4 NDFB bombers linked to Assam serial blasts held

GUWAHATI: Four members of the outlawed National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), directly involved in the October 2008 serial explosions in Assam, have been arrested in separate raids by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) sleuths, officials said on Friday.

A CBI spokesperson said Rahul Brahma was arrested on Thursday from Zero town in Arunachal Pradesh where he was taking shelter with his wife and child for the past few days.

Brahma is the one who allegedly drove a Maruti 800 car packed with explosives and parked the vehicle at a crowded business hub in Panbazar on Oct 30, 2008. The car bomb went off killing eight people and wounded up to 30 others.

A total of nine near simultaneous explosions rocked Assam that day killing 100 people and wounding 500 more, all the blasts blamed on the NDFB.

In another raid, CBI officials held three NDFB bombers from Kokrajhar in western Assam - all of them directly linked to the explosion at Bongaigaon town.

The trio of B. Onsai, Indra Brahma and Lukhra allegedly rode a motorcycle packed with explosives and parked it in front of a shop in a crowded street in Bongaigaon, about 200 km west of here.

An alert shop owner informed the police about the unattended motorcycle - a bomb disposal squad towed the motorcycle for defusing, but for some technical reasons the bomb went off before it could be defused, injuring two policemen.

"All the four arrested are directly linked to the serial blasts and we consider it a major success and we hope to catch a few more soon," CBI Superintendent of Police N.S. Kharayat said.

"Vital clues were provided by NDFB chairman Ranjan Daimary during our nine days interrogation," the CBI official said.

Daimary was handed over to Indian authorities May 5 by Bangladesh and is now in the custody of Assam Police. Earlier, the NDFB terror mastermind was in CBI custody for nine days until Tuesday.

"Daimary has confessed to the crime of masterminding the serial explosions and said the explosives were procured locally from Assam and also from Bhutan," the CBI official said.
The CBI had already filed a chargesheet naming Daimary and 19 more NDFB militants for the serial blasts Oct 30 2008 in Assam.

Soaring vegetable prices hit commoners

GUWAHATI, May 28 – Whether it is dispute on the border of Assam-Meghalaya, hike in the railway freight charges or the pre-monsoon rainfalls, vegetable market in Assam is bearing the brunt of all these resulting in an unprecedented price rise of fresh vegetables.

Whereas common people are badly hit by soaring vegetable prices, a strong need is being felt to launch an effecting price control mechanism, so that the unscrupulous traders cannot cheat people citing false reasons.

“The truth is that many factors have jointly affected the vegetable market this time and the traders are also suffering for this. Moreover, fresh vegetables cannot be stocked by the dealers for very long, thus the market prices are fluctuating rapidly,” said Brajen Das, a wholesale vegetable dealer of the city.

The tense situation in Lampi on Assam-Meghalaya border resulted into a shortage of vegetable supply in Guwahati for a few days. Though the situation has improved a little, the wholesale price of quality ginger from Mahim have increased to Rs 70-80 per kg. The wholesale price of good quality garlic is also around Rs 50-60 per kg.

As per the existing wholesale market rate of vegetables today, the price of per kg tomato is Rs 25, which is being sold in retail market at the rate of Rs 35 to Rs 45 per kg, depending on the variety, quality and also the location of the market. Now, tomatoes from Barabanki (UP) are being supplied in the State via Siliguri market. Cabbage, high in demand in food joints, big restaurants, etc., is selling at Rs 13-14 in wholesale market, whereas its price in retail is Rs 25 to 32. The round aubergine is Rs 15 per kg in wholesale and the retail price recorded in different markets varies from Rs 25 to Rs 35. “Though there is an increase in the market price of the vegetable, there are some markets, where vendors demand much higher prices, due to the lack of a price control mechanism,” Runmi Das, a housewife, mentioned.

The wholesale rate of bitter-gourd (tita kerela) is Rs 16-17 and the retail price is around Rs 26-32. The summer favourite cucumber is available in retail market at the rate of Rs 18-26 against a wholesale price of Rs 10-12. The ridge-gourd (jika) with a wholesale rate of Rs 14-15 is being sold at the rate of Rs 30-42 in retail. In Fancy Bazar wholesale vegetable market, the rate of the best quality pointed gourd (patal) is Rs 15-16, which is not less than 28-38 in retail. The teasel gourd (bhat kerela) selling Rs 20-22 in wholesale is more than Rs 50 at some retail markets. Similarly, green peas with at wholesale price of Rs 60 is selling anywhere between Rs 80 to Rs 100 per kg. The Asian string beans (lesera) are being sold in retail at the rate of Rs 24-35 against a wholesale price of Rs 15-16 per kg.

