Child rights on Dispur agenda

Special courts to try crimes against kids
Guwahati, Aug. 29: Assam has become the second state in the country after Goa to notify setting up of special courts to fast-track cases relating to child rights and sexual offences.
Assam social welfare department deputy secretary Kavyashree Mahanta told The Telegraph today that the state legal affairs department had already issued a notification for setting up the special courts in all district and sessions judge courts. “These courts will exclusively handle cases relating to crimes agai-nst children, including sexual offences, in accordance with provisions of the Protection of Children against Sexual Offences Act, 2012,” she said.
The Centre had earlier asked all states to set up special courts for dealing with cases relating to children but only Goa has implemented the order so far. Sources said Dispur speeded up the process for setting up the special courts after Assam topped the charts in National Crime Records Bureau’s latest report, with 84.65 per cent crime recorded against children. The Assam State Commission for Protection of Children’s Rights also lobbied for setting up of the special courts.
The state government has joined hands with the National Law University and Judicial Academy, Assam, here to work out modalities on how these courts would function.
“These courts will provide a child-friendly environment for trial of cases related to crime against children. Such courts are very necessary in Assam in view of the increasing cases of child trafficking, child labour, sexual abuse, child marriage and other child rights violations. These courts will be supervised by the high court. We are hoping that the special courts will start functioning by the end of this year,” National Law University associate professor Benerji Chakka, who is associated with project, said today.
The university is working out guidelines for training public prosecutors, police officials and others associated with the trial process. “We have to train people on how to talk with the child victims of crime or sexual abuse. A child victim is already traumatised and, hence, should be handled very carefully,” Chakka said.
Many children from the Northeast, including Assam, have been rescued from homes run in Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh. They were reportedly taken out of the region with the promise of good education and care but were later found living in inhuman conditions.
There were also reports of many minor girls being sexually abused in Assam. According to a study conducted in 13 states in 2007 by Union ministry of women and children, Assam reported 142 cases of sexual abuse of minors.

Assam to restructure public distribution system

Faculty sources from IIM-Shillong said the new model for the corporation had been designed after a series of discussions with senior government officials and with stakeholders

An 'innovative' Public Distribution System (PDS) model, conceptualised and designed by the Indian Institute of Management-Shillong (IIM-Shillong), will soon try and fix "leakages" and "inefficiencies" in the system in Assam. Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has given the go-ahead to the setting up of a 'Assam State Civil Supplies Corporation', which would be integral to the new system and whose structure has been designed by IIM-Shillong.

Faculty sources from IIM-Shillong said the new model for the corporation had been designed after a series of discussions with senior government officials and with stakeholders. The new corporation would be set up on a private-public-partnership mode, and would have a "robust structure" in place to sustain both domestic and international dynamics. "The corporation will have a two-tier structure - Tier I, which would be an executing company, and Tier II, which would be an initiating corporate body. The corporation would be a New Age public distribution system for the Assam with cutting edge technology and efficient management systems to overpower leakages and inefficiencies of the legacy system," sources said.

Gogoi gave the go ahead for formation of the new corporation following a meeting with senior government officials and faculty members of IIM-Shillong at his official residence yesterday.

"The design concept by IIM-Shillong seems to be innovative with fresh ideas and thinking. It's good that the best model has been adopted for hassle-free implementation down to the producers' level, the main stakeholders in the corporation coming up," said Gogoi.

However Gogoi added that the new structure should be a robust and vibrant one, and should be able to "withstand the pressures and overcome them". Gogoi said the most important aspect was that the new corporation should be able to generate its own resources to sustain domestic dynamics.Faculty sources from IIM-Shillong said the new corporation would be induced with women empowerment, self governance and sustainable, trust and long term bonding, competitive managerial capabilities and cutting edge technologies.

