Back issues - December '03 News on 31st December '2003 AASU's Bhutan stand flayed Why China? ULFA men can peacefully stay in Assam: CM Guwahati: Presenting a tough stand, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 30 seconded the Centre's point-of-view about talks with the ULFA, stating that only unconditional discussions could be held with the banned outfit, on the pattern of earlier talks with other extremist outfits of the North-east. CM to tap NRIs, new SME policy coming soon: Guwahati: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that he will make a formal appeal to the Assamese NRIs living in the United States to invest in Assam. He also said that a separate Industrial Policy for Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) will be announced soon. Agri, key to Assam's future: Barman Guwahati: Greater importance to agriculture, greater role of industries as prime movers of growth, better technology and infrastructure, promotion of urbanisation and more responsive governance were some of the key factors that must be addressed in order to accelerate the economic development of Assam, according to Dr R B Barman, Executive director of the Reserve Bank of India. He was delivering the second Napoleon Hazarika Memorial Lecture on the theme of "Economic Development of Assam and Governance" in the city on Dec 30. The lecture was organised by the North-eastern Economic Association. Bhutan PM: ULFA, NDFB rebels were uncompromising: Guwahati: Bhutan's Prime Minister Jigmi Thinley has described the ULFA and the NDFB rebels as having been "extremely obstinate and uncompromising". In an article in the government controlled Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper, the Prime Minister dwelt at some length on how the Royal Government had made every effort to avoid taking military action against Indian insurgents. All NHs in State to come under BSNL net, Reliance forced to cut rates BSNL mobile all set to network Assam: Guwahati: In a major development in the mobile phone scene in Assam, telecom major BSNL is entering the market with the provision of more than 44,000 Cell One connections across 23 districts of the State by the end of March 2004. This will include 8,800 connections slated for Guwahati by the end of next month, according to BSNL sources. Mobile phone services will also witness expansion in network coverage. "Within the next six months, our network will cover all the National highways of the State," revealed BK Sinha, CGM, Assam Circle of BSNL on Dec 30. The minimum security deposit for the new connection will depend on whether the customer opts for STD and ISD facilities, and also whether he has a BSNL landline at home. "If one has a BSNL landline, but does not want STD or ISD, the minimum security deposit will be Rs500, while the maximum will be Rs3,000", Sinha added. News on 30th December '2003 'Amnesty only training' ULFA sovereignty tag to discourage Govt on talks: CM Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister on Dec 29 said that the outlawed ULFA is not at all interested in a political dialogue with the Government of India to resolve its problems. "Whenever the question of peace talks come from any quarter, the outfit opts to add the sovereignty tag just to dissuade the Government from going ahead in that direction," Gogoi said. He added that no democratically elected government would ever be ready for talks with any party on the question of sovereignty. Sovereignty is something like a no- entry or no-interference zone. ULFA 'commander-in-chief' Paresh Baruah told that the outfit is ready for peace negotiations with the government of India provided New Delhi makes it clear that makes it clear that it is ready to discuss the key demand of sovereignty with a 'neutral third party mediator' acting as a facilitator. He said that if the ULFA were really interested for the well being of the State, it would have been ready for talks sans conditions. He added that there were a lot of options open for the outfit barring the question of sovereignty. Assam BJP's call for peace talks: Guwahati: Member of Parliament and State BJP president Indramoni Bora on Dec 29 said that the NDA Government at the Centre was talking positive steps to solve the problem of insurgency in the north-eastern region. Presiding over the first meeting of the office bearers of the State BJP unit, Bora appealed to the State Government, the Centre and the insurgent groups to pave the way for peace talks. Citing instances of the BLT and the ongoing peace move the NSCN(IM), he said that peace talks were always possible. Kamrup Exp jumps rails, no casualties: Guwahati: Seven bogies of Kamrup Express jumped the rails between Dharamtul and Azuri stations in Nagaon district at around 10.40 p.m. on Dec 28, but there were no casualties, North East Frontier Railway sources said. District libraries reduced to abandoned houses: Nilomoni Guwahati: The 18th Guwahati Book Fair was inaugurated on Dec 29. The twelve-day event, organized by the Publication Board, Government of Assam, will feature books by publishers from different corners of Assam as well as the country and abroad. Speaking at the inaugural function, eminent poet Nilomoni Phukan pointed out the relevance of books in modern times, and the importance of printing and publishing good books. Expressing concern over the low number of readers compared to the total population of Assam, Phukan also decried the absence of proper public libraries to spread book culture. "Most of our District Libraries are merely abandoned houses. Not even Guwahati has a public library with books in proper conditions" he added. Hotels, clubs to go for live music, contests to attract party-goers City to ring in 2004 with parties: Guwahati: It's New Year eve, and party time. The city is gearing up to bring in the New Year on an upbeat mood. The parties in all the major hotels and clubs will feature live performances by different regional bands as well as mixing by DJs, according to organizers. Sunny days ahead in city: Met Dept Guwahati: New Year revelers in the city can expect some warmth from the weather gods in the coming days, with the 'western Disturbance' that caused a sudden dip in temperatures on Dec 28, passing away from over the region, according to the meteorological Department. News on 29th December '2003 Arabinda SOS to China safe passage, shelter: Guwahati: ULFA 'chairman' Arabinda Rajkhowa has appealed to the Chairman of People's Republic of China to offer safe passage to the ultras for temporary shelter in that country. Rajkhowa in a letter faxed to the chairman on Dec 25, which was e-mailed to a section of the local media here on Dec 28, said that of late "we have come under massive attack of Indo-Bhutan joint forces and our combatants have been forced to retreat up to Sino-Bhutan border due to all out air and artillery campaigns". Rajkhowa said at this moment that they have no options but to enter the territory of China to save their lives as they are negotiating with sub-zero temperature and starvation without any cloth and food grains. Controversy/5-day police remand for Buragohain, 3 others I have not surrendered: 'Mama' Guwahati: The outlawed ULFA's 78-year-old political advisor Bhimkanta Buragohain continues to be embroiled in a controversy after he has told in Tezpur on Dec 28 that he had never surrendered before the Indian Army. Out of the founders of the ULFA in 1979, Buragohain was declared dead during the first few days of the Bhutanese offensive. But on Dec 26, he was presented before the media by the GOC of the Army's IV Corps Lt Gen Mohinder Singh who said he was handed over to them by the Royal Army the previous day. Guwahati Book Fair begins on Dec 29 Publication Board set for turnaround: Guwahati: the cash-starved Assam Publication Board, which was not even in a position to pay salaries to its 56 employees for 19 months till May, has made a record by reprinting 119 titles of its own and supplying them to the students in the State under the Operation Black Board and the Improvement of Science Education, both centrally sponsored schemes. Since the middle of this year, the board is paying salaries to its employees regularly, following certain innovative steps being undertaken. News on 28th December '2003 Bhimkanta, 3 others handed over to police: Guwahati: The Army handed over ULFA's ideologue and founder member, Bhimkanta Buragohain (Mama) to the Assam Police at 2pm on Dec 28 in Tezpur along with three other leaders, "Major" Robin Handique, Bolin Das and "Major" Dr Amarjit Gogoi. Speculations rife as CM ready to take team to chopping block: Guwahati: A section of ministers of Assam are spending sleepless nights over the Constitution (97th Amendment) bill, 2003, which was passed by both houses of Parliament on December 18. The Bill, which will reduce the size of ministries at the Centre and the States to 15 percent of the strength of the respective Lower Houses, is now awaiting the assent of the President. Bhutan cancels fights to B'desh: Guwahati: Bhutan has temporarily suspended fights between Thimpu and Dhaka in view of the presence of ULFA militants in Bangladesh. National Games '05 IOA ultimatums have no impact on Govt: Guwahati: Inter-departmental squabbles, vacillating sub-committees and frequent transfers of key officials have already eaten up more than a year since Assam won the bid for the 2005 National Games. And now, even under pressure from an increasingly impatient Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the State Government is yet to produce concrete results. Call to PCI to evolve press guideline: Guwahati: Eminent jurist and Delhi high court judge Justice Dr Mukundakam Sharma on Dec 27 said that the Press Council of India should formulate guidelines for the journalists so that the press could play its role better in a democratic country like India. He was delivering the Dr Birinchi Barua Memorial Lecture "How Free is the Free Press in Indian Context," organized by the Assam Academy for Cultural Relations at the Pandit Tirthanath Sarma Sabhaghar here in the evening on Dec 27. News on 27th December '2003 We can talk with neutral mediation: Barua 'We asked cadres to leave Bhutan': Guwahati: The ULFA's elusive commander-in-chief Paresh Barua on Dec 26 said his organisation is ready for peace negotiations with the Government of India provided New Delhi makes it clear that it was ready to discuss their key demand of sovereignty with a 'neutral third party mediator' acting as facilitator. "You see, we had been repeatedly requesting Bhutan to act a mediator between us and the Indian Government and convince New Delhi to agree to focus its discussions on our main demand for sovereignty. Bhutan had sought time from us on this," Barua said when he called by telephone on Dec 26 from an undisclosed location. Mithinga: We asked Bhutan to mediate Guwahati: Detained ULFA publicity secretary Mithinga Daimari on Dec 26 said that the outfit had requested the Bhutan Government to mediate for talks with the Indian Government. He said that the ULFA leadership is not against talks with the centre, adding that the Bhutan Government had in fact agreed to take initiatives for the process of negotiations. 