Four held in Delhi for gang-raping Assam woman

New Delhi, Nov 18 : Four people, including two juveniles, have been arrested on charges of gang rape and sexual assault of a 30-year-old woman from Assam, police said Sunday.

The woman and her male friend were beaten up by the four accused, who later gang raped her and inserted a stick in her private parts.

The incident took place in west Delhi's Mundka area Nov 9.

Police said all the four accused were neighbours of the woman.

Two of them have been sent to judicial custody, and the two juveniles sent to a correctional home.

The woman, who received severe injuries in her private parts, was discharged from a hospital Saturday.

In a statement to police, the woman alleged that the four accused barged into her house after consuming alcohol and attacked her and her male friend.

"She claimed that the accused gang raped her and one of them, Shahjahan, inserted a stick in her private parts," a police official said.

Police said Shahjahan reportedly wanted to marry the woman but she turned down his proposal.

Shahjahan, who also hails from Assam, did not like her friendship with her male friend from Uttar Pradesh, and threatened her to break her relationship with him, she said.

The woman alleged that Shahjahan was angry with her and he came to her house Nov 8 with his friends to take revenge.

"The male friend belongs to Kanpur in Uttar Pradesh. They worked in a shoe factory in Mundka. He wanted to marry her. For some time, he was bearing all her expenses and stopped her from working in the factory," the police official said.

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Assam arms haul: Report reveals GJM involvement

An investigation into the seizure of a huge cache of sophisticated arms and ammunition from the Assam-Bengal border has revealed the alleged involvement of a section of the Gorkha Janamukti Morcha (GJM) cadres in Darjeeling, who may have tried to smuggle in the consignment from Dimapur.

Sanjay Rai Thulung, a Gorkha Territorial Administration (GTA) sabhasad from Takdah-Glenburn was found absconding when police raided his house. A hunt is now on to nab him. Meanwhile, investigators said Umesh Karmi, who was arrested with the consignment, worked as the driver of GJM chief Bimal Gurung.

A couple of years ago, he started working as a transporter in the Assam-Bengal region. It is believed that Karmi, who is being questioned, stayed in touch with GJM leaders.

Besides Karmi (29), a resident of Lankapara in Jalpaiguri, the police also arrested Ganesh Chhetri (53), a resident of Assam’s Baksha district on Saturday. The two were allegedly carrying the consignment in a Tata Safari with a West Bengal registration number. A team of Bengal police questioned the duo, while Darjeeling district police is likely to plead for their custody next.

According to a police report submitted to the state Home department, the arrested persons revealed that they had been asked to carry the consignment to Darjeeling. It is learnt that some leaders in Darjeeling were trying to build an armed group, ‘Gorkha Liberation Army’. The report also said the GJM has split and one of the two groups is preparing for a fresh armed struggle.

Intelligence reports also hinted members of GJM youth wing, Gorkha Yuva Morcha, are disillusioned with the leadership and have allegedly talked about a fresh movement for Gorkhaland.

GJM forms panel to probe charge
Responding to the controversy over the alleged role of GJM cadres in smuggling of sophisticated arms into Darjeeling, GJM general secretary Roshan Giri said on Wednesday that the party has formed a five-member committee to probe into the involvement of GTA sabhasad Sanjay Rai Thulung and others in this episode.

“We believe in democracy and we will not support any form of violence. We have formed a five-member internal probe committee to look into the matter,” said Roshan Giri, the general secretary of the GJM. At an emergency central committee meeting of the GJM, the GJM leadership acknowledged a split in the party, particularly with a sizable section of the Yuva Morcha leaders moving away from the party.

Nine arrested for torturing Assam woman as 'witch'

Guwahati, Nov 13 : Nine people were arrested Wednesday in Assam's Sivasagar district for torturing a woman and branding her a 'witch', police said.

The incident took place Tuesday evening in Gorbhanga village.

Police said an elderly woman was singled out as a witch and the nine people incited others to torture her.

The woman was rescued by police after being informed by villagers and later admitted to a hospital.

Her relatives filed a police complaint, based on which the nine, including seven women, were arrested, police said.

Assam has recently seen a spike in cases related to 'witch-hunting'.

A veteran athlete in Karbi Anglong district was tortured last month, while three other women were tortured in Tinsukia district.

Over 140 people have been killed in the name of witch-hunting while several hundreds have been tortured in various places since 2002.

Although about 500 people have been arrested, investigation into many cases is pending due to shortage of police officials with detailed knowledge of the issue.

The practice of witch-hunting is common among some communities in Assam. Although various steps have been taken both by government agencies and NGOs to remove the social stigma, very little success has been achieved.

Assam Police had launched 'Project Prahari' for participatory development and people friendly policing to fight social maladies and deprivation. Under the project, police have launched an awareness drive against 'witch-hunting' in remote areas where tribal and Adivasi communities are in the majority.

Conspiracy against ST status demand

Kalyan Barooah

NEW DELHI, Nov 12 – Claiming that a mischievous propaganda is being carried out to show that the interest of scheduled tribes (ST) would suffer, Assam’s legislators have suggested that 13 per cent un-allotted quota in Assam could be allotted to the new communities, which are demanding ST status.

By seeking to address one of the key areas of concern expressed by the tribal communities, an all-party delegation of the Assam Assembly has sought to break the logjam over the issue of inclusion of six communities in the ST list.

A mischievous propaganda is being carried out to show that the interest of existing STs would suffer in case the new communities are included in the ST list, the memorandum, submitted by the all-party delegation to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Jual Oram, said.

“In Assam, we have only utilised 37 per cent of the total 50 per cent reserved by the Supreme Court. Out of this, 10 per cent is reserved for the existing plains tribes according to their population. There is still 13 per cent not allotted to anybody. This can easily be allotted to the new communities and this can be increased by safely deducting a part of the quota reserved for the OBC,” the memorandum said.

The Assam Assembly delegation led by Speaker Pranab Gogoi has relied heavily on the report and recommendation of the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed in July 1996. The Select Committee had recommended that Chutia, Garo, Tai Ahom, Matak, Moran, Hajong and Singhpo communities might be included in the list of ST.

While the views of the Registrar General of India (RGI) and other agencies are based on record, the finding of the Committee is based on personal knowledge and is definitely a class higher, the Assam Assembly memorandum said.

The Government of India took no decision on the Select Committee recommendation for about 17 years. Then in the name of streamlining the entry of new communities a ‘Task Force ‘has been now set up by the Ministry of Tribal Affairs on February 3 to create new criteria to further delay the entry of these communities, even after their claim has been upheld by the Select Committee, it said.

The delegation would like to point out that views of the RGI are the views of the Census Commissioner of India and cannot keep changing with the change of incumbent. The best and the correct views must be placed before the Parliament Committee.

Contractor fakes his abduction in Assam

Assam police suspects that Reddy, who failed to meet the deadline on his current project, wanted to get some more time from the National Highway Authority of India.
Assam police suspects that Reddy, who failed to meet the deadline on his current project, wanted to get some more time from the National Highway Authority of India.
Hyderabad: In a new twist to the Telugu contractor kidnap case in the Dima Hasao district of Assam, the police found that the man, P. Maheswar Reddy, 50, had faked the abduction. He fled to Patna by train after planning the kidnap drama.

As the police is yet to question Mr Reddy they have not revealed why he committed this act. However, Assam police suspects that Reddy, who failed to meet the deadline on his current project, wanted to get some more time from the National Highway Authority of India.

The cops also suspect that he has debts and wanted to escape lenders. The Assam police will initiate action against Mr Reddy and Bhargav for lodging a false complaint.

Dima Hasao SP Dr G.V. Siva Prasad said the police tracked him at the Patna railway station on Monday and he has agreed to come back.

Assam police suspects two reasons for Mr Reddy faking the kidnap. “He suffered losses in his previous project in Kashmir and has huge debts. Now, he is afraid that he cannot meet the deadline of his current project. NHAI will extend deadline only if there is a law and order issue, otherwise they will impose penalties. He planned the kidnap to get extension from NHAI,” the Assam police said.

He planned the drama as there were previous incidents of Telugus getting kidnapped. “We had a suspicion as the complainant Bhargav’s version and the modus operandi of militant groups did not match. We searched the area soon after he reported to us. We could not find anything. Mr Reddy’s behaviour was suspicious as he rejected our security,” said a senior official.

Sources from Assam police said that Mr Reddy had made a call to his family in Hyderabad on Sunday and revealed that he was not kidnapped. The Assam police, who tracked his mobile phone in Bihar, then got in touch with him.

Meanwhile, the complainant Mr Bhargav, has gone absconding after the FIR was issued. Police are now trying to track him.

