Assam, Tripura police to jointly probe ISI activities

Agartala, Aug 31 (IANS) The police in Assam and Tripura are jointly probing the activities of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency in northeast India following the arrest of a suspected ISI agent last month, officials said here Tuesday.

“A five-member police team of Assam came here Monday to take ISI agent Manir Khan alias Omar Ashraf, 30, and his Indian associates to Guwahati for further interrogation,” a police official told reporters.

Manir and six of his associates were arrested by the Tripura police in Agartala July 3.

Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Tridib Chandra Roy Bhowmik Monday granted the Assam police a transit remand of Manir and his associates and directed the police to present before the Kamrup district CJM court within 30 days.

The police official said: “The Assam police are taking the ISI agent and his associates to Guwahati for further questioning and probe in connection with some cases in Assam.”

“We are also sharing information gathered by the Tripura police during cross-examination of the detainees and subsequent probe with our Assam counterparts,” the police official added.

“During questioning, Manir disclosed significant facts and the future ISI plans in the northeast and other parts of India. After his disclosure, a Tripura police team was sent to Guwahati (in Assam),” Deputy Superintendent of Police Harimohan Das told IANS.

“Getting some clues from Manir, Assam police arrested an ISI associate, Bikram Das, from Guwahati last month,” Das said.

Manir, according to police, entered western Tripura from Bangladesh early last month and visited Guwahati and other cities of the northeast to broaden ISI’s network.

Another police official said that Manir, a Pakistani national, had received training in ISI camps at Multan and Bhawalpur in Pakistan.

Spectre of further price rise angers opposition in Assam

Guwahati, Aug 31 (IANS) An apex trade body in Assam has announced that prices of all essentials would shoot up by another 10 percent with immediate effect, triggering angry criticism of the ruling Congress by the opposition parties Tuesday.

The Kamrup Chamber of Commerce (KCC) said the wholesale prices of all essentials were expected to go up by another 10 percent with transportation costs shooting manifold.

“A Supreme Court order recently limited transportation of goods from 22 tonnes to 9 tonnes in a truck and this has led transportation costs to go up, and to overcome that the prices of essentials would have to be increased by at least 10 percent,” M.P. Jain, president of the KCC, said.

The KCC announcement has triggered a wave of protests with the opposition baying for the government’s resignation.

“It is a shame on the part of the state government not to have any control over prices of essentials. We want the government to quit if it cannot check price rise,” Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLA Prasanta Phukan told IANS.

“Transportation cost is just an excuse as the government top brass is in league with black marketers in hiking prices of essentials,” said Atul Bora, general secretary of the Asom Gana Parishad, Assam’s main opposition party.

Assam depends on outside the region for almost all essentials.

“Surviving has become a matter of concern for poor people and the government seems to be least bothered in terms of checking price rise,” said Arun Das, a college teacher.

Meanwhile, Assam Food and Supplies Minister Nazrul Islam said the government would not allow traders to hike prices.

“We shall take tough measures in case traders on their own decide to regulate prices of essentials,” the minister told IANS.

Selection goof-up: Failed candidates turn toppers

Guwahati, Aug 31 : The social welfare department in Assam appointed assistant typists at a time when typewriters became history. But that isn't the reason why it has attracted the Gauhati High Court's rap. In 2005, the Social Welfare department had appointed four assistant typists in Assam's Nalbari district before realising it had only three vacancies. The fourth appointee, Bubul Sarma, approached the court last year after he was told to go.

Almost simultaneously, Majnur Ali of Kotpuha village in Nalbari district moved RTI to find out why he was denied a job after being third in the list of successful candidates.

RTI revealed selection test topper Haridhan Baishya and second-best Runumi Barman had failed their simple math test.

Runumi's father Balendra Nath Barman was also on the selection panel besides being the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) of that area.

Another candidate — Kalpana Majumdar — was among the 15 shortlisted for the post of assistant typist but was mysteriously appointed as supervisor.

On August 20, Justice Biplab Kumar Sarma heard Bubul Sarma's petition and found that the Social Welfare department's defence did not match with the information culled via Ali's RTI application.

