Guwahati records highest day temp for July

GUWAHATI, July 30 - The depression, or the low atmospheric pressure of higher order, which was yesterday lying stationary over the northeast Bay of Bengal and its adjacent coastal areas of Bangladesh and West Bengal, today turned into a deep depression. Like the depression yesterday, it is also preventing incursion of moisture to the Northeast India, leading to a virtual rainless condition, mainly in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. This has made the day (maximum) temperatures shoot up in many areas of the region.

Intensity wise, a deep depression is a precursor of a cyclone.

Sources in the Borjhar-based Regional Meteorology Centre (RMC) here said that the prevailing weather situation in NE India may undergo a change with this system crossing Bangladesh coast and making a west northwestward move in the forenoon of tomorrow.

Under the impact of this system, Guwahati today recorded the highest July day temperature of 37.6° Celsius in a period of around 50 years since 1966. During the period, the temperature of 37.5° Celsius recorded in the city on July 13, 2009 was the highest July day temperature for it till yesterday. Itanagar also recorded a day temperature of 37.6° Celsius today.

Under the impact of the above system, Dibrugarh today recorded a day temperature of 37° Celsius, Jorhat and Tezpur recorded 36° Celsius, North Lakhimpur 36.4° Celsius, Silchar 34.7° Celsius, Dhubri 34.4° Celsius, Aizwal 27.9° Celsius, Kohima 30.8° Celsius, Imphal 29° Celsius, Shillong 26.8° Celsius and Agartala 34.8° Celsius, said the RMC sources.

Flood alert after heavy rain in Assam, over 80,000 affected

The situation was particularly grim in Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts in eastern Assam, where nearly 45,000 people have been affected.

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A father hold his child on back to take him to school at waterlogged Anil Nagar in Guwahati on Monday. (Source: PTI)

Written by Samudra Gupta Kashyap | Guwahati

Thousands of people across Assam have been affected after incessant rains over the last week caused several rivers, including the Brahmaputra, to overflow. The overflowing rivers have breached embankments, inundated villages and damaged standing crop, affecting over 80,000 people, according to a report by the state disaster management body.
Eighteen revenue circles in 10 districts have been badly affected by the relentless rains, stated the daily flood report issued by the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) on Tuesday. The districts of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji in eastern Assam, where nearly 45,000 people were affected by the overflowing rivers, were the worst hit.
In Tinsukia, another district hit hard by the relentless rains, authorities have already set up three relief camps. A sizeable portion of the Dibru-Saikhowa National Park in the district has been submerged by the rising levels of the Brahmaputra.
The floodwaters have also entered the Kaziranga National Park, forcing animals to move to drier, safer places.
While the Brahmaputra is flowing over the danger mark in Nimatighat in Jorhat district, several villages in the river-island of Majuli have been also inundated. Solengi, Chatrang and Sessa — all tributaries of the Brahmaputra — have  inundated villages and standing crops, affecting over 21,000 people in the Gohpur sub-division of Sonitpur district.
Nearly 38,000 hectares of standing crop, mostly paddy, have been damaged by the overflowing rivers, according to the ASDMA report.
Dhemaji district has recorded the worst damage, with 2,300 hectares of standing crop being destroyed while the districts of Sonitpur, Goalpara, Lakhimpur and Kamrup have also been affected.
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Gorkhas in Assam demand ST status

New Delhi: Gorkhas living in Assam has demanded Scheduled Tribe (ST) status for the community and creation of an autonomous council comprising Gorkha inhabited areas.

The demands were placed before Union Minister for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh here on Tuesday when a delegation of 'Asom Gorkha Sammelan' called on him to submit some of the long-pending grievances of the community.

The minister gave a patient hearing to the delegation and said he would personally follow up the issues falling within the purview of his Ministry and in case of other issues, he will take up with the departments and ministries concerned.

Singh said the Gorkha community has served the nation through thick and thin and their sacrifices are an example for others to follow.

Interacting with the delegation, the minister quoted Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw's famous observation "if a man says he is not afraid of dying, then he is either lying or a Gorkha".

The delegation claimed that in the Northeastern region, the history of 'Assam Rifles' and the 'Gorkha Regiment' is indeed the history of the bravery of Gorkha soldiers but unfortunately in recent times, the recruitment of Gorkha youth in India's defence forces has declined.

This is partly because of the reason that a Gorkha domicile certificate is expected from them. In addition, as per the gazette notification, the word 'Nepali' is used synonymously for a Gorkha individual and it creates confusion for the recruiting agencies.

