Back issues - February'2002 by B5GpUf6N

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									Back issues - February'2002


News on 28th February '2002

AASU threatens agitation

The members of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has threatened the State
Government that they has resorted to launch an agitational programme in the State.
Sources informed that, the AASU threatened to launch the agitation in protest against
the failure of the Railway Minister Nitish Kumar to include Rangiya Rail Division in the
Railway Budget.

JSM withdraws bandh in Sibsagar

Following a meeting of the representatives of ONGC (L) and the Jamtha Sangrami
Moncha (JSM), the proposed 36-hour bandh call given by the JSM has been withdrawn.
Sources informed that, the bandh was given from 5 a.m. on February 28, in the Sibsagar
district. The meeting between the JSM and the representatives of ONGC (L) was held in
the Sivasagar DC's chamber, informed the sources.

State Govt. seeks discussion on BTC

In order to find an amicable solution to the BTC problem, the State Government seeks
for a discussion involving the Bodos and the non-Bodos, informed the chairman of the
Cabinet Sub-committee. Sources informed that, on the proposed discussion, the Cabinet
Sub-committee asked the non-Bodo groups to submit a detailed memorandum to discuss
the issue with the Government immediately.

SPF claims formation of Government in Manipur

Okram Ibobi Singh, the Secular Progressive Front and Congress Legislature Party leader
in a release said that, he had called on Governor Ved Marwah, and staked claim to form
government in Manipur, immediately. Sources of the SPF informed that, Singh has
already submitted a list of 33 supporters and urged the Government to invite him to form
the government. However, Raj Bhavan sources confirmed Singh's meeting with the
Governor but refused to divulge details, revealed the sources.

Sabarmati Express attacked : 57 killed in Gujarat

Unidentified miscreants attacked the Sabarmati Express and set fire its four coaches at
Godhra Railway Station in Gujarat, on February 27. Sources informed that, at least 57
people were killed and 43 were injured during the attack. The deceased people were
mostly Ram Sevaks who were returning from Ayodha and most of them included women
and children. A senior railway official was also killed in the incident.

Police sources investigating the incident informed that, the train while proceeding
towards its onward journey was stopped by pulling the chain near the signal point where
a mob attacked four coaches with petrol and acid bombs and set them on fire. Some of
the passengers were even trapped inside the coaches and burnt to death, informed the
sources.

Meanwhile, an indefinite curfew was clamped in Godhra town immediately after the
incident as large-scale violence erupted. Police had also opened fire at many places to
disperse rioting mobs in the town. Moreover, in protest against the attack, the Vishwa
Hindu Parishad (VHP) has also called for Gujarat bandh, on February 28, informed the
sources.

67 doctors under disciplinary action

State Government has initiated disciplinary action against 67 doctors who were selected
to serve in the rural areas but refused to go there. Sources informed that, the doctors
were selected a couple of months back, but they were yet to join their duties there,
which has disappointed the State Government and has forced it to take action against
them. Dr. Bhumidhar Barman, the State Health Minister informed that, the Health
Department had already imposed a fine of Rs. 5.35 lakh on each doctor for their refusal
to work in the rural areas. Notices has also been served to the doctors who failed to join
the place of posting within the stipulated time as per provision of rules under the Act,
said Dr. Barman.

However, it may be mentioned that, altogether 460 doctors among 2697 doctors present
in the State were selected by the State Government, of which only 160 have joined so
far, which seems to be a disappointing attitude of the doctors towards the rural people.
Thus, in order to improve the health problems in the rural areas of the State, the State
Government has laid down some new norms under which doctors have to work atleast
five years in the rural areas to qualify for post graduation.

Governor appreciates Army's role

State Governor Sri S K Sinha, lauded the role played by the Army in providing assistance
to various charitable organisations of the State. Sri Sinha, while inaugurating a road and
a bridge on the road constructed by the Red Horns Division of the Army, approaching the
premises of the Ila Trust at Betkuchi in Guwahati, appreciated the part of the Army
played in providing such facilities to the rural people. Later, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi,
also speaking during the occasion, lauded the Army's role and called upon the NGO's to
extend their services to the rural areas of the State.

Pulse polio drive on March 3

A three-day programme has been organised throughout the State for the commencement
of the second round of pulse polio immunisation programme from March 3. Dr.
Bhumidhar Barman, the Health Minister informed that, this time the Government has set
a target of over 44 lakh children for the immunisation programme and also said that the
department has already trained over 73,000 workers for smooth conducting of the
programme. Later, assuring the people of no side-effects, Dr. Barman urged the people
of the State to take their children to the respective booths and make a polio free
atmosphere.

Tough fiscal steps resorted in Assam

In order bail out Assam from the prevailing financial crisis, the State Government has
resorted to tough fiscal measures and has proposed to downsize itself by merging several
departments. Sources informs that, the measures like introduction of voluntary
retirement scheme (VRS), for the moment to be limited to Assam State Transport
Corporation (ASTC) and Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) are among the steps that
Assam Government hopes would convince the Central Government bail it out of the
financial crisis by releasing additional Central assistance. The State Government
however, presented the fiscal reforms programme to the Planning Commission during the
annual plan meeting, on February 25, said the sources. Later, briefing to the
newspersons, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, said that, the measures proposed by the
Assam Government has been appreciated by the Planning Commission. However, the
actual number of department proposed to be reduced and merged are yet to be finalised,
said he.

Meanwhile, the State Government has also made up its mind to dispose off the loss
incurring State public sector undertakings, informed the official sources.

News on 27th February '2002

AGP corrects past mistakes

In a bid to regain its lost stature among the people of the State, the Asom Gana Parishad
(AGP) Party are making endless efforts, said Sri Brindaban Goswami, the AGP President,
while talking in a press conference. Later, regretting among the masses for the mistakes
committed in the past, Sri Goswami said that, the party leaders have made an endless
endeavour to regain the lost confidence of the people. He also said that, the party is very
much committed to serve the people of the State once again.

Jhumoor dance of Assam gets boost

During the inauguration of the three-day long indigenous cultural festival of the tea
community at the Srimanta Sankardeva Kalakshetra, the State Labour and Employment
Minister Mr. Rameswar Dhanowar, revealed that, the Assam Government has decided to
showcase the indigenous culture and tradition of the tea community outside the State.
He said that, efforts has already been initiated to give a distinct identity to the popular
Jhumoor dance of the tea tribe at the national arena, instead of making it remain
confined within the tea gardens. Later he expressed his serious concern over the years
the tribe being used by political parties for their interest.

Mr. Robin Borthakur, the secretary of the Assam State Branch of Indian Tea Association
(ABITA) also said that, there has always been an endeavour to promote the culture of
the tea tribes by the tea management. He said that, measures are also initiated to bridge
the gap between the tea workers and tea managers.

ASI commits suicide

Sources informed that, an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of Patacharkuchi police station
has committed suicide, on February 25. The reason behind his suicide was not known till
date. Police sources however, informed that, the ASI Mr. Hirendra Sinha committed
suicide with his service revolver at around 11.40 p.m. in his official quarters.

Suresh Prabhu's visit to Assam

A press release informed that, the Union Power Minister, Suresh Prabhu was scheduled to
visit Assam from March 2. The release also informed that, during his visit, Prabhu would
visit the North Eastern Electric Power Corporation's gas-based power project at
Kathalguri in Dibrugarh district.

Dr. Arun Goswami passed away

Dr. Arun Goswami, a noted agricultural scientist and a retired director of Agriculture
Department, Assam, breathed his last at a nursing home in the city, on February 26.
Sources informed that, he was 59 years-old during his death and has left behind his old
mother, his wife and two daughters.

Shops gutted in city

In a night disaster five timber shops were gutted at Maligaon Chariali, on February 26.
Sources informed that, the fire broke out at around 9.20 pm in the area from an
electrical short circuit. The total damages caused due to the devastating fire remained
ascertained till date, informed the fire service sources.

Blind-folded bike rider stuns people in the city

The blind-folded bikeride rally on February 27, in the city has startled the Guwahatians
with the unique stunts of the rider. Sources informed that, the blind-folded two-wheeler
person was a renowned magician HG Ley of Hyderabad who traversed 20,000 km across
the country blindly, and through this rally in the city he wants to spread the message of
national integration. Sri HK Das, DGP, Assam has flagged off his blindfolded motorcycle
ride at the GLP Social Circle ground near ABC in the city, at 11-03 a.m. Sources later
informed that, the rally was being organised by the magician in association with Assam
Police, Kinetic Engineering Ltd. and GLP Social Circle.

State annual plan proposed to start Bogibeel bridge

The project of the Rangiya Railway Division has been ignored in the annual budget of the
State prepared, recently. Sources informed that, during the current financial year,
Railway Minister Nitish Kumar sanctioned a number of long-pending demands including
start of the project work on Bogibeel bridge and increasing the frequency of the Rajdhani
Express to seven days a week. The minister reviving the Bogibeel bridge issue,
announced that the project work of the bridge would start from April next, and also said
that, funds for such mega bridges might be possible in future.

Apart from this, the State annual budget has also proposed to start a weekly Guwahati-
Jodhpur-Bikaner via Jaipur train, a new inter-city train service called Jan Shatabdi
Express and a total number of 16 inter-city train services is also proposed to be
introduced all over the country. However, a new passenger train between Guwahati and
Bongaigaon via Goalpara is also been proposed to be introduced in the Railway Budget
for 2002-2003, informed the Railway Minister Nitish Kumar, on February 26.

Sources also informed that, the Railway Minister has also proposed three major criteria in
the annual plan to end the demands for new railway projects, i.e. the area of the State,
population and ongoing of projects in the States. Later, reacting against the budget, Dr.
Arun Sharma of AGP along with many other MPs of the region, pointed the Budget as
lacklustre and claimed that, the Rangiya Rail Division was again ignored, along with the
ignorance of the extension of the South-bound trains from Guwahati to Tinsukia.

News on 26th February '2002

Fund released for rural water supply scheme

The second installment of Rs. 15.78 crore, sponsored by the Centrally Accelerated Rural
Water Supply Scheme (ARWSP) has been released by the Ministry of Rural Development
to the State Government, on February 25. Sources informed that, the Ministry has
released a much lower amount than what was earmarked as Rs. 22.03 crore. However,
Assam has till date received a total amount of Rs. 53.57 crore as against an allocation of
Rs. 75.61 crore. Moreover, an amount of Rs. 2.12 lakh has also been released by the
Centre for monitoring and investigation of the implement of the scheme, said the Ministry
sources.

Body recovered in Jamugurihat

A body was recovered from Itakhola-Sijusa PWD road, near the Arunachal-Assam border,
under Sootea PS, by the Sonitpur police, on February 25. Sources informed that, the
body was identified as that of Jajna Basumatary, a resident of Serpanguri, under Sootea
PS, and that it bore a slit mark on its neck. Meanwhile, Police had launched a search
operation in the area to find out the cause.

Hostel boarders of Cotton College hurt

In a major haul between the students of Cotton College and the students of Assam
Engineering College (AEC), two students of Cotton College received minor injuries.
Sources informed that, a Cotton College student, who is a boarder of Cotton hostel had
an altercation with some of the AEC students, for which a group of AEC students went on
a rampage at the Rajanikanta Bordoloi Hostel, on February 25. The AEC students during
their attack had damaged the windows and doors of the hostel and also beat two
students of the Hostel, before fleeing the scene.

Meanwhile, the Cotton College Union Society had filed a case with the police, who then
picked up five students of AEC. In order to prevent any untoward incident in and around
the college, Police has also geared up patrolling and deployed security men at the
premises of the College and its Hostel premises. Sources also informed that, the Union
bodies of both the colleges have scheduled a meeting date to discuss the issue and arrive
at an amicable solution.

Ultras presence in Changlang pose threat to Assam

According to the information available with the security forces, the increasing movements
of the militants in the Changlang district of Arunachal Pradesh, has posed a serious
security threat to the upper Assam districts. Sources informed that, the militants
belonging to the National Socialist Council of Nagalim (I-M) have sneaked into the areas
bordering Assam, while the movement of the banned ULFA militants has also been
increasing in the areas, as it is impossible to check each and every inch of the border
area because of the terrain. Thus, taking advantage of the lack of security presence in
the area, the militants have increased their spurt in activities in the Changlang district,
said the police sources. Moreover, sources also informed that, the movement of the ULFA
in the Changlang district has increased in recent months as the militants are using the
district as a route to go to their bases at Myanmar.

Hunger strike by OBB teachers

A 24-hours hunger strike was launched on February 25, by about 200 teachers appointed
under the Operation Black Board (OBB) scheme, demanding immediate release of their
pending salaries and regularisation of their service. Sources informed that, over 7066
teachers were appointed under the OBB scheme during the Assam Gana Parishad regime,
but these teachers has not been able to draw their salaries for the last 12 months.

Tridip Das, the president of the OBB Teachers Association, while speaking to
newspersons said that, despite their repeated pleas, the State Government has been
paying a blind eye to the problems of the teachers. He later revealed that, the teachers
have been providing service since a year without salaries for which they had to undergo
a lot of problems, and some even die out of starvation.
Allegations against Darrang DRDA for misuse of central funds

Dr. Nagen Ch Sarma, a member of the Centre's Consultative Committee alleged that, the
DRDA of Darrang district has misused the Central funds meant for the rural development.
Accusing the DRDA of Darrang, Dr. Sarma sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister,
alleging that, 95 percent of grants for rural development in Darrang has not reached the
rural front. Moreover, said he that, ten loaded trucks with rice for Darrang were tracked
by police at Baihata Chariali and it was moved back to Mangaldai, on February 15. He
later, claimed that, rice is always siphoned out of FCI godowns and is taken somewhere
else, not known to them.

State Budget Plan fixed at Rs. 1750 cr.

Centre has fixed Assam's annual budget plan for the current financial year (2002-2003)
at Rs. 1750 crore, as against the State Government's projection of Rs. 2,840 crore.

KC Pant, the Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission, said that, during the last
financial year, Assam was in overdraft as among all the States of the country, due to
expenses on salaries, wages, pensions and interest payments were much more than the
entire revenue receipts of the State government from all the sources, leaving the State
Government with no rooms for manoeuvre. He said that, the fiscal crisis in Assam is
affecting largely the development programmes, and that Assam has lost hundreds of
crore of Central funds for various poverty alleviation programmes, because it has not
been able to provide the matching State shares. However, he later disclosed that, to
achieve a doubling of historical growth rate, the Planning Commission along with the
State Government is preparing an Assam Development Report, which will be finalised
shortly. Meanwhile, Assam Government has also projected a growth rate of 6.33 per
cent, which is almost double of the State's GDP of 2.96 per cent achieved during the
Ninth Five-Years Plan.

ULFA linkman held

An ULFA linkman was arrested by the CRPF and Assam Police battalion personnel in a
joint operation, from Milanpur hill side area in the city, on February 25. Sources informed
that, the man was identified as Pran Krishan Kalita, and was arrested on the charge of
working as a linkman of the banned ULFA outfit.

Police recovered arms, arrested one in Arunachal

A large number of arms and ammunitions including 78 gelatine sticks, 210 detonators,
five metres fuse wire and Rs. 9,600 in cash were recovered from the house of a person
named, Ram Nath Sahani of Chowkham in Lohit district in Arunachal Pradesh, on
February 18. Sources later informed that, police had also arrested the man as they
suspected that Mr. Sahani had close links with the NSCN-K, the NSCN-IM, the ULFA and
the ADF.

NSCN-K cadre killed

In an encounter with the Army, an NSCN (K) cadre was shot dead at No. 2 Wagangaon
under Bordoomsa police station in Arunachal Pradesh, on February 25. Sources informed
that, the Army had also recovered arms and ammunitions including a AK-56 rifle, three
magazines and 70 live cartridges from the site of the encounter. The slain militant was
later identified as Atik Gam Yabin.
20 FCI officials chargesheeted for Tezpur scam

Accusing the 20 top officials of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for allotting rice and
wheat to some private parties on fake allotment order, the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) has filed charge sheets against them, on February 25. Sources
informed that, the CBI has filed charge sheets of the 20 officials before the Special Court
and sought permission of the Court to arrest the accused on the grounds of criminal
conspiracy. It is to be mentioned that, a total quantity of 7,65,053 quintals of rice and
wheat was alloted to the private parties on fake orders by the Sonitpur district FCI office
between 1994 and 1997. Sources informed that, the whole quota of rice and wheat was
meant to be supplied to the paramilitary forces operating in Assam, at subsidised rates.

