Police, paramilitary to guard rly tracks in North Cachar Hills

GUWAHATI: The Union government has rejected requests made by the Assam government and railway ministry for deployment of army along railway tracks in the Lumding-Badarpur hill section of NC Hills district. Instead, the responsibility of manning the rail tracks in that particular section has been placed on the Assam Police and Central para-military forces.

This was decided at a security review meeting attended by senior Central and state government officials here on Thursday. A team of MHA officials, including special secretary (internal security) Raman Srivastava, joint secretary (North East) Naveen Verma and director general of RPF Ranjit Sinha, had visited the NC Hills on Tuesday to chalk out a strategy to tackle the Black Widows, the militant group which has held the entire district to ransom over the last couple of years.
As part of the strategy to rein in the Black Widows, the Centre directed that the Army, which has been engaged in counter-insurgency operations in NC Hills district, would continue with its present task in the vicinity of the railway tracks.
The meeting also decided that the Railway Protection Force (RPF) would be responsible for security of railway stations, railway staff colonies and other railway properties. Moreover, it has been decided to rush two companies of Rapid Action Force to the district to add to the 67 companies already deployed there to carry out counter-insurgency operations.

The new distribution of responsibilities among security forces is aimed at resuming train services on this rail section, sources said adding that the government plans to resume train services in the section within next couple of days. With militants of the Black Widows continuing their relentless attacks on trains in the distrrict, railway employees had also been demanding deployment of Army to provide security cover along rail tracks and at stations in the hill section for resumption the train services.
While passenger train service in this section has remained suspened for the last few months, goods train services, which resumed last month, had to be suspended again for fear of militant attacks. On an average four goods trains run in this section carrying essential commodities to the neighbouring states of Manipur, Mizoarm and Tripura and south Assam's Barak Valley.

Progress, GU top Assam Cong wishlist

Guwahati, May 31 : The Congress will submit a wishlist to the Manmohan Singh-led UPA government at the Centre that will include a special development package for the backward regions of Assam and upgrade of Gauhati University into a full-fledged central university.
A meeting of the Assam PCC office-bearers has been convened tomorrow morning at Rajiv Bhawan to discuss, debate and finalise the wishlist.
The meeting will try to push certain requests in the first 100-day agenda of the UPA-led government, which got down to business after the much-awaited expansion of the council of ministers yesterday.
The other issues to figure in the list would be the early completion of the five bridges over the Brahmaputra and a second road-cum-rail bridge over the river in Guwahati.
Assam PCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita told The Telegraph here today that there would be both short-term as well as long-term development programmes to be included in the list to be placed before Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, a Rajya Sabha MP from Assam.
“A lot of things will be discussed and finalised in the greater interest of the state though a special package and development of infrastructure both roads and bridges will figure prominently in our list to be submitted to the Manmohan Singh government. The final shape will emerge only tomorrow but we have very high hopes from the UPA government,” Kalita said.
The PCC’s wishlist and Dispur’s stress to ministers to concentrate in the rural belt and weed out corruption from welfare schemes show the party is going all out to best its rivals in the 2011 Assembly poll race.
Kalita, himself a Rajya Sabha member, also said a thorough discussion on the party’s performance in the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections will be taken up at the PCC executive next month.
The Congress won seven of the 13 seats it contested in the state, two less than what it had won in 2004. The AUDF and alliance partner BPF, party insiders admit, hurt the Congress’s prospects.
PCC sources said the non-inclusion of more ministers from the state might be discussed in tomorrow’s meeting. “But the party line is clear... There could be inclusion in the future and that it is not a state cabinet. The interests of the entire country needs to be seen instead of only one state. Ours is, after all, a national party,” one of them said, referring to the disappointment over allocation of ministerial berths.

Poacher is shot for killing rhino

A poacher has been shot dead after he was caught removing a horn from a black rhino.

Kenya Wildlife Service rangers in Laikipia on Wednesday said the poacher, was in a group of two others who had engaged them in a shoot-out.

The rangers seized an AK-47 rifle with five rounds of ammunition during the incident.

Ms Kuki Gallman, the owner of the conservancy where the incident occurred, commended the rangers but called on KWS to smash what she said was a syndicate involved in the sale of game trophies.

The unscrupulous buyers are dealing in elephant tusks and rhino horns.

Mount Kenya Wildlife Conservation area officer, Mr Baraza Otungah said the other poachers could have escaped with gunshot wounds.

Last week, four elephants were shot dead by poachers but a swift response by the conservancy’s rangers forced the poachers to flee and leave behind the tusks.

Ms Gallman said poaching was on the increase and that in the past year 38 elephants had been killed and their tusks removed.

She mourned the death of ‘Kamau’ the 25-year-old rhino, whom she described as a dominant male that had sired many rhinos in the sanctuary.

According to her, this was the second time this year that poachers had targeted rhinos at the sanctuary.

In the first attack, a rhino miraculously survived after poachers cut off its horn.

The conservancy is one of the few protected sanctuaries where black rhinos breed and roam freely. The area is suitable for the rhinos.

North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council chief arrested for alleged links with militant group

GUWAHATI: Special Task Force commandos on Saturday arrested Mohit Hojai, chief executive member (CEM) of the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) in Assam for alleged links with the militant outfit, Dima Halam Daogah (Jewel faction).
Mr. Hojai earlier refuted the charge as a political conspiracy to malign him.
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told journalists here that he had ordered the arrest of Mr. Hojai and now it was for the police to establish the charge
Mr. Hojai, who heads the tribal council that is vested with powers under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution, went into hibernation after the police recovered Rs. 1 crore, meant for an arms deal by DHD (Jewel), from the possession of two activists of the outfit near the Assam-Meghalaya border on April 2. Two pistols and three DHD (Jewel) letter pads were also seized from them.
Earlier, the security agencies received an input that DHD (Jewel) had demanded Rs 1.5 crore from Mr. Hojai towards payment for an arms consignment already received by the outfit. The police alleged that one of the arrested DHD activists confessed that the money was brought from Mr. Hojai’s residence.
The Chief Minister said more security forces would be sent to the hill district to curb the insurgent activities.
The DHD (Jewel) has lately been creating havoc there, targeting trains and railway staff, and abducting contractors, engineers and workers engaged in railway gauge conversion. On the other hand, a total 17 incidents of extremist attacks on Dimasa and Zeme Naga villages of the hill district since March 18 has so far claimed 24 lives. Altogether 1658 people belonging to both Dimasa and Zeme Naga tribes are now taking shelter in six relief camps opened by the administration after their houses have been set ablaze by the militants.
The Chief Minister said that the his government would consider holding peace talks with the DHD(Jewel) only if the outfit abjured violence and surrendered their arms.
He said that even though there were a large number of security forces present in the hill district, they had not been able to reach the destinations in time in their operation against the militants due to non-existence of proper roads.

Woman killed in hills attack

May 30 : Two huts were burnt and a woman killed in Phoiding village near Haflong this morning in the continuing cycle of ethnic violence in North Cachar Hills.
The raid on the Dimasa village came a day after two Zeme Naga boys were killed and 16 cottages were set ablaze at Mabao village by an armed group yesterday.
Six persons descended on Phoiding around 11 this morning and began setting the huts on fire. The group also fired indiscriminately from automatic weapons, killing Noham Dibragede, 48, and injuring Lomi Kemprai, 50.
Villagers had deserted the 40-odd cottages atop the hill some 35km from Haflong and shifted to a relief centre.
“But they (the villagers) keep coming back to check their homes and that was when a few women got caught in the attack”.
Though ethnic flames continued to rage near Haflong, the district railway division found a reason for cheer.
A goods train moved out of Lumding for Badarpur for the first time since services were suspended on May 22 following an attack on a train in Maibong subdivision by suspected militants of the DHD(J). The train had 18 rakes, including three compartments carrying security troops.