Pulling up Social Welfare Director N. Borgohain, Justice Sarma ordered a probe and entrusted it to Additional Assam Police chief BD Mishra. The report is expected by submitted by October. "This judgment will go a long way in undoing the wrong to the candidates who were denied their due," said the appellant's lawyer SK Das.

Two poachers arrested; rhino horn seized

Morigaon, Assam: Police on Sunday claimed to have arrested two poachers and seized a horn of the highly endangered one-horned rhino from their possession in Morigaon district.

Acting on a tip-off, police arrested Nabi Ali and Muzibur Rahman from Borsola village and seized the rhino horn from them, police sources said.

Police suspect that the poachers killed a rhino inside Orang wildlife sanctuary in lower Assam and were taking shelter in the village.

3 poachers arrested in Assam

Guwahati, Aug 21 : Three poachers were arrested when they attempted to kill a rhino inside Assam's Orang Rajiv Gandhi National Park on Friday night, officials said.

''During night patrolling the forest guards spotted the trio and bullets were exchanged,'' a forest official said.

''The poachers have been arrested,'' he added.

The trio have been identified as Md Jainaluddin alias Junu, Alen Khangsai and Md Abbas.

Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts of Assam hit by floods again

Lakhimpur : Floods have again hit Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts in Assam inundating over 30 villages, while the tributaries of the river Brahmaputra were rising above the danger mark.

With heavy rains lashing Lakhimpur district since yesterday, flood waters overran new areas in Nowboicha revenue circle, official sources said today.

Over 30 villages of Nowboicha circle including Rohali, Pandhowa North, Pandhowa South and Pandhowa East villages were inundated by the Singra river, the sources said.

The Lakhimpur district administration has provided essential commodities to the flood victims of Nowboicha circle, which was hit by the first wave of flood on April1.

Lakhimpur district deputy commissioner Jayant Narliker visited the affected areas.

Dhemaji district, on the other hand, was hit by a third wave of floods since Wednesday following heavy rains in the adjoining areas.

Due to heavy rainfall the water level of Simen river was rising above the danger level resulting in inundation of 12 villages under Jonai sub division, the sources said.

The sources said that erosion by the river also threatened villagers of Lakhimpuria, Dadhara, Rangpuria, Siman and SC Village under Chomkong Gaon Panchayat.

Dhemaji district deputy commissioner Dr P Ashok Babu has directed department officials to closely watch the situation.

Assam police picket fired on in border area

GUWAHATI: Suspected NCSN (K)activists today fired at a Assam police picket injuring a constable of Assam police in Charaipung area along Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border in Sibsagar district.

Official sources said around 2.30pm, suspected NSCN (K) ultras fired on a picket of the 11 Assam police battalion. There were reports that Assam police retaliated.

Constable Naresh Terong was injured in the firing.

Patrolling have been intensified in the area following the incident.

Assam law minister Pranab Gogoi and Arunachal Pradesh home minister Tako Dabi held a meeting in the disputed Bimalapur area of Charaipung sub division yesterday and decided to take confidence building measures and restore peace in the region.

Since August 14, NSCN (K) militants have encroached Assam's territory and indulged in arson and firing.

School student caned and injured by headmaster

Rangiya (Assam), Aug 19 (PTI) A class VII student was seriously injured and hospitalised after being allegedly caned by the headmaster of his school in Assam's Kamrup (Rural) district today, official sources said.

The boy, Noor Hussain of Borigog Balak Vidyalaya, was allegedly talking and making a noise in the class when the headmaster, Pabitra Sarmah, entered the classroom and began caning the boy without asking any questions.

The boy, who was beaten all over the body, fainted and the headmaster himself rushed the student to a local hospital from where he was referred to the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (gmch).

The headmaster, along with the parents of the student, have taken him to GMCH, and the police was waiting for the headmaster to return to interrogate him.

2 killed in Assam over B’deshi migrants' issue

Guwahati, Aug 19: Two people were killed and six others injured when miscreants opened fire in northern Assam's Udalguri district on Monday, Aug 16.