Assam economy going down due to extortion regime

Illegal collection of tax and extortion of money by the various underground outfit, active
in the North-east has led to a severe havoc in Assam economy. Sources informed that,
though the region has made a significant progress in infrastructure development in
recent years, yet illegal collection of taxes has negated whatever cost advantage the
infrastructure development has given. The State Government in the region is also blamed
for the extortion regime that rules the transport sector and also for its hiking the existing
toll and imposing new taxes.

Meanwhile, the All India Motor Congress submitted a memorandum to the Assam
Government highlighting the plight of the transporters carrying goods to the region, that
has been affecting the economy of the region.

News on 25th February '2002

Congress victory in Kaliabor by-poll

Deep Gogoi, the brother of the State Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, has won the Kaliabor
Lok Sabha bye-election after defeating his nearest rival Thagi Gogoi of the BJP. Sources
informed that, the Congress has won by 1,68,151 votes in the bye-election, that was
held on February 21. Altogether 5,87,378 votes were declared valid, and out of those Dip
Gogoi has secured 3,00,613 votes, Sri Thagi Gogoi secured 1,32,462 votes, Sri Rashidul
Haque of the Samata Party got 93,090 votes, AGP candidate Sri Bhadreshwar Tanti
secured 56,835 votes and Sri Abidur Rahman of the NCP secured 4,415 votes.

Businessman killed in Kokrajhar

A businessman was shot dead in lower Assam's Kokrajhar district by the Bodo militants,
on February 24. Police sources informed that, a group of three motorcycle borne
militants suddenly shot at Makhan Chand Chetia, a businessman, from sophisticated
weapons at Basugaon, who was seriously injured, and his son of Bimal Chetia, also being
present at the spot later succumbed to his injuries. However, the identification of the
Bodo militants remained unknown till date, said the police sources.

2 died in accidental fire

In an evening disaster, two persons died and several houses were gutted at Dhirenpara,
Fatashil Ambari, on February 24. Sources informed that, an accidental fire suddenly
broke out in the area and had caused severe damages to the residents, killing two
persons on the spot. Police later identified the deceased as Joynal Abedin and Narayan
Karmakar.
Jnanpith Award to Mamoni Raisom

Dr. Indira Goswami, popularly known as Mamoni Raisom Goswami, has received the
prestigious Jnanpith Award formally on February 24, for her immense writings and
contributions to Assamese literature. Sources informed that, Assam has received this
award for the second time, the first time being awarded to late Birendra Kumar
Bhattacharjee.

However, during the Jnanpith Award presentation function in New Delhi, many notable
personalities were present including Nobel laureate Sir V S Naipaul, vice-president
Krishan Kant, former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao, Union HRD Minister, Dr. Murli
Manohar Joshi, State Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, and president of the Bharatiya Jnanpith
Indu Jain among others. Sources informed that, award carries a citation, a bronze plaque
and a cheque for Rs. 5 lakh.

ULFA men shot dead in Tinsukia district

In a fierce encounter of a two-hour long gun battle with the Army and police, four top
ULFA militants were killed near famous Stilwell Road inside the Tinkopani Reserve Forest
under Lekhapani police station of Tinsukia district, on February 24. Sri A J Baruah, the SP
of Tinsukia district informed that, after receiving reports of the militants' movements in
the area, a patrol party of the 9 Grenadiers of the Army raided the entire area and were
suddenly confronted with five militants who had opened fire at them, to which they also
retaliated later. A police party also rushed to the spot and after more than two hours of
heavy exchange of fire, four ULFA cadres were killed, while one managed to escape.

The slain militants were identified as LT Nilotpal Sangmai of Tingkhong area of Dibrugarh
district, Sgt. Major Tridib Sarma of Nalbari, corporal Agyanta Phukan alias Bubul of
Kakopathar area of Tinsukia and Jayanta Barua of Tingkhong. However, a large number
of arms and ammunitions, including one UMG with a drum magazine, 495 rounds of
ammunition and one Chinese bottle grenade, were also recovered from the slain
militants, by the security forces.

Sri Baruah, the SP of Tinsukia district later informed that, these slain militants of the
banned outfit were, in some way or other, involved in the various attacks and killings
that took place in the State in the past and the present year.

Assam economy going down due to extortion regime

Illegal collection of tax and extortion of money by the various underground outfit, active
in the North-east has led to a severe havoc in Assam economy. Sources informed that,
though the region has made a significant progress in infrastructure development in
recent years, yet illegal collection of taxes has negated whatever cost advantage the
infrastructure development has given. The State Government in the region is also blamed
for the extortion regime that rules the transport sector and also for its hiking the existing
toll and imposing new taxes.

Meanwhile, the All India Motor Congress submitted a memorandum to the Assam
Government highlighting the plight of the transporters carrying goods to the region, that
has been affecting the economy of the region.

Stir put off by non-Bodo groups

Following discussions with the State Government, the various non-Bodo groups has
decided to temporarily withdraw their proposed agitation. Sources informed that, the
representatives of the non-Bodo organizations held a discussion with the members of the
Cabinet Sub-committee, under State Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Dr.
Bhumidhar Barman, on February 24, in order to find out an amicable solution to the Bodo
problem. The meeting however, suggested that, a discussion should be held among the
Centre, State Government and the various Bodo non-Bodo groups to reach at a solution
to the vexed Bodo problem. The meeting also asked the non-Bodo organizations to
submit a memorandum to the Cabinet Sub-committee within the last week of February to
discuss the problems being faced by them in the proposed Bodoland Territorial Council
(BTC).

It is to be mentioned that, the meeting was also attended by the representatives of the
Sanmilita Janagosthiya Sangram Samittee, Sadou Asom Koch-Rajbongshi Sanmilan and
URMCA.

Govt. urged to clear all dues of PSU employees

State Government has been earnestly requested by the Committee for Struggle to Revive
Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) Assam, to pay the long-pending salaries and arrears
to the employees of the PSUs and release the amounts due to the PSUs from the
Government. Sources informed that, the committee also held a meeting with the
representatives of political parties, on February 24, and adopted several resolutions
urging the Government to implement various departmental projects through the PSUs
concerned. Later criticizing the Haren Das committee report on fiscal reforms as totally
biased, the meeting also urged the Government to reject the Haren Das report and hold
a discussion on revival of PSUs involving all political parties.

Price hike in IMFL commodities

In view of the State Government's decision to impose 22 per cent sales tax on the Indian
Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) commodities, the prices of the commodities are likely to be
hiked in a day or two in Assam. Sources informed that, the Assam Government has also
enhanced the sales tax rates for gutkha, pan masala etc., up to 8 per cent.

Govt. urged to initiate steps for basic civic amenities to city dwellers

Assembling at Sudmerson Hall of Cotton College for a Citizens Convention, the senior
citizens of different samities, pressurized the Assam Government to provide basic civic
amenities to the city dwellers and save the city from further deterioration. The citizens
also opposed the proposed move of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) to
increase the rate of property tax, without delivering proper services to the tax payers.

Ashraf Ali, a noted educationist, while addressing the Citizens Convention said that,
Guwahati would soon become unfit for living if the government and other agencies do not
come forward to stop the haphazard growth around the city. He later claimed that, the
GMC has no right to increase the property tax without improving its service to the tax
payers.

News on 24th February '2002

Financial emergency not required : Sinha

While talking to newspersons in the circuit house at Silchar, the Assam Governor Lt Gen.
SK Sinha, said that, imposition of financial emergency in the State was not required in
this time, even though the State Government is facing a severe economic crisis.
However, in view of the cash-trapped situation of the State, he expected favourable
budgetary support from the Centre to bail out the State from its predicament. He later
clarified that, many other States including Maharastra are facing severe financial crunch,
and so declaration of financial emergency was not needed for the time being.

Tea captains request Govt's help

In view of bailing out the tea industries from the current fund crunch position, the major
tea associations of the North-east region has appealed the State Government for
financial relief. Sources informed that, the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the Bharat
Cha Parishad (BCP), has appealed to the State Government to persuade the Centre to
grant relief to the fund-starved tea industry of Assam in the form of withdrawal of excise
duty, increase in duty entitlement passbook for tea exports, 100 per cent hike in import
duty on tea etc. These measures would however, help in curtailing the import inferior tea
which is blended and re-exported, said the JAC.

Railway Ministry allocates fund

Ten percent of the budgeted amount of ensuing Railway Budget would be allocated for
the development of railways in the North Eastern Region, informed the Railway Ministry.
The development work would also include construction works of the Rangiya Railway
Division. Moreover, the allocation is also meant for the extension of the Broadgauge line
to Morkokcheleng, disclosed the former State Secretary of the BJP Munindra Sing Lahkar.

Guwahati Trade Fair begins

The 9th International Guwahati Trade Fair, 2002 has got under way with its grand
inauguration by the State PWD and Excise Minister, Mr. Sarat Barkotoky. Sources
informed that, the Minister during his inaugural speech hoped that this fair would help in
promoting an environment congenial to growth of industry and remove the misgivings on
the part of the future investors in the region. Sri Pradyut Bordoloi, the Minister of State
for Home and Industries, speaking as the guest of honour, also said that, the fair would
act as a platform for launch of new products and exchange of business among different
regions, and so he urged the entrepreneurs of the region to take part in trade fairs in
foreign neighbouring countries such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, etc. Sources later
mentioned that, about 300 companies would participate in the fair which is one of the
biggest corporate event of he North-east region.

News on 23rd February '2002

ULFA cadre shot dead

In an encounter with a patrolling party of Nalbari police at Dhantola Farm chak, an ULFA
militant was killed, on February 22. Sources informed that, a group of militants coming
from the opposite direction, on seeing the police vehicle fired at them and tried to
escape. The police team also retaliated killing one of the militant on the very spot.
However, the other militants of the group managed to escape from the spot. Sources
later informed that, the slain militant remained unidentified till date.

Houses of OIL engineer raided

The office quarter and houses of SR Deb, the Oil India Limited (OIL) assistant engineer
(civil) situated at Duliajan and Kolkata, were raided by the Central Bureau of
Investigation (CBI) and confiscated property disproportionate to his known sources of
income, worth around Rs. 50 lakh. Sources informed that, the CBI officials raided the
houses of Sri SR Deb, during the country-wide drive against corrupt people, as there
were lot of allegations against him of his demanding and taking huge amounts in bribe
from the OIL contractors. However, the seized property included gold ornaments, bank
documents and benami land records, said the official sources. His bank locker at Kolkata
was also been sealed.

Rural development receives fund of Rs. 116 cr

In order to carry out the schemes under the Panchayat and Rural Development
Department, the State Government has released an amount of Rs. 116.55 crore. Sources
informed that, the funds were released to get further installments from the Centre, that
would help in undertaking the schemes under the Rural development Department.

The State Government has released an amount of Rs. 20.81 crore for IAY scheme, Rs.
12.88 crore for the DRDA administration, Rs. 10.42 crore for EAS and Rs. 22.50 crore
were released for JGSY scheme, informed the highly-placed sources. Moreover, the State
Government has also submitted the funds utilisation certificates to the Centre to facilitate
the further installments.

CM's greetings on Id-ul-Zuha

The Muslim festival of Id-ul-Zuha would be celebrated throughout the State along with
the rest of the country, on February 23. Sources informed that, during this festival of
sacrifice of the Muslim community, 'namazes' has been organised at various mosques
and idgahs. The State Chief Minister, Sri Tarun Gogoi, on the eve of the Id has greeted
all the people of the State. Meanwhile, Dr. Bhumidhar Barman, the Health Minister and
Dr. Hemoprava Saikia, Minister of Cultural Affairs has also conveyed their best wishes to
the people of the State.

Feasibility study on railway line extension

While addressing a press conference, the senior NF Railway officials revealed that, the
Railway Board has ordered a feasibility study on the proposed extension of the railway
line from Azara near the city, to Byrnihat in Meghalaya. The study would be completed
within a period of six months and an amount of Rs. 180 crore has been sanctioned for
the purpose, said the officials. The officials present in the conference include, Sri Vipan
Nanda, the new General Manager (GM) of the NF Railway and Mr. R Gopinathan Nair, the
Additional General Manager (AGM) among many others.

Sri Nanda during the conference also disclosed that, the NF Railway has undertaken
seven projects of laying new lines between Eklahi and Balurghat, New Maynaguri and
Jogighopa, Kumarghat and Agartala, Harmuti and Itanagar, Dudhnoi and Depa, Diphu
and Karon and the raid-cum-road Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra near Dibrugarh.
He later apprised the media persons that the works on these projects are going on in full
swing.

News on 22nd February '2002

Peaceful by-elections in Kaliabor

With more than 55 per cent of the people exercising their franchise, the by-election to
the Kaliabor Parliamentary Constituency passed off peacefully, on February 21. Sources
informed that, no untoward incident was reported during the election hours, from any
part of the constituency. The counting of the votes will be done on February 24 in eight
centres in Nagaon, Golaghat and Jorhat districts, informed the sources.
However, it is to be mentioned that, the election for the Kaliabor LS seat was held due to
the vacancy of the post, following the resignation of Sri Tarun Gogoi after his election to
the State Assembly.

Ganja seized in Nalbari

In a joint operation, the officers of Anti-smuggling Unit, Customs Division, Guwahati and
the Intelligence Cell, DRI, Guwahati, has seized a truck loaded with 527.5 kgs of
cannabis (ganja) at Narayanpur under Nalbari district, on February 21. Sources informed
that, the truck bearing regd. No. PB-10B/9597 was coming through the Nalbari by-pass,
when suddenly the officers acting on specific information, confiscated the loaded truck.
The officers later disclosed that the truck was loaded with ganja worth Rs. 10,55,000/-.
However, a person was arrested in this connection and interrogation was still on.

BTC boundary yet to be demarcated

Despite the repeated pressure from the struggling Bodo groups including BLT and its
allies ABSU and BPAC, the State Government is delaying to demarcate the boundary of
proposed Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), in view of the stiff opposition voiced by non-
Bodo groups including Koch-Rajbongshis and Adivasis. Sources informed that, the State
Government would demarcate the boundary only after evolving a consensus between the
Bodos and the non-Bodos. Moreover, the State Government is sensing trouble as other
tribal groups like Lalung, Tiwa, Rabha and Mising are gearing up to press for their
demand for BTC-like tribal councils for them too. Sources later informed that, the Koch-
Rajbongshi have even threatened to intensify their agitation demanding a separate
Kamatapur State if the State Government fails to review its decision to constitute the
BTC.

CM disappointed at unusual delay in Gas Cracker Project

Expressing his disappointment at the unusual delay in setting up of the Assam Gas
Cracker Project, the State Chief Minister Sri Tarun Gogoi, stated that much emphasis
should be given to the finalisation of all the issues relating to the setting up of the project
at the earliest. Speaking at a high-level meeting on the issue at New Delhi, Sri Gogoi said
that, a tripartite meeting should be held between the Central and State Governments and
the Reliance Industries Limited to confirm all the formalities and to finalise the time
schedule for the setting up of the project. Later, he has also expressed his dissatisfaction
at the poor performance of the OIL and ONGC to produce crude and gas that has
resulted in shortfall of gas for the project. The shortage of crude oil faced by the
refineries of Assam is also a grave matter of concern, said Sri Gogoi during the meeting.

Meanwhile, SS Dhindsa, the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, while reviewing
the Gas Cracker project during the meeting, assured that, the associated gas for
producing ethylene would be made available within the next four months.

ULFA recruitment drive going on

Highly placed sources informed that, the ULFA cadres has started a massive recruitment
drive in Nalbari and also in some other districts situated along the Assam-Bhutan and the
Assam-Meghalaya border. Sources informed that, the outfit would carry on with the
recruitment drive till the onset of the monsoon and then send the new recruits for
training either in Bhutan camp or other camps in Bangladesh and Myanmar. Moreover,
the ULFA is also set to launch an extortion drive in the State, informed the sources.
Information about the ULFA's new agreement with the NSCN (K), has also been received
by the intelligence officials, said the sources.
Feb. 22 declared local holiday in Kokrajhar

A local holiday has been declared in Kokrajhar by the district administration, on February
22. Sources informed that, the holiday was declared to facilitate people to visit the venue
of Bodo Sahitya Sabha on account of its Golden Jubilee celebrations.