They demanded that the Gorkha community certificate issued by the 'Asom Gorkha Sammelan' should be honoured for the purpose of employment or recruitment in defence forces.

The other demands made in the memorandum included setting up of a Gorkha cultural and heritage centre and simplification of the process for inclusion of Gorkha community members in the National Register of Citizens.

Where are the achhe din, asks Gogoi

AIUDF activists protest against the land acquisition bill in Guwahati on Thursday. Picture by UB Photos
Guwahati, April 23: Five hundred and eighty-two farmers committed suicide in Gujarat in 2013, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.
This is the number which Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi touted here this afternoon to deflate the Gujarat model of development and oppose the land acquisition bill tabled in Parliament by the BJP-led NDA government.
"We are opposing the new land ordinance. The BJP had supported the UPA-piloted land bill before forming the government. They (BJP) were then pro-farmer but are now trying to acquire land for industry through the anti-farmer bill. We will oppose it. Everything is linked to land," Gogoi said.

Reacting to the Rajasthan farmer's suicide in New Delhi during an AAP rally yesterday, he said, "That's it. Hundreds of farmers are committing suicides in Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Kerala... Where are the achhe din (good days) promised by Modi? In Gujarat, 582 farmers committed suicide in 2013! I have not heard such things in Assam! There may be some deaths related to diseases like anaemia in tea gardens but no suicide case. We don't want the Gujarat model of development."
Gogoi raked up the issues on a day the farmer suicide rocked the Modi government in Parliament.
The Centre has been facing a lot of flak over the fresh land acquisition ordinance issued on April 3. Gogoi has been consistent in his attack of Modi, whether it is his development model or the BJP's U-turn on the Indo-Bangladesh land-swap deal and big dam.
The chief minister, who will leave for Delhi tomorrow to attend the Niti Aayog meeting on Saturday, used today's interaction to mock Prime Minister Narendra Modi's development model, which, according to him was market-driven and also convey the pro-farmer and pro-poor measures undertaken by his government.
These measures include instruction to all deputy commissioners to convert all allotment certificates and annual deeds into periodic deeds in rural areas within October so it could help farmers avail loan from banks.
Other measures are computerisation of land records by July so that landowners and bankers can view land documents on the website and registration of pending mutation and partition cases within two months.
"All land acquisition will be done in accordance with the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, (Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013)," a note prepared by the chief minister's office for the media interaction said.
Apart from dwelling on improving government services related to land issues, a cumbersome process, Gogoi also reiterated his commitment to ensure Rs 169 as minimum daily wage to tea garden workers and implementation of the Plantation Labour Act, 1951.
"We admit we should have done it earlier but we are determined to get it implemented this time. We have already registered 31 cases against tea gardens for violating the act," Gogoi said.
The Opposition AIUDF student and youth wings today opposed the new land acquisition bill, which the Modi government is trying to get approved in Lok Sabha.
They jointly took out a "Raj Bhavan chalo" programme here. About 500 youths who joined the procession later submitted a memorandum to President Pranab Mukherjee through Assam governor P.B. Acharya, demanding scrapping of the bill on the ground that it would break the backbone of the farming community.

“Assamese People” definition rocks Assembly

The issue of determining the definition of the “Assamese People” triggered an uproarious scene in the Assam Assembly on the last day of the ongoing budget session with the ruling Congress and the Opposition All-India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) members raising objection to Speaker Pranab Kumar Gogoi recording his recommendation to the State government on the definition in the records of the House proceedings. They raised objection on the ground that the Speaker had not consulted the legislators and political parties to firm up the definition of the “Assamese People”.

The Speaker recommended, after consultations with 53 different organisations, that the year 1951 be taken as the cut off period and the National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951, be taken as the basis for the definition of the “Assamese People” for the purpose of reservation of seats and constitutional safeguards as required by the Assam Accord.

This definition is required to implement the Clause six of the Assam Accord which promises that “constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards, as may be appropriate, shall be provided to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social and linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese People.”

The members of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), however, backed the Speaker’s definition of “Assamese People” and insisted that the Speaker’s recommendation be treated as a recommendation of the House.

Parliamentary Affairs Minister Rockybul Hussain, while making a statement on behalf of the State government, said that any hasty conclusion at this stage might jeopardise the work of updating the NRC, 1951, which has already begun. He expressed apprehension that those opposed to updating might use it as a weapon to sabotage the work.