'RBA killed my husband when he was willing to surrender': Guwahati: The 37 women ULFA cadres handed over to Assam with their children were produced before the Nalbari court in the afternoon on Dec 26. The court remanded them to two days of police custody. The Royal Bhutan Army had handed over as many as 64 non-combatants to the Assam Police who were housed at the 30 bedded Tamulpur Hospital in Nalbari district. One of them, Ms Agami Devi said that she was at the general headquarters when RBA launched their operation. She further said that they did not decide to surrender even after the police was mounting pressure on them to do so. Another cadre Ms Mridula Dutta said that the RBA had killed her husband 'captain' Rahul Dutta when they were coming to surrender with a white flag in hand. 13 vacancies of judges at Gauhati High Court: Guwahati: With a drastic increase in the rate of cases everyday, the justice delivery system in the Gauhati High Court has been adversely affected. The Gauhati High Court currently has only five judges based in Guwahati, which is the principal seat. The actual requirement of judges at the Court is 24. Justice D Biswas from the Gauhati High Court said that even if half of the vacancies are filled up, people of the region will be relieved from the long time required for the disposal of a case. Cultural envoy, Bhupen's new job: Guwahati: The Assam Government is planning to appoint eminent singer and music director Dr Bhupen Hazarika as the State's cultural ambassador, as a part of several measures to promote Assam's culture at the national and international levels. The idea was put forward at a high-level meeting chaired by Minister of State for Cultural Affairs Pranati Phukan. The meeting was also attended by top officials of the Cultural Affairs Department, as well as state Library, Museum and Archaeological Departments. News on 26th December '2003 5 intruders shot, focus on Arunachal Army helpline put up for surrenders: Guwahati: Indian Army troops have shot dead five militants attempting to enter Assam from across the Bhutan border late last night, even as security forces have turned their attention to Assam's border with Arunachal Pradesh in a bid to prevent fleeing militants from making their way into Myanmar through that State, according to official sources. Kids in Dibrugarh Jail shown as adults: AHRC Guwahati: The little boy must be hardly 13 or 14 year old. But, when asked about his age, Satyajit Phukan, a class-VIII student and a prisoner at the Central Jail Dibrugarh would promptly reply that he is 18-years old (following the record of the police diary). As on December is packed with 1536 inmates against its actual registered capacity of 628. Film Fest kicks off, 19 films lined up: Guwahati: Film lovers of the city have a unique treat lined up for them over this week, with the screening of several critically acclaimed creations at the 'Festival of World Cinema'. The event, jointly organised by the Directorate of Cultural Affairs, Government of Assam, and the Gauhati Cine Club, was inaugurated on Dec 25 by eminent poet Nilomoni Phukan. News on 25th December '2003 Bhutan, India must allow observers in, says Amnesty: Guwahati: International humanitarian and rights groups on Dec 24 urged Bhutan to allow independent teams to verify claims that women and children were trapped in the continuing military offensives against Indian separatists. "The Bhutanese and Indian authorities must allow immediate access to the border area to international observers and relevant humanitarian agencies," said a statement by Amnesty International in London. The Amnesty statement said at least 30 women and their children, formerly living in the camps, have surrendered to the Royal Bhutan Army. 'Information flow on operations not satisfactory' Top rebels keen to surrender: Singh Guwahati: Assam Governor Lt Gen. (retd) Ajai Singh on Dec 24 revealed that several top militant leaders had expressed their willingness to surrender to security forces in the aftermath of military operations launched against them by the Royal Bhutan Army. The Governor also promised to ease the difficulties faced by the media in gathering accurate information on the state of the operations. Bhutan ops lack transparency: Guwahati: Despite assurances by the Government, lack of transparency on the contrary, appears to be the predominant feature of the operations launched against the militants by the Royal Bhutan Government, even as the first batch of non-combatants was finally handed over by that country on Dec 24. Assam seeks Rs 66 cr for Games '05: Guwahati: The Government of Assam on Dec 24 submitted a memorandum before DONER seeking an allocation of Rs 66.23 crore for the construction of sports complexes for the National Games 2005 to be held here. The State Government has requested for technical clearance or comments from the Ministry of Youth Affairs by Dec 31. 3-day meet in city for Games talent hunt: Guwahati: With a view to hunt young talents for the National Games 2005, the Assam Higher Secondary Education Council is going to organise a three-day long All Assam HS School and Junior College Students' Meet at the R.G.Barua Sports Complex and District Library Auditorium here from December 28. Kerosene pilferage detected by IOCL: Guwahati: Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) official unearthed a major kerosene pilferage racket outside its Lumding terminal on Dec 23. According to IOCL sources, the terminal manager noticed an unusual loss of kerosene on Dec 23 after receiving a rail shipment the day before. An investigation revealed that some miscreants had managed to pilfer kerosene by opening the valve on the last tankwagon decanting point. News on 24th December '2003 CM sets Jan deadline for Amnesty 9 rebels give up, 3 shot Gogoi confused on surrender modalities? Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 23 announced general amnesty to all rebels fleeing from the Royal Bhutan army's operations in that country, provided they surrendered to the authorities in Assam by the end of January. He also revealed that the Centre to ensure the safety and security of non-combatant women and children currently in the custody of the Bhutanese authorities. Meanwhile, the sequence of surrenders by militants continued, with nine ULFA and NDFB cadres laying down arms at the 4Crops Headquarters at the Tezpur. On the other hand, the Army on Dec 23 shot dead three rebels near Darranga, on the Assam-Bhutan border, as they were trying to enter the State. Hurt NDFB cadres flown to Guwahati: Guwahati: Three more NDFB militants, who were injured in an encounter at their Kawaipani camp in Bhutan during the offensive by the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) on Dec 19, were handed over to the Assam Police on Dec 23. They were admitted to the Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) here in the afternoon on Dec 23. Bhutan has betrayed ULFA: Pradip Guwahati: ULFA's Vice Chairman Pradip Gogoi on Dec 23 expressed his deep anguish over the Bhutanese crackdown, stating that the royal government has betrayed the ULFA militants by triggering off the military operation ahead of the deadline of Dec 31 for the rebels' pull out from the kingdom. GHC asks CS to probe Cachar DRDA rice scam: Guwahati: In a significant judgement on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on Dec 23, the Gauhati High Court has asked the Chief secretary, Government of Assam, to inquiry into charges of gross misappropriation of government funds by P.K.Das, Deputy Commissioner and Executive director, DRDA, Cachar. Assam for pvt medical colleges: Guwahati: Health Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman on Dec 23 told the Assembly that the State Government is contemplating to open medical colleges in the private sector even as it has readied a scheme to set up a medical university in Assam. Does a govt work against those who elected it? Guwahati: What could be a more cruel irony than for the people of a State to have its own democratically elected government working overtime to engineer a takeover of the State by the people of a neighbouring country? Do such things really happen? Does an elected government actually strive against the people who elected it? Does it sabotage itself by pretending that the foreigners illegally living in the State are actually citizens of that State? The answers to all these questions should be resounding "no". but in one corner of the world's largest democracy, the answer is "yes". What follows is a report of the alarming infiltration of Bangladeshis not just into Assam, but to the very capital of the State. Govt steps to check influx: Guwahati: The State Government has suggested some concrete steps to the Centre for reducing infiltration in Assam. "We have requested that the border outposts (BOPs) of the BSF be increased and identity cards be issued to persons living in the border areas", revealed Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, in the city on Dec 23. "We have also requested fencing, similar to that in Punjab, to be put up along the Indo-Bangladesh border", he added. On the question of illegal immigration, the Chief Minister clarified that he had never claimed that there were no such immigrants in the State. The Chief Minister was countering VHP secretary-general Pravinbhai Togadia's allegations about large-scale influx of foreigner in the State. Assam Appropriation Bill passed: Guwahati: The Assam Legislative Assembly on Dec 23 passed the Assam Appropriation (IX) Bill for the withdrawal of Rs 9 crore 49 lakh from and out of the consolidated fund of the State of Assam for 2003-04. The amount covers extra-budgetary expenditure of the Government till 31 March 2004, and will go towards "defraying several charges which will come in course payment during the financial year". News on 23rd December '2003 Bhutan ULFA's target, more surrenders likely - Five militants killed, Thimphu to hand over non-combatants soon: Guwahati: Indian security forces on Dec 21 shot dead five ULFA and NDFB rebels in separate encounters and arrested four militants even as Bhutan has agreed to hand over to India the first batch of non-combatant women and children captured from separatist rebel camps after the Royal Army overran them during the past six days. Snap ties, trade with Bhutan, says Arabinda: Guwahati: The banned ULFA on Dec 21 demanded that both India and Bhutan should cease operations against the militants and urged all Assamese, Bodos and Kamatapuris to serve all ties with Bhutan till the operations stopped. ULFA chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa in a message emailed to local media here said that the outfit had urged that all trade with Bhutan should be immediately suspended and no ties should exists till the operations by the Royal Bhutan Army stopped. "The Bhutanese, which have now become our enemy's friend, is the enemy of the Assamese, Bodos and Kamatapuris and the operations have destroyed the age-old ties that existed between the people of the North- east and Bhutan" Rajkhowa said. The ULFA would also serve 'quit notices' to Bhutanese nationals who were either settled in the North-east or had come here for business purposes. RBA seizes 1,000 weapons: Guwahati: The Bhutanese operation to flush out the cadres of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) has crossed another milestone on Dec 21 with the snapping of ULFA's communication lines with Bangladesh. According to intelligence sources, the Royal Bhutan Army has seized 50 to 60 sets of wireless phones and satellite telephones from the banned outfit. The RBA has also seized about 1000 weapons, including 650 AK series rifles, 150 rifles, 10 UMGs, 150 pistols, RPGs, and around 2,00,000 rounds of ammunitions. 