Encephalitis claims 53 lives in Assam since January

Fifty-three people died due to encephalitis and 362 others suffered from acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) in Assam since January this year.

Another 24 positive cases of Japanese encephalitis were detected during the period, NRHM state surveillance officer Dr B C Bhagabati told PTI.

Dibrugarh district in upper Assam accounted for the maximum deaths (13), he said. Ten of the deaths were reported this week, he said.

Three deaths were reported in Dibrugarh, two each in Sonitpur and Darrang, while one each in Jorhat, Lakhimpur and Morigaon districts.

Kamrup (Metro) where Guwahati is situated had 29 incidences of the disease during last six months.

As preventive measures, he said, the government has stepped up fogging and DDT spraying, intensified the ITBN (Insecticide Treated Bednet) scheme besides holding awareness programmes in villages.

Exodus continues, Assam mine workers return home

GUWAHATI: Kapiluddin Sheikh, the sole bread earner of a family of six, is distraught since he and 10 other fellow coal mine workers left Nangalbibra in Meghalaya's South Garo Hills district on Monday, a day after eight workers were killed by armed miscreants in the area on Sunday.

"We somehow managed to hire a car and left Nangalbibra in the evening. There was so much tension among the coal mine labourers following the killings that we couldn't risk our stay," Kapiluddin, a resident of Mancachar in Assam's Dhubri district, said.

"Leaving our place of work was a big loss for us financially. We run our families from the money we get by working in Garo Hills coal mines. But when we saw other labourers leaving the place in hordes, we couldn't muster the courage to stay behind," Kapiluddin, who earns about Rs 10,000 a month, added.

The killing of a labourer last week following rumours of rape of a mentally challenged woman and the Sunday mayhem, created panic among migrant workers. Sunday's incident triggered exodus of migrant workers and over 3,000 people have left Garo Hills since then. The exodus is still continuing.

With workers leaving Garo Hills for their homes in Goalpara and Dhubri districts, tension has mounted on the Assam side of the inter-state border too. The two districts share a border with Meghalaya and the Assam side also has sizeable Garo population.

Goalpara DC Pritam Saikia said vigil along the inter-state border areas have been stepped up. "We are working with Meghalaya government to prevent escalation of violence. Army is also on alert," Saikia said.

"We have seen many cars packed with workers from Garo Hills entering Assam on Tuesday," a police officer at Kukurkata along the Assam-Meghalaya border said.

The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), however, accused both the Meghalaya and Assam governments of creating a similar situation like that of Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD) in the neighbouring state. Last year, nearly 100 people were killed and about five lakh people displaced in an ethnic conflict between Bodos and Bengali-speaking Muslims in BTAD.

"We are dismayed over the way Muslim workers are attacked and killed. While Meghalaya government failed to save lives of the workers, the Assam government has failed to ensure safety of its people in the neighbouring state," Muslim Youths Forum Against Communalism, Terrorism and Sedition secretary, Alim Ullah, alleged.

30,000 people affected as flood despoil Dhemaji

Dhemaji (Assam): Assam has been hit by floods with 25 villages in flood-prone Dhemaji district inundated on Wednesday, official sources said.

The situation it is feared could deteriorate with the water level of Jiadhol river, a tributary of Brahmaputra, rising alarmingly following heavy rainfall in neighbouring Arunachal Pradesh.

The flood water has inundated 25 villages under Noruathan and Ghughua circles in west Dhemaji affecting more than 30,000 people, the sources said adding the residents have left their homes and taken shelter in the highlands.

There has, however, been no report of any casualty or injury so far.

The district administration has directed the concerned authorities to provide relief to the affected people, the sources added.

4 tested HIV+ after blood transfusion: Assam gets NHRC notice

National Human Rights Commission today sought a report from the Assam government on allegations of HIV infected blood transfusion in a state-run hospital.

Taking a suo motu cognisance of media reports that four persons had tested HIV positive after blood transfusion at district hospital in Mangaldoi in Assam due to negligence of hospital authorities, the rights body issued a notice to the state Chief Secretary, an NHRC statement said.