Silchar tense after objectional items found in places of worship

Silchar town in Cachar district of Barak valley in Assam has been tense since Sunday evening after unidentified miscreants placed some objectional items at places of worship at Rongpur area in midst of  the town. The district administration put Army on alert after situation deteriorated.
The item had been kept by unidentified miscreants at the places of worship in Rongpur area in the town in a bid to disrupt communal harmony. As the news spread, local people gathered at the spot.
Police arrived at the spot to control the situation, public beaten up a police official and also targeted Diganta Bora, SP of Cachar district. Police first lathicharged to disperse the agitated crowd and later fired several rounds in the air to control the situation.
Thirty people including six policemen were injured in the clash. The agitated crowd set ablaze two police vehicles. Later, additional forces were deployed in sensitive areas in the town and section 144 was also promulgated. 

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday in Guwahati blamed the Vishwa Hindu Parisad (VHP) for the recent communal tension in Silchar, the main town in southern Assam.

“VHP has been trying to create communal disturbance in Assam. Not only in Silchar, at many places in the state, the saffron brigade is active to trigger communal tension”, said Gogoi.
Gogoi said that BJP in Assam has realized that the saffron party would face defeat in the coming Lok Sabha election and to create favourable situation for the party, other members of saffron brigade jumped into create communal tension.
“In Ayodhya, VHP suddenly take decision to carryout a yatra for Ram temple. This is for creating communal disturbance. Similarly, VHP is trying to create communal tension everywhere in the country before the Lok Sabha poll”, added Gogoi.
The chief minister warned all communal forces active in the state: “We deal very firmly with all communal forces active in the state”. 
All the three Barak valley districts of Cachar , Hailakandi and Karimganj are regarded as communally sensitive district. The valley witnessed some major communal violence in the nineties particularly after the Babri mosque demolition. Both BJP and Congress are equally strong in Barak valley in the state.
Meanwhile, VHP condemned chief minister Gogoi’s allegation to it on Silchar incident. VHP’s NE region secretary Abhijit Deka alleged that Gogoi has lost mental balance and no more suited to continue as chief minister of the state.
In protest against Ayodhya VHP leaders’ arrest, members of saffron parivar had taken out a protest march in the city on Monday.

Human-animal conflict leaps up in India

In Assam state, development and habitat loss are forcing wildlife into urban areas.

Rapid-rescue teams in Assam capture wild animals that have strayed into human settlements [Nupur/IFAW-WTI]
Guwahati, India - Each time the sepia-coloured snake hisses, Pronita Kashyap says, "Aastik, Aastik, Aastik" - a prayer to the Hindu serpent goddess and her son.
Sweaty and jittery, she explains, "It is said that snakes kill by fate and tigers by chase". When the snake coils and recoils at the corner of a squat toilet, Kashyap sprinkles smashed garlic and sprays a disinfectant on the floor, hoping to drive the half-metre-long intruder from her home. Stick in hand, she calls the state animal zoo - but there's no response.
About half an hour later, the snake slithers out through the window into the garden. Kashyap keeps watching until the weeds and reeds stop quivering.
As forest cover shrinks in India's northeastern state of Assam, sightings of wild animals have become increasingly common. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, 290 people were killed by animals in Assam from 2009-11 - second only to Maharashtra state.
Human-animal conflict is widespread in rural areas in Asia and Africa, but habitat loss and development in places like Assam have put more people in urban areas at risk.
In the past few years, reports have abounded of pythons entering bathrooms and bedrooms, sambar deers running through courtyards, clouded leopards sneaking into backyards at night and carrying off livestock or pets. Pangolins, jungle cats, civet cats, foxes and wild boars repeatedly stray onto the lanes and bylanes of Guwahati, the capital. Monkeys running amok in kitchens is a routine occurrence in hillside areas. Outside of the city, elephants, tigers, one-horned rhinos and gaur, the Indian bison, are occasionally spotted.
These human-animal encounters often result in panic, fracas and bloodshed.
Shrinking habitat
As man encroaches on wilderness, the wild strays into urban settlements. This is not an overnight development, says Jayanta Sarma, an environmental consultant.