Many were hut between two communities over the issue for harassing genuine Indians in the name of detecting illegal Bangladeshis, said officials.

To condemn the killings the students' group, All Assam Student's Union (AASU) will go for strike on Friday, Aug 20

"The need of the hour is to show restraint and calm and not to believe in rumours as it could flare up the situation," said Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.

Community leaders held their meetings to stop further clashes and sources said, many villagers had fled their homes and took shelter in offices and schools

"Adequate security measures have been taken with army, police and paramilitary troops deployed in strength, to restore calm in the area," the police official said.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi also appealed, all groups not to take law into their own hands.

The infiltration issue is on the boil in Assam after the Gauhati High Court recently pronounced a verdict declaring 61 people as foreigners after which police moved into action and began a drive to arrest the accused and push them back across the border.

Hundreds block NH in Assam

Guwahati, Aug 19 : Hundreds of agitators today blocked the National Highway 37 for about three hours in Kamurp (rural) district, demanding a separate Garo Autonomous Council.

The protestors, under the banner of Ajanajatia Surakasha Mancha, tried to march to the Lokpriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport at Borjhar and stage a demonstration there.

However, police and district administration prevented them from reaching the airport and kept them confined at different locations on the main road leading to the airport. The protestors squatted on the road and blocked the national highway since 1100 hrs. People going to the airport were particularly affected by the blockade, with many people alleging that they missed their flights due to delay in reaching the airport because of the blockade. The protestors later dispersed and held a meeting at a local field. Demanding a separate Garo Autonomous Council, they warned of intensified agitation if their demands were not met with.

'Assam will get total tourism infrastructure this year'

Nagaon, Aug 18 : Assam would get a total facelift in its existing tourism infrastructure by the end of this year, Assam Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain said here on Monday.

For development in the tourism sector in the state, the Assam state government has decided to complete the tourism infrastructure, the minsiter said.

During an inaugural function of Food Craft Institute at Samaguri in Nagaon district, Hussain said, “For development the tourism sector, Assam government has managed a grant Rs 123 crore from the Centre in last five years.”

Hussain further said, “Assam with its scenic beauty and rich flora and fauna, is famous for one horn rhino, mighty Brahmaputra river, the world’s largest river island, green forests, tea garden and Kamakhya temple and a variegated culture. Besides, Kaziranga National Park in Assam is the first National Park to be listed in the UNESO’s world heritage site, which could be a sizeable destination for the tourists. We have urged to Union Tourism Ministry to project the Assam as an ideal destination.”

“To attract both domestic and foreign tourists, it is of utmost importance to provide services of international standard to the visitors, and the Assam Government has taken various steps, including distributing luxury vehicles among unemployed youth, especially for tourists.” Assam Forest Minister added.

Assam Tourism Development Corporation’s Commissioner Secretary M S Sangson, Managing Director Deepak Goswami, Director Manalisha Goswami, Nagaon District Commissioner Omprakash, Kaliabor SDO Subrata Roy Bardhan also attended the function.

Assam student critical after assault by teacher

Guwahati, Aug 11 - A 13-year-old student in Assam is battling for life at a hospital after he fainted in the classroom following physical assault by his teacher.

Sailan Bardhan, a Class 8 student of Vivekananda Higher Secondary School in the western Assam town of Bongaigaon, is now in the ICU of a local hospital.

Class teacher Gopal Krishna Ray beat the student so severely that he became unconscious -- the immediate provocation for the assault was that Sailan requested the teacher to mark him present in the attendance register as he entered the classroom a little late.

'We saw our teacher boxing and slapping Sailan in his face and chest and back and he was frothing and then fainted,' said a student of the private school.

The teacher later fled the school, but resurfaced in the afternoon.

'The student was talking and disturbing others and so I slapped him without thinking he would faint,' the teacher said.

The school management ordered an internal inquiry into the incident.

Two months ago, a Class 6 student became Assam's first fatality to corporal punishment -- the child was physically assaulted by two teachers for not completing his homework.