“In Guwahati, the condition is much better that some other parts of the State, where vegetables are supplied from Machhkhowa, Fancy Bazar and Bamunimadam wholesale markets through buses. In upper Assam, some of the vegetables are selling at a much higher rate,” mentioned Manjur Ali, a vegetable supplier.

Gas cracker project opens opportunities to invest in plastic

The Centre and the Assam government have undertaken an ambitious plan to encourage small and medium entrepreneurs to venture into the plastic industry which will get a boost with the commissioning of the Assam Gas Cracker Project in 2012.

The gas gas cracker project coming up at Lepetkata in Dibrugarh district would open up opportunities for investment in the plastic industry as a downstream project, state industry minister Pradyut Bordoloi said.

The minister told a seminar recently that Assam government has taken several steps to create awareness about opportunities in the plastic industry among youths.

Altogether 1,500 youths have been already trained outside the state on trades required for the project, with another 3,000 to be sent soon for training at the National Academy of Construction at Hyderabad.

A manpower development programme has also been compiled by the state government which proposes to offer new courses in the state engineering colleges.

Besides a well chalked out manpower and skill development programme, the government has also taken up an ambitious project to establish a plastic park in an area of 1,500 bighas in Tinsukia district of Upper Assam.

Bordoloi pointed out that the recently concluded North East International Plasto Fair was organised to showcase new product ideas and processing techniques to take the plastic industry a few steps forward.

''There are immense expectations of the people on the economic benefits of the Gas Cracker Project and there is an urgent need for credit support especially to the first generation entrepreneurs for setting up downstream industries,'' the minister told the seminar.

The first generation entrepreneurs need special care in handling and, therefore, they must be guided, whereever necessary, while extending credit support, North East Development Finance Corporation's chairman cum managing director K N Hazarika observes.

In case of some banks, the plastic was kept in the non-priority sector which may restrict credit support, but the state government has assured that it would take up the matter with appropriate authority so that the banks can take up the downstream projects on a priority basis, he said.

On the issue of security for financing, it was felt that for commercial banks credit upto Rs one crore under Credit Guarantee Scheme could be sanctioned without collateral while regional rural banks can extend the facility upto Rs 50 lakh, Hazarika said.

Union Industry and Commerce Minister Anand Sharma told the seminar that the Centre would support any initiative taken by the plastics industry for promoting 'Green Techonology' and for promoting measures for safety, health and environment.

Record crude throughput in Assam’s NRL

Guwahati, May 26: The Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) in Assam’s Golaghat district has recorded a crude throughput of 2.62 Million Metric Tonnes (MMT) during 2009-10, the highest ever in the history of its operations.

NRL’s previous highest crude throughput of 2.57 MMT was recorded in 2007-08, a NRL statement informed.

Distillate Yield (yield of high value liquid petroleum products) of NRL during 2009-10 was recorded at 85.32% showing an improved performance against previous year’s figure of 84.72%.

By virtue of adopting advanced technologies such as extreme high pressure-temperature Hydrocracking, NRL’s Distillate Yield is one of the highest amongst refineries in the country.

The refinery’s Specific Energy Consumption, a measure of energy efficiency in operation, during 2009-10 was recorded at 67.6 MBN, again an improved performance compared to 70.7 MBN a year ago.

On the safety front, the refinery has been able to sustain its excellence in performance with achievement of 14.09 million loss time accident free man hours as on March 31, 2010, thereby ensuring that there has not been a single loss time accident during the last 8 years and 1 month.

NRL also achieved another feat in being the first refinery in North East to produce and dispatch Euro-IV grade Motor Spirit (Petrol).

NRL is currently implementing a Diesel Quality Upgradation Project with a cost involvement of Rs 435 crores that would enable production of Euro-III and Euro-IV grades of High Speed Diesel (HSD) at 100% capacity utilisation of the refinery.

During the year ended 31st march, 2010, NRL’s profit before tax grew by 13.2% to Rs. 361.71 crores while profit after tax was posted at Rs. 232.08 crores.

On retail marketing front, NRL’s per pump throughput (PPT) during 2009-10 was 256 KL per month for North East and 234 KL per month on all-India basis, which were higher than respective industry average figures.