"The investigation revealed that the four patients, who tested HIV positive, had taken blood directly from the donors which was transfused to them by the concerned hospital staff without proper test," the statement said.

The Chief Secretary has been given four weeks time to file a report in this case. He has also been directed to inform the name of the victims, the status of their health and the amount of compensation, if any, being proposed to be paid to them as compensation along with the report with regard to disciplinary action, if any, initiated against the delinquent public servants, the statement said.

The Commission has observed that the contents of the press report, if true, raise a serious issue of violation of human rights of the patients.

Reportedly, a section of the hospital staff was hand-in- glove with the illegal professional donors and three officials, including a government doctor, had been put under suspension, the statement said.

Devotees throng Guwahati's Kamakhya Temple for religious fair

Guwahati (Assam), June 25 : Devotees thronged the historic temple of Goddess Kamakhya in large numbers to celebrate a religious festival in Guwahati city over the weekend.

The religious fair, which is also known as the Ambubachi Festival, is held annually during the monsoon. This year, the four-day-long festival began from June 22.

On the first three days, the main gate of the temple remains closed to visitors. It is opened on the fourth day.

For the first three days, the Goddess Kamakhya is said to be going through her menstrual cycle and visitors are not permitted to disturb her.

According to devotees, the goddess depicts womanhood, motherhood and is a giver of life.

Mithilesh Kumar Dinkar, a devotee, said the goddess fulfills the wishes of all those who visit her.

Spiritual gurus and priests camp outside the temple and wait for the door to open on the fourth day.

The Ambubachi fair is one of the biggest religious festivals of Hindus in Northeast India.

Nava Kanta Sharma, an organiser, said the state government had for the first time released funds for the festival for accommodation, commuting, security, medicals camps and food.

Sharma said that this would help in the promotion of religious tourism in the state.

"This festival attracts tourists not only from Assam but from the entire northeast. Here, there are many religious places, religious fairs, which attract visitors not only from Assam and the northeast, but tourists from other parts of the country and across the world," said Sharma.

The event will conclude on June 26.

Assam's crime against children highest in Northeast

Assam has reported the highest rate of incidence of crime against children in the Northeast, though compared at the national level the rate is pretty low at 1.03 per cent of the total number of crimes registered. Assam recorded a high of 392 cases and was followed by Manipur with 104, Mizoram with 95, Meghalaya with 91 and Arunachal Pradesh with 39, according to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau. The NCRB report said that the Northeastern states in general, barring Assam, have a crime rate against children of less than one per cent. Nagaland appears to be the most child-friendly state in the country with only 13 cases reported while Tripura and Sikkim have also recorded a low of 20 and 30 cases respectively.

Uttar Pradesh heads the list with 6,033 cases and was followed by Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Bihar with 5,168, 3,456 and 2,894 cases respectively. Assam registered the highest number of child rapes with 156 cases registered followed by Meghalaya and Mizoram with 81 and 73 cases respectively. Nagaland registered the least number of cases with seven while Tripura and Manipur reported 17 cases each, Arunachal Pradesh 18 and Sikkim 21.Assam also recorded 15 cases of murder of children while Manipur reported four, Tripura-two and Mizoram and Nagaland had registered one case each. Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim had reported no cases of murder of children.

Assam: 35-year school dropout conducts surgeries with shaving blade

Guwahati, Jun 24 : A 35-year high school dropout in backward Nagaon district of Assam has drawn national notoriety after it surfaced that it emerged that she had used a shaving blade to operate upon two women with gall bladder stones and appendicitis.

After the matter came to notice of authorities, officials from state health department raided the makeshift chamber of Manowara Khatun in Juria village, the same place where the she had performed both of her surgeries.

Though her patients have confirmed that they were operated upon by Khatun, she refused to admit to the charges when interrogated by officials.

Remarkably as it may sound, both of her patients are said to be hale and hearty now, weeks after the operation.

Khatun said she has been prescribing medicines after dropping out of high school but never tried surgery until recently.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said stern action would be taken against Khatun if found guilty of medical malpractice. A Nagaon district health officer said, "We have not yet found anything to suggest she performed surgeries."