Flood situation grim in Assam

Guwahati, May 20 : The overall flood situation in Assam continued to be grim on the third day today, with over two lakh people affected in five districts, official sources said.

The situation in Lakhimpur, Dhubri, Barpeta, Sonitpur and Baksa districts hit by flash floods continue to be serious as rivers in these districts were in spate following release of water from Kurichu dam in Bhutan after torrential rain.

At least 200 villages have submerged in Bihpuria and Dhakuana circles of the Lakhimpur district, sources said. District administration along with the army has started relief and rescue operations and shifted people to higher ground, they said.

Road communication has been disrupted in several parts of the state due to the flash floods. Nine villagers were swept away in the flash floods yesterday.

Dimasa Women Killed in Phaidung

Haflong (Assam), May 30 : A Dimasa tribal woman was killed and two men were injured in an attack by rival community at a village in troubled North Cachar hills district today, official sources said.

Armed Zemi Naga tribals allegedly attacked Phaiding village at around 3:30 pm and killed the 55-year-old woman and injured two others.

The attack was in retaliation to the killings of two Zemi Naga villagers, who were shot dead yesterday allegedly by people of Dimasa community in the village, the sources said.

They had also set 21 houses on fire before escaping, they added.

Thousands of people have been rendered homeless by the turf war between ethnic communities in the district.

Two relief camps have been set up in Maibong and one each in Tunge, Jurai, Hajaichak and Mahur, the sources said.

Nepalese chess players off to Assam

Ten Nepalese chess players are taking part in the Indo-Nepal Friendly Chess Tournament to be held in Assam, India.

Nepal Chess Association (NCA) on Thursday bade farewell to the Nepali team. Nikesh Duwal, Madan Kayastha, Prajwalla Raj Rajopadhyaya, Prakash Nepal, Saurav Pradhan, Prashant Bhasima, Sri Krishna Prajapati, Anil Silpakar and Bijanman Thaiba will take part in the May 31 to June 6 tournament.

NCA has named Maniswor Thapa, Robin Sunuwar and Bijay Raj Aryal as the reserve players. Nabin Tandukar and Sarjana Duwal are also accompanying the players. NCA president Rajesh Hari Joshi bade farewell to the team.

Aspirants who lost out protest in Assam

BPF may review support to the Tarun Gogoi government

Guwahati: The exclusion of certain aspirants from Assam in the Manmohan Singh Ministry has created political unease.

The Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), a coalition partner of the Congress in the State, is reviewing its support to the Tarun Gogoi government in protest against the non-inclusion of its lone MP, Sansuma Khunggur Bwiswmuthiary.

BPF chief Hagrma Mahilary and Mr. Bwiswmuthiary expressed resentment that despite their party being a pre-poll ally of the United Progressive Alliance, it was denied a berth. The BPF central committee is set to meet on June 4 to decide on the issue.

In the 126-member Assam Assembly the Congress has 54 legislators. The BPF has 11 members, three of whom are in the Gogoi Cabinet. The effective House strength is down to 125 following the resignation of Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) chief Badruddin Ajmal.

The legislator from the South Salmara Assembly constituency quit after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Dhubri constituency. Thus the AUDF’s strength stands at nine.

The Congress now has 54 members, the BPF has 11, the Asom Gana Parishad has 25, the Bharatiya Janata Party has 10, the AUDF has nine and the CPI(M) has two.
The CPI, the Autonomous State Demand Committee and the Nationalist Congress Party have one each. There are also 11 independents.
Resentment has also surfaced among Congress leaders and workers as only one of its seven MPs — Bijoy Krishna Handique — has found a berth, while both the MPs from Meghalaya — one from the Congress, Vincent H. Pala, and the other from the NCP, Agatha Sangma — have been inducted. The latter is the youngest Minister.
The Assam Chah Mazdoor Sangha, the tea workers’ union backed by the Congress, and the Assam Tea Tribe Students’ Association have voiced resentment over the non-inclusion of the Congress MP from Dibrugarh, Paban Singh Ghatowar. A representative of the tea tribes, he is the ACMS president. Effigies of Mr. Gogoi were burnt by protestors in tea gardens in Upper Assam.

Meet reviews NC Hills security

Guwahati, May 278 : A high-level meeting on the security situation in North Cachar Hills today decided to requisition the army’s help in the running of trains in the district.
Frequent attacks by rebels have disrupted train services in the district since May last year.
The decision was part of a security blueprint prepared at the meeting attended by senior central and state government officials.
It will be submitted to the Centre for its approval.
The blueprint also envisages the redeployment of security personnel, including those from the army and better co-ordination among the various security agencies to foil the “evil designs” of the militants and other elements.
A central team led by special secretary (internal security), Union ministry of home affairs, Raman Srivastava and joint secretary (Northeast), Navin Verma, visited Haflong this morning for an on-the-spot review of the situation with the district administration and security agencies there.
Train services in the district have been suspended following militant attacks causing disruption in the supply of essentials to Barak Valley, Mizoram and Tripura.
Assam chief secretary P.C. Sharma and senior railway officials were also part of the review meeting held at the Assam Rifles camp in Haflong.
Sharma told The Telegraph that the state government was doing everything possible to restore normality and ensure the resumption of train services in the district.
The central team returned to the state capital at around 3pm and held another round of meetings at the Border Security Force DIG sector headquarters at Patgaon here before departing for Delhi.
Besides the attack on trains, the district has also seen a spurt in ethnic clashes.
The Zeliangrong Hoho, an umbrella organisation of Zeme, Lingmai and Rongmai Nagas of Nagaland, today blamed the DHD (Jewel) group for the ongoing ethnic clashes in the district.

Union Home Ministry reviews NC Hills situation

Haflong (Assam), May 28 : A high level meeting of Union Home Ministry and Assam government officials was held here today to review the prevailing law and order situation in the state&aposs troubled North Cachar Hills district.

Official sources said that a closed-door meeting, presided over by Union Home Ministry Joint Secretary for North East Navin Verma was held at the headquarters of 45 Assam Rifle headquarters.

The meeting was attended by Assam&aposs Chief Secretary P C Sarmah, North East Frontier Railway&aposs General Manager Ashutosh Swamy and representatives of various security agencies.

The meeting discussed the deployment of security agencies in the troubled areas and measures to tackle the situation.

The sources, however, refused to divulge further details of the meeting.

Militant attacks and ethnic clashes by Dima Halam Daoga (Jewel) faction has led to uninterrupted violence in this hills district since March last.

The outfit had launched a series of attack on trains, railway personnel, employees of various central government projects and also engaged in ethnic clashes with the Zeme Naga tribe to allegedly assert their supremacy in the district.

Four drowned in Assam floods, red alert sounded

Guwahati, May 28 : At least four people were drowned in the first wave of floods in Assam on Wednesday while a red alert was sounded in Tinsukia, Baksa and Barpeta districts following release of water by China and Bhutan.

