure to protect the lives and properties of the citizens.
“How long can we remain quiet with people getting killed and maimed on a regular basis? Look at our vulnerability, the bomb was planted within near Jalukbari police station,” Sanjib Das, a local resident, said.
“Enough is enough. We want the government to firmly deal with these blood-thirsty demons,” he added, before joining the group that was shouting slogans against the government and local legislator and health and family welfare minister, Himanta Biswa Sarma.
“Guwahati has become like any of the Pakistani towns and cities where blasts have become commonplace, killing and maiming people at regular intervals,” said Anup Saha. 
Today’s was the second blast in the city within the span of a week.
On March 31, a blast was triggered at Jyotikuchi. 
“The magnitude of the blast at Maligaon was much bigger. The scale and pattern of the blast brought back horrific memories of the serial blasts that rocked the city on October 30,” said Ratul Chakroborty, a local trader. 
“For some strange reason, the terrorists apparently have developed some grudge against the Maligaon area, he claimed, pointing out that the cosmopolitan locality was targeted more than once.
“It is strange that despite being a militant target, there is hardly any visible presence of security personnel in the locality despite the fact that the NF Railway headquarters and several other important offices are located here,” Chakroborty said.
Why are we targeted again and again? What did we do to deserve this? Why is the government not able to do anything to prevent the carnage? These were some questions Chakroborty sought answers to, even as he checked on his family and friends, calling them on his cell phone. 
“Thankfully, they are all well… but for how long?” he mumbled.

Campaign to control TB

Guwahati, April 7 : The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, the permanent association of the Catholic Bishops of India, has come forward to spread awareness regarding tuberculosis in the remote areas of the Northeat.
District tuberculosis officer (Kamrup), Monty Hazarika, said the CBCI was operating under the Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) here to spread awareness against the disease.
“The CBCI was selected keeping in mind the large network of churches and missionary schools under it,” she said, adding that the awareness campaign against the disease was expected to receive a much-needed booster with the tie-up.
“There is no healthcare infrastructure in many villages. However, the churches have reached those areas years ago. We can spread awareness against tuberculosis in those places through the tie-up with CBCI,” she added.
“Under this agreement, we have trained members of the Catholic body on how to administer DOTS (Directly Observed Treatment-Short) course to patients. They will administer the drugs to patients in their locality,” said Hazarika.
“There are several churches under the CBCI and this will help us to administer the DOTS course to the patients as it is not possible for the district officers to visit the remote areas every now and then,” she added.
“We have written to the Assam government to set up sputum collection centres in consultation with the CBCI at selected locations. This would help poor patients in remote villages who cannot come to the existing sputum collection centres,” she said.

Assam on maximum alert, toll in blasts rises to 10

Guwahati, April 7 A maximum security alert was sounded in Assam Tuesday, a day after a series of explosions rocked the state ahead of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s arrival here for poll campaigning. The toll in the blasts rose to 10 with two of the 61 injured succumbing to their injuries.

A woman injured in the explosion here and a youth injured in the Dhekijuli blast died Tuesday morning, police said.

The prime minister arrives in the eastern tea growing town of Dibrugarh Monday afternoon to campaign for the Congress party.

“Security forces have been put on a state of high alert to prevent any further rebel attacks. Police, army and paramilitary troopers have been deployed in strength across the state,” Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told IANS.

Security forces have launched a massive hunt to nab the bombers. The government has blamed the outlawed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) for Monday’s four explosions and two grenade attacks.

“The ULFA is behind the attacks and I would say such senseless killings of innocent civilians would achieve nothing. We all should stand up against such barbaric terror attacks. I have asked the security agencies to make sure the bombers are captured,” the chief minister said.

A powerful explosion rocked Guwahati’s busy Maligaon area Monday, while another explosion shook Dhekiajuli town in northern Sonitpur district, about 150 km from here.

The third explosion took place in eastern Karbi Anglong district injuring two people, while another grenade attack in northern Udalguri district had no casualties.

There was another grenade attack at a police station late Monday in Mancachar in western Dhurbi district in which one policeman was killed and two injured.