NRL’s retail market share in North East has reached 13% as on 31st March, 2010.

NRL’s Retail Outlet at Jorabat has remained the highest seller amongst all oil companies in the entire Eastern Region of the country. Significantly, nearly 90% of NRL’s retail sales are through outlets certified by M/s DNV against stringent Quality & Quantity protocols.

Rhino drug reaches Assam

Guwahati, May 24 : The Assam forest department will finally receive a consignment of ethorphine — the immobilising drug for rhinos — which eluded it for nearly two years.

The drug was cleared by customs at Delhi airport and will be reaching Guwahati shortly.

“It has been a learning experience for all of us as we had to pass through numerous channels to get the drug. It can be an excellent case study for anybody conducting rhino translocation in India,” Amit Sharma, co-ordinator of rhino conservation, WWF-India, told The Telegraph.

Sharma said the authorities were confident that the second phase of rhino translocation under the Indian Rhino Vision could begin by the end of the year.

Assam has set up a task force to manage the translocation, which is a collaborative effort with WWF-India and the International Rhino Foundation. The second phase of the translocation hit a hurdle when the Wildlife Pharmaceuticals Pty Ltd, a South African company, could not supply ethorphine to the forest department.

The Central Bureau of Narcotics had not placed an indent (an order) for it with the International Narcotics Control Board.

The state forest department immediately wrote to the Central Bureau of Narcotics to place an indent, as the import permit was expiring on May 9.

Sources said it was impossible to buy the drug in wholesale as it could be used for only one year. The funding agencies were anxious to see the second phase started, as it required raising huge amounts of money.

The staff have been trained and the logistics like crates are also ready for the translocation. “Any further delay would have led to more problems for the programme itself,” a source in the forest department said.

The forest department has also got an import licence in its name.

Though 18 rhinos will be translocated in the second phase, at least six to eight will be transferred by the end of the year. The goal of Indian Rhino Vision 2020 is to increase the total rhino population in Assam from 2,000 to 3,000 by the year 2020 and to ensure these rhinos are distributed over at least seven protected areas.

The first two rhinos from Pobitora to be translocated to Manas have been doing well for two years.The rhinos are staying at the Bansbari range of Manas National Park.“The two have acclimatised nicely and are being monitored,” a field official in Manas said.The ages of the rhinos are six and seven years.

Three other rhinos rehabilitated under a Wildlife Trust of India programme are staying in the same area.

An 8-km electric fence has been erected to stop rhinos and other wild animals from straying.

For the first phase of the translocation in 2008, the department had procured the drug from Singapore with the help of an international agency.

Centre takes stock of Lampi situation

R Dutta Choudhury

GUWAHATI, May 24 – Concerned over the situation in Lampi in Assam-Meghalaya border after the recent flare up, the Government of India reviewed the situation and a senior officer of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also visited Lampi area to hold talks with people belonging to both Khasi and Nepali communities.

The Union Home Minister, P Chidambaram, who is scheduled to visit Assam shortly, in also likely to discuss the issue and to decide on steps to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future.

Deputy Secretary of the MHA, Ajoy Kanojia, who was sent to Assam and Meghalaya on a fact finding mission, told The Assam Tribune that during his visit, he spoke to the senior officials of the Home Departments of both Assam and Meghalaya to assess the situation. He visited Lampi area yesterday along with the Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police of both Kamrup and West Khasi Hills district to take stock of the situation on the ground.

Kanojia said that the purpose of his visit is only to find facts and to appeal to the people to maintain peace. He expressed the view that the Governments of Assam and Meghalaya would have to settle the boundary disputes and the common people should not be affected by the disputes. The area where the incident took place is within the constitutional boundary of Assam and if there is any dispute, it should be settled by the Governments of both states, he added.

The MHA official said that he had spoken to the people belonging to both Khasi and Nepali communities living in Lampi area and appealed to them to maintain peace. “I also requested them to constitute peace committees comprising members of both the communities to ensure that such incidents do not occur in future,” he added. He said that people from both the communities submitted memorandum to him on their demands. The Khasi people demanded setting up of a border outpost of Meghalaya police for their security, while, the Nepali people also ventilated their grievances.

However, at the same time, Kanojia admitted that it was not possible for him to make a comprehensive assessment of the problem within hours and only said that the clashes and the police firing were unfortunate and the possibility of some provocation cannot be ruled out. He also pointed out that as the Government has already ordered a magisterial probe into the incident of police firing, both the communities should now maintain peace.