The Union Ministry of Water Resources alerted Deputy Commissioners of Tinsukia, Barpeta and Baksa that China and Bhutan have released water from their dams and so adequate measures should be taken to avoid any "probable danger", official sources said here.

A red alert was sounded for those living along the banks of Brahmaputra river and in the Lower Assam districts of Baksa and Barpeta, likely to be affected by Bhutan's release of water from its Kurichu dam, the sources said.

The alert has been sounded "to ensure that there was minimum loss of life and property," officials said.

The rising water of different rivers in the state has so far claimed four lives -- two in Sonitpur and one each in Barpeta and Kamrup (Rural) districts.

Meanwhile, rising waters in Brahmaputra river caused by incessant rainfall in the catchment areas has affected more than hundred villages in seven districts of the state -- Sonitpur, Baksa, Barpeta, Tinsukia, Lakhimpur and Dhubri.

In Lakhimpur, five villages have been affected due to rising waters of Ranganadi in Bihpuria area.

Three die in Assam boat capsize

Guwahati, May 27 : At least three persons drowned and five others were missing after their boat capsized in the swollen Gangadhar river in lower Assam's Dhubri district today.

The boat ferrying eight persons capsized in the river which was overflowing after release of water from a dam last night, police said.

Three bodies were fished out and a search for the missing persons is continuing, police said.

Road to the right career

Writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami inaugurates Eduquest
Guwahati, May 25 : If organic chemistry and Shakespeare’s plays pull you equally and you don’t know whether the lab or proscenium should be your destination, eastern India’s largest education fair, Eduquest, promises to help you find the crucial answer.
Organised by The Telegraph and Saraswationline.com, the two-day fair was inaugurated by writer Mamoni Raisom Goswami at the Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium here this morning.
An educationist herself, Goswami knows how important it is for youngsters to select the right career. No wonder, she was as excited as a youngster.
Open from 10am to 8pm, Eduquest has brought together 75 participants from various parts of the country and abroad for the benefit of students seeking admission to colleges and universities.
“This is all so exciting. I think this is a great place to be for all students. What could be better than having so many educational institutions under one roof, ready to disseminate all sorts of information to anyone who is interested?” the Gnanpeeth award-winning writer said.
Goswami, in fact, went round the venue and the stalls, speaking to the officials, asking polite queries on their ways of the functioning.
She picked up brochures at the stalls, leafing through them with the interest of a student. She said in a nostalgic tone: “In our days, there was so few colleges and educational universities. More educational institutions means more opportunity for the students.”
It was a touching moment when one of the girls at the counter of an aviation academy genuflected before Goswami and touched her feet, seeking the blessings of the writer.
As the day progressed, the footfall increased and the holiday provided the perfect opportunity for the youngsters to make a beeline to the fair.
“Visiting Eduquest was a great experience for me as there are so many institutions under a single roof offering aviation and management courses,” said Jatarupa Sarma of Gurukul Grammar School.
Another student, Anamika Rahang, said the fair was a “very good idea because it provides all the necessary information that students require about higher education and also helps them make an appropriate choice”.
Rahang, who is a student of Maharishi Vidya Mandir, wants to do a course in animation.
The participants, too, were quite enthusiastic about the encouraging footfall on the first day.
“This kind of an educational fair is very important for us as we get an opportunity to interact with the students and know their mind,” a faculty member of ICFAI National College, Guwahati, Jagadish Nath, said.
He said through Eduquest they not only aim to create awareness about the courses offered by their institution but also remove various misconceptions.
Jagat J. Bora of the Bangalore-based East Point Group of Institutions said they were providing a complete bouquet — from primary school to post-graduation programmes in engineering, humanities, health sciences and management.
Besides visiting the stalls of the institutions, students also got a chance to interact with Soumitra Banerjee, assistant professor at the Calcutta-based Camelia School of Business Management, who gave a detailed account of the MBA courses offered by the institute.
He will also speak on Shining Career in Management and its Benefits at the venue tomorrow afternoon.

Attack on train in NC hills; 3 injured

Three Assam police personnel sustained injury when DHD(J) rebels again attacked a special security train with bullets in North Cachar hills on Friday.

According to information, the incident took place at a round 1 in the afternoon in between Lumding and Langting when the Dimasa rebels sprayed bullets on the train leaving the police personnel injured. Barring security trains, other services have been remaining closed due to continued attack on trains by the DHD(J) rebels.

The injured have police personnel have been rushed to the hospital. The incident took place a day after 31 houses were set ablaze on Thursday by some unidentified armed miscreants.  

Miscreants torch Dimasa village in Assam

Haflong, May 21 : Violence continued in Assam’s North Cachar Hills district with unidentified miscreants setting ablaze several villages in Dimasa village today.

Police sources informed that the miscreants tried to torch the entire Dibaula village, under Maibong police station, this morning.

But they managed to set ablaze eight houses while the rest of the village was saved. None has been were injured in the incident, police added.

More than a dozen people had been killed, several villages torched and train traffic halted in the hills district after violence broke out since the pre-poll stage in end-March.

The NC Hills district has virtually turned into a battleground for feuding factions of the NSCN and Dimasa militant outfit, Black Widow, with all the groups trying to claim supremacy in the district.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi visited the district to review the situation and ordered intensified operations, but all attempts to thwart violence have met with little success, throwing the district into complete anarchy.

Forensic lab for Assam hill districts

Guwahati, May 20 : The Forensic Science Laboratory (FSL) here will open a zonal laboratory at Diphu after the increased spate of violence in the twin hill districts of Assam.
North Cachar Hills and Karbi Anglong witnessed 70 incidents of violence, including blasts, in the past year. This year alone, 20 such incidents have been reported from the two districts.
“We had plans to have zonal laboratories at Dibrugarh, Tezpur, Bongaigaon and Silchar but Diphu was included following the increase in violence in the two districts recently,” a senior official at the state Forensic Science Laboratory here said.
He said apart from these zonal laboratories, a regional laboratory would also be set up at the Police Training Centre (PTC) at Dergaon in Golaghat district.
These laboratories would start functioning by the end of this year, the official said.
He added that there were plans to set up a forensic science training institute for the police, judicial officials and other agencies at the proposed regional laboratory at Dergaon.
Established in 1967 in Shillong and shifted to Guwahati in 1969, FSL is the main laboratory catering to the Northeast and is recognised by the United Nations International Drug Control Programme (UNDCP).
All the major cases in the seven northeastern states are referred to the laboratory here.
Sources said the decision to set up zonal laboratories in Assam was taken after it became difficult for the laboratory to control its activities throughout the violence-hit state.
“It becomes a lengthy process for us to send our men to every blast site to collect samples. By the time our men arrive at a particular location in remote areas, several vital clues are lost,” the official said.
The official said these laboratories would be set up under the modernisation of state police forces scheme, which aims at the upgrade of the existing facilities.
Sources in the FSL said though the laboratory had distributed 24 well-equipped vehicles (Tempo Trax) to the district police throughout the state to collect samples from the incident sites, most of these vehicles were being misused because of the lack of interest on the part of the police personnel.
Several police personnel were also being trained for the purpose.
Citing an example, the source said a vehicle sanctioned for Jorhat (AS01P 0334) in 2003-2004 is currently being used by the district police to ferry their wards to school.
“We no longer can rely on other agencies. We need to have our own facilities and own men in various locations of the state,” the official said.