'Prince part of militia, not wounded': Guwahati: Bhutan on Dec 21 admitted that one of the country's princes was a member of the nation's militia volunteers, but denied reports of injuries to him during the ongoing military crackdown against Indian separatists inside the Himalayan kingdom. Rebels give up fight, handover on - Mithinga, 6 others handed over to police: Guwahati: Army top brass on Dec 20 said that a huge number of ultras belonging to the ULFA, the NDFB and KLO have offered to surrender to the Royal Bhutan Army. The rebels are in serious trouble as they have run short of food and the Indian border too having been sealed off following the Himalayan kingdom's continued military strikes on the militant camps inside Bhutan, they said. Meanwhile, ULFA publicity secretary Mithinga Daimari, along with 5 other militants, were handed over by the Army to the Tamulpur police in the night on Dec 20. Assam MLAs worried over kids, women fate: Guwahati: Opposition members in the Assam Assembly on Dec 20 urged the Government to take immediate steps to ensure the safety and security of women and children in militant camps in Bhutan, in the wake of media reports about torture and killings of innocents by the Royal Bhutan Army in the course of their operations against the ULFA, NDFB and KLO. Reacting to the concern expressed by the members immediately after the Zero Hour, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi informed the House that the matter had already been taken up by the Assam Government with the Chief of Army Staff and would be pursued with the Centre also shortly. Opp raps Govt over assault on teachers: Guwahati: Opposition MLAs belonging to the AGP, BJP and ASDC on Dec 20 condemned the State Government for 19th December's lathicharge on protesting teachers at Dispur, alleging that the Government was not interested in solving the problems of the teachers. GU, industry vow to work together: Guwahati: The need for greater co-ordination among industries and institutions of higher learning was brought into focus at the University-Industry Interface organised by the Department of Business Administration of the Gauhati University on Dec 20. The meeting also discussed the current and future areas in which the University and various industries could work together in developing and exchanging products and services. Stage set for Togadia visit : Guwahati: Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) secretary general Pravin Togadia is arriving in Assam to address a mammoth gathering at Nagaon . His visit comes in the face of protests from various quarters and requests by several parties to debar his entry into the State. News on 22nd December '2003 Teachers' assault by cops: CM for probe Guwahati: Thirty-nine teachers were injured, two of them seriously, when police lathicharged an agitating group of members of the Assam Higher Secondary Teachers' Association (AHSTA). Hundreds of AHSTA members had gathered near the State Capital Complex to take part in their 'Dispur Chalo' agitation in support of their various demands, including payment of arrears salaries, provincialization of schools and appointment of principals and others in permanent posts. The teachers were staging a dharna at Dispur Last Gate when police cordoned off the area. The agitating members then tried to break away from the police cordon and gherao the MLA quarters, at which the police lathicharged them. Two of the agitators sustained fractures in their hands, according to official sources. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has ordered an enquiry into the incident. Home Commissioner BK Gohain has been asked to conduct the enquiry and submit his report within 15 days. GHC asks Army to produce Mithinga, Red Cross offers help: Guwahati: The outlawed ULFA, NDFB and KLO have called a 48-hour bandh in "Assam, Bodoland and Kamatapur" from 5am on Dec 20. In a statement emailed here on Dec 19, Nabla Daimari, alias D R Nabla, said that the bandh has been called by the three organisations in protest against the 'brutal attack and killing" of rebel cadres during the current military offensive in Bhutan and to seek the return of all bodies to their respective families within 24 hours. The statement said the bandh would continue authorities fail to return the bodies within the stipulated time. Paresh Baruah meets NE rebels in Dhaka, to ask Bhutanese to quit: Guwahati: ULFA commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah on Dec 18 convened a meeting of nine North- east insurgent groups in Dhaka to discuss the situation arising out of the military operations inside Bhutan, Intelligence sources said. Apart from the ULFA, representatives of the NDFB, the PLA, the ATTF, the ANVC and the HNLC, among others, attended the meeting, sources said. Assam Op seeks CBI probe into capital complex deal: Guwahati: The State Assembly on Dec 19 witnessed uproarious scenes over the government's award of contract to a Mumbai firm for construction of the permanent Capital Complex. The Opposition accused the government of engineering a huge scam in the deal and demanded a CBI inquiry into whole episode. Assam deal with NIIT on computer education: Guwahati: The Assam Government has signed an agreement with IT education front rankers NIIT and CMC to provide computer education in 200 high schools and higher secondary institutions. The two companies will install and run computer literacy setups in 200 Government schools in the State on a Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis for a five-year period. News on 21st December '2003 Togadia spews venom on NDA, Cong over IM(DT): Nagaon: VHP's international general secretary Pravin Bhai Togadia on Dec 21 came down heavily on the BJP-led NDA Government at the Centre for its failure to convene a joint session of Parliament for the repeal of the IM(DT) Act in Assam. The firebrand VHP leader also lashed out at the Congress and other organisations and parties for their demand for the continuation of the Act, which, according to him, would bring a drastic change in the demography of Assam and some of its neighbouring states within a decade. News on 20th December '2003 'King leading operations, safe; RBA chasing rebels in jungle': Guwahati: Bhutan on Dec 18 said its troops have dislodged Indian separatist rebels from almost all of their 30 camps inside the country's southern jungles and are pursuing the fleeing militants in a bid to flush them out of the country. "The Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) have taken over all camps belonging to the ULFA, NDFB and KLO, and the rebels, who are on the run inside the jungles, are being chased by our troops," a Bhutanese official contacted in Thimpu said. Security forces quiz Mithinga ULFA hits CRPF, Hmars attack Army: Guwahati: In the first retaliatory strike after the Royal Bhutan Army launched massive operations against their camps in south Bhutan, banned ULFA militants attacked a CRPF camp in Sivasagar district before dawn on Dec 18, injuring two soldiers. Meanwhile, another two Army men were injured in an ambush in North Cachar Hills in the morning on Dec 18, even as security forces geared up vigilance in the wake of intelligence reports of more such attacks in the coming days. Gogoi backs Bhutan action, MLAs for political solution: Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 18 welcomed the operations launched against rebel camps in Bhutan by the royal army, stating that the rebel bases in the kingdom had posed a serious problem for maintaining law-and-order in the State. "In the greater interests of Assam, we support the Royal Bhutan Army's action against the camps run by the ULFA and NDFB," said the Chief Minister, while responding to statements made by MLAs during Zero Hour on the first day of the Winter Session of the State Legislative Assembly on Dec 18. "We had repeatedly asked the militants to come to the negotiating table, and we ask them to do so even today," he added. Bhutan could face severe food crisis: Guwahati: Bhutan could face a severe food crisis, with Indian truckers refusing to carry essential goods to the landlocked Himalayan kingdom following a military crackdown on separatist rebels. The Buddhist kingdom of 700000 people largely depends on India for supplies of essentials like rice and wheat - their staple menu. Zoiinath withdrawn from Assembly: Guwahati: AGP MLA Zoiinath Sarma was withdrawn from the State Assembly for showing disrespect to the Rule Book of the House. Sarma, along with other Opposition MLAs rushed to the Speaker's table with the Rule Book wrapped in a black cloth. The Opposition members later boycotted the proceedings of the House. News on 19th December '2003 Surrender, and we halt raids: Bhutan Thimphu silent on toll; ULFA, NDFB urge King for restraint Guwahati: Bhutan on Dec 17 said it could consider halting the military offensive against the Indian insurgents if they come up with offer to surrender and agree to pull out from the kingdom even as the Royal Bhutan Army continued with its assault against the ULFA, NDFB and KLO rebels, negotiating well laid out mine fields in the heavily-wooded sub-tropical terrain. Bhutanese in city under security net: Guwahati: A fear psychosis has gripped the people of Bhutanese origin living in various parts of the State in the wake of the campaign launched by the Royal Bhutan Army to flush out ULFA, NDFB and KLO militants from that country. The community fears retaliation against them in the wake of the severe reverses faced by the militants. Assam sounds alert to oil, TE officials: Guwahati: In view of the Winter session of the State Assembly starting from tomorrow and the ongoing military operations against militant camps in Bhutan, the State Police Department has stepped up security measures across Assam, specially arrangements for VIP security. Area dominance exercises have been carried out in Dispur, around the residential quarters of Ministers, MLAs and senior officials, to prevent RPG or mortar attacks by militants. From Germany with love: city set for free plastic surgery Guwahati: Plastic on his cleft lips would have remained a dream for ever for Pinku. His poor parents, struggling to feed him two times a day, are unable to save Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 for the operation of his cleft lips, even if they go to a Government hospital. But, Pinku is no more deformed today, he was operated upon by a team in January this year. Expert surgeons from Interplast e.V-Germany, an international charitable non-profit organisation, are