The Assam state zoo has rescued 324 animals from in and around Guwahati, the capital, from April 2012 to March 2013 [Sashanka/IFAW-WTI]
Assam's population swelled from 14 million in 1971 to 31 million in 2011. Frenzied urbanisation gobbled up 30 percent of the state's forestland. Nationally, Assam has the most forestland under encroachment.
"There has been a prolonged conflict between so-called development and conservation of wildlife," explains Sarma. The line between urban, rural and jungle is becoming blurry in Assam, a tropical biodiversity hotspot.
Illegal deforestation, logging, earth-cutting and extension of residential settlements and croplands into reserved forests and hillocks have reduced the natural habitat of animals, forcing animals to wander around in search of food.
When stray wild animals devour domestic ones, there is no compensation for owners. When vengeful crowds slay feral animals, there is no punishment, encouraging such killings, adds Sarma.
Rescue teams
Between April 2012 and March 2013, the Assam state zoo has rescued 324 animals from in and around Guwahati, the capital, according to Dr M L Smith, a forest veterinary officer. Of these, 54 died, 45 were exhibited at zoos and 225 were released in protected areas.
The zoo has no specific rescue team, and the officials, animal-keeper and veterinary doctors respond to distress calls. Many animals die during rescue attempts or from being trapped in wells; one leopard died from an overdose of tranquiliser. Irate locals have killed many straying animals with rocks, axes or bamboo poles. In March 2012, mobs butchered two leopards - one in Kamrup and the other in Dibrugarh district - and feasted on their meat.
In January, the state government announced the deployment of rapid-rescue teams in 15 districts. "None of the teams are operational," says Anjan Talukdar, a veterinarian at IFAW-WTI, Center for Wildlife Rehabilitation and Conservation, based in Kaziranga. He says media - particularly television channels - provoke the crowds and cause a nuisance. "At least 1,000 people gather out of curiosity and it hampers the rescue operation," he explains.
The IFAW-WTI centre has five mobile teams and has rescued more than 3,306 animals in the last 10 years in Assam and released 1,854, according to Rathin Barman, the coordinator of the centre. It receives an average of 30 calls a month and during monsoon season about 200.
No winner in this tussle
Feverish urbanisation has muddled the food chain and positioned man in the path of animals' migration routes, says Rajib Rudra Tariang, a professor of zoology at Digboi College. "Now there is more collision and people have become volatile," he explains.
The close encounters have left residents of Assam wary. A muddy road leads to Mridula Borah's house, perched on the foothills of Durga Sarobar in Guwahati. A few years ago, the hill was covered with dense forests, but now it is a haphazard patchwork of ranch-style houses, clusters of trees and large egg-shaped rocks.
"We regularly hear the roar of leopards at night, and there is a strong musky smell," Borah says. Once the street was full of stray dogs, but now there are none. The community has started keeping pets indoors after many were killed.
Borah's two-year-old cocker spaniel, Olive, was taken one night. In the morning, Borah found dried blood and leopard pawmarks on the soft, red soil.
This story has been written under the aegis of the CSE Media Fellowships.

Non-tribals oppose statehood, call bandhs

Guwahati, Aug 26 : With the central government inviting Assam groups demanding separate states for talks in New Delhi from Sep 2, several non-Bodo and non-tribal organisations have threatened to launch a mass movement.

These bodies Sunday took part in a mass conclave in Guwahati and decided to oppose the statehood demand.

These have also decided to pressurise the state and the central governments against further division in the name of caste and communities.

Another non-Bodo organisation, the Asomiya Oikya Mancha, has called for 300 hours of bandh of all government offices besides rail and road blockades in Bodoland Territorial Areas Districts (BTAD) starting Sep 2.

While the Koch Rajbongshi organisations wanting Kamatapur state have been invited Sep 2, a delegation of the Joint Action Committee for Autonomous State demanding state status for Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao districts has been asked to reach the next day.

On Sep 4, the central government has invited delegations of Bodo organisations demanding a Bodoland state.

"The central government has taken a hasty decision on Telangana while targeting the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. However, the decision has fuelled statehood demands in Assam. The non-Bodos living in Assam's BTAD areas have been suffering a lot. Creation of a separate state will further aggravate the situation and we are not going to accept this," said Brajen Mahanta, chief convener of the Sanmilita Janagosthiya Sangram Samiti.