Mousam Raj Mahanta, 12, died at a city hospital in Guwahati with doctors claiming his death was due to septic shock followed by multiple organ failure.

The incident took place at the Saraswati Siksha Niketan, an English medium school, at Mirza on the outskirts of Guwahati.

Interestingly, the Assam government in February introduced a tough law banning corporal punishments in schools with provision for prosecuting errant teachers, including suspension and even termination from service. The Assam Corporal Punishment for Educational Institutions - Bill is likely to become a law when it comes before the state assembly next month.

The decision to introduce the bill follows a recent Unicef study that gave Assam schools the dubious distinction of topping the list of Indian schools where corporal punishment and humiliation of students were rampant - 99.56 percent of students in Assam schools were victims of corporal punishment.

Once this bill becomes an act, a teacher could be prosecuted on a criminal charge, suspended from service, and even face termination of service, if found to have indulged in corporal punishment.

Assam will appoint 8000 teachers

Guwahati, Aug 11 : The Assam Government is now ready to appoint 8000 teachers in the vacant posts at various schools across the state, a top official said on Wednesday.

“Around 8000 posts of teachers are lying in vacant and the state government has already decided to fill up all the vacancies," said Education Minister of state government Gautam Bora at a press conference here on Wednesday.

Bora further said, “Education department has taken up steps to appoint additional teachers on contractual basis in various schools, where there is shortage teaching staff.”

Talking about development of education in the state, the Education Minister said, “The state Government has taken several steps for development of education in the state. As a part of the development, Class V will be included in the lower primary section and Class VIII will be taken in the upper primary section.”

“In next academic year, Class IX and Class X will be included in secondary education,” Bora added.

Meanwhile, National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) syllabus will be introduced from Class I to Class VIII in the state from next academic year.

The Assam state Education Minister also said provincial college teachers will be allowed to draw their salaries as per the revised scale of UGC. The payment will be made in the enhanced scale from September.

Illegal migrants’ issue rocks Parliament

NEW DELHI, Aug 9 – Even as the State’s freedom fighters’ bodies have sought President Pratibha Devisingh Patil’s intervention in resolving the problem of illegal Bangladeshi migrants, the issue rocked both the Houses of Parliament on Monday.

While Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) MP Kumar Deepak Das raised the remarks made by Gauhati High Court last week, describing the entire deportation process as ‘farce’, BJP’s two Lok Sabha MPs, Bijoya Chakravarty and Ramen Deka called for immediate sealing of the Indo-Bangladesh border and resumption of the process of updating the National Register of Indian Citizens (NRIC).

It was the delegation of five freedom fighters from Assam, who were invited by the President to be honoured ahead of the Independence Day celebrations, which submitted two separate memorandums high-lighting several of the State’s woes including the North Cachar Hills (Dima Hasao) district scandal.

Under the aegis of Swatantra Senani Kalyan Samiti (SSKS) and Kamrup District Freedom Fighters Association, the freedom fighters called for a halt to all election process in the State pending ‘correction of voters list. They suggested that President’s Rule should be imposed in the State and measures taken to identify and deport all illegal migrants and clean the rolls of all suspected voters, the delegation led by Jatin Goswami said.

The foreigners have stood as a great danger to the nation. States like Assam are real victims of this problem socially, economically and politically. Foreigners enrolled their names in the voters list and have become a decisive force in the elections. It has been complained that they have been used as the vote-bank of some political parties, they alleged.

The Rajya Sabha witnessed bedlam, when Kumar Deepak Das raising the issue of illegal infiltration said that it was surprising that an illegal migrant from Bangladesh filed a writ petition in the Court, leading the Gauhati High Court to express its concern.

At this MPs belonging to BJP, Shiv Sena, TDP, Siromani Akali Dal and SP came out in support and demanded a clarification from the Government.

Assam is celebrating the silver jubilee of signing of the Assam Accord but there is no sign of deportation of the illegal migrants.

In the Lok Sabha, Bijoya Chakravarty made a Zero Hour statement mentioning the encroachment of Indian Territory by Bangladesh in the eastern sector. Since it came into being Bangladesh has been encroaching upon acres of land belonging to Assam in the bordering districts of Karimganj, Silchar and Dhubri.