coming to the State for the fourth time at the initiative of Youth for Social Welfare, a voluntary organisation in Assam. Comprising five doctors and four medical staff from Germany and one doctor from Uganda, the team will extend free service to patients (particularly children and youths) suffering from deformities of the face, cleft lips, cleft palates, severe burn scars, disabilities or defects due to accidents, etc. a free plastic surgery camp for patients from below poverty line families will be held at Sivasagar Civil Hospital from January 24 to February in 6, 2004. News on 18th December '2003 Ghatowar in a soup, blamed for TE labourers' death: Guwahati: The Axom Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha (ASCSS) has blamed the Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) president Paban Singh Ghatowar for the death of 26 labourers in Chkani Tea Estate of Nagaon district and miserable condition of labourers due to lock-out in several tea estates of Assam. First council meeting of BTC held: Kokrajhar: The first council meeting of the BTC was held on Dec 18 under the chairmanship of its chief executive member Hagrama Mohilary at the Secretariat Hall. The Council approved that the staff of the erstwhile BAC will continue to work in the BTC. The Council suggested that the plans prepared by various departments for 2003-04 would be reviewed within a month by the executive members. The modified schemes would be implemented with the funds to be received within the current year. News on 17th December '2003 Bhutan fights, India lays trap Rebels held, injured RBA men airlifted to Guwahati: Guwahati: Bhutan on Dec 16 said a number of insurgent cadres have been captured by its security forces even as Indian Air Force helicopters evacuated several Bhutanese soldiers wounded during the military operations against the ULFA, NDFB and KLO rebels that began at the crack of dawn on Dec 15. Advani briefed me: Gogoi Guwahati: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 16 said that the State Government has not received reports of any casualties, camps targeted or even the details of the operation launched by the Royal Bhutan Army (RBA) to flush out ULFA, NDFB and KLO cadres. However, informed sources in the State Government said that about 9 ULFA cadres were killed in the Nanglam camp. According to unconfirmed reports, 8 NDFB rebels and four RBA men have also been killed. CM: erosion bigger threat than floods Guwahati: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has identified land erosion as more serious a problem than floods in the State and urged the Central Government for immediate remedial measures to tackle the nagging issue. Gogoi announces setting up of four botanical gardens in State Assam kicks off plan to save forests: Guwahati: The Assam Forest Department on Dec 16 launched the joint forest management programme with the formation of 28 Forest Development Agencies in the State. The main objective of this new forest policy is conservation of eco-diversity on the one hand, and to create means of livelihood by maintaining an ecological balance. News on 16th December '2003 Bhutan does it, finally: Guwahati: The Bhutan Royal Army on Dec 15 in the morning launched massive military operations, including artillery bombardment of training camps run by the ULFA, NDFB and KLO, to flush out the militants which had been using that country as safe haven to carry out attacks in Assam and elsewhere. The Assam Government has welcomed the military operations and has initiated measures of its own to contain the rebels fight into the state. Gogoi hails Bhutan action: Guwahati: Reacting to the major offensive launched against the ULFA, NDFB and KLO by the Royal Bhutan Army, the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 15 hailed the action of the Royal Bhutan Army and said all precautionary measures were being taken to prevent retaliation by the outfits. 'Sorry, they didn't listen to us': Guwahati: The Royal Government of Bhutan has expressed its "regret" that the recent talks with the ULFA and the NDFB had not produced any results, compelling them to exercise the military option. It has also sought the "continued understanding and support" of the Indian Government as well as the people of this country. "Since 1998, we have five rounds of talks with the ULFA and three rounds with the NDFB," said Bhutan Prime Minister Lyonpo Jigme Y Thinley, in a statement by the Royal Bhutanese Embassy, New Delhi. Security blanket over Assam: Guwahati: Security has been tightened all over the State in view of the Assembly session from December 18 and the ULFA's quit notice to Hindi-speaking people the deadline for which ended on Dec 15. All the district SPs have been put on high alert to keep a close watch on the situation and promptly tackle any eventuality. News on 15th December '2003 Race for city mayor takes new turn: Guwahati: With much media hype on the so far elusive magic figure, 29 for the formation of the Mayor in Council for Guwahati and election of the Mayor, and the tug-of-war that is going on in full swing among the major parties, the ruling Congress in the State on Dec 14 managed to take a step forward when it got the support of independent councillor, Assadullah Sheikh, who won from ward No 1. With the ruling party inching towards majority, new tug-of-war has already started among three ministers, for getting a councillor of their respective constituencies elected as the Mayor so as to have a strong grip on the civic body. BJP state team in place, finally: Guwahati: Nearly two months after the election of its president, the names of the office bearers of the State BJP were announced on Dec 14. The delay which had hampered the day-to day work of the party, was believed to have been due to some adjustments that was required to be made to accommodate supporters of both Indramoni Bora, the State BJP president and Ramen Deka, who had withdrawn his candidature from the election at the last moment to ensure a smooth ride for Bora. But interestingly, Ramen Deka's name does not figure in the new office bearers list and so does the outgoing vice president Bimalangsu Roy. Some new faces have been brought in the new team. Press should keep leash on power: Tejpal Guwahati: "Today India is passing through a deep hour of crisis. Our mutual tolerances are vanishing, and the faultlines that were sewn up after Independence are being opened again. On the other hand, authorities have become more brazen and insolent, with no regard on public opinion," pointed out Tarun Tejpal, noted journalist and editor-in-chief of Tehelka. Tejpal was delivering a talk entitled " Role of Media in Democracy- Challenges facing India", organised by the Thaneswar Sarma Institute for Change, in the city on Dec 14. AASU extortion takes menacing proportions: Guwahati: Traders and Businessmen, including the small ones, of Fancy Bazar, the hub of business in the city, are yet to get rid of the donation menace. In fact, fund raising through collection of donations by members of the All Guwahati Students' Union (AGSU), the city unit of AASU, and other organisations, according to sources, is becoming more and more intense despite the blanket ban on such practices in Kamrup district, and the police being informed of the menace. The apathy on the part of the civil and police administrations in the district on the matter has compelled the city traders to move the Union Ministry of Home Affairs with material evidences. Wealth of folk music helps society progress: Bhupen Guwahati: The living legend Dr Bhupen Hazarika on Dec 14 said that the nation and the society can be built through the cultivation of folk culture. "Now we need such people who pick up the wealth of folk music and use it for the progress of the society and the antion as a whole", he said. Dr Hazarika was here on Dec 14 to felicitate the 2003 Sangeet Natak Akademy Award winners from Assam. National policy for tribals soon: Guwahati: The Centre is going to replace the literally outdated (43-year-old) National Tribal Policy with a new one for the next two decades, when the Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes Commission, headed by Mr Dileep Singh Bhuria, will submit its report on March 31, 2004. The new policy would be of great significance for the North-east, a region where the tribals form the majority population, since the commission, a team of which has wound up its visit to tribal areas like Diphu and Haflong in Assam, and Kohima and Dimapur in Nagaland on Dec 14, has already identified some areas which need special attention with a view to boosting the region's economy. News on 14th December '2003 Tug-of-war over city Mayor post: Guwahati: With the issuance of notification for formation of GMC Mayor-in-Council, hectic parleys are on for the post of Mayor as none of the parties, including the Congress, is in a position to get the post without help of the all-important three independent candidates or other small groups. Official sources said that the post of the Mayor would not be a reserved one. NESO-Rio meet agrees on 100% jobs for locals: Guwahati: A delegation of the North-East Students' Organisation (NESO) met Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio and discussed the Centre's step-motherly attitude towards the North-east on number of issues like foreigners problem and IM(DT) Act repeal, job reservation for locals in Central Government departments, under-development of the land-locked region, violation of human rights, etc. Rio, on the other hand, assured the student leaders that he had full support for the NESO's demands like 100 per cent job reservation for local candidates in Central Government's Grade III and IV posts, immediate solution of the foreigners' problems etc., and that he would do his best to fulfil the demands. BIEO catches royalty evaders: Guwahati: The Bureau of Investigation, Economic Offences (BIEO) has approached the ONGC to pay up the pending forest royalty, worth Rs 80 lakh, from the construction work under ONGC Nazira. BIEO sources informed that the royalty, accruing since 1999, was to be paid by the ONGC for the use of forest products at their construction sites at Golaghat and other places. AJYCP rally on Dec 19: Guwahati: The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) would organise a rally here on Dec 19 to protest the Centre's "neglect" of the North-east. Mr Dilip Sankar Saikia, general secretary, AJYCP, on Dec 13 urged the people of the region to unitedly protest against the "Step-motherly" attitude of the Central Government. Mr Saikia demanded cent per cent job security for local youths in Central Government institutions in grades III and IV and introduction of special employment law for the region. News on 13th December '2003 Assam turns page on rural development Rajasthan team takes lessons on SHGs: Guwahati: They came and saw and were highly impressed by the innovative approach of the State Institute of Rural Development (SIRD), Assam in social mobilization for the empowerment of rural poor. A 14-member team comprising SIRD faculty members, government officials, representatives of Zila Parishads and Panchyat Samitis from