"Today we have decided to oppose any further bifurcation of the state in the name of cast and community and we also appeal to the government of India to settle the grievances of the communities through other means, which is acceptable to all living in the state since ages," he said.

In Assam, ethnic divides fuel demands

Sushanta Talukdar

Bodo tribal boys, wearing body paint, shout slogans during a rally in Ghoramara in Sonitpur district, Assam, demanding a separate Bodoland state. File photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
The Hindu Bodo tribal boys, wearing body paint, shout slogans during a rally in Ghoramara in Sonitpur district, Assam, demanding a separate Bodoland state. File photo: Ritu Raj Konwar
The Sunday Story
Assam’s ethnic pot is boiling once again with the United Progressive Alliance’s nod to create a Telangana State, spurring the revival of statehood movements by four ethnic groups — the Bodos, the Karbis, the Dimasas and the Koch-Rajbangshis.
While organisations of the Koch-Rajbangshis have demanded a Kamatapur state comprising 15 districts of Assam and six of West Bengal, the other three demands have been raised from the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD), Karbi Anglong hill district and Dima Hasao (the erstwhile North Cachar) hill district which are governed by administrative set-ups enjoying legislative, executive and financial autonomy under the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution.
The revival of the statehood movements raises the question whether its autonomy experiment — thought to be the panacea for addressing territory-linked ethno-linguistic and ethno-cultural identity issues — has failed.
Political elites among the Bodos, the Karbis and the Dimasas argue that the Sixth Schedule experiment failed to fulfil the aspirations of the people in the three areas as the State government did not fully devolve powers on the councils as promised.
Meanwhile, ordinary Bodo, Karbi and Dimasa people never got any opportunity to enjoy self-governance as no power was handed to villages.
The autonomous institutions in the three Sixth Schedule areas of BTAD, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao — namely the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) and the Dima Hasao District Autonomous Council (DHDAC) — are single-tiered and outside the purview of the Panchayati Raj system.
Since the ad hoc village council bodies are not elected, villagers have remained passive beneficiaries of development schemes and do not have any say when allocated funds fail to reach them.
In Tripura, nominated village committees were replaced with elected councils in 2006 in all 527 village committees under the Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTADC). The TTADC, which came under the purview of the Sixth Schedule in August 1985, also vested with the elected Village Committees the powers and duties for implementation of State and Central development schemes. There is 33 per cent reservation for women in these committees.
Nearly nine years after the formation of the BTC, the Bodoland Village Council Bill, 2012, which provides for a directly elected council, was passed on July 18, 2012. The Bill still awaits the Assam Governor’s assent.
The peace accord signed by the Centre and Assam governments with the erstwhile militant outfit United People’s Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) of Karbi Anglong hill district on August 25, 2011 provides for setting up of village councils under the Karbi Anglong Autonomus Council (KAAC) to deepen the democratic process at the grassroots. The Memorandum of Settlement signed with both factions of the erstwhile militant outfit Dima Halam Daogah(DHD) of Dima Hasao hill district on October 8, 2012 also provides for setting up of village councils for devolution of powers on the grassroots to benefit all sections.
The State government has allowed the Bill and the two peace accords to gather dust instead of ensuring their speedy implementation. Failure on the part of the Centre and Assam governments to make the Sixth Schedule an effective institution with wider participation of the people has allowed the political elites of the three tribes to seize the opportunity created by the Telangana decision, to revive the statehood demand and articulate it as the only means of getting rid of backwardness and for the preservation of their identity, culture and heritage.