The Speaker in his two-page report, which he read out, stated that 1951 Census Report defined indigenous people of Assam thus: “Indigenous person of Assam means a person belonging to the State of Assam and speaking the Assamese language or any tribal dialect of Assam, or in the case of Cachar the language of the region.”

He also pointed out that late Chief Minister Bimala Prasad Chaliha in his official message to enumerators stated that the NRC would be compiled on the basis of 1951 Census report.

Top Aasu leaders to step down from posts today

Guwahati: Top leaders of the All Assam Students' Union (Aasu), which has been the leading students' body of the state for the last 10 years, will step down from their posts during the four-day 16th Dudhnoi convention. The convention will be held in Goalpara district from Monday.

Aasu adviser Samujjal Bhattacharyya said on Sunday that he would part ways with the students' body with which he has been associated since the days of the Assam agitation (1979 to 85). He has served Aasu as its general secretary and adviser for more than three decades.

Aasu president Sankar Prasad Ray and general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi will also quit from the students' body during the Dudhnoi convention, paving the way for the next generation.

"I will leave Aasu, through which I have served Assam over the years. But I will continue working for the good of the state," said Bhattacharyya. He added that he had no plans of joining any political party or of contesting elections.

The Aasu leadership denied rumours of joining BJP in the presence of party president Amit Shah, who will visit the state in April. Bhattacharyya hit out at state BJP president Siddhartha Bhattacharya who recently said that several Aasu leaders were in touch with the saffron party.

The Dudhnoi convention will see participation of leaders from different ethnic and tribal organizations of the state as well as academics to chalk out the future roadmap of the students' body in solving the burning issues of the state.

The Aasu adviser said a 'secure Assam' will the theme on which representatives of the organizations will deliberate to find ways for protecting the state from illegal influx, securing the future of students, making them employable and safeguarding the interests of students of vernacular medium schools.

2 die of Swine flu in Assam

Two more persons succumbed to swine flu and 10 new cases of those infected with the H1N1 virus surfaced in Assam, officials said on Sunday.

Assam Health and Family Welfare Minister Nazrul Islam said four persons have been detected with swine flu in Jorhat and Dibrugarh each, three in Guwahati and one in Tezpur.

The death toll due to the virus has reached four, with two deaths occurring in Jorhat district. “Of the 12 persons, seven had history of travel and five are affected locally,” he added.

He said the Assam government has prepared isolation wards in every district hospital across the State.

Islam said the government will soon start vaccination drive across the State for Japanese encephalitis.

Assam youth beaten up in Delhi, hospitalised

A 21-year-old student from Assam was allegedly beaten up by some residents of South Delhi’s Amar Colony, police said on Monday.

According to police, the student was identified as Arbazuddin Ahmed. He was trying to break the lock of someone else’s house, mistaking it to be his own, apparently in an inebriated state.

Police said the youth hails from Guwahati, Assam and was living in Delhi for the last two years. He has suffered fractures in his limbs and jaw in the attack.

“The incident took place on March 5 when Arbazuddin came back home and tried to open the lock of a house which was not his. When the key didn’t work, he tried to break the door and get in,” a senior police official said.

“Meanwhile, hearing the sounds, the owner of the house and neighbours woke up. Thinking that he was a thief, they thrashed him,” he said.

Following a call from the locals around 1.30 am that they had caught a thief, a police team was rushed to the spot and took him to the hospital.

“His address was found to be in the same locality. Both the houses were on the first floor and the youth probably went into the wrong house apparently in an inebriated condition,” police said.

Rape incidents on the rise in Assam

Guwahati: Official records of the Assam Police reveal that more than 10,000 girls and women have been raped in the state since 2010. Such crimes have been escalating over the years.

The records said that at least 1,721 rape cases had been registered in various police stations in 2010 followed by 2,011 cases in 2011.

"Though there was a slight fall in 2012 with some 1,716 rape cases registered, but it shot up in 2013 with 1,937 such incidents," the records said.

At least 2,780 cases were registered last year with an average seven women being raped in Assam daily.

This year too, such incidents are happening with regularity. On Saturday, three persons were sent to police custody on charges of gangraping a 17-year-old.

"The girl's family lodged an FIR complaining that Debojit Bora, Dhanjit Saikia and Sukumar Kalita had raped her. They were all staying at a rented house at Rajgharh area here," a policeman said.