Moreover, what is disturbing is that it is on the porous border. In fact, in the bordering areas, a lot of smuggling has been done without any hindrance, she said

Even the Assam Revenue Minister admitted this. “That is why, I want to bring this serious matter to the attention of the House so that something is done to stop the encroachment on land by Bangladesh,” the MP said.

Joining issues, Ramen Deka through a separate Zero Hour notice said due to unabated infiltration from Bangladesh, the demographic complexion is going to change in Assam. The indigenous people of Assam are going to be reduced to minority.

The situation was so grave that the then British Superintendent of Census in 1931 wrote, “Probably, the most important event in the province during the last 25 years, an event, moreover, which seems likely to alter permanently the whole future of Assam and to destroy more surely than did the Burmese invaders of 1829, the whole structure of Assamese culture and civilisation has been the invasion of a vast horde of land hungry Bengali immigrants, mostly Muslims.”

“We can gauge the situation from the statement of the then Home Minister, who stated in this Parliament on May 6, 1997 that there were 10 million illegal migrants in India,” he said.

Assam youths protest outside Didi's home

KOLKATA: Even as railway minister Mamata Banerjee was busy in Lalgarh, a group of youths from Assam's Barak Valley held a demonstration outside her Kalighat residence in south Kolkata on Monday to protest the delay in converting the Lumding-Silchar railway line into broad gauge.

The "indefinite hunger strike", staged by All Barak Youths and Students Association (ABYSA), was withdrawn, however, after Union minister of state Dinesh Trivedi and Mamata's close aides in the railway ministry talked to them, promising speedy action. It was learned that Mamata herself had asked Trivedi to talk to the agitators when she heard about the dharna while going to Lalgarh.

ABYSA leader Baharul Islam Barbhuyan said progress on the gauge conversion of the Lumding-Silchar railway line, important for people staying in the Barak Valley, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur, had been tardy. Though the project was started in 1996 and declared a national project in 2004, only 37% of the work had been completed till now.

According to him, a bottleneck was at "the No. 10 tunnel", over 3 km long, just beyond New Haflong station. Barbhuyan feared that a "transport lobby" could be active to delay the process of gauge conversion. While travellers mainly use long-distance buses on the route, foodgrain and other items to Barak Valley in Assam and the three northeastern states are ferried mostly in trucks. He blamed the "contractor and transport lobby" even for some of the underground activities in the area and attacks on railway employees engaged in gauge conversion work.

At Mamata"s residence, the ABYSA representatives were assured that the railway ministry would talk to the office of the general manager, construction, of Northeast Frontier Railway so that steps are taken to expedite the work within seven days.

According to a railway website, a reason for the delay in progress of work is the poor condition of the Lumding-Silchar highway.

Assam allows forest officials to use firearms

New Delhi, Aug 7 : The Assam government has authorised the use of firearms by forest staff to ensure better protection of its forests and wildlife, an official said on Friday. "The order also provides immunity to forest officials from prosecution without prior sanction in case of firing incidents," VK Bisnoi,
principal chief conservator of forests (general), said on phone.

He said: "Forest officials in the past needed a licence to use firearms. Now they don't need one and are at par with the police. They will be able to use firearms like SLR rifles and other weapons."

He added that all forest officers from front-line staff to the senior-most members of the department can use firearms.

However, a magisterial enquiry will probe the firing cases and criminal proceedings can be initiated against erring officials if the use of firearms is proven "unnecessary, unwarranted and excessive", the order released by the governor's office July 14 said.

"We have been waiting for this order for a long time. When we approached Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Forest Minister Rockybul Hussain, they were very supportive and agreed on the need for this order," the official said.

He said: "We are currently checking if the police has spare weapons that we can take. It will depend on the availability of funds for buying new weapons."

The NGO Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) said that the measure will help tackle mounting threats to forests and wildlife in protected areas.

The under-equipped front-line staff have been in a disadvantage position when fighting organised poaching gangs, it said.