Rajasthan is leaving Guwahati on Dec 12 with a border vision of rural development, after a four-day exposure visit to different places of Assam. The team has visited different practice areas in Assam UNDP (United Nation's Development Programme) sub programme on capacity building of functionaries of Panchyati Raj institutions. STATFED, Supply Dept swindle PDS wheat in Tinsukia: Guwahati: Gross anomalies of the Tinsukia branch of the STATFED have come to light. According to reports, wheat to the tune of 12,200 quintals under the public distribution system was sold by the STATFED autho-rities in the black market at a much higher price in collusion with some officials of the Food and Civil Supplies Department, Tinsukia. This wheat was meant for distribution through the gaon panchayat samabai samitees and fair price shop dealers to poor consumers. Gogoi urges Rudy to restore Bangkok flight: Guwahati: Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has urged Union Minister of Civil Aviation Rajiv Pratap Rudy to resume Air India's Guwahati-Bangkok flight at the earliest. Mr Gogoi said that this was the only link that people of the region had with other parts of the world and requested the minister to resume this flight both in the interest of tourism and promotion of international trade in the region. Mr Gogoi, who met Mr Rudy in the evening on Dec 11, said, Alliance Air has started services between Guwahati and the other cities of the North-east recently. ASEB employees on war path against reform: Guwahati: Employees of the ASEB are on the warpath, protesting against the Electricity Act, 2003, by which the Board has been divided into five separate companies. The employees have also ruled out the possibility of continuing with the strike they had launched earlier in support of their demands, but which they had temporarily suspended last week, according to sources of the ASEB employees' union. Majuli xatradhikars, CM meet PM: Guwahati: A delegation of xatradhikars of Majuli, accompanied by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 12 met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at his official residence in New Delhi and urged him to take immediate steps to save the world's largest riverine island and nerve-centre of Assam's Vaishnavite culture from perennial erosion and floods of the Brahmaputra. The Chief Minister and the xatradhikars who are spearheading the campaign for protection of the island, requested the Prime Minister to immediately release Rs 30 crore for protection of Majuli as announced by him during his visit to Assam in 1998. Greenhouse scandal Has the Government hushed up the case? Guwahati: In order to save the skin of some blue-eyed IAS official, the Assam Government has chosen to take no action on the investigation report of the multi-crore Green House scam. Ironically, this was the first scam into which an inquiry had been ordered by Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi soon after he came to power, as a part of his drive against corruption. Accordingly, a one-man inquiry committee had been constituted to look into the scam. NEDFi move on infrastructure: Guwahati: The country's leading infrastructure development institution, Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL & FS) and the North Eastern Development Finance Corporation (NEDFi) have joined hands to pool together their resources and expertise for joint initiatives in project development, project financing and corporate financing in different sectorsin the region. News on 12th December '2003 BTC subjects allocated; CEM, Dy CEM rush to Delhi: Kokrajhar: The executive members of the Bodo Territorial Council (BTC) were allocated departments on Dec 10. The gazetted notification (Memo No. BTC/EC/5/2003) was issued by the deputy secretary of the BTC, which came into immediate effect. Meanwhile, a three member delegation of the BTC, comprising chief executive Hagrama Basumatary, deputy chief Chandan Brahma and executive member Kampa Borgoyary reached Guwahati on Dec 10 from where they will proceed to New Delhi on Friday. The delegation will meet Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, HRD Minister Murli Manohar Joshi, Finance Minister Jaswant Singh and MoS for Home Swami Chinmayanand. Official sources said that the leaders are expected to discuss financial grants for the new administrative set-up. Sources added that the delegation will urge the union ministers to release the funds pending in the budget of the previous BAC administration from various sources for the smooth running of the BTC. Majuli xatradhikars to meet PM on Dec 12: Jorhat: Five xatradhikars of Majuli will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on Dec 12 to demand permanent protection measures against flood and heavy erosion for the river island. The xatradhikars of Auniati, Kamalabari, Uttar Kamalabari, Natun Mati and Na Katra who will fly to New Delhi on Dec 11from Dibrugarh, will first meet the State Chief Minister meet the State Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, who is already there. News on 11th December '2003 Instill human values in students: Phukan Guwahati: Chairperson of the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) Justice SN Phukan has called for inculcation of human values in students and children and a change of mindset among the people to safeguard human rights in the society. Addressing the World Human Rights Day function organised by the AHRC and Bharat Vikash Parishad State Committee at Vivekananda Kendra Institute of Culture in the city on Dec 10, Mr Phukan deplored the erosion of human values which, he said has contributed to violation of human rights in the society. He stressed on the need for cultivation of moral values by the students and children and a change of mindset among the people to better protect human rights. Dispur asks Centre to provide one IMDT judge: Guwahati: The Assam Government will request the Union Home Ministry to have the mandatory number of judges in the tribunals under the IM(DT) Act reduced from two to one, citing the pressing need for quicker disposal of cases. The decision to reduce the number of judges now rests with the Union Government. Assam teachers, staff in new stir mode; launch platform: Guwahati: In a significant development in the education scenario in the State, twelve organisations of teachers and employees of educational institutions of Assam, including the Assam College Teachers' Association (ACTA), the Gauhati University Teachers' Association(GUTA) and the High School Teachers' and Employees' Association have banded together under an umbrella organisation named 'Assam State Teachers' Employees' Forum, (Sadou Axom Sikshak Karmachari Manch). The Manch will shortly submit a memorandum to the State Government on the crisis faced by teachers and employees from the primary to the university level. NE conflict politico-military, says Shekhatkar: Guwahati: "The conflict situation in the North-east is a politico-military phenomenon, and therefore, the need of the hour is to formulate a multi-disciplinary option comprising the social, political, economic and military fronts. When the use of force has not solved the problem, the alternatives left to resolve the conflicts are political, social and economic initiatives," said Lt Gen (retd) DB Shekhatkar while speaking on "Resolving Conflicts in the North-east: Perspective and Response" on the second day of deliberations in the North-east India Consultation on Peace currently under way in the city form Dec 9. Assam State zoo ties up with Singapore Reserve: Guwahati: The Assam State Zoo and Wildlife Reserve, Singapore have arrived at a mutual understanding to exchange surplus wildlife and to provide management training to the Zoo staff. Gogoi for special NE job policy: Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi On Dec 10 said that the Centre should work out an employment policy for the north-eastern states without further delay besides an economic package. At Assam Bhavan in New Delhi, Gogoi said that employment opportunities in government sector in Assam and other north-eastern states were always limited, and the situation was worse in the Industrial sector. News on 10th December '2003 Gogoi rubbishes Modi charges, assures Biharis of full security: Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi denied the allegations levelled by the leader of the Opposition in Bihar assembly Mr Sushil Kumar Modi in the city on Dec 8, that the State Government had been soft towards the ULFA. Gogoi said the BJP leader was making wild charges against the State Government just to gain political mileage by trying to win sympathy of the Biharis living in Assam. "Our Government has never allowed the militant outfit to hold the State to ransom, and it has intensified operations under the Unified Command causing severe reverses to the outfit," he said in a statement from New Delhi, where he is camping at present, official sources here said. Himanta, Rockybul want Modi visit ban: Guwahati: Assam Minister of state for Planning Himanta Biswa Sarma and Minister of State for Home Rockybul Hussain on Dec 9 said that they would request Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi to take steps to impose restrictions on the movement of leaders like Sushil Kumar Modi in the State which was limping back to normalcy after the recent backlash on Hindi speakers. Files still don't move at Dispur: Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi waxes eloquent when it comes to claiming that his Government had been striving to provide good governance, transparency in administration, smooth movement of files, etc., at every available opportunity. But a survey conducted by the Assam Administrative Reform Commission (AARC) formed by his government tells us an altogether different story from what Gogoi claims, or tries to project before the people. The findings of the survey on the visitors to Assam Secretariat, excluding visitors to the Janata Bhavan and Chief Minister's Secretariat, conducted by the AARC reveal that there has been little progress in the movement of official files, etc., for which the State Government had issued directives to its officials. The issuance of Desk Officers' System (guidelines) is still fresh in the mind of the conscious people and the government officials, but its outcome, according to the survey findings, is not at all satisfactory -at least not as that for the Chief Minister to boast about. Compromise on Naga issue necessary: Rio Guwahati: The Nagaland Chief Minister of the North East People's Forum (NEPF) Neiphiu Rio on Dec 9 expressed his happiness over the formation of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) and hailed the Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) for getting back to the mainstream by bidding a farewell to arms. No shake-up in Gogoi Govt: Srivastava Guwahati: AICC's North-east observer Dr Sambhu Sharan Srivastava on Dec 9 ruled out any shake- up in the Tarun Gogoi cabinet or changes in the party set-up in Assam in the wake of the party's debacle in the recent Assembly polls in the Hindi heartland. Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi rushed to Delhi on Dec 9 amid rumours that the State might have a Deputy Chief Minister and see some changes in the party organisation soon in view of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. Bora refutes Mahanta's charges against Govt: Guwahati: Assam Government spokesman and State Education Minister Pankaj Bora stoutly refuted the charges brought against the State Government on the current law-and-order scene in Karbi Anglong district and elsewhere in the State, by former Chief Minister and AGP leader Prafulla Kumar Mahanta, and termed them as attempts to deprive political mileage out of situation. Bora said that during Mahanta's regime in the State, the strength of paramilitary forces in the State was always between 140 and 150 companies, and even after there were killings, riots and other kinds of law-and- order related problems. But as soon as the Congress came to power, the strength of security forces was reduced to 110 companies, Bora said, adding that being a former Chief Minister, Mahanta should have aired comments on the current security scenario in the state taking all aspects like available forces, etc., into consideration. Campaign on water conflicts launched: Guwahati: The Centre for Northeast India, South and Southeast Asia Studies (CENISEAS) is conducting a two-day round of film screenings, lectures and interactions with eminent film-makers, journalists and experts on "Rivers, Water Conflicts and the Question of Sustainability: Reflections on the Brahmaputra Basin" in the city from Dec 9. BLT disbanded, Interim BTC gets shape on Dec 7: Follow BLT example; Centre tells ULFA, NDFB: Kokrajhar: The Centre and the Assam Government on Dec 6 issued a joint appeal to the ULFA, NDFB and other armed outfits to follow the example of the Bodoland Liberation Tigers (BLT) and lay down arms. Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayand, Assam Governor Lt Gen.(Retd) Ajai singh and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi made this appeal at the surrender ceremony of BLT cadres led by their chairman Hagrama Basumatary. "Other armed groups should also come forward for negotiations like the BLT, since violence is not the solution to any problem," said Chinmayanand, addressing the more than 2,000 BLT men who surrendered on Dec 6 and the assembled public. Help BTC get going: Hagrama Kokrajhar: Hagrama Basumatary, the chairman of the Bodo Liberation Tigers (BLT) which was formally disbanded on Dec 6 sought the co-operation from all organisations- Bodos as well as non- Bodos, intellectuals and the masses for the smooth administration of the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), which will get its formal shape on Dec 7. Stage set for BLT surrender on Dec 6: Kokrajhar: With the surrender of 2,623 cadres of the Bodoland Liberation Tiger (BLT) on Dec 6, a new chapter is expected to open in Bodo social and political life. BLT president and all members of the outfit will formally return to the mainstream. In view of the BLT's formal surrender and the formation of the Interim Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC), Kokrajhar, the nerve-centre of the Council, is wearing a festive look. On the other hand, at the Banorgaon Mini Stadium, more than 2,000 members of BLT have been preparing for the formal surrender since the last few days. Busloads of youth are also arriving for the massive rally for peace, prosperity and unity to be held day after on Dec 6. Insecurity haunts Bokajan, MLA raps administration: Bokajan: "If the administration fails to protect the lives of the common people, people will have no alternative but to surrender before the militants," said Jagat Singh Ingti, MLA, Bokajan. Expressing serious concern over the recent attacks by Kuki extremist in the Karbi villages at Jilangso under Bokajan police station, MLA Ingti criticised the district police administration for its failure to protect the innocent civilians. Meanwhile, at least 300 Karbi and Nepali families of Jiliki and Okeham, who became homeless after Kuki militants set afire their homes, have been taking shelter in the relief camps at Dilai and Hidipi. It may be mentioned here that the Kuki militants attacked the Karbi villages at Jilangso under Bokajan police station and killed four villages in the recent attack. Rabiram, Hagrama all praise for small tea planters in lower Assam 'Growth of small tea gardens a positive sign': Kokrajhar: The president of the All Bodo Students' Union (ABSU), Mr Rabiram Nazary has expressed satisfaction over the rapid growth of small tea gardens in the State and said that the growth of the tea gardens will boost the economy of the region. Addressing the first annual conference of the All Assam Small Tea Growers' Association here at Pragati Bhavan recently, the ABSU chief said that the mushrooming growth of the small tea gardens in various parts of the State will not only check the ongoing large-scale encroachment of forest land or barren lands by the illegal encroachers, but this growth will also uplift the financial condition of Assam. Severely criticising the failure of the State Government to check the encroachment of forest lands, Mr Narzary praised the role of tea gardens to bring an economic revolution in the State. News on 9th December '2003 Rockybul, Himanta under scanner Govt-ULFA nexus behind violence: Bihar legislators Guwahati: The leader of the Opposition in the Bihar Legislative Assembly and BJP leader, Sushil Kumar Modi on Dec 8 charged that the Assam Government had a "secret understanding" with the ULFA due to which it had not taken proper action against the outfit after the recent attacks on the Bihari community in the State. The Bihar Opposition leader also pointed out that both the Bihar and Assam Governments had been blaming the Centre for the situation, whereas it was their responsibility to maintain law and order. Regarding the Assam Government's request to the Centre to initiate a CBI inquiry into the attacks on the Bihari community, Modi also urged that the CBI inquiry must go over the "suspicious" role of Assam Minister of State for Home Rockybul Hussain and Minister of State for Planning and Development Himanta Biswa Sarma in the violence against the community. Kuki-Karbi feud: Mahanta blames it on State Govt Guwahati: Former Assam Chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta on Dec 8 said that, according to public opinion in Karbi Anglong, the ethnic strife going on it that district was the result of non-fulfilment of certain promises made by the ruling Congress party to the UPDS (pro-talk) and a Kuki organisation. He also asserted that the State Government had sufficient security forces to tackle the situation in Karbi Anglong. Gogoi vows to timely ready Games stadia: Guwahati: The foundation stones of the Indoor stadium, main athletic Stadium and Aquatic Sports Complex for National Games 2005 were laid at Sarusajai here on Dec 8 by Governor of Assam Lt. Gen (retd), Ajai Singh, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and president of the Indian Olympic association Suresh Kalmadi respectively at a glittering function. Gogoi opens tax e-governance network: Guwahati: chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec inau8gurated the Assam Tax e-Governance Network Project at Kar Bhavan here. Speaking on the occasion, he said that the unique online computer network project, one of its kinds in the entire country, covering 77 tax offices and check posts spread all over the State would play a pivotal role in improving efficiency, effectiveness and transparency as well as augmenting the hoped that this endeavour would make tax administration business-friendly by enabling interface with the public and the tax payers. GUTA charges Govt of not fulfilling role towards GU: Guwahati: The Guwahati University Teachers' association (GUTA) has accused the State Government of trying to "undermine" its responsibilities to fund teaching and research in the universities and colleges in Assam. GUTA also stated that the University has been suffering from acute shortage of teaching staff, with only 262 faculty members against its full strength of 378. Hagrama team gets going with BTC work: Kokrajhar: A day after the swearing-in of the interim BTC, Hagrama Basumatary on Dec 8 assumed office of the Council as the Chief Executive Member along with 11 other executive members. The allocation of portfolios for the 40 subjects of the executive members of the BTC as per the Bodo Accord will be announced on Dec 9. Discussion on Assam violence in LS AJYCP raps Assam MPs: Guwahati: The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) has severely criticised the role of the MPs hailing from Assam during the ongoing winter session of the Parliament. Apurba Kumar Bhattacharyya and Dilip sankar Saikia, president and general secretary respectively of the AJYCP expressed serious concern over the 'silence' of the MPs from Assam during the debate on recent violence in Assam in the Parliament. BLT top brass appreciate Advani, Gogoi Surrendered BLT cadres yearn for devp: Kokrajhar: Moneswar Boro, senior-most former BLT cadre who surrendered along with hundreds of his associates here said that the economic development of Bodoland Territorial Council(BTC) will be their topmost priority. Territorial Council (BTC) will be their topmost priority. Terming lack of development as the major cause of armed struggle in various parts of the nation, the former BLT leader stressed on the need of 'proper' development for the peace and prosperity of the State. Interim BTC sworn in, Advani cautions ultras: Kokrajhar: Ushering in a new era in Bodo history, a 12-member Interim Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) led by Hagrama Basumatary was sworn in on Dec 7, bringing a fruitful end to decades of struggle. The grand event at the Gauhati University campus ground at Deborgaon was attended by a massive crowd. The members were administered the oath of the office by Lower Assam Commissioner Emilie Choudhury in presence of Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani, Governor Lt Gen(retd) Ajai Singh, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, DONER Minister CP Thakur, Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand and others. Advani pledges all help for BTC growth: Kokrajhar: Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani on Dec 7 warned the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Boroland (NDFB) that they must not nurture any illusion that they could browbeat the Government through violence and armed insurgency, and advised them to come forward for talks to settle their grievances, whatever they are peacefully. UPDS hails BTC, calls for Clause 8 scraping: Diphu: The United People's Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) has urged the leaders of the BTC to take steps unilaterally to scrap the Clause 8 of the Memorandum of Settlement on the BTC, and maintain a status quo on the ST (Hills) issue so as to continue the peaceful co-existence it has hitherto enjoyed with the people of Karbi Anglong. News on 8th December'2003 Mahanta for joint move in Karbi Hills: Guwahati: Former chief Minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta has appealed to all organisations, including NGOs and people to work in coordination to chalk out a peaceful solution to the recent ethnic feud in Karbi Anglong district. He said in Diphu, that the ongoing violence should be settled in a peaceful manner through discussion. Mr Mahanta categorically denied any so-called agreement during his tenure as Chief Minister with the Meghalaya Government on the Block I and Block II issues, but said that the talks only tried to find out an amicable solution to the dispute. He was on a two-day visit to the district and travelled to the affected areas where he monitored the relief and rehabilitation work of the victims. Govt leaves HOUSEFED in the red: Guwahati: One of the reasons, the prime to be precise, responsible for the ailing fiscal health of cooperative societies in Assam is huge loan repayment dues of mainly politicians or their kin. Failure or their refusal to pay the dues by the State Government has also added to the ailing fiscal condition of these cooperative societies, and the case of the Assam State Cooperative Housing Finance Society Ltd (HOUSEFED) is no different. 