65 per cent turnout in Tripura by-poll

The by-election to the West Tripura Lok Sabha constituency passed off peacefully amidst
tight security, with about 65 percent of the electorate exercising their franchise. Sources
informed that, no untoward incident was reported during the election hours.

NH-52 likely to be handed over to BRO

The Central Government has decided to hand over the National Highway (NH) 52 to the
Boarder Roads Organisation (BRO), in view of the critical condition of the roads of the
State. Lt Gen Prakash Suri, the Director General of the BRO, while addressing a press
conference asserted that, the BRO has received a proposal on NH-52, and is waiting for a
go ahead signal from the authorities concerned. He later informed that, the BRO has
been entrusted with the responsibility of improvement of 22 roads under proposed
Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and is presently carrying out several projects in
Nalbari, Kamrup and Barpeta districts under Prime Minister Special Package scheme.

However, the State Government's proposal for erection of fencing along the Indo-Bhutan
border would be impossible due to hostile terrain and river, and so fencing in a few parts
of the border can be erected to prevent movements of militants into the Indian territory,
said Mr. Suri.

Non-payment of salary vitiates ASCON workers

Deprivation of salaries has led to a state of starvation death for the family members of
the workers of the only PSU in the State for manufacture of electrical conductors (wires),
named Sick Assam Conductors and Tubes Limited (ASCON). Sources informed that, the
employees of the organisation have not been paid their salaries for the last 33 months,
and this has deprived the workers and their nearest kin from living in a better livelihood.
The ASCON members however, in a statement issued to the State Government, has
blamed the State Government for its failure to take any measures for reviving the unit,
that has been enjoying monopoly market in the State in production and supply of
electrical conductors, mainly to its primary client the ASEB.

Demands to withdraw ESMA impostion in ASEB

The ESMA imposition in the ASEB has been demanded to an immediate withdrawal by the
Assam Meghalaya Mizoram State Electricity Supply Workers' Union. Sources informed
that, the Union has urged the State Government to release all the arrested activists of
the Joint Action Committee of the ASEB Employees and also urged the government to
start the process of negotiation with the JAC immediately so that an amicable settlement
on the issues raised by the JAC could be arrived at without any delay.

News on 21st February '2002

Army busted ULFA hideout in Dibrugarh

An ULFA hideout inside the Dirok reserved forest in Tinsukia district was unearthed by
the Army, on February 20. Sources informed that, the militant hideout was busted during
a tip-off search operation that was launched after receiving information about the
presence of the militants around the Lekhajan tea estate. However, an encounter
between the militants and the Army personnel took place in the area, where an ULFA
cadre was shot dead. His identification remained unknown till date, informed the sources.
A large number of arms and ammunitions were also recovered from the spot.

Youths killed in Nalbari

Two youths were shot dead by some unidentified gunmen at Bistupur village under
Ghograpar Police Station, on February 19. Sources informed that, the police had
suspected the hand of ULFA in the killings. However, the motive behind the killings
remained ascertained till date, informed the sources. The slain youths were identified as
Samsul Ali of Sahan Bistupur and Harun Ali of Bar-Bistupur.

Decomposed body recovered in Nagaon

Police had recovered a decomposed body from under the Anandaram Dhekial Phukan
bridge in the heart of Nagaon town, on February 20. Sources informed that, the body
was that of a police constable belonging to 10 AP Battalion, who was later identified as
Jadab Kalita.

SJSS opposes BTC

Briefing to news-persons, the members of the Sanmilita Janagostiya Sangram Samiti
(SJSS) expressed its grave protest against the formation of the Bodoland Territorial
Council (BTC), as that might hamper the non-Bodos living in the proposed BTC areas.
Sources informed that, the SJSS has announced an agitational programme against its
formation. However, a rail and road block call has already been given by the Sanmilita
Janagostiya Sangram Samiti, from 6 p.m. of February 24, to 6 a.m. of February 26, said
the sources.

International Guwahati Trade Fair from February 22

The ninth International Guwahati Trade Fair would start from February 22, under the
aegis of Industries and Trade Fair Association of Assam, with the participation of more
than 300 participants including forty-four SSI units from the State. There would be a
wide range of state-of-the-art handicraft items and furniture on display in the fair which
is being held with the theme of the year, " Exploring new frontiers".

The organisers of the fair informed that, Iran and Bangladesh has already got their
confirmation about their participation in the fair and said that, countries like Thailand and
China were also contacting them for participation. They also revealed that, the added
attraction of this year's Trade Fair would be the celebration of golden era of Assamese
film industry.

Organisers later informed that, Bangladesh would display multifarious products like silk,
jamdani sarees, sweetened condensed milk, PVC corrugated pipes, tiles, artificial flowers,
melamine tableware, while, Iran would make their maiden appearance in the trade fair
with a few indigenous and melamine products. However, people would also see a
revolution in the field of automobile, with all the leading companies taking part.

Tough security arrangements for Kaliabor by-poll

In view of the by-election to the Kaliabor LS seat scheduled to be held on February 21,
elaborate security arrangements has been made in all the five legislative Assembly
constituency segments falling under Kaliabor Parliamentary constituency to carry on with
a safe and pure election. Sources informed that, about eight companies of CRPF
personnel and four companies of Assam Police Battalion (APBn) personnel has been
deployed in the Lok Sabha constituency to conduct the election smoothly.

It is to be mentioned that, the by-election to the Lok Sabha constituency was
necessitated after the seat was vacated by the sitting MP and Chief Minister, Tarun
Gogoi, following his election to the State Assembly from Titabor LAC. However, many top
leaders of different parties has hit the campaign trail in the constituency canvassing for
their respective candidates, that came to an end on February 19.

COFR reports burnt

The copies of the report prepared by the former Chief Secretary of the Committee on
Fiscal Reforms (COFR) Sri Haren Das, has been burnt to ashes by the members of the
committee for struggle to revive public sector undertaking, Assam, as they were against
such reports that had directed them to close down all the poor public sector undertaking
units (PSU). Sources informed that, the members also submitted a memorandum to
Governor Lt Gen. (retd) SK Sinha, to take an action regarding the matter, and also
appealed him to strengthen up all the PSUs instead of closing them.

Final phase of Manipur, UP polls on Feb. 21

The final phase of the Assembly elections of Manipur and Uttar Pradesh would be held on
February 21, covering 186 constituencies along with by-elections to six Lok Sabha seats
and seven Assembly constituencies in various States. Sources informed that, tight
security arrangements has been made for peaceful conduct of polls in which over five
crore people are expected to exercise their franchise. A special vigil is also being
maintained on anti-social elements.

Sources informed that, the Assembly polls would cover 166 constituencies in Uttar
Pradesh and 20 in Manipur, while by-polls for Lok Sabha will be held in Kaliabor in
Assam, Jammu, Kanakpura in Karnataka, Guna in Madhya Pradesh, Mirzapur in Uttar
Pradesh and Tripura West.

Operation Clean-up creates no enthusiasm among people

The Kamrup district administration's launching of Operation Clean-up, has failed to
generate much enthusiasm among the people at the Paltan Bazar Police Reserve area.
Sources informed that, the administration had launched the operation to clean the
drainage system in the city which has created an atmosphere of full of pollution and dirt.

However, expressing concern over the matter, the members of the Rammandir Lane
Merchants' Association residing around the targeted area claimed that, the clean-up drive
would be futile unless the GMC authorities removed the filth and garbage extracted from
the drains instead of just dumping those by the side of the drains. They later alleged
that, the GMC authorities were not at all serious about the work as they always kept the
garbage by the side of the drains and these garbage gets washed into the drains after
rainy days come. PK Kashyap the secretary of the association also said that, such
dumping by the roadside creates much problem for the movement of traffic in a narrow
and congested road like this, and so he urged the GMC authorities to ensure that the
garbage is taken away from the place.

News on 20th February '2002
End of ASEB strike

The end of the 72-hour power strike led to the end of darkness in the Upper Assam
districts, particularly in Dibrugarh. Sources informed that, the ASEB strike ended in the
morning of February 19, and the power position in the entire State was seen to be better
after the completion of the strike.

It is to be mentioned that, the strike was given by the Joint Action Committee of ASEB
Employees (JAC) in support of its seven-point charter of demands which included
withdrawal of the Electricity Bill 2001 and improvement in power generation and
distribution system. Sources also informed that, during the strike the entire Sivasagar
district was plunged in darkness for two days continuously due to sabotage of the extra-
high-voltage lines supplying power to the district.

Doctors reject to serve in rural areas

It has been a serious matter of concern that the doctors recruited to man health centres
in rural areas reject to go and serve those areas. Health Minister, Dr. Bhumidhar Barman
informed that, the State Government has appointed 400 doctors to improve healthcare in
rural areas, but out of them only 50 doctors are ready to serve in the rural areas and the
others reject to go. However, expressing grave concern over the matter, he stated that,
more than 80 per cent of the total population in the State live in rural areas, and so the
medical graduates tendency to keep themselves off from those areas is an alarming
situation for the State itself. He later stated that, the Government has taken the
exception to rejection of job offers by so many doctors and said that, the government
has contemplated to demand compensation of Rs. 3 lakh from each of them, as by
declining to serve the State Government they had violated the undertaking given by
them at the time of admission to Medical Colleges in the State.

ULFA man shot dead

In an encounter with the Army, an ULFA militant was killed at Latima village under
Ghograpar police station, on February 19. Sources informed that, the ULFA militant was a
self-styled sergeant major of ULFA's Bongaigaon district unit, and was identified as
Sukleswar Ray alias Shakti Rabha. A pistol was also recovered from the possession of the
slain militant, informed the Defence sources.

NDFB ultras arrested

Two hard-core NDFB militants were held from Batasipur area under Dhekiajuli revenue
circle in Sonitpur district, on February 19. Sources informed that, the duo were
apprehended from the area, during a joint operation by the Army and the police. The
accused were identified as Biru Basumatary and Biren Basumatary, and a live detonator
and 400 g explosive were also recovered from their possession, informed the sources.

Shun violence come forward : appeals AJYCP

The Tezpur unit of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) urged all the
underground groups and organisations including ULFA and NDFB, to shun the path of
violence and come forward with peace talks with the government to solve their problems.
Apurba Kumar Bhatacharjee, the AJYCP president, while speaking to newspersons said
that, a concrete solution to the insurgency problem was immediately required to prevent
the frequent killings, that has been continuously damaging the socio-economic situation
of the State.
Miscreants kill petrol pump manager, loots cash

Unidentified miscreants shot dead a petrol pump manager and injured his assistant
manager in Nagaon district, on February 18. Sources informed that, the manager, Dipak
Deka and his assistant Mahesh Pandey were on their way to the owners' house to deposit
the collection of the day of Rs. 35,000 after closing the pump late night, when they were
suddenly attacked by two unidentified motor-cycle borne youths, who shot at them,
killing Dipak Deka on the very spot and injured Pandey. Sources later informed that, the
miscreants decamped with the money looted from the manager.

Meanwhile, a search operation was launched by the police to nab the culprits.

Samata alleges Cong's intimidation of voters

The Samata Party urged the Election Commission (EC) to appoint special observers to
ensure a pure and safe bye-election in Kaliabor Lok Sabha constituency scheduled to be
held on February 24. Sources informed that, the Samata Party has charged the Congress
Government in Assam with intimidating voters and influencing them by giving money,
and so they requested the EC to depute special observers for the election. However,
Shambhu Shrivastav, the Party general secretary in a letter to the Chief Election
Commissioner, complained that all the Samata party offices had been sealed at many
places by the local police, and permission to hold meetings was not granted, and, even
though meetings were held, the public was intimidated by the police.

Massive stir threatened by Rangiya Rly Div. Sangram Parishad

A vigorous agitation would be launched by the Rangiya Railway Division Sangram
Parishad if the demands for the construction of rail division at Rangiya was not fulfilled.
Sources informed that, the Parishad has met the State Chief Minister in this connection
and urged him to use his office for the fulfillment of the demand.

Meanwhile, the Central government has, in view of keeping the agitating people pacified,
already laid the foundation of the rail division at Rangiya, but then again dragged its feet
from the construction of the division offices, said the members of the Parishad, in a
special general meeting of the Sangram Parishad. Moreover, the meeting has also
pointed out the fact that the Union Railway Budget has since been ignoring the need to
allocate fund for the rail division on the one hand, while, on the other the Railway Board
has been delaying the project by not putting its seal of approval on the detail estimate of
the construction of the division. Thus, in case of the failure of the Union Government to
respond positively to the demand at the earliest, the Sangram Parishad would be
compelled to launch a vigorous agitation on the issue, said the leaders of the Parishad.

No side-effects of polio drops : asserts Dr. Barman

Health Minister Dr. Bhumidhar Barman, urged all the people of the State to make the
second round of Pulse Polio Immunisation drive on March 3, a success and asserted that,
there would never be any side-effects in the drops given to their children. He however,
asked all the people to take their children to the polio booths on the day and help to
eradicate polio from the State.

Later, Dr. Barman, while trying to clear the apprehension in the minds of the common
people about the possible side-effects of pulse polio, also assured the people that only
World Health Organizations (WHO) accredited laboratories would be allowed to prepare
polio vaccines for their children which would be absolutely out of danger.
Meanwhile, Dr. Barman addressing a meeting of Editors of newspapers called upon the
media to highlight the importance of pulse polio drive in eradicating incurable polio
disease from the face of the earth so that people in the State respond to the
immunisation drive overwhelmingly.

Academic fellowship to Nilamoni Phukan

"Fellow of the Sahitya Akademi", the highest honour of the institution reserved for the
immortals of literature, has been awarded to the renowned poet of the State, Sri
Nilamoni Phukan. It is to be mentioned that, Sri Phukan has about nine collection of
poems to his credit in addition to four titles on art and four books on translated poetry.

Sources informed that, Sri Phukan came to know about the news of his honour from TV
bulletin and calls from journalists, where he, showing his much honesty, said that, he
was not qualified enough for such a great honour. He said that, he had tried his best with
all sincerity and devotion to serve the language and literature of the State for about four
decades, as he started composing poems when he was a school student. However, his
first published work was 'Surya Henu naamehi ai nadiyedi' (1969) and his latest publish
was 'Sagartolir Sankha', (1999) which is a collection of his selected poems, edited by Dr.
Hiren Gohain.

News on 19th February '2002

Probe into security lapse started

A probe into the security lapses, that had led to the road accident involving the Defence
Minister George Fernandes, has been started by the State Home Commissioner, Sri HS
Das, on February 15. Speaking to the newspersons, Sri Das said that, he would submit
the results of the probe within 15 days of time, and has reported that, the Government
has till date not suspended any senior police officer in connection with the incident.
However, two junior-level officers were suspended regarding the matter, said Sri Das.

Poll preparations for Kaliabor LS seat in full swing

Preparations for the forthcoming bye-election under 11-Kaliabor HPC in Golaghat district
are going on in full swing. Sources informed that, a total of 11,27,880 voters are ready
to cast their votes and a total of 574 polling stations were set up for the elections, on
February 21. The ten legislative assembly constituencies that fall under 11-Kaliabor HPC
include Dhing, Batadrova, Rupaihat, Samaguri, Kaliabor, Bokakhat, Sarupatahar,
Golaghat, Khumtai and Dergaon. The Golaghat district administration has also set up
election control room in connection with the ensuing bye-election, informed the sources.

ASEB workers arrested in city

Following the ongoing 72-hour strike by the power workers that had reeled the entire
State under severe power crisis, hundreds of Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB)
employees were arrested statewide, on February 18. Sources informed that, the workers
were arrested under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) that was invoked by
the Government on February 17.

It is to be mentioned that, under the long periods of power disruption, the situation in
Upper Assam was totally grim, particularly in the districts of Sivasagar, Tinsukia,
Dibrugarh and Jorhat. But the power position in North Assam areas between Gossaigaon
and Lakhimpur and in Lower Assam areas of Nagaon, Guwahati and Goalpara remained
quite normal during the first day of the strike, informed the ASEB sources.

Revenue officer held

A police team led by Mr. Prasanta Sagar Changmai SDPO, Biswanath Chariali, arrested a
Circle Officer of Kalaigaon Revenue Circle in Darrang district, Mr. Ram Kumar Pegu, on
February 18. Sources informed that, the Revenue Officer was arrested in connection with
a case, lodged with Gohpur police station, of prevention of Corruption Act.