Human trafficking intensifies in Assam, thanks to repeated floods and disasters

Human trafficking intensifies in Assam, thanks to repeated floods and disasters

New Delhi:
As the rapid recurring floods, disaster and ethnic conflicts hit Assam, the people there are witnessing a massive change in their livelihood pattern.
The deteriorating livelihood in Assam has made it a hot-spot for human traffickers.
Around 422 victims of human trafficking, mostly minors, were rescued by the Assam Police and arrested 281 offenders since 2011, according to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Official records show that of the total 93 victims of trafficking in 2011, 36 were minors and of these 36, 28 were girls.
The number of victims went up to 188 in 2013 and 94 were found to be below 18 years.
Infact, recently 59 minor girls from Assam were rescued from a factory in Mumbai, who were made to work for long hours without any food and rest and were paid a meager amount for their services.
However, apart from these rescued children, there are thousands of children who have been trafficked from Assam to other cities.
According to the media reports, over 4000 children have gone missing in the last five years, out of which around 2,718 are females.
The traffickers take advantage of violent incidents and riots when both police and the administration are busy in controlling the situationand trap the families by alluring them with money and take the children with them.
The traffickers usually sell these children to the placement agencies where girls are sold for prostitution, minor boys are taken out for cheap labour.
Most of the girls from Assam who fall prey of these traffickers end up in brothels in the various cities.
According to another media report, around 10 women are abducted on a daily basis in Assam, and most of them are left untraced.

Assam: Opposition demands discussion on school girl's killing by militants, border violence

Noisy scenes prevailed in the Assam Assembly on Monday as the Opposition parties - AGP, BJP, AIUDF and BPF demanded a discussion over violence along Assam-Nagaland border and killing of a school girl by NDFB(S) terrorists for allegedly being an informer of police.
While the Opposition AIUDF demanded resignation of the government as "it has no moral right", Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said the 16-year-old girl Priya Basumatary was "not a police informer".
As soon as the House met this morning, BPF MLA Pramila Rani Brahma raised the issue of killing of the girl at the beginning of the Question Hour, when Gogoi was present.
Joining her and adding the issue of violence at Uriamghat area in Golaghat district along the Assam-Nagaland border and the subsequent deterioration of law and order situation in the district, entire Opposition rose on their feet and shouted demanding a discussion over the two issues.
AIUDF's Abdur Rahim Khan said, "Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh -- everyone is killing Assamese people. This government has no moral right to stay and it should resign immediately."
Brahma then walked into the well of the House and stood just in front of the Speaker's table for around 10 minutes raising the law and order situation of the state. Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi said "Priya was killed a couple of days back but everyone kept silent. But after few days only, all started reacting and now you are also raising the issue... I will request the CM to make a statement after the Question Hour."
On this, AGP MLA Padma Hazarika said only a statement from the Chief Minister would not work and a discussion was needed as these two were very serious law and order issues.
Another AGP MLA Phani Bhusan Choudhury said the House can discuss the issue as per Section 144(2) of the rules of the Assembly proceedings provided the Speaker agrees to it. Congress MLA Himanta Biswa Sarma also urged the Speaker to give time to discuss the issues.

Assam losing Rs 200 crores annually due to floods: Economic Survey

Guwahati, Aug 20: Assam suffers an average loss of Rs 200 crore every year due to devastating floods with nearly 40 per cent of the state’s total land declared as flood-prone by the government. According to the Economic Survey, Assam for 2013-14 tabled in the Assembly during the ongoing Budget session, the average annual loss due to flood in Assam is to the tune of Rs 200 crore and in 1998, the loss suffered was about Rs 500 crore.

During 2004 it was about Rs 771 crore, the document said. The survey also pointed out that the national average of flood-prone area in the state was about a quarter of the total land area of the state. ”The flood-prone area of the state is 31,500 sq km as assessed by the Rastriya Barh Ayog which is about 39.58 per cent of the total land area of Assam. This is about 9.4 per cent of total flood-prone area of the whole country,” it said.
The survey said the flood-prone area of India as a whole stands at about 10.2 per cent of the total area of the country. ”Records show that average annual area affected by flood (in Assam) is 9.31 lakh hectares. The flood protected area of the state is 16,500 sq km (16.5 lakh hectares) till date,” the survey pointed out.
Besides, the scale of the problem has grown with massive erosion, which stands at an average rate of 8,000 hectares every year in the state with a total of 4.27 lakh hectares of land having been washed away since 1950. During post Independence period, Assam faced major floods in 1954, 1962, 1972, 1977, 1984, 1988, 1998, 2002 and 2004, the survey said.

Witch-hunting cases on the rise in Assam

GUWAHATI: People in the state perhaps still remember the ghastly incident in which 38 people of Shikarigaon, a remote village in Majuli Island, were branded as witches and ostracized by their fellow villagers last year. This was not the last case of witch-hunting in the state.

Last month, an elderly couple from Sapekhaiti village of Udalguri district, were chased out by villagers on a similar charge. Since then, the couple are spending their days in hiding. What is even more strange is that the husband is a former college principal.

Even as the state boasts of making progress on the economic and other fronts, there also many cases of witch-hunting and other superstitious practices that victimize scores of people and even take lives.

According to social activist and general secretary of Brothers, an NGO working against witch-hunting, Dibyajyoti Saikia, at least 20 cases of witch-hunting were reported and five persons killed so far this year.

Saikia said on Saturday that between 2008 to October 2013, 81 people were killed for being 'witches'.

"The superstition of witch-hunting has become a bane for the state. Cases are increasing. Yet we don't have a strong legislation to deal with the superstition," Saikia said.

With the budget session still going on, social organizations have upped the ante for placing a strong bill in the assembly to stop witch-hunting in the state.

"The chief minister had last year promised that a strong anti-superstition legislation would be put in place to fight witch-hunting in the state. But, we are yet to see such legislation. People are being harassed and killed in the name of witch-hunting. Our demand is that the government actively consider placing a bill in the assembly," Saikia said.

Saikia has threatened to agitate from August 25, demanding a strong legislation to fight witch-hunting and other superstitious practices in the state.

He observed that with the passage of time the practice of witch-hunting is becoming more complex with personal enmity and vested interest coming into play.

"There was a time when the majority of the victims were women. For the last seven to eight years, we have observed that 40 per cent of the victims were male. This calls for urgent attention from the government," Saikia added.

68 yrs on, Assam looks to revive financial fortune

Guwahati: From being one of the most prosperous states of the country post-Independence, to one of its poorest, Assam has been on a roller-coaster ride for 68 years.

However, as the country celebrates its 68th Independence Day, the state, with a prudent financial plan in place, has set itself a growth rate of 6.88%, above the national projection.

In 1950-51, Assam had an enviable per capita income of 4% above the national average. With floods, infiltration and militancy wreaking havoc, its per capita income dropped to 41% below the national average in 1998-99.

Said the Planning Commission, "What is more alarming is that the gap (between the state and national per capita income) is growing. Between 1980 and 1990, per capita income (at 1980-81 prices) grew by 20% in Assam, compared to 40% for India. Between 1980 and 1998, per capita income in Assam grew by 10%, compared to 39% for India."

For almost three decades, between 1951 and 1979, all was well with the state's finances as its economy grew at more or less the same rate as the rest of the country.

A report of the Planning Commission states, "Assam's per capita income fell due to a higher rate of population growth caused by immigration. Over the period, Assam's population grew at an average rate of around 4% per year. The widening disparity since 1980-81 is, however, due to slower growth of its economy. While the Indian economy grew at 6% between 1981 and 2000, Assam's GDP grew at 3.3%. While the growth rate of the Indian economy accelerated in the 1990s, Assam's economy decelerated."

There was a fall in the growth rate of electricity, gas and water supply and in the construction sector. Capital expenditure for development also fell and these resulted in fewer job opportunities and rising unemployment.

"Assam is the only major state in India that showed increasing rural poverty between 1957 and 1994," the commission report said.

It has identified small agriculture operational landholding size and agriculture development, floods and erosion, infiltration from Bangladesh and militancy as the causes for the downturn.

"Unless extortion by various insurgent groups is brought under control, industrial growth is unlikely to accelerate. Assam is a complex state with huge ethnic diversity, Bangladeshi immigrants and an educated middle-class frustrated by poor economic development," the commission suggested.

Then there was the six-year-long anti-foreigners movement which stalled all development activities in the state. The post-Assam Accord period wasn't much better. The Planning Commission, quoting data over a 15-year period, from 1984-85 to 1999, said the state recognizes the "failure of revenue receipts to meet...the rapidly growing expenditure commitments, particularly expenditure on salaries, wages, allowances and pensions".

There were heavy losses from negligible returns on capital expenditure on projects and investments in public-sector undertakings, declining buoyancy of state tax revenues and the consequent rising costs of public debt and higher borrowings.

The Economic Survey of Assam, 2013-14, states, "The fiscal reform measures adopted by the state started yielding favourable results since 2005-06 and moved with revenue and fiscal surplus during the period from 2005-06 to 2008-09 and subsequent years of 2010-11, 2011-12 and 2012-13.

Chief minister Tarun Gogoi is ready to scale new heights. While his rivals criticize him for the growing debt burden, which stands at Rs 27,248.16 crore, Gogoi sees this more as a device which will protect the government of cost escalation a decade later.

"Gujarat's debt burden is Rs 1.5 lakh crore and ours is just Rs 27,248 crore. I ask my officers to go for more loans because a loan taken today will protect me from rising costs 10 years later," Gogoi said.

Over 9,000 HIV cases in State

GUWAHATI, Aug 14 – Over 9,000 cases of HIV have been detected so far in Assam, the State government said today.

