One killed as Assam tea planter opens fire at irate mob

Guwahati, March 22 – A schoolboy was killed and four injured Monday when a tea planter, accused of physically abusing a tribal woman, opened fired on an irate group of garden workers in Assam, police said.

A police spokesperson said the incident took place at the Rani tea estate on the outskirts of Guwahati when hundreds of locals and plantation workers went berserk after the tea planter, Mridul Kumar Bhattacharjee, attacked the woman.

‘A tribal woman from a nearby village was taking a short cut through the garden to reach another village when the planter caught hold of her and started beating her and also tore her clothes. Soon a large number of locals and garden workers arrived and tried to attack the planter who then took out a licensed weapon and fired at the mob,’ a police official said.

A Class 8 student Pradep Murali was killed and four more, including a woman, were injured in the firing.

‘The planter managed to escape and went into hiding,’ the official said.

The mob then set ablaze two factories and several offices and vehicles of the garden and prevented fire tenders and police from arriving at the spot.

‘Women and children sat and some of them slept on the road preventing fire engines from entering the garden,’ the official said.

The Rani tea estate is a privately owned medium sized plantation located close to the airport.

Three killed in gang rivalry in Assam

Three people were killed Monday in a fight between two rival car lifting gangs in Assam's main city of Guwahati, officials said.

A police spokesperson said the bullet-riddled bodies were found near Panikheti on the outskirts of Guwahati around 6 a.m.

"Preliminary investigations indicate the killings were a result of some internal differences between the two gangs of car lifters," a senior police officer said.

Police identified the victims from their driving licenses - Vamilla Sailo from Mizoram, Lakhsman Rai from Laskarpara, Jailpaiguri in West Bengal, and Homen Narzary from Kokrajhar in Assam.

"A Scorpio vehicle was recovered from the site of the incident and we believe this vehicle was probably stolen by the gang," the official said.

A number of mobile handsets, fake vehicle registration papers, and stamps and seals were recovered from the victims.

"Investigations are on and we have some leads and will soon be able to nab the killers," the official said.

Assam assembly resolution on NRC

Guwahati, Mar 17 (PTI) The Assam assembly today passed a resolution fixing March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date for updating the National Registrar of Citizen (NRC).

Taking up the resolution in the House, Minister for Assam Accord Implementation Bhumidhar Barma said there was a consensus to fix March 25, 1971 as the cut-off date and the base year for updating the NRC.

The NRC issue had become controversial with several Muslim parties opposing 1971 as the base year and demanding that the cut-off date be 1966.

The minister said down the years a consensus was arrived at and the government was in favour of passing a resolution to end the stalemate and hasten the process of preparing the NRC which will have the names of 'genuine' citizens.

BJP member Mission Ranjan Das demanded protection for the Hindu refugees who had fled from Bangladesh prior to 1971 and were staying in the country.

Assam Construction rules to be more stringent

GUWAHATI, March. 10 The State Cabinet today decided to make the regulations of construction of apartment buildings in Guwahati city more stringent, official sources said.

Sources said that the Cabinet, at its meeting chaired by Chief Minister, Tarun Gogoi, discussed in detail the proposals for making all-out efforts to protect and preserve the water bodies.

The Cabinet also decided to release the salaries of the employees of the North Cachar North Cachar is a region of northeast India dominated by the Hmar tribes.

Hills Autonomous Council. The employees of the Council have not been paid their salaries for the last few months.

The Cabinet further decided to waive stamp duty Stamp Duty

Stamp duty

Applies mainly to international equities. on loans taken by farmers up to Rs 50,000, sources added.

Mising Council secy issue rocks House

GUWAHATI, March 10 Opposition members of the State Assembly today expressed serious concern over the arrest of Principal Secretary of the Mising Autonomous Council, Gargaram Pegu with cash amounting to Rs 16.35 lakh yesterday and sought clarification from the Government in this regard.

Leader of the Opposition Chandra Mohan Patowary raised the issue immediately after the Question Hour and said that the arrest, which came close on the heels of the huge financial scam in NC Hills Autonomous Council, is a matter of serious concern. He said that conflicting reports came out in the media about the incident as some papers reported that the arrested person brought the money to be paid to some Ministers, while, some others claimed that the money was to be paid to militants.

The Minister-in-charge of Welfare of Plains Tribes and Backward Classes, Pramila Rani Brahma said that the Commissioner, Northern Assam Division, has been entrusted with the responsibility of investigating into the matter.

But the Oopposition members were not satisfied with the Minister’s reply and Bhuban Pegu (Ind) said that a probe by the Commissioner, Northern Assam Division, would not serve any purpose as he (Commissioner) is now in charge of the Council. He also said that immediately after the arrest of Pegu, Brahma tried to defend the arrested person with her comments on a TV channel.