Poachers kill rare rhinos in India; drone flights halted

Indian forest officials stand near the body of a one horned horn rhinoceros, which was killed and de-horned by poachers at Burapahar in Kaziranga National Park, some 250km east of Guwahati on Wednesday, Aug 21, 2013. An armed gang has killed two rare rhinoceros at a wildlife park in north-east India, officials said on Thursday, Aug 22, 2013, adding that drones deployed to stem the rising number of killings have been halted. -- PHOTO: AFP

GUWAHATI, India (AFP) - An armed gang has killed two rare rhinoceros at a wildlife park in northeast India, officials said on Thursday, adding that drones deployed to stem the rising number of killings have been halted.
Poachers used assault rifles to shoot dead the rhinoceros before gouging out their horns at the park in Assam state on Wednesday, taking the total number slaughtered there this year to 27, officials said.
"Poachers used AK 47 to shot dead the rhinos. We have recovered empty cartridges from the site of the incident," a park ranger said, requesting not to be named.
Assam forest minister Rockybul Hussain said the killings at Kaziranga National Park, a world heritage site, were carried out by "militants", while declining to name the outfit thought responsible.

Assam losing 8,000 hectares every year due to erosion: Gogoi

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today said the state is losing around 8,000 hectares of land every year due to heavy erosion by Brahmaputra river.

Attending a meeting of the Group of Ministers (GOM), headed by Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar at New Delhi, to consider inclusion of erosion as a natural calamity, the chief minister highlighted the problems faced by the state due to erosion.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTI
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTI
According to an official release, Gogoi said that around 8,000 hectares of land are going to the river bed every year.
The loss of land due to erosion is a permanent one and the affected people have nowhere to go once the flood water recedes, he added.
Gogoi argued for taking up the erosion protection schemes under financial assistance from National Disaster Response Fund (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Fund (SDRF).
“The committee after deliberation, decided that loss of land due to erosion occurring after floods should be examined for change of the norms for compensation for loss of land during floods under NDRF/SDRF,” the statement said.
The meeting was also attended by Union Finance Minister P Chidambaram, Union DONER Minister P Ghatowar and Union Minister for Water Resources Harish Rawat.
Earlier, the GOM was formed at the initiative of Gogoi.

Aasu fast against govt failure to implement accord

GUWAHATI/JORHAT: Twenty-eight years have passed since the Assam Accord was signed between the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and leaders of the Assam Movement led by PrafullaMahanta on 15 August 1985, but the accord has still not been implemented in its true letter and spirit. The prime objective of the accord, which resulted from a six-year-long student movement, was to free Assam from illegal infiltration from neighbouring Bangladesh.

To mark the failure of the government in implementing the accord, the All Assam Students' Union (Aasu) on Wednesday started a hunger strike across the state.

Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) president and two-time chief minister Mahanta, who was a signatory of the accord, also blamed the government for inaction. "The Indo-Bangla border is still porous. Even after so many years, the government yet to seal the border. And instead of making a treaty to deport infiltrators, the government is trying to give our land to Bangladesh," alleged Mahanta. He said AGP would continue to press the Centre for implementation of the accord.

Aasu adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjee, who went on a fast since 6am on Wednesday, said Aasu would continue the fast till the flag-hoisting ceremony at Lal Quila in New Delhi on Independence Day on Thursday.

"On August 15, 1985, then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi had announced after hoisting the Tricolour that the Assam Accord was signed to make Assam influx-free. After 28 years, the accord still hasn't been implemented. Now even members of fundamentalists groups and Pakistani insurgents are sneaking into the country through the porous Indo-Bangla border. This hunger strike makes mockery of that promise," said Bhattacharjee.

"If we add the six years of the movement, then it will be 34 years that the people of Assam are waiting for an influx-free state. How long do we have to wait? Aasu demands that the government announce a time-bound action plan now," he added.

Aasu organizing general secretary Sarat Hazarika said in Jorhat, "We want the provisions of the Assam Accord to be implemented fully within a specific period of time. We demand a constitutional safeguard for the indigenous people of Assam to ensure their protection." In Jorhat, Aasu members staged a fast in front of DC's office.

In every district, 30 activists of the organization are staging the fast. On May 5, 2005, the state government and the Centre in a tripartite talk assured Aasu that border fencing would be done within a year and the National Register of Citizens would be updated, but it still hasn't been done.