In a written reply in the Assembly on behalf of the Health Minister, State Agriculture Minister Nilamani Sen Deka said that as on March 31, 2014, a total of 9,110 cases of HIV (+ve) people had been detected in the State.

The highest number of such cases was in Kamrup Metro district (3,570), followed by Cachar (1,866), Dibrugarh (630), Nagaon (418) and Golaghat (304).

Deka said steps have been taken for prevention of HIV/AIDS, with the Assam State AIDS Control Society implementing the National AIDS Control Programme (NACP) as per the Department of AIDS Control’s strategic plan.

Targeted intervention among high risk groups like female sex workers, injecting drug users (IDU), truckers, migrants and others is being implemented through selected NGOs.

Unclaimed body of Assamese girl buried in Delhi

A dead body of northeast girl from Assam who committed suicide by hanging herself on the night July 12 at Kirti Nagar locality in New Delhi was buried today at Forlorn graveyard at Burari, New Delhi, after keeping for 11 days at DDU Hospital, New Delhi.

The unclaimed dead body was identified as one late Munde (20 years) from Assam was found hanging on July 12. She reportedly came to Delhi in search of domestic job after her parents expired
According to report received from Delhi, the in charge of the Assam Bhavan at New Delhi was informed on the incident at the time when Munde was found suicide. However, none of the representatives of Assam Bhavan responded nor her relatives came to claim the body.

The sources said that the body which was lying for 11 days was buried after cousin brother of a girl was informed and brought from Assam.
Sanjay Brahma, Delhi Police representing North East from Assam Police and North East, volunteers from Bangalore, North East officials from Delhi and priest conducted the last rite at forlorn graveyard.
It is also reported that the brother of the girl who lives in Bangalore was informed of the incident, however due to poverty he could not come to Delhi for the last rite.
The North East People of New Delhi have expressed gratitude to Alemtemsu Jamir, former Chief Secretary of Nagaland, for providing coffin and other materials for the burial. It has also thanked Sanjay Brahma, Delhi Police, for taking all the troubles till the last rite, and the North East volunteers from Bangalore for their presence and initiation for the last rite of the body and many well wishers for every contribution for conducting the last rite.
Meanwhile, North East People of Delhi have expressed displeasure on the part of Assam Bhavan New Delhi, who in spite of putting repeated attention on the incident, did not response nor from Assam state Government to claim the body which was kept for 11 days at DDU Hospital Delhi.

Mass protest in Assam’s BTAD after killing of a student leader

Guwahati: The Mushalpur area of Baksa district in Assam’s Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) witnessed mass protest on Thursday following the killing of one student leader Manoj Das on Wednesday evening.
The protestors are demanding the arrest of the culprits who gunned down Das who was associated with a non-Bodo organization -- Oboro Suraksha Samittee. The protestors are also refusing to perform the last rites of the deceased student leader till the culprits are booked.

The villagers carry the body of slain student leader Manoj Das at Mushalpur area on Thursday.
The villagers carry the body of slain student leader Manoj Das at Mushalpur area on Thursday.
On Thursday, the Baksa district administration imposed curfew so that the law and order situation does not deteriorate further. Police also fired tear gas cells to disperse the agitating public.
According to police reports at around 7.05 pm on Wednesday evening some unidentified miscreants fired at Manoj Das (35), son of Prabhat Das of Belguri Pathar (Sirish Bari) under Mashalpur Police Station when he was about to leave for his residence along with his sick father who came to a pharmacy.
Many suspect it to be a handy work of former militants of Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) for supporting a non-Bodo candidate during the Lok Sabha election in the Kokrajhar constituency. Non-Bodo candidate Heera alias Naba Kumar Sarania emerged victorious in a huge margin against the candidates of Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) and Bodoland People’s Progressive Front (BPPF).
Several organizations and students’ bodies have condemned the incident and demanded arrest of the culprit.
“Manoj Das was killed by the militants of BLT for supporting Heera Sarania in the Lok Sabha polls. We demand that the culprits should be booked immediately and the government should ensure peace in the region,” said Zamsher Ali, president of BTAD Citizen Rights Forum (BCRF) who is also the chief spokesperson of Sanmilito Jonogosthiyo Oikya Mancho (SJPOM), an umbrella body of different non-Bodo organizations.
All Assam Minority Students’ Union (AAMSU), All BTC Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) and others too staged protest throughout the day at different places of BTAD demanding the arrest of the culprits.
“This is a serious matter of concern. The people are being killed every day in the BTAD area but the government and administration are not doing enough for the safety and security of the common people. We demand that the administration should put all the efforts to nab the culprits,” said AAMSU vice president Ainuddin Ahmed.
Baska police has launched operation in the district to apprehend the culprits. Inspector General of Police S.N. Singh has also moved to Mashalpur to supervise the situation.
A few days ago four Muslim traders were also killed by Bodo militants in Baksa district. Besides another 45 people of Muslim community were also gunned down by the militants in May this year. However, no major step was taken the state government.
Kokrajhar MP Heera Sarania also condemned the incident and he vowed to raise the issue in the parliament. “We have been appealing to the government to take necessary action to stop the killings of human being but it is still going on. We condemn such act of violence and barbarism. We will raise the issue in the parliament,” Sarania said.
The availability of illegal arms is believed to be one prime reason for these rampant killings. A delegation of SJPOM will shortly visit the union home minister Rajnath Singh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Pranab Mukherjee seeking solution to the problems of BTAD.
“The state government has utterly failed to control the killings in the BTAD. Time and again we have been appealing the chief minister Tarun Gogoi but in vain. During meetings he approved of doing things but in reality those things never take place. So we will meet the central ministers and president for their intervention,” SJPOM chief spokes person Zamsher Ali told
A senior police official of the state said more than 100 illegal arms were seized in BTAD during the time of elections. He added that since January this year, 42 militants of National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Songbijit faction) have laid down their arms, while 18 others have been killed in encounters by police and the Army. According to sources, there are more than 200 members of NDFB(S) active in BTAD at present.
Along with others the Bodo Sahitya Sabha (BSS), the literary body of Bodo people, has also condemned the killing of Das. In a statement issued by the literary body appealed the public to maintain peace and harmony.

Japanese Encephalitis claims 165 lives in Assam

Japanese encephalitis claimed 165 lives in Guwahati. ( Express photo by Partha Paul )
Japanese encephalitis claimed 165 lives in Guwahati. ( Express photo by Partha Paul )


The CM directed the officials to ensure adequate supply of vaccine and medicine to big hospitals. A total of 165 persons have lost their lives in Assam due to Japanese Encephalitis and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome, prompting Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to call an emergency meeting with health officials on Wednesday.

According to an official release, Gogoi held an emergency meeting to review the health scenario with senior officials in the backdrop of outbreak of Japanese Encephalitis (JE) and Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).

“Reviewing the health scenario in the backdrop of growing incidence of JE and AES in the state which has claimed 165 lives so far, Chief Minister Gogoi directed the health authorities to gear up on war-footing to control the diseases from spreading to newer areas,” the release said.

While AES accounted for 60 per cent of the cases covering 24 districts this year, JE was responsible for 40 per cent of the cases in mainly lower Assam districts, it said.

Gogoi asked the officials to make a comprehensive action plan to control JE and AES, including setting up of an ICU in each district hospital for treatment of emergency cases along with and laboratory testing units, the release said.

He directed the health officials to procure laboratory testing kits for quick diagnosis of cases and also to carry out intensive fogging in the affected and nearby areas and also conduct awareness campaigns by involving the panchayats.

The Chief Minister directed the officials to ensure adequate supply of vaccine and medicine to big hospitals, district hospitals and other health centres.
“Ensure that there is no shortage of medicine. Procure the required medicine, specially life saving drugs and make them available at all health centres immediately. Speedy treatment must be ensured to save precious lives. Funds would be no constraints in tackling the situation,” he added.
Gogoi directed senior officials of the Public Health Engineering Department (PHED) to speed up the conversion work of shallow tube wells into deep tube wells, specially in affected areas to bring down the cases of AES disease.
“Proper mapping of areas where water-borne diseases are acute, must be carried out by the PHED and necessary measures be taken up to provide clean drinking water to arrest the incidence of AES cases,” he said and further directed the health officials to expedite the process for setting up the Assam State Health Corporation.
“The health officials apprised the Chief Minister that the process is on and the proposal will be placed in the Cabinet soon,” the statement said. The meeting was attended by Chief Secretary Jitesh Khosla, Principal Secretary to CM MGVK Bhanu, Principal Secretary for Health and Family Welfare Sanjeeva Kumar, NRHM Managing Director Manish Thakur and other senior officials of the PHED.

Tarun Gogoi may finally be replaced as Assam CM this week

 NEW DELHI: Tarun Gogoi may be ejected as chief minister of Assam this week.

The likelihood of his immediate replacement comes in the wake of the report submitted to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi by central observer Mallikarjuna Kharge who went to Guwahati to seek the views of MLAs and MPs last month. Kharge is said to have said that a majority of party MLAs are in favour of a change of guard.

Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, who has been leading the dissidence against Gogoi, is likely to be the next chief minister. Sarma was a close confidant of Gogoi before the two fell out some time back.