The Forest Minister, Rockybul Hussain clarified that Pegu was arrested in Mangaldoi with Rs 16.35 lakh and a case has been registered against him under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. He said that the interrogation of the arrested person is now on and assured that the Government would place the interrogation report in the House.

Our Mangaldoi Correspondent adds: Gargaram Pegu, who was detained by police last afternoon was remanded to judicial custody this afternoon. According to Prithipal Singh, Superintendent of Police, Darrang on the basis of the FIR lodged by Sanjukta Parashar, Addl SP (HQ) Nalbari, a case (No.-204/2010) has been registered at the Mangaldoi PS under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Assam Opposition seeks order in House

Guwahati, March 6 : Agitating Opposition parties returned to the state Assembly after extracting three commitments from Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai that he would henceforth “conduct” the business of the House according to rules, ensure security of members and expunge unparliamentary exchanges.

Leader of the Opposition, Chandra Mohan Patowary, announced the decisions at a meeting convened by the Speaker.

The Opposition leaders, including Patowary, AIUDF’s Sirajuddin Ajmal and BJP’s Mission Ranjan Das, squatted in front of the Speaker’s chamber this morning when he did not take any action on the resolution adopted by the Opposition parties after yesterday’s walkout.

The walkout was in protest against health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma’s “vitriolic personal” attack on former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and the “threat” issued to him which was construed as a threat to security to all Opposition members. The parties also protested the Speaker’s inability to control the situation and for being biased towards the ruling party.

Having got the wind of the Opposition’s move to prevent the Speaker from starting the proceedings, deputy Speaker Pranati Phukan started the question hour.

However, the Opposition stuck to its demand for security, equal treatment inside the House and expunging of unparliamentary exchanges.

The House was adjourned first for two minutes and then for 30 minutes to sort out the issue amicably.

After the meeting, involving Congress members Pradyut Bordoloi, Rockybul Hussain, Bhupen Borah, Opposition leaders Patowary, Das, Ajmal, Independents Bhubon Pegu, Jiten Gogoi and a few others, the parties decided to extend their support to the Speaker to conduct the business of the House.

Patowary said he was satisfied with the outcome and hoped that such developments would not be allowed in future.

“Adjournment of the House is an unprecedented development. Contrary to what the government thinks, the Opposition is united and constructive. Today our strength has only increased after Independents Pegu and Gogoi joined us in the meeting with the Speaker,” he said.

Incidentally, two of the Opposition members, including Brindaban Goswami, who were inside the House during question hour were not aware of the gherao. They came to know of it when they came out after finding their colleagues missing.

When the House re-assembled, both the ruling party and Opposition tried not to interfere during each other’s submission.

HC stops Assam govt from appointing primary teachers

Guwahati, Mar 6 The Gauhati High Court today restrained the Assam government from appointing primary school teachers till regularisation of the Operation Black Board (OBB) teachers without leave of the court.

A division bench comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Biplab Kumar Sharma directed the government not to appoint upper primary and lower primary school teachers till regularisation of the OBB teachers without leave of the court.

The court after hearing a writ petition against the recent decision of the government to appoint teachers restrained such appointments and fixed the case for further hearing after four weeks.

The state Chief Secretary Prafulla Sarma was personally present along with the Secretary, Education department during the hearing as ordered by the court.

CAG slams Assam for slow pace, lauds fiscal transparency

New Delhi: Assam government has been rapped by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India for slow pace of various developmental programmes and absence of a proper monitoring mechanism for their proper implementation.

The CAG, in its latest report, also slammed the state government for failing to comply with various rules, directives and procedures in carrying out such programmes.

"State Government's compliance with various rules, procedures and directives was unsatisfactory as is evident from delays in furnishing utilisation certificates against the loans and grants from various grantee institutions," the CAG said.

Holding that there were instances of "losses and misappropriations" in implementation of various schemes by autonomous bodies and other authorities, the CAG said departmental inquiries in such cases should be expedited to punish the guilty.

Picking holes in implementation of the urban water supply scheme in the state, the CAG said the objective of the programme was defeated as most of the projects under it were not properly implemented.

"The state government under centrally sponsored and state plan schemes implemented water supply projects in various areas during 2004-09. The objective of providing safe drinking water to targeted beneficiaries was not fulfilled as only eight per cent projects were recorded to have been completed," the CAG said.

However, the report complimented the Assam government for doing well in establishing an institutional mechanism to ensure "fiscal transparency".

Assam Speaker gheraoed by opposition members

Guwahati, Mar 5 Assam assembly Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai was today gheraoed by oposition members demanding deletion of certain unparliamentary remarks made in the House by a senior minister against former Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta.

Ten minutes before commencement of the proceedings, the opposition members led by their leader and Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) President Chandra Mohan Patowary squatted in front of the chamber of Rai urging him to expunge the remarks made by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma against Mahanta in the House yesterday.

The opposition had staged a walk out on the issue yesterday.