Experts wary of India's stand on Brahmaputra

GUWAHATI: As China eyes Tibet as its potential region for harnessing water resource and hydro-power, experts are increasingly wary about India's stand on the Brahmaputra where Beijing has planned a number of projects.

The Brahmaputra river system, a lifeline for the people of the northeast, supports the fragile ecosystem in the region. With Tibet alone accounting for about 30 per cent of China's fresh water, experts have not only raised questions over the way India flags its concern with the neighbouring country but also raised fears about the possibility of conflict over the trans-boundary water.

"So far, India's stand has been to downplay whatever China is doing in harnessing the Brahamaputra. India is wary of engaging with China on the issue of the Brahmaputra," said Nimmi Kurien, associate professor at the New Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research (CPR).

Kurien was speaking at workshop on water conflicts in the northeast organised by Pune-based Forum for Policy Dialogue on Water Conflicts in India (FPDWCI) and Guwahati-based Aaranyak here on Saturday. Kurien also pointed out that China has been telling India that the hydro-power projects on the Brahmaputra were run-of-the-river projects and as they do not have water storage and would, therefore, not affect water flow to the northeast.

"But what about the cumulative impact from these projects. India being the lower riparian state should more and more engage with China on the set of issues related to water, dam safety and cumulative impacts. These issues should find proper mention in the India-China talks," said Kurien. .

She added that the existing agreement on sharing floodwater data by China with India does not help in building trust between the two countries when it comes to dealing with trans-boundary rivers like the Brahmaputra.

However, experts have also questioned India's "moral ground" on raising the issue of trans-boundary river with China.

"The 1500-MW Tipaimukh dam on the Barak River in Manipur has equally raised concerns in Bangladesh over the negative impact from project. Bangladesh is worried about the impact on flow of water. But India decided to go ahead with the project. Now, does India have the moral ground to raise similar concerns when it comes to the Brahmaputra with China," said R K Ranjan Singh, environmentalist and senior visiting fellow in Manipur University.

Erratic weather to hit second flush Assam tea

Kolkata, June 21 : Erratic rainfall and extremely high temperature are feared to affect production of the second flush Assam tea crop, while production of Darjeeling tea is expected to witness about 10 percent rise this year despite more rainfall.

Tea is generally harvested in a "first flush" and a "second flush." The first flush is picked during late March. The second flush, harvested towards May end, is generally considered superior to the first flush tea.

Planters in Assam, India's largest tea producing state, said no rain along with very high temperature for the last four days would have "a lot of impact" on second flush tea production as well as quality.

"In some pockets rainfall has been deficient compared to last year, while in some other pockets it has remained at the same level. Distribution of rainfall over Assam's tea growing regions is not satisfactory this time," North Eastern Tea Association (NETA) chairman Bidyananda Barkakoty told IANS.

Assam alone produces about 53 percent of the India's total production of tea, the favourite brew of the country.

"Second flush is the best quality crop. The present adverse weather conditions would affect production as well as the quality," he observed.

Mercury level has been soaring in the state to an unprecedented high for the last couple of days with temperature hovering around 35-38 degrees Celsius.

"Bushes cannot bear that much temperature. So high temperature of more than 35 degrees has affected the crop," he explained.

The second flush accounts for about 20 percent of the total annual crop production in Assam, which produced about 580 million kg of tea last year.

As best quality second flush generally fetches higher value, an adverse impact on the crop and its quality would hit industry profitability.

Five districts of Assam - Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivsagar, Jorhat and Golaghat - produce about 70 percent of the state's total tea production.

But there is some good news. The high quality second flush Darjeeling tea is expected to witness a rise in production this year.

"This year distribution of rain in Darjeeling has been scattered. Now we are witnessing more rains compared to the same period last year. But till now production of second flush crop has been ok," S S Bagaria, chairman of the Darjeeling Tea Association, told IANS.

"Overall quality of the crop is also satisfactory," he averred, adding that this year production of the second flush Darjeeling crop might go up by 10 percent compared to last year.

Last year, Darjeeling produced around two million kg of second flush tea.

The annual production of tea in Darjeeling generally remains close to 8-9 million kg.