Gogoi's exit would mean the first scalp following Congress's Lok Sabha rout, with the sword also hanging over Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan. Congress was nearly swept out in Assam and Maharashtra contrary to pre-poll expectations that it would post a decent performance. BJP posted its best show ever in both the states.

Sources said the party has taken the decision on Gogoi and the Assam government could see a new leader as early as this week. A senior Assam leader said the state unit was eagerly awaiting the change of guard so that it can begin the repair work on the organizational front.

This is likely to scale up expectations in the Congress over the post-rout overhaul promised by the leadership. The Antony committee is set to submit its report on the reasons of the LS debacle any time now. The informal panel was entrusted the task of documenting the views of state leaders on the reasons of defeat after Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi had held discussions with main players of all states.

The report may also decide on the fate of Maharashtra chief minister. His removal had appeared near certain before it was put on hold by the leadership following discussions with ally NCP. The state government later took critical decisions like giving job quotas to Maratha and Muslim communities, putting a question mark on the removal. Maharashtra goes to polls in October along with Haryana.

SBI ATM lifted from kiosk, money looted in Assam

Rangiya (Assam): A State Bank of India's ATM was uprooted from its kiosk and Rs 5.38 lakh were looted from it by robbers in Kamrup (Rural) district, police said on Tuesday.

The bank's agents had deposited Rs 45 lakh in the ATM near the Rangiya railway station last evening and a group of about 12 robber came late last night and lifted the entire machine and looted Rs 5.38 lakh while the remaining amount had been already withdrawn. The ATM was yet to be traced.

Rangiya Sub-divisional Police Officer Kanteswar Gogoi along with other police officials visited the spot this morning and suspected that the agents had not fitted the machine properly.

Gogoi said they suspected that some members of the agency responsible for depositing money were conniving with some persons to loot money from ATMs by lifting the machines which were not installed properly.

There was no security personnel, who are usually appointed by the agency, at the ATM, Gogoi said.

A similar incident had occurred in Rangia about a month ago with the machine later recovered from a pond, but an amount of Rs 25 lakh which was looted was yet to be recovered. Gogoi said that they had started investigations and would soon arrest the culprits.

Gogoi urges PM for early creation of BRVA and IIM

Gogoi urges PM for early creation of BRVA and IIM Assam CM Tarun Gogoi today sought PM Narendra Modi's intervention for creation of the proposed Brahmaputra River Valley Authority by revamping the existing. Brahmaputra Board.

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi has sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi's intervention for creation of the proposed Brahmaputra River Valley Authority (BRVA) and an IIM in Assam.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Gogoi sought the BRVA to be created by revamping and restructuring the existing Brahmaputra Board within a short time frame.

Gogoi in his letter said the creation of BRVA was of paramount importance to tackle the perpetual flood and erosion problem and water-related hazards in Assam and the North East as a whole.

"We are facing formidable challenges in flood and erosion management sector due to non-implementation of integrated water resources management of the complex Brahmaputra river system since long," Gogoi said.

A chief minister's office (CMO) press release quoted Gogoi as also writing, "Though Government of India had announced creation of the North East Water Resources Authority (NEWRA) for harnessing vast water resources of North East region in 2004, it did not materialise due to objections raised by Arunachal Pradesh".

"Till this matter is resolved, Government of India may constitute the BRVA to tackle the flood and erosion problems in the region", he said.

A proposal for creation of BRVA is under active consideration of the central government and Assam Government has already placed its requisite views before government of India during November 2012, the release said.

The chief minister also urged the Prime Minister for early approval of the Flood and Erosion Management Project of the Brahmaputra and Barak Valleys by the ministry of water resources.

Gogoi further urged Modi to facilitate the establishment of an Indian Institute of Management in Guwahati. "A number of management and technical institutes and universities have come up in the public and private sectors, including the Indian Institute of Information Technology, IIT-Guwahati and NIT, Silchar, in the past decade or so".

Flash floods hit Guwahati, eight die of electrocution

At least eight people, including three members of a family, were killed here due to landslides and flash floods triggered by incessant rain since Thursday night, officials said Friday.

Four persons were killed due to landslides in two places while another four died due to electrocution in four different locations, the officials said. Another person remained missing after he was washed away by the surging waters of the Bharalu river.

"Three members of a family Kanak Barman (45), Pratima Barman (12) and Tulasi Barman (8) lost their lives in a landslide that took place Thursday night in Narakasur area," said Rajib Prakash Baruah, deputy commissioner in-charge of Kamrup (Metro) district.

He said another woman died in Bamunimaidam area due to landslide.

Baruah said Bhaskarjyoti Das (48), Dinesh Das (55), Prafulla Das (46) and Suren Bharali (57) died due to electrocution.

The district administration announced an ex-gratia of Rs.10,000 each to the families of the victims.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who visited the inundated areas of the city Friday to assess the situation, said the state government would pay adequate compensation to the families of the deceased.

The flash floods submerged the MLA Hostel and the houses of some ministers.

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Large number of fish die in three rivers in Assam

A large number of fish were reported dead due to water pollution of three major rivers -- Kolong, Kopili and Kiling -- in Morigaon district, causing concern among environmentalists.

According to information received by the Revenue Department, arsenic poisoning from the ground water was suspected to have mixed with the rivers in spate resulting in the death of various types of fish during the last three days.

Satating thousands of dead fish were seen floating on the rivers, Revenue Department sources feared other aquatic beings might also have been affected.

Arsenic pollution was also reported in neighbouring district of Karbi Anglong and parts of Nagaon's western and southern parts, besides along the inter-state Meghalaya border causing outbreak of viral diseases affecting the throat.

The Revenue Department has informed the Geological Survey of India about the situation and asked them to study the soil and the exact cause for the pollution.

Environmentalists were also concerned about the loss of fish in the three rivers.

Former AASU leader joins BJP

Golaghat, June 26 : Former vice-president of All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and prominent student leader Jatin Bora today joined the BJP during a ceremony at Amateur theatre hall here.

Bora also held the post of finance secretary of the students’ body for two consecutive terms from 1994 to 2005.

At the time when there is a buzz about many top ranking leaders of the students’ union will be joining the BJP, today’s event has proved to be an important turning point for the party.

Describing the event as a proud one for the BJP, Phonindra Nath Sarma, organising general secretary of the party, said it was a welcome move and Bora’s inclusion would definitely provide a boost to the party and he was hopeful that Bora would carry the party’s prospect in the state.

Justifying his decision to join the BJP, Bora said, “The BJP has got some long-term goals and I support its principles and ethics. The BJP is the only national party which has supported Assam Movement and I am hopeful of solving the regional problems with the BJP by my side because the development of Assam is not possible without Delhi.”

More than 1,000 AGP and Congress workers also joined the BJP today along with Mridul Sarma, a businessman of the district, Sanjib Das, former general-secretary of Trinamul Congress and Anu Tamuly, an advocate.

The induction ceremony was presided by Kailash Goswami, general secretary of BJP Golaghat district unit, and it was attended by Santanu Bhorali, general secretary of the BJP, Porimal Sukla Baidya, senior leader of the party and Prasanta Goswami, organising secretary of the party.

Assam ranks 30th among 35 states on education index

GUWAHATI: Assam has finished a poor 30th among 35 states and union territories in the composite educational development index (EDI) in upper and lower primary levels taken together for the year 2013-14 in the country. The state's position is even worse at 32nd when the EDI of only the primary level is taken into account.

The only silver lining for the state is that in the outcome category in the primary level only, which includes rates of student enrolment and drop-outs, it has ranked number one in the country and fifth in the country in upper primary level. A set of 24 indicators have been used in computing EDI which are re-grouped into four sub-groups - access, infrastructure, teachers and outcome indicators. Only five states - Madhya Pradesh (31), West Bengal (32), Jharkhand (33), Bihar (34) and Uttar Pradesh (35) - are below Assam, according to the report published by the National University of Educational Planning and Administration and the Union HRD ministry this week. The top five states with best EDI in lower and upper primary levels are Puducherry at number one followed by Lakshwadeep, Sikkim, Himachal Pradesh and Karnataka. All other northeastern states have been ranked above Assam.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi likely to be replaced?

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi. Photo: PTI
Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi. Photo: PTI
Guwahati: The Congress is looking at three states simultaneously on the issue of a leadership change – Maharasthra, Assam and Haryana.

According to reports, Assam appears to be heading for the change. Chances of Tarun Gogoi being replaced is high as Gogoi himself neither denied nor confirmed reports of his resignation.

“I won't say yes, I won’t say no,” Gogoi told a newspaper. “How can I say that when the decision rests on the (party) high command?” Gogoi said.

Gogoi has been the chief minister for the last 13 years.

There are talks about Maharashtra chief minister Prithviraj Chavan being replaced as well.

Film on Assam girls who are 'bending it like Beckham'

Guwahati, Jun 20 (PTI) At a time when the country is in the grip of World Cup fever, a film brings out the inspiring tale of 40-odd girls from poor, agrarian families who are 'bending it like Beckham' in the hope that football will kick them out of drudgery.