Meanwhile, official sources said here that the situation in Lampi area is now fully under control and senior officers are visiting the area every day to take stock of the situation. Police presence in the area has been increased and two new police posts have been set up in the area to maintain law and order. Official sources also said that “some provocations” led to the unfortunate incident as there were reports that people were encouraged not to participate in the census operations of Assam days before the incident took place.

Assam’s young entrepreneur spinning out silk faster

By Peter Alex Todd

Guwahati, May 20 (ANI):A young entrepreneur from Assam has been trying to change the conventional method of weaving silk.

Dipak Bharali has come up with a new weaving device to boost productivity and incomes in the weaving sector.

Sualkuchi is the richest silk pocket in Kamrup district of lower Assam.

For years, weaving here has followed conventional methods.

Now, Bharali, a science graduate who started his own weaving venture in 1998, has developed a device called “Extra Weft Insertion in Handloom for Frugal Handloom Design”.

It will help to increase the output of conventional looms three-folds. And, for this achievement he got the prestigious President’s State Award in 2009.

“When this machine will be available in the market then income of weavers will be three times which is near about Rs.6000. So, I believe the unemployed can reap benefit out of this industry,” said Bharali.

Conventionally, the task of insertion of weft threads to make a variety of designs is done manually by tying knots.

This is tedious and cumbersome.

Dipak’s device reduces the insertion time to one-third the time required in a traditional loom.

“I would like to fulfill the requirement of my village. I want to spread this work in all over the country. So that other people can also reap profit out of this, which leads to increase in the economy of the country as a whole,” he added.

Dipak used the new device in his looms on an experimental basis and got wonderful results with the productivity of his looms going up by three times.

Sualkuchi has around 8,000 handlooms and Dipak is confident that his device will boost productivity that in turn will generate better incomes for the weavers. (ANI)

Nexus between forest guards and poachers in Kaziranga

A nexus between a section of forest guards and poachers involved in rhino poaching in Kaziranga National Park has come to light with the arrest of seven persons, including a retired forest guard on Tuesday, police sources said.

Golaghat Superintendent of Police Madan Chetia told PTI that a joint operation was launched in Bokakhat area and three persons travelling with a rhino horn to Dimapur in neighbouring Nagaland were apprehended.

Based on their interrogation four others, including a retired forest guard, were apprehended from two villages.

Later, the joint team of police and forest personnel raided the residence of another forest guard, Tarun Ganak, and recovered Rs 2.97 lakh though he managed to escape.

Ganak is a muster-roll worker in the forest department and is deployed at Kohora range of the Park.

A rhino horn, a vehicle and Rs 3.95 lakh was seized from the poachers.

The poachers have been identified as Majibur Rahman, Manik Ali, Bijan Das, Anant Baruah, Lakhi Barua and Nabi Hussain.

NIA probe unearths gross irregularities

R Dutta Choudhury
– The National Investigating Agency (NIA) has stumbled upon some glaring financial irregularities in the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council while probing into a specific case of politician-militant nexus in the hill district and only a thorough probe can unearth the details of such irregularities. Though Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, following widespread demands from different quarters and advice of the Union Home Ministry, announced the State Government’s decision to entrust the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the financial irregularities, the probe by the Central agency is yet to start.

Official sources told The Assam Tribune that the NIA’s mandate was very limited as it was given the task of probing only one case of politician-militant nexus. But while probing the case, the agency came across some glaring irregularities and in the chargesheet, the NIA stressed the need for probing the financial irregularities by the CBI.

Sources said that the NIA, during the course of the investigation, found a number of papers, which probed large-scale irregularities in the financial dealings of the council over the years. Sources said that all the financial norms and regulations were flouted blatantly and unfortunately, no step was taken to audit the accounts of the Autonomous Council to ensure financial discipline. Only recently, the Government has initiated steps to go for an audit of the accounts and concerned over the large-scale irregularities, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) is planning to amend the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India to bring in more financial discipline in the Autonomous Councils formed under the provisions of the Schedule.