'Naked men' spark panic in Assam, 3 lynched

GUWAHATI: Three youths were lynched on Tuesday night in Assam's Sonitpur district by villagers, driven by rumours of " dark and nude men" reportedly molesting women at night.

Members of village defence committee lynched the youths who were found loitering near Tezpur without even bothering to ascertain their identity. Later, it turned out that they were miscreants involved in stealing crude oil from underground pipelines. Several others have been injured in similar attacks.

"Such a rumour is doing the rounds but no one has actually seen any nude men. We are visiting every village to tell people to exercise restraint," said deputy commissioner Tapan Sarma. Local officials held a meeting following a spurt in rumour-driven attacks in the district. "We have decided to send our people to every nook and corner to tell villagers that the story about nude men is a rumour and people should not believe it," Sarma said.

Police said the rumour had spread across the district. "We have been told that male members of villages have been forced to patrol the villages at night by women. There are some stories about dark nude men knocking on doors at night and attacking women of the house. Some say the attackers have even bit off parts of the victims' bodies but no one has reported any such incident to police or gone to hospital," a source said.

Sarma said Tuesday's incident was unfortunate. The three youths were travelling in a vehicle when they were attacked with sharp weapons. Later, police recovered several empty cans meant for carrying stolen crude oil from the vehicle.

The district bordering Arunachal Pradesh is considered the cultural hub of the state. It also witnessed several incidents of witch-hunting deaths in the past.

In violent crimes, Assam tops list: NCRB

Twelve years of Congress rule may have brought down insurgency in the state, but Assam has emerged as the state with the highest rate of violent crimes during 2011-12. The state also reported the highest rate in crimes against women in the country, for the period.

The latest edition of Crimes in India report published by the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) said that while the share of violent crimes of the total IPC crimes in the country was 11.5 per cent, Assam reported the highest rate (54.2 per cent), followed by Manipur (44.6), Kerala (42.7) and Delhi (34.7). Number-wise, however, UP topped the chart with 33,824 violent crimes that accounted for 12.3 per cent of total violent crimes in the country.

Under the crimes against women category too, Assam topped the chart with 89.5 per cent, as compared to the national average of 41.7 per cent. West Bengal recorded the highest number of 30,942 crimes against women —12.6 per cent share of the entire country. The crime rate is calculated on the basis of number of crimes committed per one lakh population.

Of the 16,874 violent crimes Assam recorded in 2011-12, 5,077 were riots, 2,830 arson, 3,812 kidnapping and abductions, 1,716 rapes, 1,368 murders, and 670 attempts to murder, the report said.

Though Uttar Pradesh recorded 33,824 violent crimes during the same year, the incident-to-population ratio was highest in Assam. Sikkim recorded the least number of violent crimes, 58, including 34 rapes and 10 kidnappings.

HIV infection: Victims to get Rs 5 lakh

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday announced compensation of Rs 5 lakh to four people, who contracted HIV after blood transfusion in a government civil hospital at Mangaldoi, Darrang. Gogoi said that the state government will bear the medical expenses for their treatment. While three persons, including Dr Jiten Sahariya — in charge of the blood bank attached to the hospital — have been suspended, Gogoi has asked the state advocate general to explore legal options for initiating action against the guilty.

Assam Tops the Crime Against Women in NE List

Assam has recorded the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of incidences of crime against women in the North East and is ranked seventh in the country, according to the latest report of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB).

Assam recorded 13,544 incidents of crime against women during the last one year and was ranked seventh in the country. West Bengal tops the list with 30,942 such cases, followed by Andhra Pradesh with 28,171 cases, UP 23,569, Rajasthan 21,106, Madhya Pradesh 16,832 and Maharashtra 16,353.

In the Northeastern region, Nagaland was the most women-friendly state with only 51 incidents of crime against women reported, followed by Sikkim with 68 such cases.

Tripura recorded 1,559 incidents of crime against women, Manipur 304, Meghalaya 255, Arunachal 201 and Mizoram 199.