Besides incidents of rape, women in the state face molestation on a daily basis. The police records too stated that at least 11,306 cases of molestation were registered in various police stations in Assam since 2010. "There were 1,611 molestation cases recorded in 2010. In the following year, it came down to 1,446 but went up to 1,840 in 2012. In 2013, at least 2,409 such cases were registered in the state. Last year, it had gone up to some 4,000," the records stated.

Self-attestation of documents in Assam

Guwahati: The Assam Government has decided to introduce with immediate effect self-attestation of documents in lieu of attestation by gazetted officers/ magistrates, etc. in all cases except where there is statutory requirement.

This order also pertains to self-declaration in place of submission of court affidavits, said a government release here today. The initiative by the State Government is to simplify government procedures and to promote Citizen Centric Administration, it said.

Assam government supports Anna Hazare’s crusade against Land Acquisition Ordinance

Anna Hazare, Land Acquisition Ordinance, Anna Hazare Land Acquisition Ordinance, Hazare Land Acquisition Ordinance, Assam congress, Assam government, india news, indian express Anna Hazare

Voicing strong opposition to the Land Acquisition Ordinance, the Assam Government on Monday extended full support to social activist Anna Hazare in his fight against the Ordinance.
In a statement in Guwahati, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that the state government has all along been opposing anti-people and anti-farmer policies.
“Our government stood against anti-people and anti-farmer policies. The Land Acquisition Ordinance is anti-people and anti-farmers and meant to serve only the interests of the rich, affluent and industrialists,” Gogoi said.
“Our government is dead against such an anti-people and anti-farmer policy and is not going to implement it. Our government expresses its strong opposition to the ordinance and extends full support to social activist Anna Hazare in his crusade against it”, he added.
The chief minister also said, “I attended the swearing in ceremony of Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar to express my solidarity with all like minded secular and progressive parties in their fight against divisive forces and lend support for pro-poor policies”.

National Register of Citizens to be announced in Jan. 2016: Gogoi

Assam police women commando team “Viranagana” showing their skills during the Republic Day celebrations in Guwahati on Monday.- Photo: PTI
Assam police women commando team “Viranagana” showing their skills during the Republic Day celebrations in Guwahati on Monday.- Photo: PTI
: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday announced that the National Register of Citizens (NRC), currently being updated in Assam, would be published in January 2016.
Making the announcement in his Republic Day address delivered after the ceremonial hoisting of the National Flag at Khanapara here, the Chief Minister said that the procedure devised for updating the citizens’ register envisaged the use of latest information technology and aimed at ensuring that no names of foreign nationals find mention in the NRC.
Stating that illegal migration has been a matter of serious concern, Mr Gogoi said his government was committed to preventing illegal migration into Assam from the international border, and in order to bring permanent solution to the issue, the Assam Government had started updating the NRC under the guidance of the Central government.
The Chief Minister said that his government had also taken steps for detection and deportation of illegal foreigners by strengthening the Foreigners’ Tribunals and by the establishing three temporary detention centres at Goalpara, Kokrajhar and Silchar to accommodate those declared as “foreigners” by the tribunals, till their expulsion.
Dwelling on the insurgency problem, the Chief Minister said that the Security forces currently engaged in massive operations against the militants of the National Democratic Front of Boroland (Songbijit), who massacred innocent Adivasis on December 23, gained major success with the support of the people and the government shall continue to use all its resources to deal firmly with subversive elements.
“The strategy adopted by our government for the last 14 years under the Unified Command Structure has given significant results with many misguided youth joining the mainstream. The success has also been reflected in the Suspension of Operations with 17 extremist outfits, out of which the Government signed an MoS (Memorandum of Settlement) with BLT (Bodo Liberation Tigers), UPDS (United People’s Democratic Solidarity), DHD(N) (Dima Halam Daogah-Nunisa) and DHD (Jewel),” he said in his speech and added that his government would continue to make efforts to make all misguided youth who have embarked on militancy, to lay down arms and return to civil society within the parameters of the Constitution.

Ministry rejig: Assam ministers to be sworn in today

Guwahati: Overcoming some last-minute hiccups orchestrated by dissidents, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi will have the first ministry reshuffle in his three successive terms since 2001 on Friday when 11 cabinet ministers and three ministers of state will be sworn in by governor PB Acharya at the Raj Bhavan here.

Gogoi, who opted for forming a new ministry, on Monday got all 14 ministers in his council of ministers resign en masse. He will retain six of his old ministers but drop the rest eight as they failed to give the winning margin to party candidates in their respective constituencies in the last Lok Sabha election.