Already, several organisations have moved the Supreme Court against the government's delay in implementing the Assam Accord and the apex court has asked the government to reply on its inaction.

Assam cooks up ways for schools to cope with extreme heat

Students at the Jalukanibari higher secondary school in Jorhat, Assam, during June's heat wave.
GUWAHATI, India (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Authorities in the northeast Indian state of Assam are mulling measures to deal with the impact of extreme heat in schools, after temperatures in June shot up several degrees higher than normal, and stayed there.

The state experienced a record-high temperature of 39 degrees Celsius on June 14, with the thermometer registering more than 37 degrees for much of the month.

Meteorology department officials said this was completely unexpected, as temperatures in June are usually around 32 degrees.

The monsoon arrived in Assam on June 7, bringing some rain. But two days later, cyclonic winds developed in the northwest Bay of Bengal, diverting the monsoon winds and boosting mercury levels, according to MK Gupta, deputy director general of the regional meteorological centre.
“This sudden rise in temperature, which is being witnessed more recently, is an offshoot of climate change triggered by global warming,” RM Bhagat, a senior scientist at the Tocklai Experimental Station, a research centre in Assam, told Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Due to the heat wave, the district administrations stepped in urgently, and issued directives to all schools to change their class times from the usual hours of 9 am to around 3 pm. Some switched their timetable to between 7 am and 9 am, and others ran lessons from 9 am to 11 am for most of the month.
Kamrup Metro district was the first to make the move, followed by Dibrugarh district and several others that were also severely affected.
“This order was issued due to the ongoing heat wave across the state, and keeping in mind problems school children face in such inclement weather,” said Kamrup Metro district deputy commissioner Ashutosh Agnihotri.
School staff said they had never come across a situation where lesson times had to be changed because of the temperature.
“The month of June this year was warmer than usual from the beginning, and suddenly from the middle of the month the temperature shot up to almost 39 degrees Celsius, which is something completely unheard of,” said Pranjal Saikia, a senior teacher at the Jalukanibari higher secondary school in Jorhat district.
Saikia added that the heat was so fierce that some students were close to falling ill and had to be asked to take rest.
“The directive...regarding retiming of the classes was a big relief to both us and the students, and even on those days when the classes were retimed, we asked the students to drink an adequate amount of water while at school,” said Saikia.
In Guwahati, where the situation was far worse due to a lack of greenery and tree cover, schools even had to postpone their exams, which were scheduled for June.
“In our school the exams - which are usually held around the second or third week of June had to be postponed - and we brought forward the holidays,” said Sabita Gogoi, a senior teacher at Adarsha Asom Vidyalaya school in Kamrup Metro district. The summer vacation took place almost three weeks early, and exams were held in early August, the first time such a thing has happened in Assam, Gogoi added.
The situation was similar in Lakhimpur and Sivasagar, where there is more greenery and shade and less pollution.
“We changed the timing of our classes as soon as we got the directive from the district administration, and if the directive hadn’t been issued, many students would have fallen ill,” said Bijoy Nath, a senior teacher at Brahmaputra school in Sivasagar district, which is a green area with many tea estates.
District authorities have said they will monitor the weather situation, and issue further advice if needed. They are also planning to hold brain-storming sessions soon to seek solutions to the problem in case it happens again.
In a landmark 2011 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predicted that heat waves of greater magnitude would happen more often in the future, alongside other more extreme weather events around the globe.
In Assam, putting air conditioners (ACs) into classrooms is not a feasible option, said Kamrup Metro district deputy commissioner Agnihotri.
“There are a few private schools in the state which can afford to install ACs, but it is important to note that there are thousands of government schools and private schools with a limited budget where it is not possible at all,” he said.
Nonetheless, the administration is in favour of dealing with the situation, he added, spelling out a series of possible measures for the coming years.
“The administration will be focusing on changing school timings, ensuring that schools keep ample water in stock for the students, and also modifying school buildings through architectural changes,” Agnihotri said.
School representatives said they supported these ideas, which are within their capabilities.
“The steps...are practical ones, and can be done in all schools—whether big or small, government or private,” said Saikia.
The Assam health department said it had published advertisements in all the state’s major newspapers, advising people how to treat heat stroke, and to stay indoors whenever possible.
Amarjyoti Borah is a freelance writer based in northeast India.