"Soccer Queens of Rani" is about the passion of these girls from Rani area near here along Assam's border with Meghalaya.

Gecko reptiles recovered from train in Assam

Haflong (Assam), Jun 19 : Six endangered Gecko reptiles were recovered from a passenger train by Railway Police today, GRPF officials said.

The reptiles were recovered from Lumding bound up Agartala Express this morning, GRPF OC in Lower Haflong station Amar Jhon said.

A team of railway police was on routine duty and found two abandoned carton in the three-tier coach of the train and on opening them, six reptiles were found inside two boxes, he said.

Spend oil royalty on education: AASU

GUWAHATI, Jun 18 – All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) today demanded that the sum of Rs 10,000 crore being received by the State from the Centre against oil royalty, following a Supreme Court of India order, should be spent on the development of the State education sector.

The student body presented a scheme for the purpose in a statement issued here this evening and said that the State government should pay Rs 500 crore to each of the universities in the State. It should pay an amount of Rs 200 crore each to the new universities of the State.

The government should impose a condition on the universities that they should spend these sums of money on improving their existing infrastructure and developing new ones.

The universities should develop their new infrastructure in such a manner that more and more students can avail the chance of taking up modern courses on new topics within the State itself. The laboratories of the universities should be built afresh, new hostels for the students should also be built, and the hostels should have all the modern amenities. The universities should have modern facilities for sports and gymnastics-related activities and ultramodern libraries, auditorium and convention centres, said the student body.

With the same conditions, the State government should pay a sum of at least Rs 200 crore to each of the medical, engineering, homeopathic, Ayurvedic, agricultural, veterinary science, fisheries, home science colleges and polytechnics, it said.

Similarly, law colleges should also be provided modern facilities. One law university should be set up and an amount of at least Rs 100 crore should be spent on modernizing each of the Industrial Training Institutes, said the student body.

It further said that there should be at least five universities on professional subjects. There should be a futuristic programme to develop technical human resources of the State in these universities, it said.

Assam govt asked to submit report on rhino poaching at Kaziranga

The Gauhati High Court on Thursday asked Assam government to submit a comprehensive report on rhino poaching and encroachment in Kaziranga National Park by August 5 this year.

Hearing a suo motu PIL by the High Court, a division bench comprising Justices Abhay Manohar Sapre and Ujjal Bhuyan asked the government to submit the report.

KNP Director M K Yadav was present and informed the court on breeding and conservation of rhinos at KNP.

On the basis of a news report, the High Court had registered a suo motu PIL and directed the KNP Director to prepare a detailed report on problems faced by the Park authorities and measures undertaken to handle them.

The Forest Department had filed an affidavit stating inter alia the measures taken by the government to check and control the poaching menace.

Weapons of slain Assam police officer, PSO recovered

Diphu: Huge quantities of arms and ammunition, including weapons of slain police officer Nityanand Goswami and his PSO, were recovered on Wednesday during an operation by police along the Assam-Meghalaya border.

The operation was launched in Kanduli area in Assam's Hamren police district based on information provided by 10 United Peoples Liberation Army (UPLA) militants arrested yesterday for their alleged involvement in the killing of Goswami and his PSO Ratul Nunisa.

Hamren SP Debojit Deuri, who led the operation, told PTI the 9 mm pistol of Goswami and Nunisa's AK-47 rifle were recovered from the area during the operation.

Besides, six AK-47 rifles, a M-16 rifle, a SBBL gun, 10 mortar cells, 21 grenades and 356 cartridges were also recovered from the area, he said.

Operations in the area would continue, Deuri added.

Ten UPLA militants, including its self-styled commander-in-chief (C-in-C) and deputy C-in-C, allegedly involved in Goswami and his PSO, were arrested yesterday.

Goswami was leading an operation on June 5 against the insurgent group in remote Rongthang forest area when they came face to face with a large group of ultras who opened fire on them killing the duo on the spot.

Operations have been stepped up in the district following the killing of the police officer and his PSO, Deuri said.

Bodoland Muslims stage protest in Delhi

Muslims from BTAD staging a protest at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday. Photo: Meeta Ahlawat
Muslims from BTAD staging a protest at Jantar Mantar on Tuesday. Photo: Meeta Ahlawat
Muslims from the violence-affected areas of Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) staged a protest against the “reign of terror unleashed by Bodos and overlooked by the Congress-led Assam Government” at Jantar Mantar here on Tuesday.
Some of the protesters belonged to the areas where 31 Muslims were gunned down by militants last month. They came under the aegis of the All BTC Minority Students Union to demand a secure environment for the non-Bodos, especially Muslims, living in BTAD.
The militant groups as well as many Bodos label all Muslims in the region as Bangladeshi immigrants and have been demanding their ouster.
“My family has been living in Assam much before I or many others, who label us outsiders, were born. But today we find ourselves in a situation where the language we speak (Bangla) has become a tool for the Bodos to identify and persecute us. The State government has failed to protect us and that is what brings us here,” said 55-year-old Umar Farooq, one of the protesters.
ABMSU members said that they had lost hope of getting any help from the State government and had come to Delhi to knock at the doors of the Centre. They alleged both the Congress and representatives from the Bodoland Territorial Council of playing politics with their safety.

One Killed in Police Firing in Assam

One person was killed and another injured when security men fired to prevent theft at a construction camp of the Powergrid Corporation of India at Diju Chapori in Assam's Lakhimpur district, police said.

On being prevented from stealing power line instruments and construction materials last night, two alleged thieves attacked Home Guard personnel, forcing them to retaliate by firing seven rounds, OC of Lakhimpur police station Shasidhar Sarma today said.

The deceased, identified as Madan Sarma, succumbed to his injuries in a hospital, while an injured Imran Hussain was undergoing treatment, Sarma said.

Angered by the incident, some local people attacked the camp and set it on fire damaging construction materials and an excavator there, he said.

They claimed that the security men had attacked the duo without any reason when they were returning from a nearby market. They also demanded compensation, he added.

Gogoi to face trial of strength to end rebellion

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi will prove his strength in the Congress legislature party (CLP) to end the dissidence plaguing the party for two years now.

Rebel ministers and party MLAs have challenged Gogoi's leadership and renewed their demand for his ouster soon after the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha election.

"Gogoi, who will return from New Delhi on Thursday, will take the trial of strength either in the form of signatures by MLAs or face a special sitting of CLP," a source said. Both Gogoi loyalists and dissidents claim to have the numbers on their side even as the name of Tripura governor Devananda Konwar is doing the rounds as Gogoi's replacement.

AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Tuesday intervened to resolve the dissidence in the state. After two sessions of meetings on Tuesday, Gogoi met Rahul again in New Delhi on Wednesday. The chief minister's office said Gogoi will return from the national capital on Thursday.

"Rahul Gandhi has asked a three-member team to cooperate with the chief minister and help him restore stability in the party. But the chief minister wants a permanent solution with the high command's approval and has proposed to take the trust test. This could be done either by submitting signatures of MLAs from both the camps or by voice vote at the CLP meeting," a close aide of the chief minister said.

This new development was necessitated after a compromise formula devised by a three-member AICC team to end the crisis failed.

The chief minister's camp has already activated itself to gather the numbers even as the dissident group on Wednesday claimed that it has 52 members on its side. Congress has 78 MLAs in the assembly, including speaker Pranab Gogoi, and Gogoi would need the support of at least 39 of them to stamp his authority.

Aasu slams government on power crisis

GUWAHATI: All Assam Students' Union (Aasu) on Monday lashed out at the state government for 'failing miserably' to meet the state's power requirements.

A day after Assam power and industries minister Pradyut Bordoloi accused Aasu of halting development in the state, the students' body refuted the charges levelled by the minister. Addressing a news conference, Aasu adviser Samujjal Bhattacharya said Assam had gained from Aasu's relentless struggle and the union had contributed to landmark projects like the Numaligarh refinery and IIT-Guwahati.

Ridiculing Bordoloi's statement, Bhattacharya said, "Due to inaction showed by chief minister Tarun Gogoi and power minister Pradyut Bordoloi, Assam is reeling from a power crisis today. Their proposed power generation plants never materialized and the power generation capacity of existing plants decreased," Bhattacharya added. He demanded that the state power and industries department must come up with a white paper on its work.

He said if the power generation capacity of the Karbi Langpi, Namrup and Lakwa power plants were enhanced and the Bongaigaon Thermal Power Station (BTPS), the coal-based power plant in Margherita and the plant in Chandrapur near Guwahati started functioning, Assam's power generation would increase beyond 1,000 MW.

Aasu president Sankar Prasad Rai said, at a time the state required 1,200 to 1,500 MW during peak hours, Assam could generate only between 325 MW to 350 MW power from its plants. This had made the state dependant on other states and agencies for power, he said.

General secretary of Aasu Tapan Kumar Gogoi said the students' body would continue to oppose the construction of big dams in the highly seismic upper reaches of the Brahmaputra if the government went ahead with its projects to meet power requirements. He said Aasu wanted the government to initiate small but safe projects on rivers.

"Aasu is not against development, but we do not want development which will destroy lives and property," Gogoi said.