Assam Lok Sabha Election, ADSSCP takes out rally in favour of Rani

MAJULI, April 3 : The All Deori Shwayatta Shasita Congress Parishad (ADSSCP) today took out an election rally in favour of Lalhimpur LS Congress candidate Rani Narah to help her win the elections. The rally was taken out from Rani’s residence where the ADSSCP members assembled and later took the rally through Dhakuakhana, Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Naoboichia, Sadiya, Doomdooma and Chabua. This was stated in a press release.

AUDF promises help to AGP-BJP candidate

BARPETA, April 3 : With Congress being kept aside, AUDF candidate has declared his willingness to help AGP and BJP alliance candidate Bhupen Roy at no 6 Barpeta Loksabha constituency this time. Roy, while addressing a press meet said that there is a wrong idea among the minoity people that if the AGP-BJP come to rule, the minority people may be harassed, which is totally a fake rumour of the Congress to mis guide the minority.

Bhupen Roy again said that his foremost duty is to solve the burning problems of the Barpeta constituency such as unemployment, flood, erosion, and other burning problems of the area. Rehabilitation of the victims of communal clash in Kokrajhar and Udalguri district will be the important topic after his victory as an MP in this Lok Sabha polls.

In this press meet, BJP Kisan Marcha president Ranjit Das said that Congress’ influence is about to disappear because of their exploitation. Their false assurances made the people enraged and for that very reason this term congress will be defeated, he confirmed.

HC rejects MLAs’s bail petition

Guwahati, Apr 3 : The Gauhati High Court today rejected the bail petition of Assam MLAs - Kushal Duowri and Jiten Gogoi - who were accused of vandalising the Kaziranga National Park.

The MLAs were absconding for the past fortnight, sources said adding they moved to the High Court in a bid to procure anticipatory bail but Justice I Ansari rejected the petition.

Both the MLAs, formerly militants, were accused of vandalising the world famous Kaziranga National Park and attacking the rangers for preventing them from fishing inside the park.

Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi informed that police would use special task force(STF) to nab the offending MLAs.

”They are hiding. They will be caught eventually. We will not spare them,” he said.
Both the MLAs are Independent and supporting the Congress.

Court frames charges against former union ministers

New Delhi, April 3 A city court Thursday framed charges against former union ministers Sheila Kaul and P.K. Thungan in three separate cases, paving the way for their trial for alleged out-of-turn allotment of shops in the capital in 1990.
Special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Judge S.P. Garg ordered the prosecution of Kaul, who had held the urban development portfolio as a cabinet minister, and others for various offences under the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act relating to criminal conspiracy, misappropriation of funds and abuse of official position.
The court would start recording evidence in the cases from June 1.

It also charged Thungan, former union minister of state for urban development, in two cases along with Kaul for similar offences.

In one case, Kaul and her deputy Thungan had sanctioned 42 shops and stalls through her order of June 7, 1995, allegedly in contravention of the procedure of the Directorate of Estate regarding licences in respect of markets in the posh locality of Lodhi Road and other places, said CBI counsel Naveen Kumar Matta.

Besides the former ministers, 37 other accused include Vivek Kaul, maternal grandson of Kaul, who was charged with forgery, and then senior officials N.L. Sharma and Shruti Lal Yadav.

Kaziranga guards injured

Guwahati, April 2 : Attacks by animals on forest guards at Kaziranga National Park since last night have left two injured.
The director of the park, S.N. Buragohain, said Bijoy Chetri, a forest guard was seriously injured when he was attacked by a rhino inside the Bagori range last night.
The nature of injury of Bir Bahadur Chetri, the other guard who was attacked by a herd of buffaloes this morning in the Kohora range, however, was not serious, he said.
“Bijoy has been shifted to Gauhati Medical College and Hospital,” Buragohain said. The increase in animal population inside the park could be the reason behind the attacks, he said.
A forest guard was killed and five others were injured in recent attacks by animals. A rhino was also shot dead by the forest guards.