Some of the documents proving glaring financial irregularities in the NC Hills Autonomous Council, which were found by the NIA during the course of the investigation, are now in possession of The Assam Tribune and the documents proved beyond doubt that no financial rule was followed while taking out huge amounts of funds from the coffers of the Autonomous Council. Crores of rupees were taken out of the coffers of the Autonomous Council by giving orders on plain papers by senior officers and also by the Chief Executive Member and Executive Members of the Autonomous Council over the years and no one knows where the money taken out in such ways were spent. There have been instances when officers and CEM and EMs ordered payment to departments and firms only on their own pads without mentioning the projects against which the money was utilized.

In one such paper recovered by the NIA, one officer of the rank of Deputy Commissioner ordered the account cell of the Council to issue requisitions and cheques in favour of the PS to the NC Hills Autonomous Council Mission Director of Agriculture Mission and Executive Engineer of the PWD. Interestingly, the DC ordered issue of a cheque amounting to Rs 18.50 crore to the PS, NCHAC and though the money was released, no one knows where the amount was spent.

There have been a number of instances of contractors and firms giving receipts acknowledging receipt of huge sums of money on plain papers instead of doing so on the formal pads, which is a major financial irregularity.

Sources said that whenever an autonomous council is under the Governor’s rule, it is not unusual for the Governor to sanction any project. But it is unusual for the Governor to order release of specific amount of funds. In one of the papers recovered by the NIA, the Additional Secretary to the Governor’s secretariat wrote to the Administrator of the Autonomous Council that the Governor approved a detailed action plan of horticulture and agriculture and directed that an amount of Rs 1 crore should be released to the Agriculture department immediately. What is interesting is that the typed letter said that the Governor ordered release of Rs 1 crore and later the letter was edited with a pen and Rs 1 crore 50 thousand was released.

Sources admitted that only a thorough probe by an agency like the CBI can unearth the exact amount of the money siphoned off from the council coffers and bring to book those involved in the financial irregularities.

Assam Colleges to shed Plus II

Dispur to start with three government institutions from 2011
Guwahati, May 14: Dispur has finally decided on a roadmap envisaging a “smooth phase-wise” delinking of Plus II courses from degree colleges by 2016, starting with three government colleges next year.
The education department had been working and reworking on the draft roadmap since November 2009, accommodating and allaying concerns about the move, making it clear that the state has no option but to embrace the delinking as it is already late by 50 years. Of the options considered earlier, one was the possibility of setting up the plus-two section within the degree college set-up itself, to work around the shortage of both teachers and infrastructure.
The highlight of the action plan includes the withdrawal of 200 seats each from the premier Cotton College in 2012 and 2013 so that it can be developed into a centre of excellence by solely concentrating on higher education and research from 2014.
H.M. Caire, additional chief secretary, education, confirmed the department’s move to approach the cabinet with the roadmap “hopefully” by June as it was the latter which would eventually take a call on the move with likely dates for its launch.
The department is worried that the colleges’ reliance on plus two has deprived most of these institutions from growing, reflected as it is from the availability of only 3,000 post-graduate seats in the state.
“It is too little too less. Most are deprived from pursuing postgraduate courses and other job-oriented courses while many who get seats, do not get through, affecting their employability. Delinking is not a new suggestion. Almost all education commissions since 1903 have mooted separation of Plus II from degree colleges. Even in small towns in Bihar and UP, we have colleges offering postgraduate courses. Here, either you have to go to Dibrugarh or Guwahati or Silchar to do a PG course in most cases. How many can afford it?” a department source argued.
“One reason for people from other educationally-advanced states getting jobs here is because we do not have qualified people here. Once the delinking is through, the colleges can use the available infrastructure to introduce more job-oriented and PG courses. We are already late by 50 years. The damage has been done but now we should realise that the delay will further compound the problem of employment in the state as well as growth of these degree colleges. It’s a choice we have to make but it better late than never,” the source said.
A section of teachers and academicians are opposed to the delinking of Plus II classes from degree colleges on the ground that the higher secondary schools neither had the infrastructure nor adequate faculty to cater to the additional load of students.
However, the sources argued that the fears were misplaced. The phase-wise implementation, they maintain, would allow the government to provide necessary infrastructure.
The directorate of secondary education is on the job of assessing the existing infrastructure and the estimated requirement by way of classrooms, faculty, library and lab facilities.
Dispur is most likely to tap funds under the centrally-sponsored Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan (RMSA), launched in 2009. The move will help set up new secondary schools in deficit areas and strengthening of infrastructure in the existing ones, among others. The World Bank has evinced interest in funding the Centre’s flagship programme.
“The idea is to target the colleges offering arts followed by commerce and science so that we can take care of the infrastructure bit. Haflong, Kokrajhar and Diphu government colleges will be the first to be de-linked next year. Degree colleges offering Plus II courses is unacceptable by the University Grants Commission. It will also not accept running of junior colleges from the same campus. At best, it can be a temporary arrangement,” a source said.