Budget Session of Assam from March 1

Assembly secretary, Mahendra Kumar Sarma, revealed that, the 41-day-long Budget
Session of the Assam Assembly would begin from March 1. Sri Sarma later informed
that, the session would have 21 working days and the Budget for the year 2002-2003
would be placed in the House on March 10.

Missionaries converting people into Christianity : alleged Dr. Frawley

During his visit to the North East, Director of the American Vedic Studies, Dr. David
Frawley, criticized the Christian missionaries in the country for converting the people of
other faiths to Christianity by enticing them with offers for jobs and other luxuries. Dr.
Frawley urging the people of India to stick to their own original Indian culture and Vedic
philosophy, said that they should not get converted to any other religion for the sake of
luxuries. It is to be mentioned that, Dr. Frawley's visit to Assam was arranged by the
Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture in Guwahati, Shillong and Itanagar.

News on 18th February '2002

US peace activist urge people to act on commonalities

Ms Susan Koscis, the vice president of the Search for Common Ground, while addressing
a press conference on February 18, urged the people of the region to understand the
differences and act on commonalities among themselves. Sources informed that, the
activists of the Search for Common Ground were currently camping in the city with a
package of documentary films and seminars, to sensitise the people on mechanisms that
can be applied for conflict resolution. Ms Susan during her speech, said that, her
organisation is working to defuse conflict before it escalates to violence, and revealed
that the world needs some new ways of thinking about old problems and new ways of
acting if the human race is to survive in the 21st century. She also said that, the Search
for Common Ground functions as social entrepreneurs who design and implement
multifaceted programmes that use innovative means to reframe issues and channel
conflict towards constructive outcomes.

Samata Party criticizes Cong for Fernandes mishap

The road accident that occurred on February 15, that had injured Defence Minister
George Fernandes, was a conspiracy hatched by the Congress Government in Assam,
alleged the Samata Party of the State unit. Siddiqui Ahmed, the MLA of the Samata Party
while criticizing the Congress government of the State, said that, Chief Minister Tarun
Gogoi was the man who had hatched the conspiracy when the Defence Minister was not
provided security which resulted in his car being hit by an autorickshaw in the city. He
also alleged that, it might be a plan of the Congress party to disrupt the poll campaign of
the Union Minister for the Kaliabor LS by-poll.
Govt. officers arrested in Tezpur

Police had held two Assam Government officers on different charges from Sonitpur
district, on February 18. Sources informed that, Ram Kumar Pegu, a government official
of Kolaigaon, was arrested for misappropriation of government funds during his tenure as
civil SDO in Gohpur. Meanwhile, another government official named Robinson Kamman of
the Agriculture department was arrested for possessing rhino horns and being involved in
their poaching and selling.

One killed in pay-day rush in Sibsagar SBI

Following a heavy rush of the government employees thronging in the State Bank of
India (SBI), Sibsagar for getting their salaries of the month of January for the second
day, an aged government employee named Ananda Das, had collapsed due to
suffocation, on February 18. Sources informed that, the suffocation inside the bank
increased as the bank employees decided not to do overtime duty reacting to a report
published in an Assamese daily alleging corruption by bank staff. However, the bank staff
had decided to take a soft stand to relieve the heavy rush so that the employees can
receive their salaries before the RBI clamps the moratorium, informed the sources.

3 persons died in road mishap :

In a tragic road accident that had occurred at Sankosh near Bilasipara, three young
businessmen were killed on the spot and five others injured, on February 17. Sources
informed that, the eight persons were returning in an Ambassador car from Dhubri after
attending a marriage party, when suddenly they were flashed a high powered search
light by policemen from Bilasipara PS led by Saukat Ali, to stop the car. The flash of the
light made the driver fail to see anything, and this had led to the ramming of the car into
the rear of a parked truck on the road-side. It has been reported that, the policemen had
created a traffic congestion in the area, as they were forcibly collecting money from the
passing vehicles on the Highway. This incident has however, created tension among the
people in the entire Bilasipara town.

Meanwhile, an immediate suspension of Saukat Ali, SI of Police of the traffic branch of
Bilasipara, was ordered by the SP, Dhubri, for dereliction of his duty.

News on 17th February '2002

SULFA man shot dead

A surrendered ULFA man was killed by the ULFA militants in Goalpara district, on
February 15. Sources informed that, a group of four extremists of the banned outfit went
to the house of the surrendered ULFA cadre, Sahadev Rabha, at Gengamari village and
shot him dead on the very spot. However, the reason behind the murder was not known.

ASEB employees strike on Feb. 16

The 72-hour strike called on by the Joint Action Committee of ASEB employees would
start from 6 am, on February 16. Sources informed that, the strike was called in support
of the seven-point charter of demands of the ASEB employees. The strike has also been
supported by several leading citizens and trade union organisations. The Assam Tribune
Employees Union (ATEU) has also extended their support to the proposed strike of the
ASEB employees, informed the sources.
State urges flood problem mitigation

State Government urges the Central Government to emphasize upon the mitigation of
flood problem of Assam during the construction of the multi-purpose dam projects like
Subansiri and Dehang in Arunachal Pradesh. Bharat Chandra Narah, the State Flood
Control Minister, while addressing a press conference, stated that decision to reduce
height of Subansiri dam would not help neutralise the fury of Brahmaputra flood. So, said
he that, such multi-purpose dam projects which were envisaged to facilitate irrigation,
flood control and power generation in the north eastern States, should equally focus on
all the objectives while executing the project.

The Minister later informed that, the Government has already taken up the matter with
the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Power to impress upon National Hydro
Power Corporation (NHPC) that flood control component should be considered in its right
earnest, while finalising detail project reports of multi-purpose dam projects, Subansiri,
Dehang and Tipaimukh.

News on 16th February '2002

George Fernandes injured in road mishap in city

A head-on collision took place at Fancy Bazar area, between an auto-van and a Maruti
Esteem in which Sri George Fernandes, the Union Defence Minister was travelling, on
February 15. Sources informed that, in the accident Mr. Fernandes received minor
bruises on his forehead. It is to be mentioned that, Sri Fernandes visited the city for
electioneering in Kaliabor for the ensuing election.

The State Samata Party however, lodged a complain with the Director General of Police
(DGP), alleging that the Minister on his way back to Guwahati Airport was not provided
with police security cover, after crossing Morigaon district. The Minister was therefore,
compelled to travel the entire way of Kamrup district through Guwahati city without a
police escort vehicle on way to the airport to catch the flight to Imphal, informed the
sources.

Pranab Barua's sad demise condoled

Noted artist Pranab Baruah breathed his last at his Amolapatty residence, following a
cardiac arrest, on February 15. Sources informed that, he was 67 years old during his
death and has left behind his wife, a son and a daughter. It is to be mentioned that,
Baruah was a recipient of Bishnu Rabha Award for his life long contribution to art, and
was also the founder of Kollol School of Art and Anirban Chitrankan Vidyalay in Guwahati.
His death was therefore, mourned by almost the entire State and thousands of people
thronged his residence to pay last respect to the departed soul. Shops and business
establishments of the Nagaon town remained closed to pay respect to Sri Baruah, on the
day.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, also mourned the death of Sri Baruah, and in his
condolence message said that, Baruah was not just a follower but a pioneer imbued with
new creative ideas. Brindaban Goswami, the president of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP),
has also condoled the death of Baruah and conveyed sympathy to the bereaved family.

ACTA decides not to boycott exam

In the 50th annual general conference of the ACTA held at Jagiroad, on February 15, the
Assam College Teachers' Association (ACTA) has decided to revoke its decision to boycott
the forthcoming examinations. Official sources informed that, 31 resolutions were
adopted in the conference, in which the ACTA demanded implementation of the Pension
Act, 1997 in the greater interest of the college teachers. The ACTA conference has also
set a deadline for the State Government by March 31, failing which the ACTA would
launch a massive agitation, immediately.

Streamlining of WPT&BC Dept. purchases

In a bid to bring transparency in enlistment of suppliers of items under Family Oriented
Income Generating Scheme (FOIGS), the State Welfare of Plains Tribes and Backward
Classes (WPT&BC) Department would call for open tenders for preparation of panel of
firms, suppliers for different Directorates and Corporations under the Department. Sri
Bharat Chandra Narah, the Minister for WPT&BC, informed that, panel of firms and
suppliers would be finalised from amongst valid tenders by the departmental purchase
committee on the basis of comparative statements to be submitted by concerned
Directors or Managing Directors.

Meanwhile, the Minister clarified that no sanction was made in the name of M/S Goenka
Mills as alleged for setting up of yarn dyeing house. However, he informed that, the
Government of India has released Rs. 1.68 crore for setting up such a unit in BAC area.

News on 15th February '2002

Stress on Centre-BLT talks : ABSU

In view of the resolution of the Assam Cabinet clearing formation of the Bodoland
Territorial Council (BTC), Rabiram Narzary, the president of All Bodo Students' Union
(ABSU) called upon the Central Government to initiate a dialogue with the Bodo
Liberation Tiger (BLT) at the political level. He stated that, the Centre should now
promptly act to expedite the constitution of the BTC, as further delay might lead to
aggravation of the situation in Bodoland areas. He also said that, many vested forces
were active in derailing formation of the BTC to solve the Bodo problem.

2 died in road mishap

In a road accident, two persons lost their lives and nine persons were badly injured, on
February 14. Sources informed that, a coal laden truck had suddenly tumbled near Ledo,
in Dibrugarh district, leading to the death of the two persons on the very spot. The
injured were later rushed to the Medical College Hospital.

8 ultras killed in fierce encounters

In separate encounters with the Army in the State, eight militants belonging to the ULFA
and NDFB cadres were shot dead, on February 14. Sources informed that, the Army,
while acting on a tip off in Morigaon village under Doomdooma police station, for
counter-insurgency operation, located five youths going in a mechanised boat. On seeing
the Army personnel, the youths started firing at them, which was later retaliated by the
Army resulting in with the death of the five youths on the very spot. The slain militants
were acknowledged as ULFA members, informed the sources.

Meanwhile, three National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) militants were shot dead
by the personnel of the Red Horns Division, in two separate places of the State. Sources
informed that, one Thiprub Boro alias Bhupen Boro, was killed by the personnel near
Pokhamara village in Darrang district and recovered one grenade from his possession.
Two other militants were shot dead by the personnel in Deuchunga reserve forest in the
district, on the same day, informed the sources.

Scribes - members of Selection Board of Enforcement Inspectors

It has become a sarcastic gesture of the State Transport Department, to show more
confidence in a few Editors and Executive Editors of certain local newspapers, than to its
officials or other experts in the field to select its Assistant Enforcement Inspectors and
Enforcement Checkers. Sources informed that, the State Transport Department has
dashed letters to five Editors and Executive Editors, of a few vernacular newspapers,
namely Asomiya Pratidin, Aji, Khabar, Sadin and Amar Asom, requesting them to attend
the selection board as specially invited members. The Editors however, invited as
members of the selection procedure include Hyder Hussain, Editor of Asomiya Pratidin,
Ajit Bhuyan, Editor of Aji, Atanu Bhuyan, Editor of Khabar, Anuradha Sharma Pujari,
Editor of weekly Sadin and Manoj Goswami, the Executive Editor of Amar Asom.

Ignore threat from terrorists : Fernandes calls upon people

While addressing an election rally at Indira Ground in Mairabari near Nagaon, Union
Defence Minister, George Fernandes calls upon all the people from North east region to
put up a brave front to foil the threat from terrorists. He stated that, Assam has been
badly affected due to prolonged insurgency problem since Independence, and so he
called upon all the militants to lay down their arms in the interest of the development of
the State.

It may be mentioned here that, Fernandes, the Samata Party leader has recently visited
the venue to campaign for party candidate Rashidul Haque, who is contesting the by-
election to Kaliabor Parliamentary constituency.

Bombs recovered at Dhubri

BSF personnel has recovered six country-made bombs from a Bangladeshi youth at
South Salmara along the Indo-Bangla border near Dhubri, on February 14. Sources
informed that, the BSF personnel, while acting on a tip off, recovered the bombs from
Sober Ali, who tried to sneak into the country across the border. The accused was later
arrested by the BSF personnel and was interrogated.

A boost to the NE tourism development

Syed Shahnawaz Hussain, the Union Civil Aviation Minister, while addressing a press
conference, said that the introduction of the international flights from the Lokapriya
Gopinath Bordoloi Airport to Bangkok from April, 2002 would mark a boost to the overall
development of tourism in the North Eastern region. He said that, Guwahati would be the
12th place in the country from where international flights would operate. Mr. Hussain
said that, the decision to introduce international flights to Bangkok, was taken after a
commercial survey as a number of tourists from the region visit Bangkok every year
through Kolkata.

Meanwhile, he has also pointed out that, apart from other places of tourist attraction, the
golf courses available in the region would also attract a large number of foreign tourists.

News on 14th February '2002

Feb. 21 declared a paid holiday

In order to enable the workers and employees to cast their votes in the by-election to be
held on February 21, the Government of Assam has declared the day as a paid holiday in
all factories, plantations, business establishments, banking institutions etc. Sources
informed that, the holiday is declared only within the areas that fall under 11-Kaliabor
Parliamentary Constituency.

Boys killed in grenade explosion

In a grenade explosion two small boys were killed at Bisimol in Manipur's Churachandpur
district, on February 13. Sources informed that, the grenade exploded when the boys
lifted the explosive from a road and tried to play with it, mistakenly holding it as a toy.

Starvation deaths in ATC Tea Estate denied

Reacting against the allegations, regarding the starvation death of the workers, the
Nagaon district administration had after inquiring the matter, denied that the people died
out of starvation. The district administration however, clarified that the deaths occurred
not because of starvation, but due to the reason that the people were suffering from
various diseases, and some died de to burn injuries.

Manipur security tightened during 1st phase of polling

Security has been beefed up in the 40 Assembly constituencies of the four districts in
Manipur that are spread over the entire valley area, for a peaceful election. Altogether
206 polling stations has been identified as hyper-sensitive and 607 as sensitive, while
335 have been accorded normal status in the first phase, informed the sources. HS
Sandhu, the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Operations) informed that, the State
would provide 27 companies of Manipur Rifles, while BSF and CRPF would provide 10 and
20 companies respectively, to fight against any eventuality during the first phase of
polling.

Schoolboy kidnapped

A schoolboy was abducted by suspected United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS)
militants from Diphu market, on February 12. Sources informed that, the abducted boy
was the son of a prominent contractor, Mr. Kushal Kumar Madgil.

Businessmen abducted in Tezpur

A group of suspected NDFB militants had allegedly kidnapped two businessmen of
Missamari, from Foothill area under Missamari police station in Sonitpur district, on
February 12. Sources informed that, the duo,

Mr. Dulu Paul and Sri Ram Das Choudhury, were returning from a weekly market when
suddenly they were gheraoed by the militants and were taken away in their vehicle.
However, in wake of the abductions several combing operations has been launched in the
entire area.

NE IPS officer holds DG NSG office for the first time

Ranjit Sekhar Mooshahary, a Bodo IPS officer, takes over charge as the new Director
General (DG) of the National Security Guard (NSG), on February 13. Sources informed
that, Mooshahary was the first Bodo IPS officer from Assam, and is also the first IPS
officer belonging to the North-east to hold the office of the DG NSG. Prior to his latest
assignment, Mooshahary was the Director General of Vigilance and Anti-corruption
Bureau in Kerala, informed the sources. He was also a recipient of the President's Police
Medal for meritorious service.

CBN decides destruction of poppy cultivation

Highly placed sources informed that, the Central Bureau of Narcotics (CBN) has, in
association with the Customs department, decided to launch an operation to destroy the
poppy cultivation along the Assam-Arunachal border area, particularly covering Upper
Siang and Lohit areas. This decision was taken in view of the growing opium addicts in
the region. The operation would be launched in the last week of February, informed the
sources.

However, it is to be mentioned that, the CBN and the Customs has launched several
operations in the areas for the last couple of years, but complete eradication of poppy
cultivation has not been possible due to lack of awareness among the people.

BTC formation achieves green signal from Cabinet

After clearance of all decks of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) formation, the State
Cabinet has ultimately okayed the BTC formation, under the modified Sixth Schedule of
the Constitution of India, with adequate and specific safeguard of the rights of the non-
Bodos. However, the boundaries of the proposed BTC has not been finalised, but the
Cabinet has already authorised the sub-committee to initiate dialogues with different
groups to finalise it.