50% rebate for senior citizens on new tax rate

May 19: The Guwahati Municipal Corporation has decided to give a 50 per cent rebate to senior citizens on the new tax rate following pressure from different organisations against the hike in property tax.
GMC commissioner Manish Thakur told The Telegraph that the decision would benefit a large chunk of residents, as a majority of household property was owned by senior citizens.
He said many senior citizens were still maintaining their families with their pension and might feel the pinch of paying the property tax at an enhanced rate.
However, the rate of property tax for the other categories of citizens would remain the same, he added.
The new rate of property tax assessment has been fixed on the basis of the 2003 land valuation notification issued by the Kamrup (metro) district administration and will vary in different areas.
The rate will be higher in prime and busy areas like Panbazar, Fancy Bazar, Lakhtokia, Dispur and Ganeshguri than in the interior areas.
A Guwahati development department official said the property tax had been increased with the aim of mopping up revenue for the cash-starved GMC.
“The state government will now release its dues and additional funds to the civic body to ensure that the decision on rebate does not further deteriorate the financial condition of the corporation,” the official said. He added that the government will soon release Rs 60 crore as dues to the GMC under the 12th Finance Commission.
The GDD has suggested that concessions be given to citizens who are very regular in paying the property tax.
“The GMC has not received outstanding property tax amounting to Rs 70 crore from many residents. But unlike the ASEB and the BSNL, it has not stopped its service to the defaulters. The concessions might enthuse people to pay tax regularly,” the official said.
Save Guwahati Build Guwahati, an NGO, which has been vehemently opposing the hike in property tax, refrained from commenting on the GMC’s decision to give tax rebate to senior citizens.
An office-bearer said the voluntary organisation had demanded a total rollback of the property tax hike. “We will discuss the issue within a day or two,” he added.
Dipankar Das, the spokesperson for the All Guwahati Students’ Union, said the economic condition of Guwahatians was not similar to those living in the metros.
He said the GMC had enhanced the property tax by 300 per cent and the city’s residents would not be able to bear such a tax burden.

Congress retains Assam with marginally reduced percentage

Assam retained its image as a traditional Congress state in the Lok Sabha election, though it conceded two seats and its vote percentage marginally declined to 38.26 per cent from 39.45 per cent in 2004.

Every Lok Sabha election since Assam first went to the general elections in 1952, the Congress has emerged as the major winner.

Even when the state was ruled by the regional AGP for two terms in 1985 and 1995, the Congress continued to be a formidable opponent for all political parties.

The Congress, which contested 13 of the 14 seats this time, won in seven, losing the rest to BJP, Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and new regional party the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), garnering 47.48 per cent of the ballots, according to election office records here.

The Congress's heavyweight and union minister Santosh Mohan Dev lost in Silchar due to the entry of the AUDF which took away a major chunk of Congress minority votes.

AUDF also dealt a blow to Congress in Dhubri.

Another major Congress loss was Tezpur which was attributed to the controversies and allegations of non-performance surrounding its contestant sitting MP Mani Kumar Subba.

The minority backed AUDF made its debut in the Lok Sabha marking the entry of its leader Maulana Baruddin Ajmal into national politics.

It registered 26.19 per cent votes in the seven constituencies it contested in, though it won one seat.

The BJP's attempt to get a foothold in the state, riding piggy-back on the AGP paid off with the party doubling its seats to four and securing 38.22 per cent votes in the seven constituencies it contested.

The saffron party came a close second to the Congress leaving behind alliance partner AGP in third position which secured one seat, grossing 33.46 per cent ballots in the six constituencies it put up candidates.

The AGP this time lost one of its two seats that it had won in 2004 with a 19.9 per cent mandate.

The AGP lost Dibrugarh on an anti-incumbency wave there, while in Lakhimpur the voters felt a disconnect with their AGP sitting MP Dr Arun Sarma.

Councillor family killed in Assam

Guwahati, May 20 : Two men in shorts and T-shirts walked into a Congress councillor’s house in Diphu and shot dead three members of his family this evening.
Apu Das, the councillor, and his brother Ujjal were at their furniture shop when the gunmen came around 7.45pm. They shot Das’s wife Manju, 40, daughter Momi, 17, niece Juhi, 8, and a private tutor, Seema Roy. All died on the spot.
A woman neighbour was injured in the attack.
Police sources said the duo came on foot and fired indiscriminately.
Quoting eyewitnesses, the police said the killers used an AK-series rifle and a pistol.
Das is the councillor of ward 3, a thickly populated Bengali-dominated locality in Karbi Anglong district in central Assam.
The motive behind the killings is yet to be ascertained but the involvement of militants is not ruled out. “It could also be an extortion-related case,” a police official said.
This morning, around 75km from Diphu, six militants of the National Democratic Front of Boroland were gunned down by a police team.
A police source said the killing of Das’s family could be in retaliation to the gunning down of the militants but official confirmation was not available.
“The assailants opened fire on all the members sitting in the drawing room and left the spot within minutes,” a police officer said.
Anita Majumdar, the injured neighbour, said: “I heard the gunshots from my kitchen. When I rushed out, a bullet hit me in the leg. I ran back into the house.”
Anita was admitted to Diphu civil hospital but shifted to an army hospital in Dimapur, Nagaland, around 40km from Diphu.

Assam govt orders probe into police excesses in LIC office

GUWAHATI: In the wake of widespread public outcry over alleged police highhandedness at Life Insurance Corporation of India’s divisional office in Jorhat, the Assam government has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

The government has asked Upper Assam commissioner LN Tamuly to probe into the incident and submit the report to the government. Several organisations, including LIC employees, have organised a series of protests after the police allegedly lathicharged the LIC employees on May 13.

The incident took place after the death of an employee. An angry mob set ablaze the truck which had hit the employee. About 25 employees suffered serious injuries.

Ten people killed in separate incidents in Assam

GUWAHATI - At least ten people were killed in two separate incidents in Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills Districts of Assam on Tuesday.

In Karbi Anglong, six National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants were killed in an encounter with the Army at Donphat village in Howraghat area.

A huge cache of arms was recovered from them.

In N. C. Hills district, unidentified gunmen waylaid a vehicle at Nirimbanglo, forced its passengers to disembark and fired at them, killing four persons on the spot.

The assailants escaped after committing the crime.