BJP puts illegal migrants on notice


GUWAHATI : Atmosphere surcharged in Assam after the newly-elected Assam BJP MPs issued an ultimatum to illegal immigrants to start voluntarily leaving Assam.Announcing to start the campaign to drive out illegal Bangladeshi migrants from his home constituency Jorhat, BJP MP Kamakhya Prasad Tasha told reporters, “The campaign will be initiated by Bharatiya Janata Yuva Marcha (BJYM), the youth wing of the party, within the next 15 days. In a first phase of the campaign, we will appeal to illegal immigrants to leave our land voluntarily in next 15 days. We are also going to launch a house-to-house campaign urging people not to engage these immigrants in any kind of work.”

After the extended office-bearers’ meet held at the Kaziranga convention centre, Mr Tasha, a leader from tea-tribe community, said, “The decision was taken at a meeting of the office bearers which was chaired by Union minister of state for sports and youth affairs, skill development and entrepreneurship (Independent Charge) Sarbananda Sonowal.”

Mr Sonowal, who is also the Assam BJP president, said, “I had a meeting with Kiren Rijiju, Union minister of state for home affairs, regarding flushing out of illegal immigrants from Assam.”Informing that government will establish more foreigners’ tribunals to identify and deport immigrants from the state, Mr Sonowal said, “The party has deliberately selected Kaziranga for its officer bearers meet to send a strong message to illegal migrants who are encroaching the national park for quite some time.”The BJP also chose this venue for meeting to register opposition of the party against the state government’s alleged failure in stopping rampant killing of precious rhino in the national park.

Village Financial Services enters Assam

City-based Village Financial Services today announced commencement of its operation in Assam to tap opportunities available in the Northeast.

The company in a statement said that its first branch in Assam and 103rd overall had been opened in Dhubri district.

It would be a full-service rural branch providing micro-lending services. The company plans to expand in other Northeastern states as well to reach out to rural women.

The company also aims to raise its customer base from 145000 to 200000 poor households by the end of fiscal year 2014-15, the company said.

Students demand governor's rule in Assam

Guwahati, May 29 : All Bodoland Minority Students Union (ABMSU) in Assam took to streets and demanded governor's rule in areas hit by violence between indigenous tribesmen and settlers, which left 47 people dead and tens of thousands homeless.

Around 31 Muslims were gunned down in three days of what police said were attacks by tribal militants who resent the presence of immigrants from neighbouring Bangladesh.

Last month, more than 40 people from the Bengali speaking minority community were killed in Baksa district in Assam including Kokrajhar district.

President of the students union, Sahabuddil Ali Ahmed, urged the Assam as well as the federal government to seize illegal arms in Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) areas.

"We have demanded Assam and the federal government to tackle the possession of illegal arms. We have demanded governor's rule in the BTAD (Bodoland Territorial Autonomous District) regions to ensure peace," said Ahmed.

Meanwhile, general secretary of the students union, Lafiqul Islam Ahmed, criticized former Congress party-led UPA government for the unrest.

"This was Congress government's policy. UPA chief Sonia Gandhi and interior minister Sushilkumar Shinde were equally responsible for the conspiracy. And especially Assam Chief Minister along with Congress and BPF (Bodoland People's Front) politicised the issue to remove Muslims from Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD) areas. So we demand that the chief minister, Tarun Gogoi, should resign as soon as possible," he said.

Bodo representatives say many of the Muslims in Assam are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who encroach on ancestral Bodo lands. In 2012, clashes erupted in which dozens of people were killed and 400,000 fled their homes.

Rebels in Delhi for Gogoi ouster

NEW DELHI, May 28 – The last word on the State Congress dissidence has not been said yet, as the group of disgruntled MLAs have landed in the capital to meet AICC leaders to press for their demand for removal of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Within hours of Chief Minister Gogoi’s departure for Assam, the disgruntled MLAs landed here in batches from Guwahati. In all, an estimated 20 MLAs are expected to arrive, said sources in the dissident camp.

The sources said they have been invited by the AICC-appointed team of advisers. Though officially it has not been announced, a team has been constituted under the leadership of Ghulam Nabi Azad to look into the grievances of Himanta Biswa Sarma’s group. The other members of the team include Dr CP Joshi, who is the general secretary in-charge for Assam, and party treasurer Motilal Vohra.

While rejecting Gogoi’s resignation plea, the AICC had assured the rebel group that a team of observers would be appointed to talk to them.

While the group is gunning for Chief Minister’s head, Gogoi loyalists, however, are also upset with him for his handling of the situation.

According to sources in the Chief Minister’s camp, the AICC high command had given Gogoi a free hand to reshuffle his Council of Ministers, while asking him to continue.

But now, he appears to be reluctant to drop the trouble makers in his ministry, including Himanta Biswa Sarma.

“We are very disappointed and hence have decided not to come to Delhi anymore on behalf of the Chief Minister. At least 34 MLAs and Ministers had rushed to Delhi last week in support of the Chief Minister after the disgruntled MLAs raised the banner of revolt in Guwahati,” said a leader in the Chief Minister’s camp.

The Chief Minister had, in fact, told this newspaper that he had made up his mind to quit as he was hurt by the turn of events.

Meanwhile, the rebel group led by senior MLA Sarat Borkotoki is likely to meet the three-member team of observers on Wednesday.

46 MLAs to Oppose Gogoi's Leadership in Assam

Despite Congress president Sonia Gandhi rejecting Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's resignation today and asking him to continue in office, 46 disgruntled MLAs have decided to meet the Governor tomorrow to apprise him about their opposition to Gogoi's leadership.

Former minister and senior Congress leader Sarat Borkatoky told reporters, "46 legislators will go together to apprise Governor J B Patnaik about the situation. We have got an appointment with the Governor at 5 PM tomorrow."

After a meeting of the disgruntled Congress legislators in his official MLA residence here, Borkatoky said they would meet at 11 AM tomorrow to discuss on what to tell the Governor.

"Our resolution was that we have no faith in Gogoi's leadership. But when high command has gone against it, we have no option but to go to the Governor," he asserted.

"If we have to remain in the electoral politics, then we have to have change in the leadership. We have also asked for a Congress Legislature Party (CLP) meeting to be called where we will say we have no faith in Gogoi's leadership", Borkotoky added.

Minister Siddique Ahmed said, "We have prepared a document stating our position".

Education Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, considered to be leading the dissident camp, told reporters after tonight's meeting, "C P Joshi (Congress leader in-charge of Assam) told me from Delhi that our high command has not taken any decision yet on Gogoi's resignation, but will do so shortly".

"Joshi also said a Congress central observer will be sent to Guwahati soon and take the opinion of each MLA on change of leadership in the government. In the interest of Congress he asked me to urge the MLAs to wait for Sonia Gandhi's decision", Sarma said.

To a query, he said, "I will not go to the Governor tomorrow as I am a minister. To go to the Governor I have to first resign from my ministership."

Asked if the Gogoi government was likely to fall if the 46 MLAs go to the Governor tomorrow, Sarma said, "We cannot allow a situation where the MLAs go to meet the Governor. Even if 16 MLAs withdraw their support then the government will not continue."

Congress has 78 MLAs in the 126-member Assam Assembly.

On Tuesday, 45 of the 78 Congress MLAs considered to be from the dissident MLAs camp opposing Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's leadership, had resolved to send a letter to Sonia Gandhi on the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha elections in Assam.

Gogoi on the day of the poll results on May 16, after his party was reduced from seven to three seats, had announced he would submit his resignation to Sonia owing moral responsibility for the debacle.

Prominent MLAs in the dissident camp include former chief minister Bhumidhar Barman, ministers Himanta Biswa Sarma, Gautam Roy, Ardhendu Dey, Siddique Ahmed, former ministers Sarat Borkotoky, Gautam Bora, MLAs Abdul Muhib Majumdar, Rumi Nath, Jayanta Malla Barua, Rekibuddin Ahmed, Hemanta Talukdar.

Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to meet Sonia Gandhi with resignation

GUWAHATI: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday arrived in New Delhi to offer his resignation to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and seek her directives on his future role.

This comes as dissidents have once again called for leadership change following the party's debacle in the Lok Sabha polls. The Congress won just three Lok Sabha seats in the state.

A close associate of Gogoi, who has travelled with him to New Delhi, said, "The chief minister will seek Sonia Gandhi's advice on what role she wants him to play after the poor election results. If the party president does not accept his resignation, he will ask for a freehand without any interference from any central leaders to manage his ministers and MLAs here. Gogoi often takes advice of the party president."

A group of rebel ministers and legislators have carried out a signature campaign for the leadership change. Pro-Gogoi ministers have countered this by asking the chief minister to form a new cabinet.

"We have proposed to the chief minister to call for resignation of all ministers so that he gets a freehand to form a new cabinet. I have also talked to few ministers and we are all ready to submit our papers," forest minister Rockybul Hussain said. Agriculture minister Nilamani Sen Deka told TOI he is ready to resign if the chief minister calls for a collective resignation of all ministers.

On Monday, pro-Gogoi legislators met the chief minister and pressed for new faces in the cabinet, who can deliver before the 2016 assembly elections. The group asked Gogoi to form the new cabinet within 15 days.