Meanwhile, State Health Minister Dr. Bhumidhar Barman, who is leading the Cabinet sub-
committee on Bodo issue, while talking to newspersons said that, the Central
Government would have to bring a bill for amending the Sixth Schedule of the
Constitution to provide adequate safeguards to the non-Bodos and the concurrence of
the State Government would have to be taken for the same. He also revealed that, the
Centre should hold discussions with the Bodo and non-Bodo groups before finalising the
draft bill for amending the Sixth Schedule. Sri Bharat Chandra Narah, who is also a
member of the sub-committee, said that, efforts were on to settle the boundary dispute,
and the Cabinet's decision is a major step towards the solution of the Bodo problem.

People kept in dark on Govt, NSCN (IM) talks : Vero said

The Naga Hoho president, Mr. M Vero, said that, the Naga people are kept in darkness on
the peace talks between the Government of India and the NSCN (IM), as both the parties
have failed to inform the people on the outcome of the earlier talks. Later, accusing the
NSCN (IM) for failing to inform the people of the process of peace talks, inspite of
promising to do so, Mr. Vero also said that, the Hoho would be involved in the peace
talks if the two parties need its help in solving the Naga problem. But, he had also said
that, the reason of the NSCN (IM)'s failure to inform the public may be because of the
fact that the main political issue was yet to be discussed.

Funds held back : Assam asked to file expense list

Assam's failure to submit the detailed account on the first installment expenditure list,
has led the State to an even more cash-crunch situation, with the Centre's decision not
to release the second installment of Rs. 206.85 crore, as was announced earlier in the
Tenth Finance Commission. Sources informed that, the Finance Ministry has asked the
State Government to furnish detailed accounts of all the expenditures incurred from the
first installment, so that the second installment could be released soon.

It is to be mentioned that, an amount of Rs. 137.12 crore was provided by the Finance
Ministry to the Assam Government as the first installment, and the second installment
was supposed to be disbursed soon after the first installment, but this has now been
stopped till the State Government comes up with a detailed expenditure list, informed
the sources.

Power strike from Feb. 16

In protest against the Government's apathy to redress their grievances, the Joint Action
Committee of ASEB Employees has resorted to a 72-hour power strike from 6 am, on
February 16. Speaking in a press conference, the committee alleged that, their efforts to
bring the ASEB authorities and the Government to a meaningful dialogue has failed, as
the latter has been turning a deaf ear to their genuine demands over the past two years.

Efficiency and skill of police dept. to be improved : CM

In the wake of anti-insurgency operations and infiltration in the State, the security of the
State Police and the intelligence network in the State should be strengthened, said Sri
Tarun Gogoi, the State Chief Minister, while addressing a meeting with the top brass of
the police officials. In the meeting, Sri Gogoi also stressed upon the need for upgrading
and modernisation of the facilities in CID and the SB for improving efficiency and skills.
Later, in order to meet the challenge of countering insurgency and infiltration from across
the border, Sri Gogoi also called for rendering quality service and community
participation in law enforcement to get the desired results.

Pradyut Bordoloi, the Minister of State for Home, also participating in the discussion,
emphasized upon the need for upgradation of the Police Training Centre and allied
infrastructure at Dergaon for imparting higher levels of training to the police personnel.

Accept Assam as own land : Borgohain urges all sections of people

Sri Hemen Borgohain, the President of the Axom Sahitya Sabha, has, during his speech
at the second special annual session of the Axom Xahitya Xabha (AXX) held at Kalgachia
under Barpeta district, stressed upon the need for building the greater Assamese
Nationality by including all sections of people who have accepted Assam as their own
land. He revealed that, the Sabha had already undertook the process of building the
greater Assamese nationality a year back and has also initiated the process of meeting
among all sections of people to know their minds.

He later said that, the flow of people to Assam from different parts has been continuing
for years, and that these people has assimilated with the Assamese to build the
Assamese nationality and to strengthen the Assamese culture. Later, hoping that, the
Kalgachia session would strengthen the bond of unity among the Assamese people as
well as the Assamese Muslims, who had their roots in East Bengal, Sri Borgohain called
upon the AXX and the people in general, to take up steps for the development of this
section of the society.

Lower Assam bandh ends peacefully

The 36-hour lower Assam bandh called by the Sadou Asom Koch-Rajbonshi Chatra
Santha, on February 10, has passed off peacefully, with the closure of all government
and non-government offices in the area. However, during the bandh period, some angry
youths has ransacked the AASU office of Bangaigaon district and leaving placards with
slogans. Sources informed that, security arrangement has been strengthened in the
district and inquiry into the incident has also been set up.
School books sold by cash-starved teacher in Duliajan

Sources informed that, without knowledge of the school headmistress, a cash-starved
senior teacher of Bhadoi ME school at Bhadoi Chariali under Duliajan police station had
sold school's textbooks meant for free supply to the students at Rs. 5 each. It has been
mentioned that, the matter came to light when the textbooks kept in the godown were
exhausted. No punishment has been taken against the teacher by the headmistress, said
the sources. However, the headmistress asked the teacher to pay back the students'
money immediately.

News on 13th February '2002

2 students drowned in Bay of Bengal

Two students of Gandhi Institute of Science and Technology, Orissa, was drowned in the
Bay of Bengal, on February 9. Sources informed that, the students had, on that day,
went to Gopalpur on a holiday. They were however, identified as Partha Pratim Gohain,
son of an officer of the Guwahati Refinery and Raj Kumar Das, son of an employee of the
MeSEB.

Reshuffle in Police Deptt.

A reshuffle in the police department has been effected by the State Government. Sources
informed that, IGP Law and Order, Mohan Raj, has been transferred to Home Guard,
while Shankar Barua succeeds him as IGP Law and Order, with effect from February 10.

Funds unutilised for teachers' salaries

The Human Resource Development (HRD) Minister, Dr. Murli Monohar Joshi, in a formal
communication with Sansuma Khunggur Bwismutiary, disclosed that, the State
Government has not yet utilised the sanctioned fund released by the Centre for teachers'
salaries. This is however, a great injustice done towards the working teachers leading
them to unrest and social tension, said Sri Bwismutiary. Though a sum of Rs. 1,525.96
lakh has been released by the Centre towards payment of salaries to Operation
Blackboard (OBB) teachers, the State Government has not utilised the money, as
according to informations provided.

Meanwhile, a clarification has been sought from the State Government in this regard,
said the HRD Minister.

School rocked at bomb blast

Following a bomb blast in Sreeram Academy, situated at Kahilipara in the city, the pupils
of the school were badly panic-stricken. Sources informed that, the bomb was kept in a
bottle, connected with a time device that had exploded at around 10.30 am. Though, no
reports of injuries were received in the blast, yet it had partially damaged a window of
the school, creating panic in the among the students.

Meanwhile, city police has launched several investigations to nab the culprits.

ASEB signed agreement with Hyderabad Co.

In view of installing a new communication system, providing internet connection through
power line, the Assam Government and the Assam State Electricity Board (ASEB) has
signed a deal with the Apind On-line Private Limited. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, while
addressing a press conference, said that, the new project amounting to Rs. 1000 crore
would create employment avenues in the State, which could help in improving the
financial problem of the State. He later said that, the State Government has already
allotted land at Barjhar for the project that would provide fast internet, video
conferencing telephony, home and office networking. However, the first stage of the
project has already been initiated, with the Company sending eleven engineers of the
State to Israel for procuring training.

SAKP stir continues

The agitational programme sponsored by the Sadou Asom Karmachari Parishad (SAKP) in
protest against the State Government's failure to release the employees' salaries for the
period from November to January continued for the second day, on February 12. During
the stir, the employees of the State Government had shouted slogans against the
Government and staged demonstrations in front of their respective offices and Janta
Bhavan, for the second consecutive day, said the sources.

BTC likely to be approved

After clearing all the decks for formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), the
State Cabinet is likely to approve the BTC, said the sources. The Cabinet sub-committee,
headed by the Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Dr. Bhumidhar Barman as
chairman, submitted its report to the State Government while giving a nod to the
formation of the BTC, on February 12, said the sources. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, while
addressing a press conference said that, the report would be placed before the Cabinet
on February 13, and the formal and final announcement on the BTC formation would
made after that.

Later, Dr. Bhumidhar Barman, while talking to newsmen said that, the Sub-Committee
has turned down the demand of the BLT to include 19 additional villages beyond the
Pachnoi river, the westermost boundary of the BAC in the proposed BTC. He assured
that, the BTC formation would not create inconvenience in the existing legislative
assembly constituencies. However, after perusing the Sub-Committee reports, the State
Government would take a final decision on the formation of the BTC, said Mr. Tarun
Gogoi.

Flights to Hong Kong from city

Apart from introducing twice-a-week flights between Guwahati and Bangkok, the Union
Civil Aviation Ministry is now contemplating to introduce direct flights to Hong Kong from
the city. Mr. Shanawaz Hussain, the Union Civil Aviation Minister, said that, four 56-
seater aircraft would soon be pressed into service in the North-east for better air
connectivity between the region's capitals.

Meanwhile, the Guwahati-Bangkok air service would begin from April 4, 2002, decided
the Civil Aviation Minister.

BSNL mobile services yet to get Centre's approval

The Kamrup Telecom District authority is yet to get Centre's go-ahead in the proposed
scheme to introduce mobile telephone service in Guwahati. SK Bhadury, the general
manager of Telecom District, while addressing a press conference informed that, the
Centre would soon give the permission to start the service as it would be a very viable
business proposition. He later informed that, the telecom authority would soon introduce
a limited number wireless in local loop (WLL) service in the city, particularly in the hilly
areas, where it is difficult to provide telephone connection from the land network of lines.

Meanwhile, various steps has been initiated by the Kamrup Telecom to mitigate problems
faced by its customers in respect of receiving the telephone bills in time, getting updated
information about outstanding dues, reconnecting lines disconnected due to late payment
of bills, etc. The subscribers would now be able to get entire information about the
telecom services on their personal computers via the internet, informed the Telecom
sources.

News on 12th February '2002

Youths killed by Army

Two youths were gunned down at Kapili Satra under Mangaldai Police Station by the
Army, on February 10. Sri M P Gupta, the SP of Darrang informed that, the Army has
reported of an encounter between the two youths and Army, as they claimed them to be
ULFA boys. The slain youths were identified as Dambaru Deka of Howley Mohanpur, near
Mangaldai and Lohit Deka of Alecjhari, Mangaldai, informed the sources.

Army jawans busted ULFA camp in Dibrugarh

An ULFA camp was busted by the personnel of the second Mountain division in Jaipur
reserve forest in Dibrugarh district, on February 10. Sources informed that, the jawans
acting on a specific information, cordoned off a huge area of the forest. However, on
seeing the army personnel, the ULFA militants hiding inside the forest fled away. The
Army jawans later recovered one AK 47 rifle, 56 rounds of ammunition, utensils and used
garments.

Meanwhile, in order to contain the activities of the ULFA militants, the Army has
intensified its operation in the area.

Road mishap kills 5, hurts 3

In a tragic incident of a road mishap, five persons were killed and three others sustained
to severe injuries, on February 10. Sources informed that, a head-on collision took place
between an Ambassador car carrying a marriage party from Pithakhowa to Parowa and a
bus proceeding towards Sitamari in Bihar from Jorhat at Chagoliahat. Four persons died
on the very spot, while, one succumbed to his injuries on way to hospital and the three
injured are undergoing treatment in the Kanaklata civil hospital in Tezpur town, said the
sources. Those killed in the accident were identified as Shyamanta Kumar Nath, Umesh
Das, Wazid Khan, Nityananda Nath and Someshwar Nath, while, the injured were known
as Deben Hazarika, Tiken Das and Gafoor Ali.

Agitation launched by SAKP

In protest against the State Government's failure to pay the salaries of the employees for
the month of January till date, the Sadou Asom Karmachari Parishad (SAKP) has resorted
to launch an agitation programme from February 11 onwards. Charan Deka, the SAKP
secretary general said that, the government employees has, during their first phase of
the agitational programme, staged an hour-long demonstration in front of their
respective offices, all over the State, to register their protest against the Government's
failure. He later said that, the agitation would continue till the Government manages to
pay their salaries regularly.
Vigilance stepped up in city

Following reports of spurt in activities of the Enigma group of the banned ULFA, that has
sneaked into the city, the security forces that are engaged in counter-insurgency
operations has been beefed up. Monitoring the situation in the aftermath of the reports, a
highly placed source revealed that, the members had entered the city in January itself,
and are about to create serious law-and-order situation in the city. However, in fear of
future attacks by the ULFA, the entire Guwahati railway station has been kept under
strict vigilance. Sniffer dogs have also been used to detect the IEDs.

It is to be mentioned that, after losing their base in every nook and corner of the State,
the militant group is trying to reassert its presence in the city, besides the ULFA funds
are also getting dried up. Hence, in order to collect funds from the city the leadership has
asked the members to sneak into the city and launch operations, informed a highly
placed source.

Namrup fertilizer units on serious grounds

In view of the inordinate delay in completion of revamping of the units, the Fertilizer
Worker's Union of Namrup, has expressed serious concern over the fate of the Namrup
Fertilizer units of Hindustan Fertilizer Corporation Limited (HFCL). The Fertilizers Worker's
Union of Namrup, has, in a statement released said that, though bifurcation of Namrup
unit from the sick HFCL was approved by the Union Government, yet the granting of fund
allocation towards the HFCL units including Namrup has been suspended from
government's end, which has however, marked a sort of deterioration of the Namrup
Fertilizer unit.

It is to be mentioned that, the revamping of Namrup units should have been completed
by December, 2001 as per the agreement with the Union, but the failure of the authority
has jeopardized all the schedule to make the unit self-sufficient. Later, the Worker's
Union Namrup has appealed to the legal authority for granting permission for completion
of the revamp activities of the unit utilising the approved amount so that plants can
resume production. However, the Union has also demanded immediate steps to register
the Namrup unit of the HFCL as a new company as per recommendation of the BIFR
which was approved by the Union Cabinet.

Stress on reopening of Stilwell Road : Pradyut Bordoloi

Speaking on the inaugural session of the South East Asia trade conference held at Dhaka
under the Kunming Initiative, Sri Pradyut Bordoloi, the Minister of State for Home,
stressed upon the re-opening of the Stilwell Road that connects Ledo in Assam to
Kunming in China, covering vast areas of Myanmar to boost regional cooperation in trade
and commerce. He pointed out that, the Chinese portion of the Stilwell Road has already
been developed into a four-lane express highway with Asian Development Bank funds,
while portions of the road in Myanmar are also extensively used.

The North East region would however, open a vast potential for development as a trade
hub of the South-East Asia, if the Stilwell Road is reopened, said Sri Bordoloi. He later
stressed upon the urgent need for opening up of the international river routes, which
would also help the North East region. Meanwhile, bilateral discussions on various issues
relating to boosting trade and commerce were also made by the delegates during the
meeting, said the Minister.

News on 11th February '2002
ASEB stir suspended

The 72-hour strike, scheduled from 6 am of February 12, called by the ASEB employees
has been put off. Sources informed that, the Joint Action Committee of ASEB employees
has declared the suspension of the strike, in an action committee release, on February
10.

Ex-MLA expired in Dibrugarh

Jogen Gogoi, the veteran CPI leader and former MLA has breathed his last at the Assam
Medical College (AMC) in Dibrugarh, on February 9. Sources informed that, Sri Gogoi
died after a massive heart attack, in the hospital itself. He was 81 years-old during his
death.

Meanwhile, the Assam State Council of CPI has condoled the death of Gogoi, informed
the sources.

Rabha students' conference from Feb. 12

The third biennial conference of the All Rabha Women Forum (ARWF) and the 10th
biennial conference of the All Rabha Students Union (ARSU) would commence from
February 12, at Sahe-raja Samannay Kshetra at Tangla with a three-day programme.
Sources informed that, about 1,500 delegates from different parts of the country will
participate in the conference. PA Sangma, the former Lok Sabha Speaker would also
attend the open session, informed the sources.