In rape cases, Assam ranked sixth in the country with 1,716 such incidents. Madhya Pradesh tops the list with 3,425 cases, followed by Rajasthan (2,049 cases), West Bengal (2,046 cases), Uttar Pradesh (1,963 cases) and Maharashtra (1,839 cases).

Among the other North Eastern states, Tripura registered 229 cases of rape, Meghalaya 164, Mizoram 103, Manipur 63, Arunachal Pradesh 46, Sikkim 34 and Nagaland 21.

In cases related to kidnapping and abduction of women, Assam ranked fourth in the country with 3,360. Uttar Pradesh with 7,910 cases tops the chart, followed by West Bengal with 4,168 cases and Bihar 3,789 cases.

Among the other North Eastern states, Manipur recorded 133 cases of kidnapping and abduction, Tripura 114, Arunachal 58 and Meghalaya 24.

Mizoram was the most women-friendly state in this case with only three such incidents reported, while Nagaland and Sikkim recorded 10 such cases each.

Assam fared slightly better in the case of dowry deaths, ranking tenth with 140 cases, while UP topped the list with 2,244 such incidents.

The statistics for other states North Eastern states were also positive with Nagaland, Manipur and Mizoram recording no incidents in this category, while Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and Sikkim registered one case each.

Tripura recorded 37 cases of dowry deaths.

In cases of cruelty against women by husbands or his relatives, Assam ranked fourth in the country with 6,407 such cases registered. UP topped the list with 7,761 such cases, followed by Maharashtra with 7,415 cases and Gujarat 6,658 cases.

Among the other North Eastern states, Tripura registered 858 cases in this category, followed by Manipur with 43 cases, Arunachal 26 and Meghalaya 16. Nagaland recorded no cases in this category, while Mizoram and Sikkim recorded eight and fours incidents respectively.

Assam asks WWF for plan to mitigate human-elephant

Guwahati: Assam Environment and Forest Minister Rakibul Hussain has asked World Wildlife Fund-India to submit an operational plan for Human Elephant Conflict(HEC) mitigation in the state's forest divisions.

Hussain told a delegation of WWF-India, who called on him today, that after the plan was submitted, he would take it up with the concerned Divisional Forest Officers (DFOs) and Chief Wildlife Warden (CWLW) and ensure better fund flow to improve HEC management intervention.

Referring to the next phase of the Indian Rhino Vision 2020 (IRV 2020) programme, the minister said the government was interested in undertaking translocation of rhinos to the Laokhowa-Burachapori Wildlife Sanctuaries (WLS) at the earliest.

Hussain also discussed the need for strengthening coordination between the state government, Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) at all levels for better wildlife conservation.

The WWF-India team apprised the minister about the threats posed by the expansion of the Lumding road in central Assam and the modifications that could be implemented to lessen the impact of the expansion work on local wildlife.

The minister stressed on the need to ensure that some visible modifications are implemented during the expansion to manage the adverse impact.

"There is a need for innovative solutions to tackle the conservation issues facing Assam. WWF has been doing good work in this regard and working together, we can conserve the rich biodiversity of Assam," he added.

Tribal students' stir halts Jiribam-Tupul rail project

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Bangkok Governor Mom Rajawongse Sukhumbhand Paripatra today discussed issues of mutual interests and how the opening up of frontiers would prove beneficial to both North East India and Thailand.

Gogoi called on the Paripatra at his Bangkok office and said the 'Look East Policy' adopted by the Centre would help in strengthening relations with neighbouring countries like Thailand and yield rich dividends in terms of trade and commerce, an official release here quoting the CM said.

The opening up of frontiers would also lead to proper use of natural resources in a scientific manner, exploring tourism potentiality, sharing of technical know-how in relation to disaster management and mitigation, he added.

The Bangkok Governor also acknowledged that the North East India and Thailand would reap immense benefits if international borders opened up and his country would extend all possible help and support for growth and development in different sectors which would be mutually beneficial, the release said.

Gogoi also held a meeting with officials of Bangkok metropolitan administration and discussed various issues, including disaster and flood control measures.

The officials gave a detailed presentation on how Thailand has been able to cope with flood and other disasters through a coordinated and pragmatic approach, it added.