Assam police fires after clash in village

Shillong: Assam police personnel opened fire after a clash broke out between two communities at a disputed village along the Assam-Meghalaya border today, officials said.

The incident took place around noon at the disputed Langpih village, bordering Meghalaya's West Khasi Hills district and Assam's Kamrup district, about 150 km from here, they said.

The reason of the clash is yet to be ascertained. Additional security personnel led by senior officers from both the states have rushed to the spot, officials said.

"There was a firing. We are yet to know the casualty," West Khasi Hills SP M Kharkrang said.

There have been frequent reports of tension between settlers in Langpih, an area which is claimed by both the states citing contradictory documents from history and land records.

A joint committee headed by Assam minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and Meghalaya minister Prestone Tyngsong is examining the problem to resolve the land dispute issue.

During the last meeting of the committee, it was agreed that beside the dispute at Langpih which was at the centre at the present juncture, the endeavour should also be to resolve 12 other areas of difference between the two states that had stretched for too long a period.

Frequent incidents of clashes among residents of either sides have been reported from the disputed areas.

Outcry over bid to hike power tariff

Assam proposal opposed
Guwahati, May 13: Residents and industries have opposed the power tariff hike proposed by the Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) at a public hearing organised by the Assam Electricity Regulatory Commission at the Assam Administrative Staff College here today.
The power distribution company had proposed a hike of 17.86 paise per unit to meet an increase in fuel and power purchase costs.
The hearing comes in the wake of a petition filed by the company with the regulatory commission on December 22 last year, requesting a fuel price adjustment, with additional power purchase costs for APDCL and Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd for the fiscal 2008-09.
The regulatory commission’s chairman, J. Barkakati, chaired the hearing.
The Assam Branch of the Indian Tea Association (Abita) challenged the admissibility of the petition.
“It is not understood under what provisions of the Electricity Act, 2003, the power purchase adjustment could be carried out in the middle of the year. If this process continues it will virtually lead to a revision of tariff in the middle of the year, generally not permitted under the act,” said K.P. Ray, the technical consultant on electrical matters to Abita.
The chief co-ordinator of Consumers’ Legal Protection Forum, Ajay Hazarika, urged the commission not to allow any hike in power tariff.
He said the consumers should not be made to pay for the APDCL’s inefficiency.
The company said it was facing severe financial constraints in procuring power from sources at considerable additional costs.
In order to meet this deficit, it has asked the commission for the hike.
Consultant engineer J.N. Khataniar said the petition was not maintainable, as the difference between fuel prices and total costs was not provided.
“The petitioner should have shown the per unit cost of each power stations for 2008-09 with respect to the previous years and the reasons for variations,” he said.
The representatives of the North Eastern Small Scale Industries Association said the APDCL should minimise its transmission and distribution loss, which is about 30 per cent, and increase its collection efficiency so that the burden of its inefficiency does not pass on to the consumers.

Last ASDC stalwart Warissa joins Cong

Nagaon, May 7: Senior Autonomous State Demand Committee leader and former Rajya Sabha member Prakanta Warissa joined the rival Congress, along with hundreds of his supporters, at a meeting at Haflong cultural hall today, eroding the three-decade long stronghold of the committee in Dima Hasao district of Assam.
A high-level team of Congress leaders reached the hill district headquarters yesterday to participate in the special district committee session, where Warissa formally joined the party.
“All party related matters were resolved here before. Today’s joining is just a formality,” said a senior district Congress committee leader.
Party district unit chief and local autonomous council chief Samarjeet Haflongbar greeted Warissa, who reached Haflong cultural hall along with 400 supporters.
Haflongbar presided over the meeting where state-level party representatives Y.L. Karna and J.H. Rana Khan were present as special guests.
Warissa was the last elected ASDC leader to join the Congress. Fifteen others and eight BJP members of autonomous councils joined the Congress last year. “My 15-year political career taught me that the struggle for this hill district as a representative from a small regional party is impossible. I joined the Congress for the greater interest of peace and overall development of the hill district,” Warissa told The Telegraph.
Warissa, originally from the Dimasa Students Union (DSU), joined the ASDC in 1995. He was serving as the chief executive member of then NC Hills Autonomous Council and Rajya Sabha member from 1996 to 2001.
Warissa contested as the ASDC candidate from Haflong constituency in the 2006 Assembly election. In 2007, he was selected the district unit president of the party.
“Now we are stronger than before. We hope our newly enrolled members might work more to bring the party nearer to the Dima Hasao public,” Haflongbar said in his address.
“In the 2007 district council election, we had just two elected members. This came down to one after senior party leader V. Sangson died. Hamjanon Langthasa from the BJP was the first elected member (East Maibong) to join the Congress. That was followed by former chief executive member Debulal Hojai and 20 others. There is just Kulendra Daulogupu from the BJP as the only Opposition member,” said a Congress source after the meeting.
The ASDC today claimed that Warissa’s departure could do no harm to the party.
“He left our party long ago and was trying to go to the ruling Congress. We are replacing him,” said ASDC chief Somang Kro.