Significantly, the pro-Gogoi group wants the chief minister to call off the alliance with Bodo People's Front after several organizations and people alleged it had instigated recent killings of Bengali-speaking Muslims.

Assam seeks advice to protect rhinos

This follows a Gauhati High Court order in March asking the authorities to come up with concrete steps to protect the Great One-horned Rhinoceros, a highly endangered species.

In Assam, 12 of the 16 rhinos poached before the year crossed the halfway mark were in Kaziranga National Park. With rhinos continuing to be killed in the UNESCO World Heritage site for horns, forest authorities have sought suggestions from experts and NGOs to tackle poaching effectively.

This follows a Gauhati High Court order in March asking the authorities to come up with concrete steps to protect the Great One-horned Rhinoceros, a highly endangered species.

An organisation working for protection of rhinos is in favour of plugging transit routes. Another advocated use of more gadgets in tune with times, and expressed surprise at opposition from the army to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for overhead surveillance on poachers.

“Increased global demand for rhino horns is leading to more poaching and we need global intervention,” said Richard Emslie, scientific officer with IUCN’s African Rhino Protection Group, who joined, online, an international conclave on Kaziranga and Rhino Protection on Monday.

Christy Williams of WWF’s Asian Rhino and Elephant Programme said, “One has to plug transit routes through which rhino horns are smuggled to the international market,” he said, pointing at Dimapur-Imphal-Moreh route gangs use to smuggle rhino horns from Kaziranga.
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Williams asked why the army had objected to use of UAVs in Kaziranga after a test-flight was successfully conducted in April last year.

“It is time Kaziranga made the best use of technology-driven gadgets including UAVs,” Williams said.

“Moreover, the difficult task of rhino protection should not be left to the forest department alone. The police and judiciary should be involved so that every arrested poacher is convicted,” he added.

Bibhab Kumar Talukdar of Asia Coordinator of International Rhino Foundation said gathering intelligence on poachers was lacking in Kaziranga. “While effective intelligence gathering is the first part of the strategy, ensuring conviction of poachers by a dedicated team of forest officials to pursue cases in courts of law is a must. Arrest is just the first step, but if arrested persons are not convicted they become hardcore poachers and will create more poachers,” he said.

Coal import from Assam, Meghalaya resumes

Import of coal from the Indian states of Meghalaya and Assam through six land customs station of Sylhet region resumed yesterday.
Coal import came to a halt on April1 1 as the Indian exporters stopped supply, protesting sudden rise in excise duty.
Around 30,000 labourers at the land customs stations remained jobless for ten days due to the suspension of the import.
A six-member team went to Assam and Meghalaya on April 5 and sat with the Meghalaya Exporters Association in Shillong and Karimganj District Exporter & Importers Association and Assam Exporter & Importers Association the following day.
At the separate meetings, the Indian exporters assured the Bangladesh team of resuming coal export from April 10, said Chandan Saha, general secretary of Coal Importers Group, Sylhet.
Fifty-seven coal-laden trucks entered Bangladesh through the Sheola land customs station yesterday, said Sunandan Das, superintendent of the station. Coal import through the five other stations will resume in two or three days, he added.
About 15 lakh tons of coal is imported through the 6 land customs stations in Sylhet-Sunamganj region. These are Tamabil, Sheola and Bholaganj in Sylhet, and Barchhara, Bagli and Charagaon in Sunamganj.

Dima Hasao all set for polls

HAFLONG, Apr 9 – The Dima Hasao district administration is ready for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections with the polling personnel leaving the district headquarters for their respective polling stations from April 9.

Six poll parties for the remote parts of the district will leave Haflong on April 9, while the remaining polling officials will leave for their respective polling stations on April 10 and 11 under the guidance of zonal magistrate and sector officers.

The elections for the Autonomous District (ST) parliamentary constituency will be held on April 12 from 7 am to 5 pm and the counting of votes will be held on May 16 at Haflong.

The Haflong (ST) LAC segment is divided into 14 zones and 53 sectors. The total number of polling stations is 190. The total number of voters in the LAC segment of the Lok Sabha constituency is 134,651 (male – 68,411, female – 66,237, others – 3).

It is noteworthy that during the 2009 parliamentary elections, the total number of voters was 128,413 (male – 65,501, female – 62,912) and the voter turnout that time was 74,722 (male – 41,255 and female 33,467).

Carnival mood in Assam as youth and women flock to vote

Guwahati: 'Rongali Bihu' (Spring festival) seems to have come early to Assam with enthusiastic youth and women voters flocking to the booths in a carnival mood to cast their votes in the first phase of polling in five parliamentary constituencies Monday.

With Bihu round the corner, the pleasant spring weather also contributed to the festive spirit in the Upper Assam constituencies. Tea garden workers, mostly women, in Dibrugarh, Jorhat, Kaliabor and Tezpur in Upper Assam, dressed in their colourful best, were seen queueing outside the booths since 6 am, an hour before polling began.

''We want to vote early and become free for the day as the government has declared a holiday today. We want to relax and enjoy after exercising our franchise'', said tea worker Pratima Gowala of Moran in Dibrugarh district.

In urban areas, too, women were seen in sizeable numbers outside the polling booths as they waited patiently to exercise their franchise.

''We have decided not to delay in casting our votes. We want to be a part of the democratic process and prove the importance of our vote'', housewife Sunita Hazarika of Tezpur town said.

Youths, including 6.52 lakh first time voters in the state comprising 3.5 per cent of the total electorate, also flocked to the booths in hordes though later in the day.

''I am very excited to cast my vote for the first time. I am aware that my vote is valuable and will not let it go waste'', 19-year old Diganta Gogoi, a first year student of Jorhat Engineering College said.

Polling begins in Assam for LS first phase

Guwahati, Apr 7 :
Balloting for five Lok Sabha constituencies in Assam began Monday, marking the first phase of India's general election, officials said.
An estimated 6.4 million people are eligible to vote in Tezpur, Jorhat, Kaliabor, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur constituencies. Voting will be held at 8,588 centres in the five seats.
A total of 51 candidates are in the fray in the first phase. Assam will elect the remaining nine Lok Sabha members April 12 (three) and 24 (six).
Ten candidates are in the fray in Jorhat, nine in Tezpur, 13 each in Kaliabor and Lakhimpur and six candidates in Dibrugarh.
Among Monday's candidates are lottery baron Mani Kumar Subba (independent), Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi's son Gourav Gogoi, outgoing Congress MP Bijoy Krishna Handique, veteran Communist Drupad Borgohain, BJP state president Sarbananda Sonowal, union Minister of State for Tribal Affairs Ranee Narah, Mamud Imdadul Haque Choudhury of AIUDF, union minister Paban Singh Ghatowar, Rameswar Teli of the BJP and Anoop Phukan of the AGP.

Assam govt declares paid holidays on polling days

The Assam government today declared paid holidays on the three days of polling in the state for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

According to an official release, all factories, plantations, shops, commercial establishments, public entertainment places and banks will provide paid holidays to their workers to cast their votes.

Polling in the state's 14 Lok Sabha seats will be held in three phases on April 7, 12 and 24.

Student's union demand constitutional safeguards for people of Assam

A student organisation in Assam, All Assam Students Union (AASU), organised a protest to demand constitutional safeguards for the people of the state.

A leader of AASU, Simanta Goswami, said the protesters have given a document stating their demands to representatives of all the major political parties in Assam.

"The All Assam Students Union has given a document of demands to all the political parties in which we have clearly stated that we need some constitutional safeguards for people of our state at any cost. We have told all the parties to clearly state their position on this issue, and also implement new policies to meet our demands", said Goswami.

Several members of the AASU took out a rally to the residence of the state Governor, Janaki Ballabh Patnaik, demanding constitutional safeguard on a number of issues such as land rights of the people, protecting the interests of the tribes, identifying illegal foreigners in the region and sealing the nearby border with Bangladesh.

Goswami further warned the political parties of total boycott if they failed to meet their demands.

"If the political parties don't agree to these demands, we will boycott them and never accept them in future. We don't have any other option as the people are facing an existential threat here," added Goswami.

According to students of the Union, the people of Assam have been fighting for such issues since 1970s, but they are still pending due to government's negligence.

The groups blame the government of plundering the region's significant mineral and agricultural resources and ignoring demands for greater autonomy and greater economic opportunities.

Assam engineer caught accepting bribe

Police caught a junior engineer of the Barpeta Zila Parishad red-handed while taking bribe for allotting Backward Regions Grant Fund (BRGF) schemes in lower Assam's Barpeta district.

Based on the complaint of Jahidul Islam of Ramapara Gaon Panchayat that junior engineer Dillauddin Ahmed has been demanding commission for allotting schemes under the BRGF, Barpeta Sadar Sub Divisional officer Bipul Saikia planned a trap and caught Ahmed while taking money from the complainant, sources said.

In the name of allotting various schemes under the BRGF, Junior Engineer Dillauddin Ahmed had been allegedly taking commission, they added.

Students take out peace rally against bandh in Assam

In the backdrop of the recent 100-hour Dima Hasao district bandh in Assam, students of various schools and colleges today hit the streets taking out a peace rally in protest against frequent bandhs disrupting normal life.