WTI coordinator Rathin Barman said: "It will give a big boost to their morale, as forest officials will now have the same powers as the police."

NC Hills scam 12 accused remanded to judicial custody

GUWAHATI, Aug 7 – The Court of the Special Judge NIA, Assam, today remanded the 12 accused in the NC Hills Autonomous Council scam to judicial custody till August 19.

According to advocate Ashim Talukdar who is representing Niranjan Hojai, Jewel Garlosa and Samir Ahmed in the court, though 12 of the accused including his clients RH Khan, Mohit Hojai, and Thoujendra Hojai. George Langthang, Jayanta Kumar Ghosh, Sandeep Ghosh, Devasish Bhattacharjee, Maltha Kimi, were produced before the court by the authorities and Babul Kemprai who is on bail, appeared before the court himself, Samir Ahmed was not produced as he was reportedly sick.

While Jewel Garlosa is lodged in the Kahilipara Special Jail (quarter no-11), the rest except Babul Kemprai are detained in the Guwahati Central Jail.

The court today supplied Niranjan Hojai with his copies of the cases, Talukdar said. He also clarified that the court has directed the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to ask the accused only those questions which are not yet asked by the CBI and the NIA, for, the subject matter of NIA-1, NIA-2 and Special Case no-10 of 2010 cases are similar to the Enforcement Directorate cases.

Significantly, the court has permitted the ED to interrogate all the 13 accused in the Guwahati Central Jail, Talukdar said.

Gogoi to undergo heart surgeries tomorrow

MUMBAI: A 20-member team of doctors will perform two heart surgeries on Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at the Asian Heart Institute here on Wednesday.

"The surgeries are complex, but not complicated and we expect the chief minister to be fully fit and back to normal work in about four weeks," Dr Ramakant Panda, renowned cardiac surgeon and managing director of the Asian Heart Institute, told IANS.

The chief minister would require two surgeries - a bypass surgery and another surgery to replace an aortic valve with 70 to 80 percent blocks in two blood vessels.

"We would be taking about six to eight hours for the surgeries and then he would be in the hospital for about three weeks before we allow him to go back to Guwahati and resume his normal work," Panda said.

The chief minister complained of breathing problems and a rise in blood pressure July 24 while attending the meeting of the National Development Council in New Delhi chaired by prime minister Manmohan Singh.

He was then admitted to the Max Hospital in New Delhi and later shifted to the Asian Heart Institute.

"I would like to thank all the people of Assam for their support and wishes for my speedy recovery," the chief minister said.

The cardiac surgeon said the chief minister's health parameters were normal and there should be no problems during the surgeries.

"All his health parameters are absolutely fine and, more than that, his self confidence is pretty high and hence we are happy about it," said Panda, who also led the team of doctors that carried out a bypass surgery on Manmohan Singh last year.

"I love taking up challenges and risks," Panda said.

He and his team are credited with performing about 12,000 heart surgeries, including hundreds of cases which most other doctors declared inoperable.

Panel to consider Manas danger tag

National park’s fate to be decided at World Heritage Committee meet ROOPAK GOSWAMI
Guwahati, July 31: After long years of wait, Manas finally has something to cheer about. The site will now be considered at the World Heritage Committee’s next session for removal from the World Heritage in Danger list.