Two crops save farmers from drought & starvation

- Nagaon
Guwahati, May 19 : Two new varieties of summer paddy, which have proved sturdy enough to withstand a near-drought climate, will fill the plates of starved farmers in Nagaon.
NBR II, also called Swarnabh, and NBR III, popularly known as Dinanath, are high-yielding, disease resistant, cold tolerant, short duration and high protein content crops in comparison to other recognised seeds.
Both varieties, developed by junior scientist (plant breeding), Pankaj Kumar Dev Chaudhury, of the Regional Agricultural Research Station, Shillong, were planted on more than 50 hectares during the ongoing season and harvest is likely to begin soon.
“The two varieties take less than 150 days to yield, while the crop duration is 170 to 180 days in case of other varieties. Dinanath is totally cold tolerant and it can easily withstand common diseases like blast and sheath blight,” Dev Chaudhury said.
The farmers are pleased and so is the agriculture department.
“The results are satisfactory. In the midst of a drought-like situation, our farmers will harvest 90 quintals of rice per hectare area this time,” said National Food Security Mission, Nagaon’s nodal officer Pradip Buragohain.
Number-9, Bihari, is the traditional summer crop in Nagaon.
Four other varieties recognised by Assam Agriculture University — Masuri, Jyoti Prasad, Bishnuprasad and Jaymoti — are also popular.
Nagaon has 373,451 hectares of agricultural area, of which more than 65,000 hectares are cultivated during summer.
According to department records, the district’s total summer rice production in 2007-08 was 172,125 metric tonnes. It was 73,018 in case of kharif and 314,134 in case of sali.
The National Food Security Mission recently carried out over 60 demonstrations of two other newly-developed crops, MTU 7029, also called Swarna and MTU 1010 Cottondora Sannalu, in Nagaon.
“Along with seeds, we provided fertilisers, pesticides, minerals and some technical assistance to the farmers free of cost. Since last year’s production crossed 90 quintals per hectare, we plan to continue with the two varieties provided for the forthcoming sali season,” Buragohain said.
Nagaon agriculture department will also launch training programmes for nine groups of farmers under the food security mission, which would cover all the seasonal crops.
“Use of fertilisers and pesticides, importance of irrigation and above all, systems of rice intensification, will be the main topics of the training,” Buragohain said.

GU staff threaten pay protest

Guwahati, May 19 : Gauhati University is headed for turmoil with its teachers at loggerheads with the authorities over non-implementation of a “fat and attractive” pay package recommended by the University Grants Commission and the human resource development ministry.
While the teachers were planning a protracted agitation for non-implementation of the new payscale by Dispur from this week, the GU vice-chancellor’s office has maintained that it cannot put pressure on the state government for implementation of the payscale.
“The new payscale is basically meant for central universities. The state government can implement the same purely at its own discretion. After receiving a one-time grant of Rs 25 crore for the university’s development last year, the authorities are not willing to put further pressure on the state government. In case of implementation of the new payscale, the government will have to spend several crores of rupees from its exchequer,” an official told The Telegraph.
Not convinced, the Gauhati University Teachers’ Association (GUTA) has convened a general body meeting on Wednesday to chalk out its course of agitation.
Jogen Chandra Kalita, the general secretary of GUTA, said it was high time the university teachers got a pay package on a par with central universities.
“The teachers of the university deserve a better pay package in line with what was announced by the UGC and HRD ministry in 2007. The academic qualifications of the teachers are the same as those working in central universities. We are doing the same amount of hard work like our counterparts in the central universities to impart education. Being the oldest and the mother university of the region, GU deserves the new payscales and the state government must implement the same. If something is not done immediately, the teachers will be forced to resort to a long agitation,” Kalita said.
The general secretary said that in 2006, a delegation of the association had met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and pressed for declaration of GU as a central university.
“Singh gave full assurance to concede to our demand. We met chief minister Tarun Gogoi thrice with the same demand and the latter assured of the needful. Now we are not going to wait any more and have demanded vice-chancellor O.K. Medhi’s intervention to put pressure on the government on the issue,” he added.
The existing basic pay for a lecturer of the university is Rs 8,000, Rs 12,000 for a reader and Rs 16,000 for a professor. According to the new payscale, the basic salary will be Rs 16,000 for a lecturer, Rs 37,000 for a reader and Rs 39,000 for a professor.
When contacted, the vice-chancellor maintained that the new payscales were meant for central universities and the state government would have to use its discretion while implementing them.

Jorhat Charter:

Revive Assam Tea Corporation (ATC):

  1. The Assam Tea Corporation needs to be revived. The Tea Gardens under ATC are sick due to mismanage and lack of funds and support from the government.
  2. Implement Plantation Labour Act 1956 in all tea gardens and provide the national level minimum wage to the workers with all other provisions given in the plantation Labour Act 1956.
Conserve Majuli:
  1. The greatest river island of the world Majuli needs to be conserved for the cultural heritage of Assam. Take steps to protect it from land erosion due to flood.
  2. Take initiative to upgrade the education system as per the present context and needs of the present requirement for the youth —
  3. Make available computer in schools and should implement compulsory education on Basic computer course to the students of higher standards.
  4. Provide Scholarship to the meritorious students.
  5. Fee concession for the meritorious poor students who wants to take higher studies.
  6. Promote technical education at the school level.
Create platform for extra curriculum activities for the youth:
  1. Make a policy through which the college students or the youth will get chance of exposure.
  2. Take up step of starting an ITI in the Jorhat constituency for youth development.
  3. Encourage the youth to start small scale industry or the big industry as per their education and experiences by providing loans to them.
  4. Recruit the youth in various posts of the government departments on the basis of their qualification.
Upgrade the existing Engineering College of Jorhat.
Village development
  1. Promote SHG groups for early development of the rural people.
  2. Make available water pumps in the paddy fields.
  3. Provide good drinking water facility to all the villages.
Develop Tea Research Centre, Toklai
  1. The Toklai Tea Research Centre is the only research centre in Assam. It is to be noted that tea constitutes as the major economy of the state, but the Toklai centre related to this economy is not properly maintained and used. It is just lying for the name sake. So the Govt of Assam should immediately take step to upgrade it with proper infrastructure.
Agriculture University
  1. The Agriculture University of Jorhat needs to be upgraded with modern facilities and also increase the capacity of students.

LIC emmployees stage demonstration against lathicharge in Jorhat

GUWAHATI: Hundreds of employees of Life Insurance Corporation of India across the seven states of North East staged demonstrations on Thursday against the alleged police lathicharge inside the corporation s divisional office at Jorhat in Upper Assam.

All divisional offices of the corporation across the country sent telegrams and fax to Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi and chief secretary P.C Sarma condemning the incident and demanding punishment against the guilty.

According to officials in the LIC Jorhat office, on Wednesday afternoon, an LIC employee met with an accident. He died on the spot. An irate mob set ablaze the truck which hit the employee. Soon after the incident, police stormed the office and there was lathicharge.

The police, however, said there was stone pelting on the security personnel. Police sources added an inquiry has been ordered.

Several organisations have called for a 12-hour Jorhat district bandh on Friday. President of eastern zone unit of All India insurance employees association Satanjib Das told ET: Police entered the divisional office of the LIC without permission and started lathicharge on the employees. About 25 employees received serious injuries, one in the eye and seven in the head. Several people were detained. Even women employees were beaten up.

A public meeting was organised in Jorhat on Thursday was attended by several trade unions and NGOs. Mr Das said: The LIC management has taken up the issue with the Assam government. The chief secretary has assured that necessary action will be taken."

LIC has over 4000 employees in the North East. It has around 11 divisional offices in east zone. The zone comprises West Bengal and seven North Eastern states.

Two killed in oil pipeline blast, 60 houses set ablaze

Tinsukia (Assam), May 14 : Two persons were killed and 60 houses razed to the ground by a devastating fire following an oil pipeline blast in the Digboi refinery of Indian Oil Corporation, official sources said here.

The blast took place in the pipeline inside the NDC plant, one of the oldest refineries in Asia, early wednesday morning, killing its operator Basab Bhattacharjee and a contractor's employee Kamal Gogoi.

The blast led to a fire, which quickly spread to the nearby residential Moliabari area, gutting 60 houses, but there was no report of any casualty.

Several fire tenders fought for several hours to bring the fire under control but it was ultimately heavy rains that doused the fire.