'SC people discriminated against': Guwahati: The Anususit Jati Mahasabha, an organisation for the Scheduled Caste (SC) community of Assam is all set to fight to meet their various demands and will stage a dharna before the Assembly on the first day of the winter session on Dec 18. LS debate on Assam lopsided: AGP Guwahati: AGP president Brindaban Goswami on Dec 7 said that no national party, including the Congress was bold enough to raise the issue of assault on train travellers from Assam in Bihar, during the recent Lok Sabha discussion on backlash on Bihari people in Assam. "The discussion was totally one-sided highlighting only the backlash on people from Bihar in Assam, but the assault on NE train passengers in Bihar was totally kept under the wrap," Goswami rued here on Dec 7. He also said that Defence Minister George Fernandes misinterpreted the demand for reservation of grade III and IV posts in Central Government departments for local candidates, adding the demand was not only for candidates from Assam, but also for candidates from Assam, but also for those from various regions in the nation. On the formation of Mayor-in-council for Guwahati, he said that the AGP was not going to be part of any formation to form the council. He, however said that the party was ready to extend support to formation from outside. He criticised the State Government for its failure to bring the situation in Karbi Anglong under control. News on 7th December '2003 NDFB warns people against interim BTC: Guwahati: The banned National Democratic Front of (NDFB) on Dec 6 warned people against supporting the interim Bodoland Territorial Council to be formed on Dec 7 as the council, it claimed, was against the interest of the Bodo Community. Anti-BTC bandh evokes no response: Guwahati: The 72-hour bandh, called by non-Bodo organisations under the banner of Sanmilita Janagosthiya Sangram Samiti (SJSS), opposing the creation of BTC, beginning on Dec 6 failed to evoke any response. Official sources said that the bandh which began this morning failed to disrupt normal functioning of life in lower Assam areas and no untoward incident was reported. Karbi-Kuki clash: Rongpi blames it on State Govt Guwahati: CPI (ML) MP from Karbi Anglong Dr Jayanta Rongpi on Dec 6 blamed the State Government for its failure to quell the violence arising out of the Karbi-Kuki clashes. "The Assam Government lacks the will and determination to solve the crisis", he said. Dr Rongpi, representing the hill Parliamentary constituency in the State warned of a possible massive backlash from the majority Karbi tribals against the tribe living in the hill district. VHP observes 'Shourya Divas': Guwahati: The North-east unit of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on Dec 6 observed "Shourya th Divas" in the city on the 11 anniversary of the demolition of the disputed Babri Masjid structure by kar sevaks at Ayodhya. Asian Television Award for Arnab: Guwahati: NDTV's popular anchor Arnab Goswami from Guwahati has been detected as the second best television anchor in Asia and has bagged the runner-up trophy of Asian Television Award, 2003'. This is a contest among the news anchors across the Asia covering all Asian channels, including India. News on 6th December '2003 Create climate for investments: George Guwahati: Union Defence Minister George Fernandes on Dec 5 said that the recent round of violence in Assam would ultimately prove to be counter-productive for the State, and appealed to all sections of society to assist in restoring normalcy. Opposing AASU's demand for reservation of jobs for youth in Central government posts, Fernandes said: "This demand, as well as the violence which followed it, will ultimately prove to be counter-productive, since peace is required for investments to flow to the State. More investments would mean more jobs." He added that jobs could not be created through slogans and bandhs. Gogoi plea to George for more forces: Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Dec 5 urged Union Defence Minister George Fernandes to ensure that adequate paramilitary forces were sent to Assam in the State. Reiterating his persistent demand for adequate security forces, the Chief Minister pointed out to Fernandes that though as per the Centre's own assessment, Assam required 180 companies of paramilitary forces, only 111 had been deployed, excluding the 25 additional companies sent here in the wake of the recent violence. Gogoi also urged the Defence Minister not to withdraw these 25 companies from the State. Civic poll was not mandate for Cong: BJP Guwahati: The BJP State President Indramani Bora on Dec 5 accused the Congress of having misused the government machinery in the recent GMC, municipal and town committee elections in Assam. Mr Bora said that the Congress was losing the faith of the people in the State. According to him, the result of the civic elections itself is a verdict of the party's status, which could not even get simple majority in the GMC elections. He said that there can be no mayor form the Congress in the GMC since it could win only 27 seats out of 57. News on 5th December '2003 Nitish to raise Rly job policy in LS on Dec 5: Guwahati: Railway Minister Nitish Kumar told a delegation of the North East MPs' Forum this afternoon that he is in favour of a national policy for granting reservation to local youths of the entire country on regional basis in the recruitment of Group C and D posts in the Railways. He further indicated that such a step would rather help the Railways for better management of the railway system locally without much pressure on transfer. A 13-member delegation of the forum met him in his Parliament House chamber on Dec 5 and submitted a memorandum seeking changes in recruitment policy of the Railways, sources from the MPs' Forum said. They also termed the incidents in Bihar and Assam as unfortunate. Kumar maintained that the Department of Personal Training is the nodal department to frame such a national policy as the Supreme Court directive changed the earlier procedure followed by Railways in recruiting only local people in Group C and D. he further told delegation that he would be making a formal statement on Dec 5 in Lok Sabha where this issue will be discussed. DC, SP escape UPDS bid on life New Police Range for Karbi Anglong launched: Guwahati: The United Peoples' Democratic Solidarity (UPDS) militants made an abortive bid on the lives of Karbi Anglong Deputy Commissioner and the Superintendent of Police in the night on Dec 3. The incident took place at Hidim Terang near Manja, when the militants fired upon SP Abdul Quddus and Deputy Commissioner Anurag Goel near an overbridge on NH 36 but they escaped unhurt. The security forces accompanying the officials retaliated, but the ultras fled under the cover of darkness. Seven Kuki houses were also torched in the Hidim Terang village in the night on Dec 3. Sub-standard drugs flood Assam market It's time for Govt to keep close watch on pharmacies: Guwahati: If your cough syrup is not providing the instant relief it used to provide earlier, beware: a sinister nexus of some pharmacists and drug manufacturers is pushing sub-standard and spurious medicines into the North-east. According to sources in the State Health Department and the Drug Testing Laboratory, North-east Region, under the Union Directorate of Health Services, most of the medicine samples tested have been found to be sub-standard, although not spurious. News on 4th December '2003 ADB to keep accounts of its funds given to Assam: Guwahati: The Asian Development Bank (ADB), besides bankrolling several multi-crore projects in different sectors of the Assam Government, is also positioning itself as a watchdog of the Government's income and expenses. Representatives from the ADB and the State Government on Dec 3 had a meeting in which the proposed financial restructuring of the Government was discussed. It may be mentioned here that an agreement in principle had been reached between the two parties on this in Manila last month. CM to move Centre to keep hill dist peace, train policemen: Guwahati: The Assam Government will shortly approach the centre with a presentation explaining the difficulties of law enforcement in the two hill districts of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar hills, and to obtain assistance in increasing the police presence in these two insurgent-infested areas, according to Assam chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. Cong rigged civic polls: AGP st Guwahati: The AGP has alleged large-scale rigging by Congress party members in 1 December's elections for the GMC, Municipal Boards and Town Committees across the State, and has said that it is gathering evidence of these malpractices by the ruling party. Civic polls: counting of votes on Dec 3: Guwahati: The fate of the 349 and 2,130 candidates contesting the elections to the GMC and 54 municipal boards and town committees of the State respectively will be known on Dec 3. The counting of votes will start on Dec 3 from 8am and the results are likely to be out by the evening. Computer education in SEBA schools: Guwahati: Computer education will be introduced in all the government as well as provincialised schools under the Board of Secondary Education, Assam (SEBA) within five years from now, while within the nest year, 200 government schools will be imparted computer education. This was stated by Mr BK Das, Secretary, SEBA. FCI starts procuring Assam paddy at Rs 550/qtl: Guwahati: For the first time, the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Assam Region has entered the market to buy paddy directly from Assam farmers at a Minimum Support Price (MSP). The FCI has already started the procurement of paddy from December 1, 2003 which will be continued upto March 31, 2004 in 22 FCI depots. Mr Arindam Som, zonal manager FCI for the North-east on Dec 2 said that a tentative target of 20,000 MT for this season has been fixed by the FCI, to be procured directly from the