Publicise Assam dam design report, says pressure group

Assam's pressure group Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) has asked the central government to make public the Dam Design Review Panel (DDRP) report on the Lower Subansiri hydro-electric project.

KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi said that it would not accept the report until the concerns of downstream people in Assam are taken into consideration and would restart its protests against the 2,000 MW project.

Gogoi added: "The DDRP report has been submitted to the Planning Commission. We want the report to be put in public domain. Unless apprehensions and concerns expressed by the people of Assam against the project are properly studied, we will not accept any report and not allow construction of the project."

Gogoi said all members of the DDRP were from government agencies.

"Earlier, the committee of experts from IIT Guwahati, Dibrugarh University and Gauhati University had raised serious doubts on the safety of the dams because of its location in seismically active areas and because of the soil structure," he said, adding that the Thatte Committee of the central government had also raised the safety aspects of the dam.

The construction of the project was at a standstill for almost two years due to opposition from several organisations in Assam, including the KMSS.

Langting bandh enters Day 6

Silchar: An indefinite bandh at Langting in Dima Hasao district entered the sixth day on Monday severely affecting normal life in the hill station.

Locals and non-Congress parties called the indefinite bandh on June 5 seeking re-poll in the entire Langting segment of North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) which went to polls on May 20.

The bandh supporters on Monday also staged a day-long dharna in front of the office of the deputy commissioner of Dima Hasao in Haflong in support of their demand.

Reports from Langting, 37 km from Haflong, headquarters of Dima Hasao district, on Monday said all government offices, besides banks and educational institutions, remained closed and shops and business establishments have kept their shutters down for the past six days. Vehicles too have kept off the roads. However, train service on Lumding-Silchar section of Northeast Frontier Railway has remained unaffected.

Opposition parities have launched the indefinite bandh in Langting segment seeking re-poll in the entire segment, from where Congress' Debojit Thaosen was elected defeating his nearest Independent candidate Hemon Langthasa by a margin of 364 votes.

Hemon, mandal Congress president of Langting area, contested the poll as rebel Congress candidate after failing to get a Congress ticket to contest the polls.

Hemon has alleged that Thaosen won the election by rigging and large-scale irregularities in league with election officials.

Earlier on Monday about 200 people from Langting arrived in Haflong and gathered at Town Club ground from where they marched to the DC's office and staged dharna throughout the day.

The agitators later sent a memorandum to Assam governor J B Patnaik seeking a re-poll in the segment.

Witch-hunting in Assam to appease ‘Maa Kali’

Witch-hunting in Assam to appease ‘Maa Kali’

55-year-old sacrificed in Assam

Around 2000 villagers stood as mere spectators when few drank tea workers lynched a 55-year-old as part of human sacrifice in Assam's Cachar district.

After being accused of practicing witchcraft, Jawaharlal Mora, was held by the villagers on Friday.

The frenzied mob tied the hands and legs of Mora and brought him under a banyan tree to perform a religious ritual. Later, they drank and danced around Mora shouting ‘Jai Maa Kali’.

After the religious ritual Mora was mercilessly lynched by the mob and his body was buried at a place at Kalabil under Banskandi police station in Lakhipur sub-division on Friday.

Meanwhile, tension has prevailed in the remote tea garden area in Assam's Cachar following human sacrifice.
The police here said that it was a case on with-hunting.

Local people, quoted by the police, alleged that the killers performed religious rituals around the victim's body purportedly to appease the Gods.
Ten people, including three women, were arrested in connection with the killing.
Additional security forces had been rushed to the area and senior police officials were camping, the police said.

Change in Bangladesh anti-terror policy may revive militancy in Assam: Tarun Gogoi

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister TarunGogoi, in his speech at a conference on internal security with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other chief ministers of the country in New Delhi on Wednesday, cautioned that if the next Bangladesh government changes its anti-terror policy, militancy will be on a revival path in the state. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, meanwhile, in his address at the conference, said that the security situation in the northeast continues to be complex.