The cause of the blast was suspected to be due to poor maintenance of the pipeline but officials are yet to confirm it though they ruled out the possibility of sabotage.

The extent of the damage is yet to be ascertained and the affected families have been moved to safer places, sources added.

9 killed by suspected separatists in NE India

NEW DELHI, May 13 -- Separatists in the northeast Indian state of Manipur killed nine migrant workers Monday, reported the private Indo-Asian News Service on Tuesday.

Police said militants groups killed these Hindi-speaking migrant workers late Monday inside a wild life park in Manipur's Bishenpur district, about 14 km south of the state capital Imphal, according to the report.

Police were tipped off by local villagers that 12 people were taken blindfolded inside the park by heavily armed militants. Three people managed to escape from their captors.

This the second time in two months for Hindi-speaking migrant workers to have been killed separatists in Manipur bordering Myanmar. Five migrant workers were killed in February there, according to police.

There are some 19 militant groups active in Manipur calling for secession from India or greater autonomy.

Wildlife on camera rivals Asia rainforest

Guwahati, May 13 : A two-year study of the carnivores in the wilds of Upper Assam has revealed a hotbed of bio-diversity that can rival the best tropical rainforest sites in South and Southeast Asia.
Kashmira Kakati, a wildlife biologist, conducted the study from 2007-09. It involved camera trapping of the carnivores in the forest landscape comprising the Dehing-Patkai wildlife sanctuary, Upper Dehing East and West block reserve forests, Jeypore reserve forest and Dilli reserve forest spread across the three districts of Tinsukia, Dibrugarh and Sivasagar and covering an area of 575 square km.
“Photographs taken by remote infra-red sensor cameras have revealed the presence of 19 species of carnivores — a number comparable to some of the best rainforest areas across South and Southeast Asia.
The endangered species recorded include the tiger, wild dog, fishing cat while the threatened or near-threatened species include the clouded leopard, marbled cat, Malayan sun bear, large Indian civet and hog badger,” Kakati said today.
The survey was supported by the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF), Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), the UK-based Rufford Foundation and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)-India program.
Kakati said it is important to note that this lowland evergreen forest type is itself endangered, having disappeared across vast areas of its former range, and this landscape is among the last and largest remaining areas of the Assam Valley wet evergreen forest left in South Asia.
She said this is also the first time that pictures of Malayan sun bear, marbled cat, Asiatic golden cat and binturong, also know as bearcat, have been obtained in the wild in Assam with aid of camera trapping.
“Eight of the nine cat species reported from the Northeast India (excluding the high-altitude snow leopard) have been recorded here making the site with the maximum number of wild cat species. It has been confirmed with photographs from one contiguous forest area anywhere in Asia, surpassing well-known rainforest sites like Taman Negara in Peninsular Malaysia, Cat Tien in Vietnam, Khao-Yai of Thailand and Namdapha National Park, India,” Kakati said.
She said the presence of tiger here assumes all the more importance because it is feared that the tiger on the decline in the Namdapha National Park of Arunachal Pradesh further east, with no photographs having been obtained in recent camera-trapping efforts there.
The wildlife biologist said though diversity is still present here, despite years of logging and disturbance, one must tread with caution.
“The numbers of these animals are extremely low, and sambar, the favoured prey species of large predators like tiger and wild dog, was rarely photographed except one or two in the relatively safe confines of the Digboi Oil Field (part of the Upper Dehing East reserve forest). Gaur (commonly known as the Indian bison) also favoured tiger prey is formerly reported from this area. But this species was not encountered during the survey at all, indicating that they might have disappeared locally,” she said.
She also said poaching, especially of prey species like deer, pig and porcupine are a threat to the wildlife of the entire landscape. Apart from this pollution of the forest and its water sources by garbage dumping and untreated industrial wastes have remained a persistent danger to the wildlife of the area. The impacts of these have never been assessed.

Child’s nut hunt ends in blast death

Guwahati, May 13 : A seven-year-old boy died in a grenade blast in Baksa after he brought the explosive home thinking it to be a fruit and tried to crack it open like a tamul (betel nut) with a knife.
It was around 7.30am and Ajay Basumatary was busy collecting betel nuts and mangoes that had dropped in his backyard after yesterday’s storm, when he stumbled upon the Austrian grenade.
“He brought the grenade to his courtyard and curious to know what it was, he hit it with a knife in the same manner as he would a tamul (betel). Under its impact, the lever of the grenade came off and it exploded, killing the child on the spot,” a police official said.
The explosion also injured Ajay’s mother Sarala, 30, his grandmother Bibari, 55, sister Rupa, 10, and brother Maneswar, 5, and blew up a part of their home in Sarukuchijhar village under Barama police station.
Ajay’s father, Anil, a farmer, was out in the field when the explosion occurred.
The police official said the child died of multiple injuries on his chest, abdomen, hands and legs.
“The injured were admitted to a hospital at Musalpur and their condition is stated to be out of danger,” he said.
“It was a freak accident. Since the child was just seven years of age, he had absolutely no idea that it was a grenade,” he added.
The police have not been able to ascertain how the grenade landed in the backyard of Ajay’s house.
“We suspect the rebels might have hidden the Austrian grenade, as Ulfa and the National Democratic Front of Boroland are known to use such grenades. Moreover, these two militant groups are also active in that area,” the police official said.
The police later thoroughly searched the backyard but could not find any bomb or other explosive substance.
“Another child, who was with Ajay when he found the grenade, showed us the spot. Though we combed the entire area, we failed to find any more explosives,” a police source said.
They have sent the body for autopsy and registered a case (number 26/2009) under Sections III, IV and V of the Explosives Act at Barama police station.

Assam State Government hand in violence syas JNH

SILCHAR, May 13 : Citizen Right Protection Volunteers, the mysterious outfit which had claimed responsibility for burning three Dimasa villages, was actually formed by NSCN (K) with local support from the pro-talk faction of DHD and indirect patronization from the State Government, stated apex body of Dimasa society, Jadikhe Naiso Hosom (JNH) president Dithang Naiding.

Talking to The Sentinel over telephone, Naiding said the recent cases of arsoning were a deep rooted political conspiracy to unleash fratricidal blood bath among the various tribes of NC Hills.

Accusing the State Government, the JNH chief strongly denied the role of Dimasa people in the burning of Guilong Basti, a village mostly inhabited by Nagas. Naiding also said at least 150 NSCN (K) militants had intruded into NC Hills from Manipur.

These Naga militants had secret nexus with pro-talk faction of DHD, the splinter group of Black Widow led by Bihari Dimasa and Dinob Dimasa as well as a section of security forces, he said. Naiding categorically alleged that just prior to the burning of Dimasa villages, security jawans were seen on the spots who reportedly chased away the Dimasa youths who were guarding their villages. Naiding asked all communities to maintain peace and harmony.

Meanwhile, a spokesman of Black Widow alleged that Special Task Force of Assam police IGP RN Singh had been playing a dangerous game in the NC Hills by instigating various non-Dimasa groups against the Dimasas. The spokesman further added that the recent incidents of arsoning was a conspiracy by the State Government with a motive to create communal riot in the NC Hills.

Meanwhile, RN Singh, who had been monitoring the situation from his temporary office at Haflong Circuit House, had reportedly denied the allegation. He however had earlier maintained that the security forces would launch an all-out operation against the Black Widow, which, according to him, was now a weak-kneed outfit.