Aasu for unity among ethnic groups in Assam

GUWAHATI: The All Assam Students' Union (Aasu) does not want disintegration of the age-old bonding between the indigenous ethnic groups in the name of creating separate states and blamed the Congress and its vote-bank politics for the present unrest in the state.

Reacting to intense separate state demands by Koch-Rajbongshis, Bodos, Karbis and Dimasas for the first time, Aasu asked the Centre to give constitutional safeguards to the ethnic groups.

The students' body, which had led a six-year-long mass movement to free the state from illegal migration from Bangladesh, believes that the Assamese community will lose its age-old identity with divisions among various ethnic groups. "The greater Assamese community is an assemblage of all indigenous ethnic groups living in the state and we can't think of separation of one ethnic group from the other. But we support the cause of constitutional safeguards for every indigenous ethnic group in the state," said Aasu adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjee.

"The root cause of the recent unrest in the state is the decision of the Congress-led UPA government to create Telangana. But one must know why the decision was taken. It's nothing but a clear tactic of Congress to gain more seats in the 2014 polls," said Bhattacharjee.

Aasu said the Centre has no sympathy for the common people but is only seeing its political mileage through the formation of Telangana. "The consequences are known to the government but still they took the decision. It reflects the government's vote-bank politics," he added.

Aasu said it has been planning a convention with all ethnic groups.

Student bodies in the state have always been playing the lead role in any movement. If it was AASU leading the anti-foreigners' movement in the late Seventies and early Eighties, separate state demand by Karbis and Dimasas, Bodos and Koch-Rajbongshis are also being led student bodies of their respective communities.

RDX to sabotage Independence Day celebration recovered, one arrested

HAFLONG (Assam): Nearly two kgs of RDX was recovered from a Dima Halam Daoga-Action faction (DHD-A) militant who was apprehended during an operation by security forces in Assam's Dima Hasao district, police said today.

Police and Assam Rifles personnel conducted a joint operation in Moulhoi village late last night and apprehended the militant from whom they recovered 1.8 kgs of RDX.

The militant has been identified as John Gabriel and the police claimed that during investigations he said that the outfit was planning to sabotage the forthcoming Independence Day celebrations by carrying out blasts at Haflong.

Life hit in Assam, violence in Karbi Anglong

Guwahati: Normal life was paralysed in lower Assam and Karbi Anglong today with violence and disruption of train services marking the beginning of bandhs by different organisations demanding a separate Bodoland.

A 48-hour bandh by All Bodo Students Union(ABSU) and another 1500-hour Assam strike, the longest so far in the region by United Democratic Peoples Front, began during the day to press for the demand.

ABSU had initially called a 60-hour bandh but reduced its duration in view of the coming Eid -ul-Fitr.

Train and road traffic was paralysed in lower Assam as bandh supporters squatted on railway tracks at Bijni and at several places on NH 31, official sources said. "North East Frontier Railway cancelled 11 trains plying within the state, while most major long distance trains including Rajdhani Express, Saraighat Express, Kamrup Express and Brahmaputra Mail are running behind schedule," a NF Railway spokesman said.

Incidents of damaging vehicles, burning of tyres and throwing of stones were reported from Bongaigaon, Chirang, Goalpara and Sonitpur.

All schools, colleges, markets, business and commercial establishments remained closed in response to the bandh call, the sources said.

The situation in trouble-torn Karbi Anglong was tense due to sporadic incidents of arson reported though curfew was relaxed for six hours from 8 AM.

The sources said agitators attempted to set ablaze a forest range office at Manja but was stopped by the security forces. Four persons have been arrested in this connection.

An all-party delegation from the district, including Congress MLAs and MPs, left for New Delhi during the day to ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde to grant a separate Karbi Anglong state along the lines of Telangana.