Gogoi added that the threat of militancy has not yet been wiped out. "It is premature to declare that the long nightmare of militancy is over. Ulfa (anti-talks) and other militant outfits retain an arsenal of sophisticated weapons and explosives and continue criminal acts of killing, extortion and abduction, though on a far lesser scale." He said that coordinated action is needed in Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur and Meghalaya if training, arms supply transit routes and shelters of militants are to be choked.

Bangladesh had played host to almost all militant outfits of the state and the region during the previous overnment led by Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP). The crackdown on Indian militant groups based in Bangladesh by the present government led by Sheikh Hasina's Awami League has broken the backbone of these outfits.

Besides forcing them to leave Bangladesh soil, Hasina's government has also handed over key leaders of Ulfa and the National Democratic Front of Boroland to India. The next general election in Bangladesh is due in January next year.

"Any reversal by a future Bangladeshi regime of the drive against Indian militants will revive the spectre of inviolate sanctuaries across our borders. Moreover, the demographic and economic factors which attract youth to the militant path remain, and though public support has dwindled, recruits continue to join militant outfits from vulnerable sections," Gogoi said in his speech.

He also requested that the Centre closely monitor Bhutan, where efforts are on by outfits to reopen their camps.

The chief minister pushed for upgrade of India Reserve (IR) battalions in Assam to a special force for effective anti-Maoist operations as approved for other Maoist-affected states. "It is only by proactive effort that we can prevent the Maoists from spreading roots in Assam," he said.

Gogoi is worried about the vulnerability of riverine islands of the state, which are located in remote areas and have barely any communication.

He said: "If the Maoists succeed in establishing a foothold in the dispersed and innumerable river islands called chars and chaporis, governing and policing them will be as difficult as governing the dense forests of the Abujhmad region in Chattisgarh and Saranda in Jharkhand."

'Assam to send Everest team next year'

Guwahati/ IMPHAL: Assam chief minister TarunGogoi said on Thursday that a team from Assam would lead an expedition to Mt Everest next year. He was speaking at a ceremony to felicitate Everest conquerors TarunSaikia and Manish Kumar Deka at the SrimantaSankaradevaKalakshetra. Both Saikia and Deka were assured of government jobs.

The duo received monetary incentives worth Rs 20 lakh each. They were also given official citations. Saikia became the first Assamese to scale Everest on May 18 and Deka followed suit on May 24. Sports minister Ajit Singh and forest minister Rockybul Hussein were also present.

In Imphal, five Manipuri climbers, including a girl and two NCC boys, who scaled Mt Everest last month and team members of the Manipur Mountaineering and Trekking Association (MMTA) received a rousing welcome on Thursday. Among them, N Bidyapati Devi conquered Everest on May 17, thereby becoming the first Manipuri woman to scale the peak, while 16-year-old Nameirakpam Chingkheinganba became the youngest climber from the northeast to scale the Everest. After the MMTA team arrived in the morning, they were taken around the city in a motorcycle with people throwing flowers and garlands at them. At the Khuman Lampak stadium complex, they were accorded a warm reception by MMTA and the observation committee of the 12th Great June Uprising, Unity Day - 2013 (AMUCO and UCM).

Chingkheinganba reached the peak on May 18 while Puyamcha Mohon and NCC boys Chirom Shankar Singh and Ph Bidyachand Singh accomplished their feats the following day. Chingkheinganba, Bidyapati and Puyamcha Mohon are among the 11 Everest summiteers of the First North East India Mt Everest Expedition 2013, organized by MMTA.

"We accomplished our feat with the prayers and blessings of the people. The success is the fruit of MMTA's 30-year dream to conquer Mt Everest," said the expedition leader and MMTA president, L Surjit.

Bidyapati said it was a wonderful experience. "Before summiting the peak, I experienced very bad weather with the wind blowing at 80 km per hour forcing other climbers numbering over 70 to move down, but my determination egged me on," said Bidyapati.

Assam Police hints at NSCN-IM hand in border area violence

Guwahati, June 6 : The Assam Police Wednesday hinted at the involvement of Naga rebel group NSCN-IM in the Monday's incident of violence in a Assam district bordering Nagaland.