Army told to probe officer role

Guwahati, May 12 : Gauhati High Court today directed the army to initiate proceedings against one of its officers, Sartaj Mehta, in connection with the killing of two persons in army custody in Darrang district in 2004.
The court also directed the army to pay compensation of Rs 4 lakh each to the family members of the two men.
Mehta was serving as a lieutenant when the incident took place.
The order was passed by a division bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Hrishikesh Roy.
“After examining the evidences and relevant documents, the court found the army’s version that the duo were killed in an encounter as improbable and directed the army to initiate appropriate proceedings against Mehta under Section 302 IPC and other relevant provisions in the Army Act,” said Bijon Kumar Mahajan and Arshad Choudhury, advocates for the petitioners.
A college student and a farmer, both with the same name Pratul Daimary, were picked up by army personnel of 62 Field regiment on suspicion of being linkmen of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) on March 7, 2004. Their bullet-riddled bodies were handed over to local police a day later.
The army claimed that the duo had links with the militant group and were taken to the army camp for questioning. They had apparently agreed to show the armymen where they had hidden their arms. According to the army, on reaching the spot, the student allegedly tried to escape by firing at the army men forcing them to open fire in which the two were killed.
The families of the “victims”, however, said the two were killed in a fake encounter and they had nothing to do with any militant outfit.
Following the killing, the families of the duo filed a petition in the high court seeking action against the persons responsible for the killing and adequate compensation for killing them in the “fake” encounter.
One of the deceased was studying in Amiya Kumar Das College at Dhekiajuli while the other was a farmer, with a wife and three children.

The court verdict went in favour of the petitioners, as there were many contradictions in the army’s version regarding the “encounter”.

SOS: 3 killed in NC Hills

Guwahati | May 11  : The situation in trouble-torn North Cachar Hills in Assam is worsening with latest reports received here that three people have been killed, several others injured and more than 30 houses of a village razed. The people have been gripped by fear psychosis that in the next few days there would be large-scale ethnic violence if concrete and drastic measures are not taken immediately.

On Saturday, in the ongoing violence three persons were killed while some 38 houses were torched reportedly by Zeme youths at a Dimasa village in restive North Cachar Hills. According to official sources, the incident took place at Phoiding village, around 40 kilometers from district headquarters Haflong, around 6 am.

The latest spate of violence has prompted the administration to clamp prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC in the entire district.

Ethnic violence has been going on between the Zeme Nagas and the Dimasa community for sometime now in NC Hills district of Assam. A number of Zeme Nagas were killed earlier in the early part of this year. Even though additional forces have been rushed to the district as a preemptive step initiated by the Tarun Gogoi government, there has been no respite in the violence.

Reports said a group of gunmen swooped down on the village and fired indiscriminately from sophisticated weapons. While two persons died on the spot, another succumbed to injuries in a hospital. Three more injured persons are  undergoing treatment at a hospital in Mahur, sources said.

They added that the houses were set ablaze when the panic-stricken villagers ran for life. Senior officials of the administration rushed to the site to take stock of the situation.

Mention may be made that on Friday, unidentified gunmen torched 13 houses in Dimasa-dominated Jorai village in the district. One person sustained bullet wounds when the militants opened indiscriminate fire. A hitherto unknown ‘Citizens Rights Protection Volunteers’ (CRPV) had claimed responsibility for both the attacks. The group called up local media and threatened to continue with the attacks on the Dimasas, who are in majority in the district.

Sources said that CRPV was a newly-formed insurgent group led by Zeme Nagas and it launched the attack to avenge the purported ban on procurement of rice. The CRPV alleged that the ban was imposed by Dimasa outfit, now in ceasefire, Dima Haolam Daogah (Dilip Nunisa faction). A spokesman of DHD, when contacted, however, dismissed the allegation. Police said that they were trying to find out the identity of the group involved in the incident.

It may be mentioned that earlier in the past a number of lives were lost in ethnic clashes between the two communities in NC Hills. The latest violent incidents are seen as the prelude to full-scale communal riots in the district.

Militants gun down three Dimasa tribals

200 residents
take shelter at
relief camp
Night curfew imposed in the district

GUWAHATI: Suspected militants gunned down three Dimasa tribals and set 43 houses ablaze in a pre-dawn raid on a village in southern Assam’s North Cachar Hills on Saturday, taking the toll in a series of attacks on villages in the district since April 28 to seven.

Two persons were killed instantaneously when the attackers, in battle fatigues and heavily armed, resorted to indiscriminate firing at Phiding, while one of the injured died in hospital. About 200 residents fled the village and took shelter in a relief camp opened by the district administration in a nearby village. Night curfew has been clamped in the district.

Phiding comes under the Mahur police station. The victims have been identified as Nipunjoy Dibragede (22), Thungjen Dibragede and (30) Atolal Dibragede (44).

The attack came a day after a raid on Joraibasti near Haflong. On April 28, four Dimasa women were killed when suspected militants raided Yeah and set fire to all the houses there. Police are still to establish the identity of the militant group behind the attacks.

Firms plan to quit Four contractors have conveyed to the Assam government that they are planning to withdraw from the NC Hills Highway Project, commissioned by the National Highway Authority of India, following the kidnapping and killing of their workers and engineers by insurgents. The contractors are Gammon India, Valecha Engineering, TBL and Continental Engineering Corporation.

“The major road contractors…are facing a huge resistance from the insurgents operating in the area. As a consequence, they are finding it impossible to execute work on the Rs. 800-crore project. Gammon India, Valecha Engineering, TBL and Continental Engineering Corporation are now considering absolute withdrawal from the project, since despite several requests, the authorities are not able to protect the workers. This was conveyed to the authorities at a meeting called by the Additional Chief Secretary to review the development of the NC Hills area,” the companies said in a release.

“The development of the entire NC Hills area is in jeopardy owing to the insurgency,” said S.Y. Warty of Gammon India. “The insurgent groups are controlling the area and are asking for money which we cannot pay.”

Dinesh Valecha, director of Valecha Engineering, said; “A series of events has occurred in the past couple of years. On two occasions, engineers and other staff of Gammon India were shot dead. The staff members of Valecha Engineering Limited were kidnapped and held for 46 days.”

Hsiung Chiang of Continental Engineering Corporation said: “Past incidents have confirmed that the presence of security [personnel] provided by the government has been ineffective in dealing with the insurgents. Unless effective measures are taken to control the activities of the insurgent groups, it is not possible to carry out even maintenance of the existing roads and bridges.”