Kalgachia Sabha Session attended by thousands

The increasing enthusiasm among the people concerning Sahitya Sabha session could be
best witnessed in the three-day special session of the Assam Sahitya Sabha held at the
Ataur Rahman Samannoy Kshetra in Kalgachia under Barpeta district, from February 10.
Sources informed that, the Sabha gets underway in a festive mood with people from
remote corners of the area thronging in the venue of the session. However, to say in
short, people from the entire district assembled at the venue and this could be gauged
from the gathering infront of the Bhattadev Memorial Gate, said the sources. A bookfair
and exhibition would also be inaugurated at the ground during the session, and about
130 stalls has been put up at the book fair-cum-exhibition.

Meanwhile, Dr. Nairul Islam, secretary of the Reception Committee of the Sabha Session
also informed that, though the Reception Committee has been facing a severe financial
problem, there is a positive hope of tiding over the crisis, during the Session itself.

State Govt. clear decks for BTC formation

Following a meeting between the leaders of the Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) and the
Cabinet sub-committee on the Bodo issue, the decks for the creation of the Bodoland
Territorial Council (BTC) has been cleared, with recommendations of the sub-committee
to the State Cabinet for the formation of the Council under the provisions of amended
Sixth Schedule of the Constitution of India. Briefing to news-persons, Sri Bharat Chandra
Narah, the Minister in charge of Plains, Tribes and Backward Classes, informed that, the
sub-committee will place its recommendations before the Cabinet on February 13, and an
immediate decision is expected to be taken by the Cabinet in this regard. Sri Narah
during his statement said that, the BLT has already submitted a list of villages and the
map of the proposed BTC, and also revealed that, the majority of the villages were
included in the BAC areas. However, he has also revealed that, the Government has
requested the BLT not to demand more areas beyond Pachnoi as it might create
complications. The Minister later assured the non-Bodos living in the proposed BTC
areas, saying that, the Sixth Schedule would be amended accordingly to protect the
rights of the non-Bodos in the proposed BTC areas.

Meanwhile, the BLT vice-chairman, Kamal Mushahary, while speaking to the newsmen,
said that, there were no conflicts between the Bodos and non-Bodos living in the
proposed area, and asserted that, the creation of the BTC would only help to bring about
an amicable solution to the Bodo problem. He later earnestly requested the entire
masses to support the creation of the BTC.

Bail granted to 8 ULFA harbourers

Eight accused persons arrested by the police on charges of providing shelter and food to
ULFA extremists on February 3, has been granted bail by the Gauhati High Court, on
February 9. Sources informed that, the accused were granted bail on furnishing a bond of
Rs. 10,000 each, on ground that the offence was bailable. The accused were however,
apprehended for helping the ULFA extremists who were involved in extortion and other
terrorist activities. The eight accused include Nazmul Haque, Atowar Ali, Kuddush Ali,
Mukul Patowary, Ripun Rava, Prasanta Rava of Bhatiapara, Nikunja Nath of Atun Bhanga
and Dharani Rava of Khatala under Boko police station.

Poor service conditions of forest rangers lamented

The Assam Forest Rangers' Association while expressing grave concern over the poor
working conditions of the forest rangers, urged the State Government to publish an
Integrated Service Rule for streamlining the administration. Sri Bhaskar Deka, the
general secretary of the Assam Forests' Rangers' Association, while speaking at the 13th
annual general conference of the Association, said that, the rangers had been getting a
raw deal from the Government for a long time in matters of promotion, transfer, pay
scale and other working conditions, which is a very demoralising effect on their
performance. Moreover, facing poachers and other armed miscreants is also another
factor highly demoralising on the forest personnel, said he.

Sri Deka later, criticizing the Government for its failure to fulfill the just demands of the
rangers, also alleged that, despite being directed by the Centre to implement the
recommendations of the Pande Committee which had suggested measures to redress the
rangers' grievances, the State Government has remained non-committal on this issue till
date.

Centre's decision flayed

The Union Government's decision to hand over ten un-remunerative branch lines of the
Indian Railways to private parties, has been condemned by the NF Railway Mazdoor
Union. Sources informed that, the Centre's decision to hand over the branch lines was a
beginning step to privatise all the un-remunerative branch lines of the Railways in
compliance with the anti-people, anti-working class recommendations of the Rakesh
Mohan Committee. The Mazdoor Union had in a press release, admonished the Centre
that this decision would also pave the way for the privatisation of the NF Railway branch
lines, which had never earned profit because of the remote-ness and under-development
of the NE region both industrially and agriculturally.

Demands to probe into Kokrajhar killing

Assam Government has been demanded to institute a judicial inquiry, into the alleged
killing of five Nepali villagers by the Army at Saralpara in Kokrajhar district, by the
different Nepali organisations, including the All Assam Nepali Students' Union (AANSU),
Nepali Sahitya Sabha and Assam Gorkha Sanmilan, on February 10. Sources informed
that, the organisations have also threatened to launch a statewide agitation if the
Government failed to nab the culprits and give adequate compensation to the kin of the
victims within February 14.

Kalgachia AXX Session boycotted by AASU

Sources informed that, the Barpeta unit of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has
boycotted the special session of the Axom Xahitya Xabha (AXX) which had began at
Kalgachia in Barpeta district, from February 10. It is to be mentioned that, the AASU has
boycotted the session in protest against the controversial minister Ismail Hussain
heading the Reception Committee of the AXX.

36-hour Lower Assam bandh

A 36-hour Lower Assam bandh call has been given by the Sadou Asom Kooch Rajbongshi
Chatra Sanmilani, from February 12. Sources informed that, the Sanmilani called for the
bandh, demanding a separate Kamatapur State.

Passengers of night bus looted

The passengers of a Nagaon-bound bus going from Lanka was looted by a gang of
dacoits at Rangaloo, on the NH-36, on February 9. Sources informed that, most of the
passengers of the bus were traders of Nagaon.

Assam Rifles killed 3 militants in Manipur

In a fierce encounter with the Army jawans of Assam Rifles, three militants were killed at
Heirok in Manipur, on February 10. Sources informed that, the jawans had also recovered
a gun from the site of the encounter.

Ajan Peer Award instituted

Assam Government has instituted the Ajan Peer Award on the pattern of Sankardev
Award, with effect from this year, informed the sources. This has been announced by
Anjan Dutta, the Assam Transport Minister, on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi.

Car lifters nabbed

Four persons were picked up, by the Paltan Bazar police with the help of Shillong police,
on charges of car lifting from Shillong and Karbi Anglong districts, on February 10.
Sources informed that, the four accused were remanded to seven days police custody,
immediately after their arrest. The accused were however, identified as Ranjit Sonowal,
Biren Rabha, Bhaben Deuri and N Ranjit Singh, informed the sources.

ATCL labourers under starvation

Workers and labourers of the Assam Tea Corporation Limited-owned Amlukhi, Dijuvalley
and Lungsung Tea Estates are facing immense hardship due to the Corporation's failure
to pay their wages for the last seven weeks and the irregular supply of subsidized ration
for the last one month. In view of these failures of the ACTL, the labourers had staged
several demonstrations in front of the respective offices in the gardens, but till date, the
ACTL did not initiate any move to their demands. The ACTL head office has also stopped
correspondence and communication with the Tea Estates, said the sources.

Meanwhile, due to unavoidability of doctors and nurses at the TE's hospital, two casual
labourers namely, Mumush Kurmi and Tirki Kundu, of the Amlukhi TE had lost their lives.

Basic amenities provided by Army

The Red Horns division has undertaken a number of projects under Operation Samaritan
that would aim towards the upliftment of remote areas of lower Assam. Sources informed
that, the Red Horns Division has in a step towards development, provided drinking water
facilities and computer education facilities at high school in Kajalgaon.

Moreover, the Army brigade at Kokrajhar and army engineers of Red Horns Division has
also installed an electric pump with accessories and constructed drinking water facilities
alongwith storage tank in different places of lower Assam. Computer tables and chairs
were also provided in the schools, said the Defence sources.

Villager felicitated

Rabindra Nath Deka, a resident of village Bamunkuchi of Barpeta district, was felicitated
by the Army troops of Red Horns Division, who dared to show his bravery in averting a
major disaster by alerting the villagers about the presence of militants who were laying
explosives along the railway line. Sources informed that, Deka, on seeing the militants
started shouting and collected the villagers at once, which had panicked the militants and
forced them to run away from the area.

News on 10th February '2002

Revive sick PSUs : urged Committee for Struggle to revive PSUs

Alleging that the recommendations made by the Committee of Fiscal Reforms (COFR) has
been made as a plot to deceive the 54,500 workers, the Committee for Struggle to
Revive Public Sector Undertaking, Assam, urged the State Government to reject the
proposals given by the COFR and announced a series of agitational proposals. Pradeep
Kr. Neog, the convenor-secretary of the workers' body, while addressing a press
conference, stated that wrong policies of the Government and bureaucratic red tapism
were the main causes behind the pathetic condition of some of the PSUs. He cited that,
the COFR reports has enlisted on faulty management, financial indiscipline, lack of work
culture, capital shortage and overstaffing, which are the main reasons for the PSUs.
However, he said that, these kind of ills could originate and continue only because of the
Government's mismanagement about which the report was silent. He later urged the
State Government that, the need of the hour was to effect schemes for the revival of the
sick PSUs and not the closure of the PSUs.

AASU flays State CPM's support on IM(DT) Act

The State unit of the CPI (M) has been condemned by the AASU Advisor, Dr. Samujjal
Kumar Bhattacharya, as opportunist and anti-national for its role on the issue of the
Illegal Migrants (Determination by Tribunal) Act.

Dr. Bhattacharya, is of the view that, if the West Bengal unit of the CPI (M)-led by
Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee can oppose the IM(DT) Act, then why cannot the State CPI(M)
led by Hemen Das, do the same. However, even after Sri Bhattacharjee's departure, the
State unit of CPI (M) blatantly remained stick to its support for the Act, said Dr.
Bhattacharya.

It is to be mentioned that, Sri Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee took his decision not to support
the IM(DT) Act, on February 1, while addressing a meet, where he said that, the West
Bengal Government under his leadership, would not implement the IM(DT) Act to detect
and determine the foreign nationals, as there are many other Acts to take steps for
detection and deportation of the foreign nationals illegally entering the country.

Govt. accused for its failure to supply textbooks

In protest against the failure of the State Government to supply textbooks to the school
students, the activists of the All Kamrup District Students' Union (AKDSU) staged a
demonstration in front of the office of the Inspector of Schools, Kamrup district, on
February 8. The demonstration was also staged in support of the AKDSU activists'
demands to reintroduce the scholarships for the poor and meritorious students. This has
however, hampered the school students who had to continue their academic session
without any textbooks even after two months, said the AKDSU in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Inspector of Schools, Kamrup, Smt. Purnima Saikia Gogoi, has assured
the students immediate steps to redress their grievances.

News on 9th February '2002

Train mishap averted in city

The Kamrup Express violating the signal of the Railway staff, passed through railway
level crossing gate No 57/17 located at New Guwahati at around 6.30 am, on February 7.
Sources informed that, the railway gate was kept open by the on duty Railway staff when
the train passed through perilously. On other hand, a truck carrying about 20 GMC
labourers, some other vehicles and several passengers were on the way to cross the
level crossing at that time. However, the mishap which was about to take place was
averted, said the sources. Sources later informed that, the driver of the train paying no
respond to the shouting of the on-duty GRP staff, passed through the gate.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered in this connection, and investigation has been
initiated.

Alleged nexus between ULFA-MLA

Resignation of two Nalbari MLA's, Sri Madan Kalita and Sri Nilamani Sen Deka, has been
demanded, regarding the alleged nexus between the two MLAs with ULFA, by the Nalbari
district committee of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Bharatiya Janata Yuba Morcha.
While addressing a press conference, the presidents of both the organisations, Sri Ashok
Sarma and Sri Chandra Kanta Talukdar, said that, after publication of details about their
relation with ULFA, the MLAs have no right to continue in power.

Unidentified miscreants shot at railway men

In a sudden attack by some unidentified assailants, two railway men were shot at, near
the Dangtol Railway Workshop under Dhaligaon Police station, on February 8. Sources
informed that, the unknown miscreants suddenly shot at a Deputy Chief Mechanical
Engineer of the NF Railway, Sri Paramananda Sarma and one railway employee, Sri RN
Dasu, with the intention of killing them. However, Sri Sarma received bullet injuries in his
right shoulder, while Sri Dasu in one of his legs. After the incident, they were
immediately rushed to the BRPL Hospital and were later shifted to Guwahati, informed
the sources.

NE Chief Ministers' meet on Feb. 9

A meeting of the Chief Ministers' of North-east region would be held in Shillong, on
February 9. Sources informed that, Arun Shourie, the Union Minister for Development of
North East, would also preside over the crucial meeting. The meeting will focus on the
industrial, infrastructure and tourism development in the region, and would also be
attended by the heads of financial institutions, banks of Chief Secretaries and senior
officials of the seven North Eastern States, apart from the Chief ministers of all the
States. However, in the meeting, Shourie, would also review the progress made by the
banks and financial institutions in the region.

Rape charge denied by Army personnel

The alleged rape of a child at Nayamati under Misamari police station by the Army
personnel, has been denied by the Army as stated in a release. Sources disclosed that,
the release issued by the Army stated that, the charge was only an attempt of the
militants to tarnish the image of the Army in the eyes of public and counter the good
work initiated by the Army. The release further, stated that the main reason behind such
an allegation, was that, that Betet Koch, a villager was arrested by the Army for
possession of illegal arms, following which a group of local Bodo women approached the
Army for his release, and threatened to lodge a rape case against them if they failed to
release the accused, revealed the sources.

News on 8th February '2002

Cease-fire extended by rebels of Adivasi Cobra

Following a discussion with the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, the Adivasi Cobra Militant of
Assam, a militant group operating in lower Assam, has extended its unilateral cease-fire.
It is to be mentioned that, the militant group which was constituted in 1996, to protect
the Adivasi people living in several camps of lower Assam, had announced an unilateral
cease-fire on September 15, 2001.

Meanwhile, the self-styled chairman and commander-in-chief (C-in-C) of the militant
outfit, Xabrias Khalha and Kanhu Murmu respectively, while addressing a press
conference, said that, that the State Government had assured them of all possible steps
to provide security to the Adivasi community living in Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts.
However, in case of the State Government's failure to take any proper action for
rehabilitation of the Adivasi people, the Cobra would review its cease-fire, revealed the
militant group.

SAKP threatens stir

A statewide agitational programme would be launched by the Sadou Asam Karmachari
Parishad (SAKP), if the State Government fails to release the salaries of the govt.
employees by February 8, threatened the SAKP members. However, sources informed
that, the steering committee of the SAKP would take a decision in this regard in the
meeting to be held on February 9.

Closed-door meeting held between Gogoi & Konwar

The two rounds of closed-door meeting which was held in Dispur between Chief Minister
Tarun Gogoi and Finance Minister Devananda Konwar, on February 7, has made
everyone curious about the results of their meeting. Sources informed that, during their
six-month's rule many differences has cropped up between Sri Konwar and Sri Gogoi,
and this has led to Mr. Konwar's skipping off the Chief Minister's breakfast meeting.
However, Mr. Konwar has twice met Sri Gogoi after his skipping off the breakfast
discussion, to discuss the State Budget, which would be presented in the first week of
March, informed the sources.

NEC may come under NE devp ministry

The North East Council (NEC) which has been functioning under the Ministry of Home
Affairs (MHA) since thirty years, is likely to be taken over by the Ministry for
Development of North-Eastern Region (DONER). The Union Government issuing a
Gazette notification a few months back, has already put the Council under the DONER,
but the NEC which is under the MHA is yet to be amended, said the sources. Technically
the Council is still under the MHA. However, many NEC officials refuse to accept that the
Council could go out of the MHA, and are also not happy at the excessive involvement of
the DONER in their affairs.

Meanwhile, the Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi favours the Planning Commission vice-
chairman to become the head of the North Eastern Council (NEC). He is of the view that,
since the Planning Commission is the funding agency for the NEC, the post of Chairman
of the Council should go to the vice-chairman of the Planning Commission, and not to the
Governor of a north eastern State, as is the practice now-a-days.

Rhino horn kingpin arrested

In a search operation at Kuranibari village under Mayong police station, the Mayong
police has held the kingpin of rhino horn trade, Md Abdul Kalam, in the State, on
February 7. It is to be mentioned that, Md Abdul Kalam who was accused due to his
involvement in the illegal trade on rhino horn in the State also had links with rhino horn
traders based at Dimapur. He was also suspected to be the mastermind behind the
recent rhino poaching in Pobitora wildlife sanctuary through electrocution on January 8,
said the sources.