Four berths in the 18-member ministry, excluding that of the chief minister, will be filled up after the civic polls next month.

The biggest change in the portfolios will be in case of former forest minister Rockybul Hessain, who has been retained in the ministry, but is likely to be stripped of the forest department in the wake of severe flak faced by the government for unabated rhino poaching.

Hussain will retain his earlier panchayat and rural development department portfolio and is also likely to be given the agriculture department in place of Nilamani Sen Deka, who is being dropped from the ministry.

Gogoi, who already holds the home and finance portfolios, is also likely to keep the forest portfolio.

Ajanta Neog is likely to retain PWD department, while health may go either to Nazrul Islam or Bhumidhar Barman, who had been in charge of the department in his earlier stint in the ministry in Gogoi's first term. Another old warhorse, Sarat Borkotoky, may be given either education or power and industry.

A source said if Borkotoky is given education department, Gogoi is likely to keep power and industry to himself. These two departments were with Pradyut Bordoloi, who is also being dropped.

The source said two ministers of state in the earlier ministry, Ajit Singh and Basanta Das, will be elevated to the rank of cabinet ministers, while the three of the eight new faces — Sumitra Patir, Bismita Gogoi and Girindra Mullick — will get a minister of state berth with independent charge. Singh is likely to get transport department.

Even as Gogoi and PCC president Anjan Dutta were finalizing the new ministry, the dissidents made a last- ditch attempt to scuttle the reshuffle and approached the party high command saying that the age of two MLAs (Bhumidhar Barman and Sarat Borkotoy), who have been selected for the new ministry, was above 70 and should not be included in the ministry.

A source said Rahul Gandhi sought clarification on these two names but finally the state PCC leadership prevailed on Rahul and got the two names approved.

Police arrest man for smuggling endangered lizards in Assam

Guwahati, Jan 22  Police in Assam arrested a man from a railway station in Guwahati city for trying to smuggle 15 gecko lizards. The man identified as Sanjay Rai was trying to smuggle the endangered species to West Bengal, police officials said. He told officials he had caught the geckos from Kumarghat in Tripura and was taking them to Siliguri. Geckos have large international market value and they are transported to China from northeastern states via Nepal. There are many instances where gecko smugglers have been arrested in the city and other parts of the state.

Witch hunting an organised crime than superstition

Guwahati: Witch hunting that plagues many ethnic societies in the Northeast India in general and Assam in particular doesn’t always stem out of superstitious beliefs or practices.
Witch-hunting is some-thing that is perpetrated by some vested interests to settle score or to econo-mically exploit some hapless persons in the society.The vested interests persons often mastermind the gory episode in such a way that the entire local community get involved in the crime so that it becomes hard for the investigating agencies to pinpoint the real culprits involved.
So, the situation demands strongest possible action from the administration and local administration against perpetrators of such heinous crimes in garb of superstitions.
This was one of the key observations made by participants in a workshop organised in Dibrugarh University campus here under the aegis of Society for Socio-economic Awareness and Environ-ment Protection(SSEAEP) which has been entrusted by the National Council for Science and Technology Communication (NCSTC), Department of Science and Technology (DST), Government of India to carry out an extensive study on prevalent superstitious beliefs and practices in the North-eastern states of the
country under a programme titled ‘Learning for Cogent Living’ aimed at facilitating rational living free from superstitious practices.
Particularly, Ms Mamoni Saikia, Goalpara district (Assam) programme coordinator of Assam Mahila Samata Society, made a video presentation of some grave cases of witch hunting that were instances of blatant human rights violation. One of such cases included beating up of a women who was branded as witch, by her five sons coerced by the some villagers.
The two-day workshop was set on the roll today with an objective to elicit suggestions and opinions
from invited participants from different walks of the society and from different states of the region so that a comprehensive commu-nication package can be developed to help promote rational way of life to do away with superstitions prevalent in the society.
Inaugurating the work-shop, Prof. Dambarudhar Nath of Dibrugarh University pointed out that it was not always true that only illiterate in the society are under the influence of superstitions, but sections
of highly educated persons too are found to practise superstitions even though they find it hard to explain the logic to explain their actions.
Many of the participants observed that lack of health facilities, lack of sanitation, drinking water and illiteracy were deeply linked to superstitions providing insight to their experience.

Assam honours SC, breaks tradition on animal fights

Guwahati: Assam Thursday broke a more than a century-old tradition to honour the Supreme Court ban on animal fights. The state stayed away from holding traditional animal fights during one of its biggest festivals, Bhogali Bihu.