Assam official tours border

Transborder smuggling a worry, says commissioner
Dhubri, May 9 : Assam home commissioner and secretary Rajeev Bora concluded his four-day visit to Indo-Bangladesh border areas of Dhubri district today.
Bora, accompanied by a host of state as well as district-level officials, inspected the 135.5km Indo-Bangladesh border from Sadar Tila post under Mancachar to Satrasal border of Dhubri sector and took stock of the situation prevailing in the border for the last three days.
Besides inspecting entire aspects of border, from barbed wire fencing to development of border villages, Bora held meetings with police, the BSF, block development officials and National Border Construction Corporation (NBCC) to know the present status of the ongoing projects.
An official source said Bora and other senior officials were shown video clippings of cattle smuggling to Bangladesh through the porous border of Dhubri.
Bora also met the border villagers of Sishumara, Satrasal and Boraibari and discussed their problems and inspected the 9.3km border fencing along the Mosalabari riverine border done by the NBCC.
Asked about his visit, Bora said he had extensively travelled the border areas of the district and taken stock of the situation.
“Many a work in the border areas, including border fencing at Moslabari Char, is progressing and will be completed soon. As far as development of border villages is concerned, I have spoken to the officials and instructed them to follow the guidelines of the Centre while implementing the projects,” Bora said.
Former AASU international border co-ordinator, Enamul Hoque, who met Bora and apprised him about the border situation, said he had brought the issues of river patrolling by vessel, cattle smuggling, trans-border illegal trade and movement of insurgent groups across the border coupled with unabated infiltration, which was jeopardising the national security, to the notice of the home commissioner.
“I have apprised him (Bora) about the ground situation and forwarded some suggestions to stop infiltration from across the border as well as check trans-border smuggling including that of cattle,” Hoque said.
A well known social activist of the area, Md Abdul Naser Alfaruque, who has launched a tirade against trans-border smuggling, said he had already written to former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam Azad, home minister, P. Chidambaram, chief of the army staff, Deepak Kapoor and director-general of the BSF, Mahendra Kumawat, and apprised them about the grave situation on the border.
Alfaruque said the volume of cattle trade is a whopping Rs 20,000 crore since 2003 till date, which is one of the biggest underworld trade in the eastern part of the country controlled by the cattle mafia.
“Our concern, however, is not just limited to cattle smuggling but also rampant trafficking of arms through the porous border and frequent movement of militant outfits,” Alfaruque said.

Assam push to NRC update

Dispur submits documents to Delhi
Guwahati, May 9 : Dispur has submitted two pilot projects and standard operating procedures to New Delhi to kickstart the much-delayed process of updating the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
With this, the state government has overcome the last major hurdle in getting clearance from the Centre to start updating the register, a senior official at the state’s NRC secretariat here told this correspondent today.
The work is expected to start as soon as the Centre clears the standard operative procedures and the pilot projects. New Delhi has also proposed to amend the Citizenship Act rules exclusively for Assam.
The official said the pilot projects would be implemented in the revenue circle of Kamrup district and in one of Barpeta district.
This would cost the state exchequer Rs 2 crore, according to the estimate submitted to the Centre.
The NRC needs to be upgraded to resolve the long-pending issue of foreigners in the state and to check unabated infiltration from across the border.
According to the Assam Accord, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) had fixed March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for detecting and deporting foreigners while preparing the NRC.
The standard operative procedures explains how the state government proposes to upgrade the NRC and what would be the basis of the work. Dispur also submitted a list of documents that would be required to carry out the exercise.
Instead of a house-to-house enumeration, which is the standard procedure for upgrading the NRC across the country, in Assam the work will be carried out by inviting claims from direct descendants of those whose names figured in the 1951 National Register of Citizens or in the state’s electoral roll of 1971.
Assam Accord implementation minister Bhumidhar Barman said in case of a dispute over lineage, the government may even consider conducting DNA test, if feasible.
The Centre has agreed to amend Rule 4 of the Citizenship Act to allow the upgradation of the NRC by inviting claims, the official said.
Officials are hoping that the actual work will start in the two circles of Kamrup and Barpeta districts soon.
An official here said the work would start once the Centre gave clearance to the standard operative procedures and the two pilot projects. The Centre’s nod was being delayed because of the elections, he added.
“We are expecting to start the work immediately after the formation of the new government at the Centre,” he added.

Bandhs to protest deaths

Nagaon/Kokrajhar, May 8 : Normal life was thrown out of gear in the North Cachar Hills and Baksa districts today during two separate bandhs called to protest the deaths of three persons, including a student leader and a pastor, allegedly in the custody of security forces last week.
The 12-hour bandh in Baksa was called in protest against the killing of two youths on April 28 whom the army said were hardcore militants, but who, residents said, were innocent.
The 12-hour bandh called by the ASDC is in protest against the death of one of its senior party leaders allegedly in the custody of the Assam Rifles on Friday at Haflong.
NC Hills police said the bandh passed off peacefully. The family of the victim today received the body from the police after completion of the second post-mortem at GMCH and brought it to his birthplace, Dimapur, for cremation.
The middle-aged ASDC leader and pastor, Liden Jidung, was picked up from his residence in Haflong along with a party worker and a village headman on April 30. The next day, Assam Rifles handed over the body of Jidung to the police, claiming that he was suffering from diabetes and high blood pressure and had died soon after interrogation.
The ASDC claimed that Jidung died of torture in the Assam Rifles camp.
The Baksa district bandh called by All Adivasi Students Association of Assam (AASAA) in protest against the deaths of two youths — its district vice-president Jayanta Sing and Rajesh Bandoa — in an alleged encounter with the army affected life in Adivasi-dominated areas like Mushalpur and Dumni.
Anil Kujur, president of the district unit of the AASAA, said they have filed an FIR against the army at Mushalpur police station for allegedly killing the youths in a fake encounter. The AASAA members will meet again tomorrow to discuss its future course of action.

Train services resume in Lumding-Badarpur section

Haflong (Assam), May 8 North East Frontier Railways resumed train services in Assam&aposs troubled Lumding-Badarpur section today, two weeks after it was stopped due to militant attacks on Railway property.
NF Railway sources said the services were restarted on an&aposexperimental basis&aposand only goods train would run initially in the section.

Tight security has been enforced both along the Railway tracks and in the trains.

Militants belonging to Dima Halam Daoga (Jewel) faction had launched a series of attack on railway property and personnel in North Cachar Hills district both in pre and post Lok Sabha elections held in the first phase on April 16.

Army orders probe into 'custodial' killing

Shillong, May 7 : The Army has ordered a court of inquiry into the alleged custodial death of a pastor in North Cachar Hills district, sources in the Assam Rifles headquarters here said on Wednesday.

Assam Rifles had picked up pastor Liden Judung and two others on charges of having links with militant groups. Judung's body was later handed over to Haflong police on April 30 by the paramilitary force, who attributed the death to his health condition.

The other two men were also handed over in a critical condition.

The Assam Rifles battalion in NC Hills is under the operational command of the Army.

The NC Hills district administration has already ordered a magisterial probe into the alleged custodial death.

Police have registered a case against Assam Rifles amid a flurry of protests in the district over the incident.

Goods train derails in Assam

Guwahati, May 7 : At least 13 wagons and the engine of a goods train derailed on Thursday in central Assam's North Cachar Hills district.

"The train carrying essential items from Lumding to Badarpur jumped the tracks near Dijaobori, between Langting and Maibong stations," Superintendent of Police, N N Sarma told PTI.

"The wagons fell from the tracks, while an engine of the train slipped the rails," he said.

Refuting reports of local TV channel that militants attacked the train, Sarma asserted that "no militants were involved. There was no firing or explosions to derail the train".

Heavy load on the tracks may have caused the derailment, he said.

Northeast Frontier (NF) railway sources said, their officials had rushed there and investigations were on.

Militants belonging to Dima Halam Daoga (Jewel faction) had frequently attacked trains in the district before and after Lok Sabha polls there.

NF railways had resumed their goods train services on an "experimental basis" in the troubled district's Lumding-Badarpur section from Tuesday after it was stopped two weeks ago due to militant attacks on railway property.