"There are indications that the ceasefire militant outfit of Nagaland - NSCN-IM are involved in the firing incident that took place on Monday," Assam Police Inspector General (Law and Order) S.N. Singh said after visiting the Naginijan area in Jorhat district, where one labourer was killed by assailants suspected to have come from the Nagaland side Monday.

Another group of miscreants had Tuesday uprooted saplings at a tea plantation at Geleki in Sivsagar district of Assam that borders Nagaland. Following the incident, tension prevailed in the area.

"I visited the Naginijan area today (Wednesday) and took stock of the situation there. As of now, the situation is under control. I'll also be visiting Geleki tomorrow (Thursday)" said the police officer.

He added that lack of proper demarcation between Assam and Nagaland and "clash of interests" are the root cause of violent clashes between people of the two states.

Meanwhile, the economic blockade started by the All Assam Tea Tribe Students Association (AATTSA) since Monday night continued Wednesday. The AATTSA is protesting against the Monday's killing of the labourer.

Assam: 3 Arrested Russians Refuse to Eat Jail Food

The three Russian nationals, arrested on charges of fraudulently collecting money from people, have refused to eat jail food, a top police officer said today.

The trio, who were arrested on May 29, had been sent to jail custody yesterday after their five-day police remanded ended, IGP Central Western Range L R Bishnoi told PTI today.

The police did not apply for fresh custody as their interrogation and investigations had been completed.

As the foreigners refused to eat food provided by the jail authorities, the prison doctor referred them to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital yesterday itself, he said.

The Russians, identified as Denis Rozkov (43), Alexei Muratov (35) and Andrei Kilin (45), are here on tourist visas. The three other persons arrested are Dinesh Kotian (44) and Dinish Balan (40) of Mumbai and local Nabajit Das (40).

The foreigners would be in judicial custody till they apply for bail, the IGP said.

The six persons were arrested here after a complaint was lodged that they were illegally collecting money from the people and were giving motivational lectures to lure prospective customers to invest through their website.

Interrogation revealed that they were fraudulently collecting money through their website 'www.Mmmindia.In' promising people with spectacular returns on their 'donations' for charitable work, Bishnoi said.

The men were arrested under Section 4/5 of Prize Chits and Money Circulation Schemes (Banning) Act, 1978 that prohibits running or participation in illegal money circulation schemes, and also booked under various sections of the IPC.

10-year jail under Assam law on dubious chit funds

To rein in dubious chit fund companies, the Assam government on Monday notified a legislation that provides for jail up to 10 years for any person found guilty of frauds related to deposits and repayments by financial companies.

Called the Assam Protection of Interests of Depositors (in Financial Establishments) (Amendment) Act 2013, it provides for fine up to Rs 5 lakh with powers to attach properties and money of guilty financial companies.

These provisions will also apply to individual promoters, managers and other members of such companies, the Act stated. The Act not only allows deputy commissioners and SP (economic offences) to receive complaints from depositors and initiate probe but also empowers them to take suo moto action.

Meanwhile, Assam Police have filed eight cases against Saradha Group, whose CMD Sudipta Sen was arrested by the West Bengal Police on April 23 for defrauding public.

Sen, currently in custody of West Bengal Police, had alleged that a minister in Tarun Gogoi government, Himanta Biswa Sarma, had taken at least Rs 3.5 crore from him over the last 18 months. Sarma has filed a defamation and a criminal case against Sen.

The police have also frozen 106 bank accounts, involving more than Rs 25 crore, of various chit funds companies, in addition to Rs 95 lakh seized as several offices offinancial firms have been sealed, an official said.

Russians refuse food to protest their arrest

Guwahati: Three Russian nationals, arrested from a hotel in Guwahati last week on charges of duping public through a web-based chit fund scheme, have declined to eat solid food inside the central jail here demanding their release.

Danis Rosaov, Alexei Muratov and Andre Kilyn along with three Indian accomplices Rimish Balan, Dinesh Kotian and Nabajit Das are now in judicial custody and were operating an online scheme called Mavrodi Mondial Moneybox India.

Police said the Russians ate food they gave on the first day. But later on they refused to take any solid food except fruit juice and water. "We bought them sandwiches and burgers, but they refused to eat," said an officer.