Bodos cry discrimination

Tribal organisations see bias in treatment meted out to Daimary; citizens decry trend
Guwahati/Kokrajhar, May 6: A group of organisations representing tribal communities today accused the government of trying to create a division between tribals and non-tribals in the state by making a distinction between the arrested founder of the National Democratic Front of Boroland, Ranjan Daimary, and Ulfa leaders.
Bodo organisations also picked up the cudgels, decrying the “big brother” attitude of the Assamese intellectuals on the issue, saying this trend would further alienate the Bodos from the Assamese.
At a news conference, representatives of the Janajati Nagarik Mancha, the United Democratic Peoples’ Front, Guwahati Jyestha Deori Nagarik Sanstha and the Thengal Kachari Nagarik Sanstha expressed concern over the “difference” in treatment meted out to the NDFB founder and Ulfa leaders like Arabinda Rajkhowa by police and civil administration.
This, they felt, could drive a wedge between the tribal communities and the mainstream Assamese society.
The president of the Janajati Nagarik Mancha, Lakhmi Nath Pangging, alleged that the government had adopted a discriminatory attitude towards Daimary despite of the fact that there is little difference between the NDFB and Ulfa, since both are extremist outfits with similar ideologies.
“We are deeply hurt at these developments since it has sent out a message that the government is making a distinction between tribals and non-tribals,” he said.
Pangging said though Rajkhowa’s family members were allowed to meet him when he was produced in court, the same was not the case with Daimary’s sister.
Criticising a section of the media, he said Daimary was made out to be a “demon” for his alleged role in the October 30 blasts whereas it was silent about Rajkhowa’s alleged role in Dhemaji blasts.
They also frowned upon the decision of a lawyers’ association not to take up Daimary’s case.
The All Assam Lawyers’ Association, the state’s apex lawyers’ body, has sent out an appeal asking colleagues not to plead for the alleged mastermind of the October 30 serial bombings.
The organisation said the Sanmilita Jatio Abhibortan — the state-level convention held here on April 25 to facilitate talks between the government and Ulfa — could have also included the NDFB.
The secretary of the steering committee of the Sanmilita Jatio Abhibortan, Dilip Patgiri, however, denied the allegations that they have taken a discriminatory attitude towards NDFB.
In Kokrajhar, however, Bodo organisations were offended.
Promode Boro, the president of the All Bodo Students’ Union, castigated the role played by some intellectuals and the media which he said reflected their “anti-Bodo and anti-Mongoloid” mindset.
“It showed that they are still unable to accept the Bodos and people of Mongoloid race as part of the so-called greater Assamese society,” he added.
“We have nothing to say on the arrest of Ranjan Daimary but he must not be made a monster when other rebel leaders are projected as saviour of the masses,” he added.
The apex Bodo literary organisation, Bodo Sahitya Sabha, has also expressed its displeasure in the way Daimary’s case was interpreted and projected by a section of Assamese intellectuals.
“The way Daimary has been projected is bound to bring further division among the people of the state,” said sabha president Kameswar Brahma.
The All Bodo Post-Graduate Youth Federation and Federation of Bodo Youth said such indifferent attitude was alienating the Bodo people.
“The has proved once again that the mentality of the so-called Assamese intellectuals towards the indigenous people has not changed in all these years,” said B. Brahma of the federation.
The Ex-Bodo Militants Development Committee also appealed to the state government to provide justice to the arrested NDFB leader.