“The site will be considered for removal from the list at the committee’s 35th session,” Mariam Kenza Ali, World Heritage conservation officer at IUCN, told The Telegraph by email from Brasilia, where the 34th meeting of World Heritage Committee is currently on.
She said there has been a change in the decision because of the new information submitted by the Indian delegation concerning the status of wildlife population.
The decision now also asks for an IUCN/ Unesco mission which will visit the site in spring 2011 and examine the data on wildlife population, to determine if the site is ready to come off the list.
Manas Wildlife Sanctuary was made World Heritage Site in 1985, but in 1992 it had to be put in the endangered category because of insurgency and various other factors.
Ali said IUCN is of the view that the site has made good progress and is ready to assist the government in analysing the results of wildlife monitoring and the surveys planned for 2010 and 2011, including a key tiger survey which is already being carried out.
As the government had not submitted the report on the state of conservation, requested by the World Heritage Committee at its 33rd session in Seville, Spain, the implementation of the corrective measures were difficult to assess.
However, IUCN has received reports from its network of scientists and members on certain aspects of the state of conservation of the property. The reports indicate that the park authorities, in collaboration with conservation NGOs, had recently developed wildlife monitoring techniques to maintain a database.
A number of conservation NGOs including Ashoka Trust for Research in Ecology and the Environment (ATREE), Aaranyak and WWF-India, among others, will soon begin surveying the property’s tiger population and are currently monitoring the population of swamp deer, Hispid hare, Bengal florican, pygmy hog and the relocated one-horned rhinoceros.
The report says that the efforts to monitor wildlife population are welcome as these will be essential for demonstrating a clear upward trend in wildlife population. It will also allow a future decision on the removal of the property from the World Heritage in Danger list.
It further says that IUCN received reports of several local ecotourism groups building roads and other infrastructure within the property without the park authorities’ permission.
The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recommend that the government should monitor the activities of these groups and increase control of vehicle movement. They recall the 2008 reactive monitoring mission’s recommendation to build a regional vision for its tourism development. “This has been taken care of now,” a park official in Manas told The Telegraph.
The IUCN has also received reports that the Sashastra Seema Bal on the Indo-Bhutan border is attempting to set up base camps within the property. The World Heritage Centre and IUCN recall that instability and presence of insurgent groups in the past were the origin of increased poaching incidences, which led to the inscription of the property on the list of World Heritage in Danger. They recommend that the governnment continue its efforts to ban these camps.