Leela Khan, senior ULFA leader executed in Bhutan

A highly placed source informed that, the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA)
members has executed the self-styled sergeant major of the banned outfit, Leela Khan,
of its finance wing for continuing with the large-scale extortion drive in Bhutan, without
the knowledge of the top leaders of the outfit. Sources informed that, the leader was
executed at Deothang in Bhutan following an order from Raju Barua, the self-styled
action commandant of the outfit.

Shops ablaze

Several houses and shops were gutted at Manipuribasti area in the city, on February 7.
Sources informed that, the devastating fire broke out in the area suddenly, and it took at
least two hours for the fire tenders to fight against the fire.

Dacoit injured

A police and a dacoit were injured, when the latter tried to escape from the police
custody, on February 7. Sources informed that, acting on a tip-off, the police had
arrested a gang of four-member of dacoits from Tripura Path in the city. However, during
interrogation, Madhab Basumatary, one of the dacoit tried to escape by over-powering a
policemen, who later injured him severely. Both the policeman and the dacoit were
admitted to Guwahati Medical College Hospital in critical condition.

Full-proof steps required to check petroleum adulteration : DC

In view of the raging controversy regarding the adulteration of petroleum, the Deputy
Commissioner of Kamrup district, Sri AK Absar Hazarika, asked all the petroleum and oil
dealers to take full-proof measures to check adulteration of petroleum. The DC however,
held a meeting on February 7, with the petroleum dealers and oil company
representatives to discuss the issue and find a way to prevent adulteration of petroleum
in the district. The oil companies were later directed by the district administration to
change the present methods of sending samples to petrol depots from the tap-off point,
in order to make it more effective.

Meanwhile, sources also informed that, test checks were carried out in all the twenty-
seven petrol pumps located in the city and samples were tested in Guwahati Refinery and
Digboi Refinery. However, samples collected from affected vehicles had been sent for test
outside the State alongwith their damaged AC pumps.

BA, HS exams boycott by teachers : threatens ACTA

In protest against the Government's apathy to their long-pending demands, the Assam
College Teachers' Association (ACTA), threatened the government to boycott the ensuing
TDC (1st year) and HS (final) examinations. Tosheswar Chetia, the ACTA president, while
addressing a press conference alleged that, Government has backtracked on its own
written assurance made after the discussion with the Commissioner and Secretary of
Higher Education, along with the representatives of the ACTA, on March 18, 2001.
However, the Government's failure to initiate any steps, even after eleven months, to
fulfil the demands of the ACTA including payment of arrears, implementation of pension
law with amendments, increase in gratuity rate, fixed salary, regularisation of posts of
teachers getting State scale, and removal of anomalies in date of Selection Grade scale,
has forced the ACTA members to revoke such a step detrimental to the interest of
education, said Sri Chetia.

Fire at MLA hostel

A devastating fire broke out at the Old MLA Hostel at Dispur, on February 7. Sources
informed that, a partial damage was marked in the quarter of Asom Gana Parishad (AGP)
MLA, Ali Akbar Miah, but no heavy damage was reported in the incident. The main cause
behind the fire was the short circuit of electric lines, that was in a bad shape due to poor
maintenance, said the MLAs. However, after the fire, panic gripped the people living in
the hostel, as the fire extinguisher fitted inside the quarters did not work during its
operation.

News on 7th February '2002

Encroacher shot dead

An encroacher was killed by Forest personnel in an eviction drive at Hoograjuli reserve
forest under Dhekiajuli police station in Sonitpur district, on February 6. Sources
informed that, many senior civil and police officials rushed to the spot to have a stock of
the incident and search for details.

Fire in Boxirhat claims 2
In a devastating fire at Koimary village under Golakganj Police Station, two minor girls
were killed and an elderly woman sustained severe injuries, on February 5. Sources
informed that, the two minor girls were the daughters of the elderly woman who was
badly injured. Later it came to be known that, the fire broke out suddenly at their house
and was gutted down. The minor girls were identified as Zahida Khatun and Rabina
Khatun, and their mother was known as Zuleka Bibi.

Assam deprived of rural funds

Assam's failure to submit proposals and utilisation certificates for fresh allocation of
Central funds before the February 28 deadline, has defaulted Assam to secure the
release of the second installment of majority of the rural development schemes, in the
current financial year. Union Rural Development Minister, M Venkaiah Naidu, while
addressing a press conference, declared that no more funds would be released for any
programmes to be implemented in the month of March. Sri Naidu also urged the State
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, to review the present position before the deadline for
submission of proposals for fresh funds as the financial year is already on the way of
expiry.

Meanwhile, in order to find out the problems on the failure of the States to claim funds, a
study has been conducted by the Ministry, said Sri Naidu.

Govt. bans smoking

Under Section 3 of the Assam Prohibition of Smoking & Non-Smoking Health Protection
Act, 1999 smoking has been banned in all public places in the State. Sources however,
informs that, the Government of Assam has banned smoking in order to create a
pollution-free atmosphere.

Rs. 6,075 crore sought for 10th plan : NEC

The agency, North Eastern Council (NEC) seeking an enhanced role for itself in the
region, sought for a stiff hike in allocation of Rs. 6,075 crore for 10th Five Year Plan.
Sources informed that, the revised allocation for the Ninth Five Year Plan was fixed at Rs.
2,450. However, through this quantum jump in allocation, the NEC has proposed to take
a few major initiatives including the release of Rs. 175 crore to the Civil Aviation Ministry
to introduce 50-seater aircrafts in the region. But, the annual plan projections for the
10th Five year plan of the NEC, would only be finalised at the 46th meeting of the
Council scheduled to be held in Shillong, on February 8, informed the official sources. The
meeting is also expected to discuss draft guidelines for projects implementation and
revised contracts agreement for NEC works.

Tension prevails in Sonitpur over rape by Army personnel

The rape case of the 25-year old woman by the Army personnel has created severe
tension in the human right circles of Sonitpur district. Sources informed that, the woman
was raped by the jawans during a search operation in a village under Missamari Police
Station. The alleged victim was examined at Tezpur Kanaklata Civil Hospital and her
statement was recorded by a magistrate.

Meanwhile, the Mahila Samiti members submitted a memorandum to the district
administration seeking proper justice.

Gogoi Ministry to be expanded in March
Despite the present financial crisis in the State, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi announced
that he would expand his Ministry in the first week of March. After his felicitation by the
partymen in the APCC headquarter, Rajiv Bhawan, on February 6, Sri Gogoi, talked with
the newspersons stating that, the militant groups like banned ULFA and NDFB did not
want development to take place in the State. He also emphasized upon the need for the
change of mindset of the people as well as bureaucrats to expedite development in the
State. However, declaring that, his Government was taking various steps to accelerate
development in the State, Sri Gogoi urged the people of the State to help Government in
every possible ways.

It is to be mentioned that, Tarun Gogoi was felicitated for being rated as the 'second
popular' Chief Minister in the country for the second consecutive year by a survey
conducted by the popular news magazine 'India Today'.

Former AGP Minister Jatin Mali surrenders

The alleged rape of the maid servant Dipti Kalita, by former AGP Minister Jatin Mali,
which has created a furore in the city, has now come to an end with the surrender of Mali
before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate of Kamrup, on February 6. Sources
informed that, Mali was absconding since Dipti has lodged an FIR at Palashbari police
station. However, Mali would soon appear before the court in connection with the rape
charges, said the sources.

Police encounter with ULFA at Rohdoipukhuri

Sources informed that, a fierce encounter has taken place at Rohdoipukhuri area under
Simaluguri police station, between the ULFA cadres and police, on February 5. Sources
informed that, the encounter took place at around 8.30, when the police went on a
combing operation in the area, and suddenly confronted the armed militants, who were
acting on a tip-off. However, no loss of life was reported till date, said the sources.

Road mishap kills 1, injures 12

In an accident, between a scooter and a Margherita-bound bus one person was killed and
twelve others were badly injured, on February 6. Sources informed that, the scooter in
which the deceased was riding on was suddenly hit by the bus that was going from
Guwahati. The incident took place at Balama near Teok. The deceased was identified as
Rajiv Dutta who breathed his last in Jorhat Civil Hospital.

News on 6th February '2002

Peaceful end of Kokrajhar bandh

Affecting normal life with the closure of all government and non-government
organisations in Kokrajhar district, the 12-hour bandh call given by All Assam Nepali
Students Union and Assam Gorkha Samilion, passed off peacefully. It is to be mentioned
that, the bandh was called as a protest against the brutal killing of the five villagers
belonging to the Nepali community by the Army. The bandh was also supported by All
Bodo Students' Union and Central Committee for Bodoland Movement.

Shops gutted in city

In a night disaster few shops were gutted in the Kumarpara area of the city, on February
5. Sources informed that, fire broke out in the area at around 10.45 pm, causing tension
in the entire area. However, the cause of the fire was not certain till date, said the
sources.

AASU seeks violence-free atmosphere in State

Sri Prabin Boro and Sri Amiya Kumar Bhuyan, the president and general secretary,
respectively of the All Assam Students' Union (AASU), while condemning the recent
incidents of killings in different parts of the State, demanded that the Government should
stop torturing the innocent persons in the name of apprehending militants, and also
urged the militants to shun the path of violence. The AASU leaders called upon all
concerned, including the Government and the militants to create a violence-free
atmosphere in the State, and said that, people of all sections in Assam is fed up with
such a panic-stricken atmosphere in the State and so, now seeks for a peaceful
atmosphere. Thus, in order to find a political solution of the problem, the AASU members
urged the Government to start meaningful dialogues with the insurgents.

Gogoi prepares action plan to rehabilitate riot victims

A high-level committee headed by Additional Chief Secretary MS Pangtey, has been
formed by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, to prepare an action plan for the rehabilitation of
more than two lakh people who were affected by ethnic riots, and are still living in relief
camps in Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Dhubri districts. Sources informed that, the plan
would be completed within a time of two months. HS Das, the Home Commissioner, and
a spokesman of the State Government while speaking to the newspersons, announced
that, the Chief Minister at a meeting with the Chief Secretary, DGP, the Home
Commissioner and the DCs and SPs of Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Dhubri districts, has
decided to review the position of the relief camps. Sources informed that, representatives
of the camp inmates has also attended the meeting and apprised Sri Gogoi about the
problems faced by them.

Ruling Congress faces rifts : nexus between Congress and SULFA

Complaints against a section of leaders of State Congress has been lodged due to the
alleged nexus between Congressmen and SULFA men in running coal syndicates. This
has however, shaken the ruling Congress said the sources.

It is to be mentioned that, a leader of Congress delegation has met the AICC president,
Sonia Gandhi, and has complained about the nexus between Congressmen and SULFA,
alleging that, at least two of the senior ministers including a Cabinet ranking State
minister were hand-in-glove with the SULFA group, that is, currently running the
syndicate. He also alleged that, one of them had made tall claims about dismantling
illegal check-gates only to replace them with new sets of check gates.

Meanwhile, official sources informed that, the elections to the three Rajya Sabha seats
are likely to be announced in March. However, in a bid to outdo each other, Congressmen
have already begun lobbying and in the process have started painting each other black.

3 persons held for harbouring ULFA

Three persons were arrested by the Kamrup police, on February 4, for giving shelter to
the ULFA militants in their houses, who had killed DSP Debajit Pathak, and his driver on
January 27. Sources informed that, the accused have themselves admitted that they had
provided shelter to the militants. The arrested persons are known as Dhanakanta Boro of
Borkhalgaon, Dinode Marak of Sakumari and Habison Marak of Ukian. However, sources
also reported about the recovery of explosive materials including gelatin sticks from the
residence of Habison.

Sarba Siksha Yojna introduced in State

The State Education Minister, Sri Hemprakash Narayan, announced the Assam
Government's decision to introduce the Sarba Siksha Yojna throughout the State, with
effect from April 1. Sri Narayan said that, under the scheme, education to children of age
group under 6 to 14 years is compulsory. The minister later also indicated that the
Congress Government would not accept the recommendations of the Manoharan
Committee, as it has certain technical difficulties.

Workshop on child welfare opened

A two-day zonal workshop on the 'Global Movement for Children and Regional issues of
Concern for the North Eastern States' has been organised by Indian Council for Child
Welfare, from February 4 to 6, at North Eastern Institute of Bank Management,
Khanapara. Assam Governor Lt. Gen (Retd) S K Sinha, while inaugurating the workshop,
emphasized upon the need of co-operation of parents, teachers and friends for the
upbringing of the children, and urged upon the public to co-operate with Government and
NGOs to solve the problem of children and for their all round development.

Illegal gun factory busted

An illegal gun factory has been busted by the jawans of the 2 Mountain Division of the
Army at Holokbeel near Bogjan Tea Estate, near Doomdooma, on February 4. Sources
informed that, five youths were arrested in this connection, and two country-made guns
and four country-made pistols were recovered from the accused. The arrested persons
are known as Piyush, Sola, Santosh, Suresh and Wasentak.

Extortion still paid to ULFA by Govt. officials : says arrested rebel

Jayanta Barua alias John Baruah, a senior ULFA cadre, while answering during his
interrogation disclosed that, a large number of Government officials, engineers, doctors
and businessmen working with postings between Srirampur and Guwahati has been
regularly paying extortion money to the banned ULFA. Sources informed that, John was
arrested by the BSF recently in Agartala, after he had entered Tripura from a rebel base
in adjoining Bangladesh. John, during his interrogation also said that the officials who
had paid money to the ULFA, are now working in different capacities, and also claimed
that, money is still paid by many of them.

Madhab launches new facility to extend loans to unemployed youths

In view of promoting self-employment among the rural youths, eminent economist Dr.
Jayanta Madhab has set up a micro-credit institute completely on his own initiatives to
extend loans to the rural unemployed. Sources informed that, the institute set up by Dr.
Madhab, is named as Eastern Himalayan Society and it would work on viable projects.
Meanwhile, briefing to newspersons, Dr. Madhab said that, he is of the view that training
of the unemployed before giving the loans is very important, as in many cases the
youths who take loans either from the bank or other financial institutions, cannot achieve
success in their project due to their lack of expertise, and this results in their inability to
repay the loans. He later expresses his view that, this kind of system of extending micro-
credit to the youths can bring a sea change in the economy of a State like Assam.

Schools affiliated to SEBA opting for CBSE
In view of the growing popularity of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE)
affiliated public schools in the State, many schools affiliated to the Board of Secondary
Education, Assam (SEBA) have been trying to shift their affiliation to the CBSE, informed
the official sources. It is to be mentioned that, the main reason behind the parents and
guardians' preference of CBSE education to their children, is that the curriculum
committee of the CBSE reviews and upgrades the syllabus almost every year, and unlike
SEBA, results of CBSE final examination always comes out in time, enabling the students
to vie for seats in institutions of higher education.

However, the CBSE sources while speaking to newspersons, said that, there has been an
increasing number of requests from reputed schools affiliated to SEBA, for fresh
affiliation under the CBSE, but it would not be possible to accept all the schools to attain
the same, unless the State authority provide them with the no objection certificate.
Moreover, certain norms are also to be fulfilled by the SEBA affiliated schools, as per the
affiliation by-laws of the CBSE, said the regional officer of CBSE, KK Chowdhury.

Hunger strike of College teachers' forum at Rangiya

A symbolic hunger strike has been observed by the All Assam College Teachers' forum
infront of the civil administrations, recently. The teachers and employees of many
colleges has supported the agitation and has submitted a memorandum to the Chief
Minister through the civil administration, demanding endorsement of 61 colleges under
deficit grants-in-aid and make the payment of State scale of pay from April 2001.
Sources informed that, the teachers and employees of the MS Girls' College, Rangiya,
Rangiya College, Commerce stream and Pachim Barigog Anchalik College has also,
supporting the agitation observed a five-hour hunger strike infront of the SDO, civil office
at Rangiya and submitted a memorandum. However, a meeting was also held in this
connection in the premises of the agitation with Smti Kanika Goswami, principal MS Girls'
College, Rangiya. Meanwhile, a non-cooperation agitation has been launched from
February 1, by the teachers, in protest against the State government's cancellation of the
previous AGP-led Govt's announcement placing 61 colleges under deficit-grant-in-aid.