The 100-hour Dima Hasao district bandh called by NC Hills Indigenous Students Forum (NCHISF), a students organisation from February 26, had affected normal life and fuelled price rise.

The peace rally was taken out on the main street of Haflong town by the Government College Students Association and other students from various schools and colleges here.

After the procession, the students also submitted a memorandum to the Assam Governor through the Deputy Commissioner of Dima Hasao stating that they condemned the recent bandh by the NCHISF.

The latest bandh by the NCHISF had caused many difficulties to the students appearing for the ongoing HSLC and HS examinations in the state.

The memorandum also pointed out that the bandh supporters had caused huge damage to public property and inconvenience to the general public.

The NCHISF and Indigenous Women Forum (IWF), Haflong have been raising the issue of bifurcation of Dima Hasao for long and have called bandhs in the district several times.

National Green Tribunal seeks reply in three weeks on Subansiri dam

GUWAHATI: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given an ultimatum of three weeks to the Assam government to file its reply on the Lower Subansiri Hydro Electric Power (LSHEP) dam on Monday.

Earlier, the tribunal had asked all respondents in the case - state governments of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, ministry of environment and forests (MoEF), ministry of power, NHPC - to file their responses within March 3. But the state government sought for more time again.

The NGT issued notices to all respondents regarding the release of minimum sustenance water at the rate of 450 cumecs from the lower Subansiri dam throughout the year to ensure the river's ecological health.

"The tribunal slammed the Assam government for its delay and said it was unacceptable as it's a serious matter. The MoEF and the ministry of power too could not file their replies. The tribunal gave the ultimatum of three weeks to all parties to file their responses and said the hearing on the matter will start from March 25," Abhijeet Sarma, petitioner in the case told TOI.

On Monday, NHPC and the government of Arunachal Pradesh filed their replies. "The NHPC said that it will release 220-250 cumecs of water by keeping one turbine running. But it's far less than the minimum sustenance flow of 450 cumecs. Moreover, who will guarantee that there won't be any malfunctioning in the turbine? Any disruption of flow, even if it is for a short period, will annihilate the downstream biota of the river," the petitioner added.

Besides the minimum sustainable water flow, the petitioner also requested that a 'fish ladder' be located at the dam's opening to allow fish migration.

The petitioner, who is also the president of an NGO named Assam Public Works, approached NGT after the Supreme Court declined to intervene in the case, considering it to be a technical matter, in September last year.

Assamese woman gangraped in Delhi, 2 arrested

A 21-year-old Assamese woman was raped in south Delhi's Mahipalpur area by two men who have been arrested, police said on Sunday.

One of the men was known to the woman who recently came to Delhi. According to reports, the girl, along with her male friend, had visited Kerala a month ago. She came back to Delhi on Friday and stayed in Mahiphalpur area, where her male friend sexually assaulted her along with another friend.

Police said she was assaulted at a house in Mahipalpur on Saturday afternoon.

As the accused escaped, the woman came out of the house and alerted a passerby before police came in. The accused - Rahul and Harun - were arrested late on Saturday, police said.

Assam cops plan clean recruitment

Guwahati, Feb. 20: Assam police plan to adopt a transparent recruitment policy to eliminate the possibility of corruption and nepotism in recruitment of police personnel.
Additional director-general of police (administration) Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta told The Telegraph that the primary objective of the policy was to make the overall induction process free of human interference as far as possible.
The thrust of the policy will be on developing an information technology-enabled system for recruitment of policemen in a very transparent and merit-based manner.
Mahanta said under the proposed policy, the entire recruitment process would become automated and biometric-based. Machines or electronic applications will be used to evaluate answer scripts, prepare lists or rolls and maintain data, including fingerprint and iris details of candidates.
The electronic devices will be used to record data relating to physical tests during recruitment. “There will be two components in the physical test — mile run and long jump. The entire physical test will be video-graphed, which will make manipulation of results impossible,” Mahanta said.
He said the written exam will be held on an optical mark recognition sheet and the answer sheets will be evaluated through computer scanning.
Since law and order is a state matter, the Union home ministry had written to all state governments and Union Territory administrations in 2010, asking them to adopt a technology-based transparent recruitment process for the police forces, free of any human interference.
The home ministry wrote the letter after it observed that police recruitment in almost every state was mired in allegations of corruption. There were also allegations that aspirants do not get jobs as constables and sub-inspectors unless money is paid.
Uttar Pradesh was the first state in the country to devise such a policy in 2009. Central paramilitary forces, including the SSB and the CRPF, adopted it in 2010.
In the Northeast, Meghalaya approved adoption of the policy in 2012 and it is under implementation.
A senior police officer said under the policy, the functions related to recruitment of police personnel would be outsourced to a professional agency. “The agency will be selected in a transparent manner and its functioning and performance will be monitored by a consultant to be appointed by Assam police.”
He said a request for proposal would be issued within the next few months, inviting bids from competent agencies to which the recruitment process will be outsourced.
The source said the state police are also considering giving more weightage to the written test than the physical test under the policy, which is exactly the opposite in the existing system.
The All Assam Police Association had stated last month that 12,000 posts were lying vacant in the state police force. It demanded immediate filling up of these vacancies and also sought the creation of 30,000 new posts. According to the association, because of manpower shortage the state police force is hard pressed to take on militant groups operating in the state.

64 additional Foreigners' Tribunals established in Assam

Assam government has established 64 additional Foreigners' Tribunals for a period of two years only.

This is in addition to the existing 36 Foreigners' Tribunals already functioning in the state, an official release said here today.

Eight additional tribunals have been set up in Dhubri and Barpeta each, seven in Nagaon, six in Goalpara and Sonitpur each, four each in Kamrup(Metro), Kamrup (Rural)and Cachar, three each in Nalbari and Morigaon, two each in Darrang and Dhemaji and one each in Bongaigaon, Dibrugarh, Karimganj, Chirang, Baksa, Udalguri and Dima Hasao.

Rahul more keen to solve Assam's problems than Modi: Gogoi

Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi was more keen to resolve Assam's problems than BJP's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said Wednesday.

Gogoi told media that while Modi spent only three hours in Assam during his recent visit, Gandhi would be spending more time during his two-day visit starting Feb 25.

"Rahul Gandhi is scheduled to arrive in the state Feb 25. He will meet intellectuals and the media in the morning, following which he will address a rally at the Khanapara Veterinary College field," he said.

Gandhi will address another public meeting at Diphu the same day.

The chief minister said Gandhi was likely to participate in a road show from Nagaon to Kaliabhomora the next day. Before leaving the state, he will address a women's meet at Jorhat Feb 26.

Gogoi said Modi only spent three hours in Guwahati, but Gandhi will be staying for 30 hours in the state "to know the people and the issues related to the people of the state. This shows sincerity of Rahul Gandhi, which Modi lacks".

Assam to Bring New Lokayukta Bill in Next Session

The Assam government today said it will introduce a new Lokayukta Bill in line with the central legislation during the next Assembly session.

Presenting Assam's interim Budget for 2014-15, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said, "I propose to introduce a fresh Bill, called the Assam Lokayukta Bill 2014, in the next session of the Assembly so as to strengthen the institution of Lokayukta by giving it more powers."

The draft Bill is at the final stage of consultation with various departments as per procedure, he said.

Assam currently has a Lokayukta under the Assam Lokayukta and Upa-Lokayukta Act 1985 and the new legislation will repeal this.

"The proposed new Lokayukta Institution will be empowered to enquire into and investigate the allegations of corruption against various public functionaries under the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988. The existing Lokayukta has no such powers," Gogoi, who is also the state finance minister, said.

The new Bill is in conformity with the central Lokpal and Lokayukta Act 2013, he said.

As per the draft Bill, the current and former Chief Ministers, existing and formers ministers, and current and former MLAs will come under the purview of the Act.

Besides, all government employees of all grades, staff of companies, societies or trusts that are set up, financed or controlled by the state government will come under the new Act, Gogoi said.

Economic blockade in Assam comes to a temporary halt

The eight-day long economic blockade in Assam against Arunachal Pradesh finally came to a temporary halt after the agitators demanded the arrest of those involved in the killing of 11 CPI(ML) supporters, within a span of twenty days. The agitation that was regulated by various organisations in the state was temporarily withdrawn after holding a meeting with the district administration at Biswanath Chariali to make a settlement on the grave issue.

The protest commenced after eleven Assamese men were killed by miscreants from Arunachal Pradesh in Chouldhowa under Behali Reserve Forest on January 29, triggering a sense of fear and rage among the localites.

While submitting a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Sonitpur and addressing it Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the organisations gave the Government a time limit of twenty days, placed forth four special demands- soliciting compensation for the victims' families, congenial deal of the pending inter-state border dispute along the Assam-Arunachal frontier areas, admonitory penalty to the accused involved in the killing and to provide adequate protection to those residing in the border areas.

The more-than-a-week-long economic blockade was initiated at Charidwar under Charidwar PS and at Borgang under Biwanath PS in Sonitpur district. Severely affecting several parts of the hill states, the blockade restricted the supply of essential goods and edible commodities leading to scarcity of food items and fuel.