In sync with subaltern traditions

Ashley Tellis

Activist at the core: Kamal Kumar Tanti
Photo: By Special Arrangement.
Activist at the core: Kamal Kumar Tanti Photo: By Special Arrangement.
A close, felt observation of the world defines the poetry of Kamal Kumar Tanti, which probes into the culture of the Adivasi ex-tea garden labourers in Assam. He speaks to Ashley Tellis on what motivates him to write…
Kamal Kumar Tanti is a promising young voice in contemporary Assamese poetry. He belongs to the Adivasi Tea-Garden Labourer community in Assam. His first collection Marangburu Amar Pita (Our Father Marangburu), published in 2007, won him the prestigious Munin Barkotoki Literary Award for 2008. His poems have been included in various anthologies of Assamese poetry and featured in various journals. Tanti's collection of prose, Nimnaborgo Somaaj Oitijya (Subaltern Society's Legacy) comprised articles on post-colonial theory and subaltern historiography, with specific reference to colonial history and culture of Assam and was published in September 2007. He also writes fiction. His forthcoming collection is Uttar-Ouponibeshik Kabita (Postcolonial Poems)
Why do you write in Assamese? Do you speak the language at home?
Writing is an integral part of my activism, I believe and I feel I am more an activist rather than a poet or a writer. My poetry is a kind of diary of different experiences of mine. Writing is primarily a thought process for me. Language is the second most important concern for any writer or poet. If you consider the most practical situation and consider a young boy from Assam, mostly trained to speak Assamese, then inevitably that language becomes the immediate medium to express his voice. The community I officially belong to (Ex-Tea Garden Labourer community) has a colloquial language called Sadri. We speak both Sadri and Assamese at home. I write in Assamese with the objective to reach out to a larger audience. Even if the minority communities speak in the majority's language, they can be heard. My voice is for freedom, for people, against injustice, against colonialism and neo-colonialism.
What do you think about the assimilation of all tribal writing by the Assamese (by bodies like the Asom Sahitya Sabha) into the category ‘Assamese'? Isn't this a form of internal colonialism?
Definitely, there are some representations of tribal legacy and culture assimilated into the mainstream Assamese literary tradition, but I believe that is not the whole picture. What we have observed in the last few decades is that basically all tribal writings are always independent from the mainstream Assamese literary tradition and the mainstream Assamese middle class never showed any serious concern towards tribal writing in Assam. If you take into account the literary traditions from Assam, then you will find very distinct literary productions like Bodo literature, Tiwa literature, Karbi literature etc., as well as mainstream Assamese literature. Asom Sahitya Sabha is now delegitimised by the Bodo Sahitya Sabha, Karbi Sahitya Sabha and other bodies with their distinct identity, language, culture and literature. This has happened gradually after the infamous Assam Movement. The main idea behind this was to come out of the internal colonisation and to establish distinct identities based on the respective literary and cultural traditions of the aboriginal communities.
What would you say are the themes of your writing?
Writing poetry is an integral part of my social activism that started when I joined a Marxist Study Circle in my hometown as a neophyte. Gradually, my activism taught me to become a vocal, close observer of past and contemporary situations. In the process, I became conscious about socio-economic and political situations. I write what I see, what I feel, what I understand, what I see as politically correct.
History is the undercurrent of my poetry. By colonial conspiracy, my predecessors from the aboriginal greater adivasi clans were extirpated from the boondocks of Orissa, Jharkhand, Bihar, Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal and were engaged as tea garden labourers by the British in the fertile land of Assam. There is a definite lack of historiography of the events leading to our being absorbed in mainstream Assamese cultural milieu, how much of our identity remains different and so on. I believe I have not deserted my past, where I come from. Subaltern conventions and culture saturate me and they are in sync with my consciousness, ideologies embedded in my subconscious mind. Subaltern traditions and people are buried deep in my being. Pain and suffering, love and well-being, the indescribable dialectic of conflicts that constitute the flow of life and beyond are my concerns. And my poems are only attempts at the exposition of these.
Do you see the romanticisation of your culture as one of the dangers you have to warn yourself against in your writing?
I believe that any creative writer has to cross the barriers of romanticisation and should look into the dirty reality beyond that. As a poet, I can differentiate between romanticism and realism. Through my writing, I always want to discover the reality behind any instance, any incident. On the other hand, romanticism also helps people to go beyond romanticism itself and visualise a world without hegemony, without repression. I am always worried about the danger you have mentioned. I would like to work among my people and understand and re-discover the reality behind romanticisation. All my poems depict my search for my own identity and are actually based on some real experiences.
What do you think of the treatment of the tea tribes in Assam?
I disagree with the naming of our community as “Tea-tribe”. Is there any community in this world named after a commodity? It is the best example of the colonial domination of British, and later the internal colonialism taken over by power-hungry, middle-class Assamese. It is true that our forefathers migrated or were brought from different parts of Adivasi-dominated areas of India during the British colonial period. What I believe is that we are an integral part of greater Adivasi nationality of India. The mainstream, middle-class Assamese is yet to consider us as a part of greater Assamese nationality, though from time to time, they claim we are. It does not mean that if we speak Assamese we are Assamese. We have never seen the middle-class Assamese consider us as Assamese. Rather they always used to call us “Coolie-Bengali,' just like the minority Muslim community in Assam is called ‘Miya' or ‘Bangladeshi,' even though we studied in Assamese medium schools, and adopted Assamese culture. The main question is the identity, and in that, middle-class Assamese never considered that we have a first identity – Adivasi. After that only, we have a second identity ‘Assamese,' if they consider us so.
The community I belong to is backward, both socially and economically, since the British colonial period and far from getting what they should get from the state or other agencies. I think most of us are treated as people who are not capable of any good work other than physical labour. I feel we are not considered by most Assamese people as their own people. We are treated by most Assamese people as upper caste people treat lower caste people, with a sense of superiority.
What do you think of the translations of your work and of the need for translation?
Yes, I am always worried about “translation” but not only of my own poetry. There is always a scarcity of good English translators of Assamese poetry. Among the younger generation, there are only a few good translators. Manjeet Baruah was the first translator of my poems into English and I am grateful to him for it.
Translating poetry is always necessary as through any poem, we can explore a poet as well as his/her socio-economic and cultural background.
More importantly, we can explore different communities, races, people, landscapes, nation, and politics and histories. Poetry always captures and carries the essence of any lived experience, at any point of time, space and history.