Seven killed in road mishaps

- 11 schoolchildren injured in Kokrajhar accident
Kokrajhar/Dergaon, April 2 : Seven persons were killed and over 50 injured in three separate road mishaps in Kokrajhar and Golaghat districts since last night.
Four persons died on the spot and 44 others, including 11 schoolchildren, were injured when a bus they were travelling in skidded off the road and fell into a ditch at Narabari, 4km from Kokrajhar town, around 2.30pm.
The bus was travelling from Kokrajhar to Bilisipara in Dhubri when the accident took place.
“We were near a bridge when the bus skidded off the road while making way for a truck coming from the opposite direction,” Nirmala Brahma, one of the injured, said.
“All on a sudden the bus rolled down turning twice,” Birsa Mondol, another injured passenger, said. The injured were being treated at Kokrajhar Rupnath Brahma Civil Hospital.
Fifteen passengers were admitted to the hospital while the rest were released after being administered first aid.
The dead have been identified as Jaynal Sheikh, Kalachand Sheikh, Gazi Rehman and Md Raizal Ali — all in the age group between 35 and 40 and residents of Dhubri district.
Kokjrajhar deputy commissioner Carol Narzary and BTC member Dhaneswar Goyary rushed to the hospital.
Two persons died and 15 sustained serious injuries when a bus collided with a truck in the wee hours today at Dergaon in Golaghat district.
According to police, the mishap occurred on National Highway 37 near the ASTC Dergaon station under Dergaon police station around 5.45am.
The police said a Jorhat-bound night bus coming from Guwahati (AS-01-B-C-0331) and a coal-laden Guwahati-bound truck (AS-23-G-2544) collided head on.
Abdul Ali, 35, the bus driver and the driver of the truck Satish Singh, 45, died on the spot. Of those injured, the condition of Ami Konwer, 35, of Sivasagar, Shekh Saidul, 40, of Calcutta and Subhash Dutta, 41, is stated to be critical and they were shifted to Jorhat civil hospital.
Anil Rajkhowa, 46, a businessman of Dergaon, was run over by a speeding vehicle around 8pm last night at the same spot.

Mob beat up cops for ‘dilly-dallying’

Guwahati, Apr 1: A mob today beat up two policemen, including a sub-inspector, for allegedly responding late to a call by residents over a body found in the Jyotinagar area of the city.
Residents of the area complained that the body of Charu Charan Das, an employee of the Maligaon branch of the Assam State Electricity Board, was detected in a drain early in the morning and they had accordingly informed Chandmari police station. However, the police team turned up at the site after almost three hours.
“Some residents noticed the body lying in a pool of blood in a drain after offering namaz at the Jyotinagar mosque around 5.45am. We immediately called the police control room by dialling 100. The police control room, however, did not respond,” Farooq Ali, an eyewitness and a resident of the area, said.
“Then we informed Chandmari police station around 6am. But the first police party reached the spot around 8.45am. The police personnel were, however, not prompt in their action. Suddenly there was rain, which eventually swept away the body. Several residents who were waiting near the body then became very angry and created a scene,” Ali said.
Pitambar Choudhury, another resident alleged that despite repeated public requests to lift the body and send it for post mortem, the police handled the case casually. He said the police should have handled the case sensitively.
Additional superintendent of police (city) Debojit Deuri said it was an unfortunate that the sub-inspector of Chandmari police station, S.C. Suklabaidya and constable Uday Deka were assaulted by the mob while discharging their duties.
He refuted the allegation that the police were not prompt in their action and said the legal process before taking away a body takes time.
“First the police need to take a photograph of the body for records. The SI of Chandmari police station was looking for a photographer. There were some spots of blood at the recovery site and the police were trying to encircle the spots for investigation. The police party even took a sweeper to recover the body. Suddenly there was rainfall for which police cannot be blamed. The residents should have co-operated with the police,” Deuri said.
He said a case has been registered.
According to the dead man’s neighbours, Deka left home around 9am on Monday and did not return throughout the night.
“He was a gentleman and lived happily with his wife Kanaklata Das and two sons,” Basanta Rai, a neighbour, said.
“It is suspected Das was murdered by some goons late Monday night at Jyotinagar. There were spots of blood at the site where the body was recovered,” a resident said.