Later, a meeting between Rai and the opposition was held and the Speaker agreed to expunge all the remarks.

Pregnant women suffer in Assam rural hospitals: committee

GUWAHATI: An assembly committee on Welfare of Women and Children in Assam has expressed concern at the sufferings of pregnant women in rural hospitals due to severe lack of doctors, staff and equipment.

The committee's chairperson Jonjonali Baruah, MLA, said, "Due to lack of adequate doctors, nurses and supporting staff in the public health centres, community health centres and civil hospitals, all patients particularly the pregnant women suffer a lot at the time of admission to these health centres."

After a survey on all the rural hospitals in the state, it was found that doctors were reluctant to be posted in villages, she said.

In its report submitted to the assemely, the committee, she said, recommended that the health and family welfare department officials should visit these centres to find out the number of doctors and supporting staff required to be appointed.

The rural hospitals should be immediately provided with generator sets, X-ray machines, ambulances and ICU as most of them lack such facilities, she said.

The committee expressed happiness at the government's numerous welfare measures for the poor in the state but
lamented that the department concerned had not taken adquate
measures to spread it amongst the rural people.

The government should take steps to make rural people aware of the welfare schemes through public meetings, camps, street plays and leaflets as most of the village homes have no television where the schemes are publicised.

On the existing women welfare homes, Baruah said the members were appalled by the dilapidated condition of the houses where the female inmates were living.

Each inmate was paid Rs 27 per day for her daily diet which was insufficient and the committee members urged the government to raise the amount so that the women got proper food.

Stating that child labour was prevalent in the state, the committee urged the social welfare department to take steps to educate the parents of such children on the role of education to make them self reliant.

CAG finds anomalies in Assam transport operation

Guwahati, Mar 6 The Comptroller and Auditior General of India (CAG) has found serious anomalies in the operation of state-owned Assam State Transport Corporation, including weak financial management.

The CAG report, which was presented at the ongoing budget session here, found that the Corporation could not recover the cost of operations in any of the five years under review which was mainly due to operational inefficiencies, weak financial management and inadequate monitoring by top management.

Recently the ASTC had roped in private bus operators under its banner to boost its earning in a state where the majority of people are dependent on road network in the absence of rail connectivity to several districts of the state.

"The Corporation could not keep pace with the growing demand for public transport as its share declined from 2.86 per cent in 2004-05 to 2.32 per cent in 2008-09", it said.

Assam Rifles Motorcycle Rally flagged off

A motorcycle rally of Assam Rifles was flagged off by Governor of Haryana Shri Jagannath Pahadia, here today as part of the celebrations of 175 years of Assam Rifles. The Rally team comprises of one officer, one JCO and 28 men.

The Rally will have 14 legs and will traverse 2500 km in a span of 20 days. After flagging off at Delhi, the rally will travel by train to Guwahati. The rally will then commence its journey from Guwahati. Each leg will be flagged off by a prominent person at respective locations and will cover all the important places in all the states of the North East as depicted in the sketch on the back cover.

In order to spread goodwill and awareness, series of entertainment and awareness programmes are to be conducted at different locations keeping in mind the peculiarity of these places. These include symposium on aids awareness, malaria and related disease awareness programmes, quiz with children, motivational talk on Assam Rifles and procedure of recruitment. Sports activities such as volley ball matches will also be played with the local population.

The motor cycle rally will be a befitting ambassador of peace for the Assam Rifles as it passes through all the states of the North East and spreads the message of harmony. This rally will serve as a morale booster for the troops, both serving and veterans to reminiscences the glorious 175 years and to build spirit-de-corps. Besides it will implore all ranks to serve the Nation with renewed vigour and determination.

Centre didn’t force me for CBI probe into NC Hills scam: Gogoi

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday denied the opposition charge that he had been "forced" by the Union Home Ministry to ask the CBI to probe the multi-crore North Cachar Autonomous Hill Council scam and said it was only a request which he complied with.

"There was no direction. In fact, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram did not raise the issue during our recent meeting," Gogoi told reporters here.

The chief minister said that his office had received a letter from the Home Ministry requesting him to ask the CBI to probe the matter on February 22.

"I was in New Delhi when the letter (from the Home Ministry) came here and then I asked my principal secretary to fax it to me the same day following which I immediately took the decision (CBI probe)," he said.

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Pleading ignorance of the NIA chargesheet and its report that government officials were involved in the scandal, the chief minister said he would write a letter to the Union Home Ministry asking the names of the officials.

Tragic death

Villagers look at the body of an elephant near a railway track in Deepor Beel Wildlife Sanctuary on the outskirts of Guwahati in Assam. The female elephant was one of two knocked down by a train. The other elephant which was pregnant was seriously injured. It gave birth after the accident. The baby was rescued by forest guards and sent to the Guwahati Zoo for treatment.