The decision not to hold the traditional events came after the state government Wednesday issued instructions to all deputy commissioners and police superintendents, asking them to stop holding of such events.

Buffalo fights, fights of bulbuls (songbirds), cock fights etc. are held at many places across the state.

The most prominent ones are the bulbul fights at the Haigriv Madhav temple in Hajo near Guwahati and the buffalo fights in Aahatguri in Morigaon district.

"It`s a cultural legacy of the people of Hajo to organise bulbul fights. However, we could not hold the event today (Thursday) as there was a ban by the Supreme Court. District officials came to me yesterday (Wednesday) and asked me not to hold such fights citing the Supreme Court order. We had prepared for it and people were anxiously waiting for the event," said Shiva Prasad Sarma, the doloi (head administrator) of the temple.

Sarma, however, rued the fact that the district administration intimated them about the court order only Wednesday -- just a day ahead of the event.

"We did not get any time to appeal to the court to reconsider the order. However, people of the temple town agreed to abide by the court order," he said.

Nathuram Hazarika, member of the organising committee of the Aahatguri buffalo fights, said they have been organising buffalo fights since centuries.

"It`s a culture here and we had made all the preparations to hold the events today (Thursday). However, the district administration did not allow us to hold it," he said.

Morigaon Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar said: "We received an order from the state government yesterday (wednesday) to strictly implement the Supreme Court order, restricting all kinds of animal fights. We approached the organising committee of Aahatguri to stop them. Although they were initially reluctant, they later agreed."

Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu is a harvest festival, probably the biggest in Assam after Rongali Bihu. It marks the end of the harvesting season in the month of Magh. While the main feature of Rongali Bihu is dance and merry-making, Bhogali Bihu is marked by feasts and bonfires.

Magh Bihu celebrations start on the last day of the month of Pooh. The night before is `Uruka`, when people gather around a bonfire, cook dinner, and make merry.

The youth put up makeshift huts, known as meji, from bamboo, leaves and thatch, in which they eat the food prepared for the feast, and then burn the huts the next morning.

Broad gauge rail line opened in Assam's Dima Hasao district

Haflong: Using the newly constructed broad gauge track in central Assam's Dima Hasao district for the first time, a goods train arrived at New Haflong station today.
The goods train with 43 wagons reached the main rail station of the district at 4:15 PM along with senior rail officials, North-East Frontier Railway PRO Nripendra Bhattacharyya said.

The train travelled 98 kms from Patharkhula to New-Haflong station through nine tunnels, 15 stations, 15 major bridges and 135 minor bridges, he said.

The train was welcomed by a large group of enthusiastic public of Haflong town.

Describing the day as a milestone in the history of railways in the district, Bhattacharyya said the train had reached Maibang station last night and began its onward journey today at 9:30 AM to reach its destination.

After receiving clearance from the Railway Safety Commission the running of passenger trains will begin from Pathakhula to New-Haflong on the track extended up to Silchar, he added.

Tarun Gogoi, rights groups lock horns

Conflict seems to be brewing between the Assam government and animal rights groups. An international animal rights group has asked Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi to implement the order of the Supreme Court prohibiting all animal races and fights during Bihu in Assam.

Bihu is the most important festival in Assam and is celebrated thrice a year. In the month of April, it is called Rongali or Bohag Bihu; during October-November it is called Kati Bihu; and in the month of January it is called Magh Bihu or Bhogali Bihu in which an age-old tradition is of organising fight of buffalos.

The villagers bring their buffaloes for the thrilling traditional fight in which the specially reared buffaloes are brought to the ring and then provoked for the duel.

In the months preceding the festival, buffaloes are fed with rich fodder and reeds of long grass, typical to the state’s marshy land. The buffalo fights are held on the first day of Magh Bihu at various places in Assam, but one hosted at Anhotguri in Morigaon district of Assam is the biggest and most popular among all.

Referring the buffalo fight of Anhotguri, the managing director of HSI in India N.G. Jayasimha, who is also the member of the Animal Welfare Board of India, in his letter to Mr Gogoi said, “Hundreds of buffaloes are forced to participate in fights for a reward of `10,000 or more. It is taking place at large scale since 1972 as means of entertainment where the buffaloes bleed profusely and are severely injured.”

Assam chief minister has chosen to ignore the letter of the animal rights activists as preparation has completed for the Bihu.

The festival has its root in the days of Ahom King who ruled Assam for six centuries before the British rulers in 19th century.