Assam CPM against any move to repeal IM(DT) Act

The Assam State committee of the CPI (M), going against the stand of the top CPI (M)
leader and West Bengal Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee, has declared that it was
against any move to scrap the IM(DT) Act, which was already in force in Assam. Sources
informed that, the West Bengal Chief Minister, was against the implementation of the Act
in his State as he said that, he could not detect and deport Bangladeshi nationals from
the State, even though influx posed a major problem in West Bengal. Hemen Das, the
secretary of CPI-M's Assam State committee, while asserting that they are against the
repeal of IM(DT), said that, without proper political will, the problem of infiltration cannot
be solved. He later demanded that the Act should be implemented throughout the
country, so that the links between the North east insurgents and the other agencies like
ISI and CIA, could be scraped easily.

Heroin seized : 9 held responsible

Sources informed that, 54 grams of heroin, worth of Rs. 1 lakh has been recovered by
the CID of the Assam Police from two different places in the city, on February 5. Police
sources informed that, nine persons were arrested in this connection.

Major train disaster averted

An alert villager of Raipur village under Patacharkuchi police station in Barpeta district,
has averted a major train tragedy on February 3. Sources said that, a group of suspected
NDFB militants were trying to plant explosives on a railway bridge at Raipur village, when
suddenly it caught sight of the villager, who went to the spot and prevented the militants
from planting the explosives. Police later informed that, the New Delhi-bound
Brahmaputra Mail was supposed to cross over the bridge after ten minutes of the
incident. The villager who came as a saviour was identified as Rabin Dutta, informed the
sources.

News on 5th February '2002

Security beefed up for 12-hour bandh in Kokrajhar

In view of the 12-hour Kokrajhar bandh call given on February 5, the security
arrangement has been intensified. It is to be mentioned that, the bandh call was given by
the All Nepali Students Union (ANSU) as a protest against the brutal killing of five Nepali
villagers by the two Maratha Light Infantry Regiment at Saralpara, on February 1.

Meanwhile, Mr. B K Paul, the additional deputy commissioner of Kokrajhar has already
started enquiry into the alleged killing of the villagers by the army, and is supposed to
submit the report within a span of four days. He said that the situation in some parts of
the district is tensed but is under control. The bandh call was also supported by the All
Bodo Students Union (ABSU), reported the sources.

Moreover, sources also informed that, the allegations made against the Army's 21
Mountain Division of killing the villagers, has been denied by the Army in a release.

AASU agitation against failure to supply textbooks

Expressing grave concern over the State Government's failure to supply textbooks to the
school students on time, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has resorted to launch an
agitational programme, on February 8. The president and general secretary of the AASU,
Sri Prabin Boro and Sri Amiyo Kumar Bhuyan, respectively, in a press release declared
that, during the agitation, the AASU members will stage a sit-in-demonstration in front of
the offices of Inspectors and Assistant Inspectors of Schools all over the State. Moreover,
the AASU members also expressed concern at the failure of the State government to pay
the scholarships on time.

Tea tourism festival begins

The first-ever Tea Tourism Festival organised by the Assam Government held at the
Khelmati field of the Gymkhana Club at Jorhat, began from February 4, informed Smt.
Gayatri Baruah, the State's Additional Tourism Secretary. Speaking on the inaugural
function, Smt. Baruah informed that, the State Government has identified six major
circuits for both domestic and foreign tourists in recent times and it also intends to raise
the industry to a level of activity which can help it match the commercial success of
tourism witnessed in other parts of the country. Moreover, the Assam Tourism
Development Corporation has also been implementing 36 major schemes, including,
among many other schemes, the beautification of the Brahmaputra river front,
establishment of tourist facilities at the hallowed Kamakhya temple, organising of the
Dehing-Patkai festival, Brahmaputra Beach Festival, and the Rangali Utsav, scheduled for
April next.

AGP demands probe into ULFA-Cong links

Alleging that there is a strong link between two ruling party legislators and the United
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) demanded a judicial
probe by a sitting judge of the High Court into the links. Referring to the newspaper
reports of the alleged plot by two Congress legislators with the help of the militant outfit,
to eliminate former Agricultural Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary and Alaka Sarma,
before the last Assembly polls, the AGP submitted a memorandum to the Governor of
Assam, Lt. Gen (Retd) S K Sinha, urging him to look into the matter and order a judicial
probe.

Meanwhile, the AGP party leaders and members also expressed their deep concern at the
deterioration of the law-and-order situation in the State and alleged that, the Congress
government has totally failed to protect the life and property of the people.

News on 4th February '2002

Probe ordered into Livestock Corpn anomalies

The Chief Vigilance Commissioner (CVC) has been entrusted with the job of investigating
into the large scale financial irregularities in the Assam Livestock and Poultry
Corporation, informed Sri Hem Prakash Narayan, the Veterinary Minister. While
addressing a press conference, Sri Narayan said that, the State Government has ordered
probe into the Corporation for the irregularities that has been going on, and has
deteriorated the condition of the corporation. He stated that during the preliminary
investigation, irregularities amounting to Rs. 18 lakh were detected only on travel
allowances, as the then chairman of the corporation Dr. J M Buzarbaruah took Rs. 2.68
lakh, former chairman Rabin Saikia took Rs. 5.70 lakh, former vice-chairman took Rs.
2.42 lakh and former managing director took Rs. 2.31 lakh illegally from the corporation
as travel allowances. Sri Narayan also revealed that, during the tenure of Dr.
Buzarbaruah, a sum of Rs. 69 lakh was distributed among some persons and
organisation without any suitable reasons. However, irregular appointments has also
increased the financial burden of the corporation, disclosed Sri Narayan. Thus, in order to
check the anomalies in Livestock Corporation, the State Government has ordered the
CVC to investigate into the matter.

Central funds for State rural sector

In order to implement the schemes, including the drinking water scheme in the rural
sectors of Assam, the Rural Development Ministry has released funds of over Rs. 37.51
crore. A spokesman of the Ministry informed that, the Centre has decided to release an
amount of Rs. 21.72 crore to eight districts of Assam under the National Family Benefit
Scheme (NFBS) during the current financial year 2001-2002. The spokesman also
announced that, the Ministry has released Rs. 15.79 crore to Assam under the Rajiv
Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission of Accelerated Rural Water Supply Programme
(ARWSP), and Rs. 2.54 lakh to Lohit district of Arunachal Pradesh under NFBS, during the
year 2001-2002. However, the eight districts which are supposed to get the amount
include Karimganj, Morigaon, Nalbari, Dibrugarh, Karbi Anglong, Tinsukia, Hailakandi and
Jorhat.

Decomposed bodies found in Nalbari

Sources informed that, two decomposed bodies were recovered on the bank of Pagladia
at Tantrasankara village near Sondha in Nalbari district, on February 4. The bodies, one
of a youth and another of an aged man, which remained unidentified till date were
spotted by the villagers. However, after the recovery of the bodies, security forces
launched several search operations in the area and repeatedly tortured the villagers to
find out the fact.
Security fears ULFA, NDFB violence in future

Specific information about more acts of violence by militants belonging to the United
Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB),
has feared the security agencies of the State. Sources of the security agencies informed
that, according to information available, the NDFB may step up its activities of violence
to thwart the move to create the Boroland Territorial Council (BTC), as the outfit is of the
view that it would be isolated if the BTC is formed. However, some movement of the
NDFB militants were already reported along the areas boarding Bhutan. Security sources
also revealed on the recent spurt of violence by the ULFA, that, there is every possibility
of more strikes by the outfit to make its presence felt.

It may be mentioned that, it is not possible for the security to guard each and every
village and nab the militants, as they sneak into their safe haven in the neighbouring
country. Sources later disclosed that, the security agencies are also apprehensive of an
ULFA attack in Guwahati city to gain publicity.

News on 3rd February '2002

Kokrajhar killings to be inquired, orders State Govt.

A magisterial enquiry into the brutal killings in Kokrajhar district, has been ordered by
the State Government, on February 2. During his visit to the spot to take a stock of the
situation, Sri Pradyut Bordoloi, the Minister of State for Home, assured the people that
the State government would take all possible steps to find out the fact for the killings of
the five villagers.

Meanwhile, a procession was taken out by the local people on February 3, demanding
punishment against the people involved in the killings, and urged the State government
to pay adequate compensation to the bereaved family members. The agitated
processionists also alleged that the State government had failed completely to provide
security to the common people, as the innocent villagers were picked up by Army, the
main saviors of the country, and were shot dead from close range.

Sources later informed that, the All Assam Nepali Students Union (AANSU) and the
Assam Gorkha Sanmilani has, in protest against the killings, called for a 12-hour
Kokrajhar district bandh, on February 5, besides demanding Rs. 10-Lakh compensation
to the victims' family members.

State Govt. accused for diverting tribal welfare funds

The Central funds which were meant for the welfare of the poor tribal people has been
diverted by the State government to other departments. Sources informed that, the
funds granted for the Integrated Tribal Development Projects (ITDPs) had been spent for
disbursement of the salaries, by the previous AGP-led government, which had affected
the schemes of the ITDPs. However, in order to carry forward welfare schemes for the
tribals, nineteen ITDPs has been set up, but due to shortage of funds, these ITDPs has
been facing severe problems, informed the sources. It is to be mentioned that, due to
the prevailing financial crisis, the developmental activities of the ITDPs has come to a
grinding halt.

Meanwhile, accusing the State Government for diverting the tribal funds, the All Assam
Tribal Sangha has demanded the government for revitalisation of the ITDPs in the
greater interest of the tribal people, and also urged the government to spend the amount
of fund meant for the tribal people on them itself.

Dr. Bhabendranath Saikia receives Mukunda Kakati award

In a function organised by the Kanaklata Barua and Mukunda Kakati Smriti Raksha
Samiti at the Rabindra Bhawan, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, has presented the Mukunda
Kakati award to noted litterateur and filmmaker Dr. Bhabendranath Nath Saikia, on
February 3. Receiving the award, Dr. Saikia expressed serious concern at the
degradation of the State's cultural heritage. Sri Gogoi, also speaking on the occasion,
called upon the youths to follow the ideals of Mahatma Gandhi and create a self-reliant
Assam. Artist Padum Buragohain was also felicitated in the function.

News on 2nd February '2002

ULFA man shot dead

In an encounter with Police, an ULFA member was killed near Birubari Nizorapar area in
the city, on February 2. Sources informed that, a team of police acting on a specific
information raided the area, and witnessed two ULFA cadres who tried to escape, when
suddenly the police opened fire at them, killing one cadre on the very spot. A large
number of arms and live ammunitions including a foreign-made pistol were recovered
from the slain ultra. Meanwhile, vigilance has been stepped up including the launching of
several search operations in the entire area to nab the ultras.

Dacoit Siben Mandal found dead

Siben Mandal, the dreaded dacoit was found dead, on February 2, under mysterious
circumstances. Sources informed that, Mandal who was residing at a rented house near
Durga-Sarobar area of the city was found missing since, February 2. The house-owner,
after getting the information of Mandal's missing, filed a report at the Jalukbari police
station, when suddenly the police acting on an immediate search operation, recovered
the dead body of Mandal near Palashbari. Sources later informed that, Mandal was
involved in various dacoity cases in and around the city.

NEEPCO facing major hardship

The North Eastern Electric Power Corporation (NEEPCO) which has been playing a vital
role in meeting all the power demands, is facing severe crisis due to the apathetic
attitude of the Central government. Sources informed that, the organisation which is so
important for electric power in the region, has been functioning without a regular
chairman and managing director (CMD), since May 1998. It is to be mentioned that, the
joint secretary of the Ministry of Power has been officiating as the acting CMD, but the
sources said that, he is in no position to devote his full time and energy to the
organisation. The functioning of the organisation is however, affected as the acting CMD
could manage to pay only a few visits to the North-East region.

However, due to the absence of a regular CMD, the organisation NEEPCO has been facing
severe problems as no major decisions of the organisation was taken. Sources later
alleged that, the Central government has failed to appoint a CMD since three years from
now, for which the NEEPCO has been suffering heavy losses.

News on 1st February '2002

Better facilities for Haj pilgrims
Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, while speaking at the farewell function 'Albida' organised by
the Assam State Haj Committee for the Haj pilgrims, asserted that, the Haj pilgrims will
receive more facilities from next year, 2003. He said that, the pilgrims from the North-
East would be provided better services by the Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International
Airport, and the pilgrims would no longer have to go to Kolkata to board flights for
Jeddah. However, in view of the increasing number of Haj pilgrims from the region every
year, the Government would provide suitable land for the construction of a Haj House for
the benefit of the pilgrims, said Sri Gogoi. He also said that, the government would take
up repairing of the roads and improvement of the drainage system of the Islampur area.
Later, conveying best wishes to the pilgrims of Haj, Gogoi appealed to them to pray for
lasting peace in the State and also for world peace.

Rise in tax collection at Srirampur check-gates

In a view to get a first-hand report on the activities of the government officials as well as
to take stock of the ongoing systems and procedures of collecting taxes from vehicles
plying through these inter-state check-gates, Sri Pradyut Bordoloi, Minister of State for
Home, paid an official visit to the Srirampur check-gate. Accompanied by the DC of
Kokrajhar, Dr. AK Bhutany, SP Anil Phukan and SDO (Civil) Ashutosh Agnihotri, Sri
Bordoloi visited the forest office first and then, later to MVI check-gate, ASAMB check-
gate, sale tax and excise gates, to collect reports. However, during his visit, Sri Bordoloi
also held a meeting with the gate officials and discussed how to check corruption and
enhance revenue collection to meet the financial crisis of the State, giving strict
instruction to the officials to generate more cess collection at their respective
departments.

It is to be mentioned that, Srirampur check-gates play a crucial role in the State's
economy. There are five check-gates viz, sale tax, marketing, forest, excise and MV
check-gates, and among these the MV check-gate plays the key-role to meet up for the
State Government's financial hardship.

Meanwhile, the Home Minister also announced that within a short period all the check-
posts will be modernised for smooth functioning of passing vehicles and collecting cess.

LIC connects all Guwahati branches through Metro Area Network

Keeping pace with the latest development of information technology and to provide
customers round-the-clock services, Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) has
connected all the six branches of Guwahati city through Internet. The fully functional
'Metro Area Network' (MAN) facility was formally inaugurated at Panbazar divisional office
on Wednesday by R K Misra, zonal manager (east). The latest facility will enable policy-
holders to pay premium in any branch of Guwahati city. In addition, they can also
enquire about the status of their policies. Maturity information, surrendering policies,
loan and revival quotations are also available in any of the six branches. Inaugurating the
MAN facility, Misra said that LIC should not remain merely an insurance company, it
should be developed as an internationally competitive financial organization. He said that
LIC is expanding its arms outside the country and is not afraid of facing competition from
the multinational insurance firms. Adding that through information technology LIC is not
connecting only branches but customers of around 12 crore, Misra said, LIC has a total
asset base of Rs 1, 93,000 crores and more than 20,000 people are directly employed
under it. "LIC has tied up with a number management schools and institutions to provide
best training to our officers and staff," he informed and added that no other organization
of the country can boast of having six hundred training establishments except LIC.
Emphasizing the need for better customer services and timely disbursement of claims,
Misra said that LIC, eastern zone, is still running in the first position whether in terms of
policy generation or claim settlement. He informed that the eastern zone is the first one
which set a target of one crore policy generation in the next financial year. A K Das,
divisional manager, said that LIC is also planning to connect all branches falling within
100 km from Guwahati city shortly and by 2003 all branches of the North-east. It may be
mentioned here that LIC has already installed "interactive voice response system" in
Shillong and Guwahati. The customers can also pay premium through Internet-
licindia.com-and for this they have to register with service provider. The MAN service in
Guwahati is linked with 'Wide Area Network' (WAN) throughout the country. At present,
48 divisions are connected through this system. Besides MAN centres, more centres will
be in WAN shortly. Today, all 2,048 branches of LIC are fully computerized. G P Kulkarni,
manager, IT (east) and man behind this project, in his speech said that LIC is a tecno-
savvy organization and it has introduced the latest technology responding to the
changing needs of the time. Describing how technology is changing our lifestyle, Kulkarni
said-there was a time when people used to eat food at home and went theatre halls to
watch movies, but now we eat in dhaba and come back home to watch movies. North
East Development Finance Corporation CMD J P Saikia, Assam Financial Corporation
chairman S K Medhi, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd general manager S K Bhaduri also spoke
on this occasion.

KUNAL KANTI BHATTACHARJEE (kunalchat@yahoo.com)

								
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