farmers. The Corporation has also fixed the price at Rs 550 per quintal for the common variety and Rs 580 per quintal for Grade-A variety of paddy. Earlier, according to Mr Som, the farmers were able to get only Rs 300 to Rs 330 per quintal due to the involvement of middleman in the sale process. GU PG exams from March 14: Guwahati: The MA/M.Sc/M.Com final and PGDSMM/PGDHRM examinations of Gauhati University will be commenced from March 14, 2004. The last date of filling up forms for the second / third chance and betterment candidates has been fixed as January 20, 2004. Fresh candidates need not fill any forms. State Govt responsible for escalation of violence in Tinsukia: Baruah 'Assam Govt has no right to stay in power': Dibrugarh: The State Government has no moral right to stay in power as it had succumbed to extra constitutional authorities during those days when violence and arson rocked Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts and claimed more than 25 lives and injured many- said Mr Dulal Chandra Baruah, National Council Member of Bharatiya Janata Party at the circuit house after assessing the ground situation prevailing in the affected areas like Tinsukia, Dhola, Duliajan and Naharkotiya areas recently. Assam lawyers push for SC bench: Guwahati: The All Assam Lawyers Association, in separate fax massages to the Chief Justice of the Supreme court of India and Mr Arun Jaitely, Union Law Minister, has demanded the setting up of a Supreme Court bench in Gauhati High Court for the convenience of the litigants of the North-eastern region. AISF calls for arrest of Bihar MP: Chabua: The All India Students Federation (AISF) has strongly condemned the recent vandalism in Assam Bhavan in New Delhi by goons acting under direction of the Bihar MP Mr Pappu Yadav. The organisation has demanded immediate arrest of the controversial MP from Purnea for his culpability in this heinous crime. A memorandum has sent to the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee by the Dibrugarh district committee of the AISF recently in this regard. In the memorandum the organisation urged the Government to provide adequate security to the students of Assam studying in other states. The AISF's Dibrugarh committee has expressed its unhappiness over the continuation of Union minister Mr Nitish Kumar in the Union cabinet. Cong faces tough battle in GMC, town polls: Guwahati: The GMC elections, held after a gap of seven years on Dec 1 and amid accusations by the Opposition parties that the ruling Congress had rigged them failed up to throw up a clear majority for any party. Of the 57 wards where elections were held on December 1, the Congress bagged 27, while the BJP and AGP captured 13 and 12 respectively. As the Congress requires two more seats for a simple majority. AGP, BJP make strong presence in civic bodies: Guwahati: The ruling Congress (I) had to share the spoils with AGP and BJP in elections to the different Municipal Boards and Town Committees across the State. The Congress won 13 of the 22 seats in the Dibrugarh Municipal Board, the BJP five and the AGP two. In Naharkotiya Town Committee, the Congress won three of the four seats with the other seat going in favour of the AGP. The AGP won five of the 10 seats for the Dhekiajuli Municipality Board, and is reportedly awaiting the green signal from one of the two winning independents to form the Board. MPs of NE move Advani for jobs local candidates: Guwahati: The North East MP's Forum on Dec 3 moved Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani and demanded 100 percent job reservation for locals in Group C and Group D category posts in all Central Government departments, including the Railways in the North-east, and a national policy to provide a proportionate reservation to each region of the nation. Police in league with KRA: ASDC Guwahati: The Autonomous State Demand Committee (ASDC) has blamed the State Government as well the district police for allowing the KRA to have a free run in Karbi Anglong. "The Government is not only guilty of inaction but is deliberately instigating the Kuki extremist group to kill, terrorise and displace Karbi people," ASDC president Holiram Terang and general secretary Pankaj Teron said on Dec 3. Legal aid cell in Dibrugarh AASU protest against 'Govt atrocities' on Dec 3: Guwahati: The All Assam Students' Union (AASU), which had announced suspension of all agitational programmes for a fortnight in the State regarding the demand of 100 percent job reservation for locals in Central Government departments in the North-east, will register its protest against security forces' 'inhuman atrocities' on innocent people on Dec 3 by staging sit-in demonstrations from 11 am to 1 p.m. state-wide. Major drive for NE peace initiated: Guwahati: As a step forward towards realising the dream of peace, a three-day programme under the banner of "Peace Initiative: North-east India Consultation on Peace" will be held here from December 9 to 11, 2003 under the auspices of Don Bosco Youth Mission and Educational Services (DBYES) with an organising committee headed by Mr HN Das, former chief secretary of Assam. Disability Day in city: Guwahati: With the theme-"Inclusion- to be a part, not apart", the world disability Day was observed on Dec 3 with special programme for the disabled. About 200 disabled under the banner of various NGOs of the city participated with great enthusiasm at the Lakhidhar Bora Khetra near the Dighalipukhuri. News on 3rd December '2003 KRA ultra shot dead Karbi Anglong scene grim, KRA kills two more: Diphu: The Kuki-Karbi ethnic clashes in Karbi Anglong district refused to die down as the Kuki Revolutionary Army(KRA) swooped down on Karbi villagers at a church in Kalapahar area under Dillai outpost in Bokajan police station at 10,20 this morning, killing two persons on the spot. The militants also set about 48 houses afire in as many as four nearby villages. A KRA cadre was also killed in an encounter with the security forces, who reached the spot soon after receiving the formation about the church attacks, forcing the militants to flee the scene. Cong attacks AGP, BJP men; 2 hurt: Nagaon: Rampaging Youth Congress workers seriously injured two BJP workers and attacked MP Rajen Gohain during voting for the Nagaon Municipal Board. The Youth Congress workers also ransacked the booths of party agents of the AGP and BJP. 'ULFA at the behest of ISI trying to destabilise State' Mammoth rally against violence: Silchar: Barak Ghati Hindi Bhashi Samannay Samiti, a conglomerate of 30 organisations brought out a mammoth procession in protest against the brutal killings of Hindi speaking people in different parts of Assam. The procession took off from Rashtra Bhasa Hindi High School, Shillongpatty and after parading through the main thoroughfares of the town converged before the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar. A memorandum addressed to the President, Prime Minister, MPs of Assam and State Chief Minister were submitted through the Deputy Commissioner, Cachar. 'Hundred per cent local recruitment in Central Govt services a must' Nitish Kumar should resign: citizens Guwahati: the Assam Nagarik Sangha, a non political organisation of citizens and social workers of the State with and objective of unity, amity, integrity, peace and prosperity among people of Assam irrespective of caste, community, religion and political affiliation has demanded immediate resignation of Railway Minister Nitish Kumar owing the moral responsibility for brutal attacks on innocent Railway passengers of the North-east and the lapses in the recruitment process for the Railway jobs and conspiracy against the candidates of Assam. Stressing on the need of a special self-employment package for solution of the unemployment problem of Assam, the Sangha demanded filling up the posts of Grade III and IV jobs in all Central Government departments, undertakings and autonomous body offices (including Railways) in Assam with hundred per cent local candidates of the State at least for a period of 20 years. Karbi hills tense, cops fired upon: Diphu: The scars of Nov 29's attack on Karbi villages at Zilangso under Bokajan police station is visible in all the affected villages. Smoke from many burnt houses are still billowing in the horizon. Thousands of Karbi people who have lost their homes and property are receiving relief materials at two relief camps set up at Walsang LP School and Tatil Adong LP School. More than 800 people have taken shelter in the two relief camps. The district administration has set up a medical camp in the affected area. About 150 Karbi people have fled to nearby Balipathar area from the place of the incident. Meanwhile, police have set up a fixed camp and are maintaining round-th-clock vigil in the entire troubled area. One platoon of CRPF along with Assam Police personnel are deployed in the violence-hit zone. DIG, Assam Police, Mukesh Agarwal is personally monitoring the situation. No one has been arrested so far in connection with Nov 29's incident. On Nov 30 at around 4am, when a patrolling police party zeroed in on a gang of miscreants at the site of the violence, they fired a few rounds at the patrolling party and fled the scene. However, no one has received any injury. News on 2nd December '2003 Over 55% cast votes for GMC: Guwahati: Citizens of Guwahati, cynical though that the basic problems of the city would be solved some extent, cast their votes at the 57 wards of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation on Dec 1. The voter turnout was pegged at 55 per cent, according to official sources. Meanwhile, the AGP has alleged that the Congress Government had "misutilised" the government machinery to rig the elections for the GMC and other municipal boards and town committees. Interim BTC formation on Dec 7, Advani to attend: Guwahati: The Interim Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) will be formed on Dec 7, in presence of the deputy Prime Minister LK Advani. In the function to be held on December 6 and 7 at Kokrajhar in this connection a 12-member interim council will be formed by the Bodo Liberation Tiger (BLT) chief Hagrama Basumatary. The ceremony of laying down of arms will be held on December 6. Union Minister of State for Home Swami Chinmayanand, Assam Governor Lt Gen (retd) Ajai Singh and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi will be present on the occasion. About 3,000 BLT cadres are expected to lay down arms on that day. NE poised to be vanilla orchard! Guwahati: The Regional office of the Spices Board under the Ministry of Commerce and Industry here has already supplied 50,000 vanilla plants for north-eastern region this year. Out of it, 6,000 free-of- cost plants are meant for the Department of Agriculture, Assam. Basically a tropical orchid, vanilla is cultivated for its pleasant flavour and the most common use of vanilla is to be found in ice cream. And the good news is, the Spices Board of India is buying each kilogram of vanilla beans at Rs 10,000 from the cultivators. Sources from the Spices Board said that experts have found the Assam climate suitable for the cultivation of this orchid, which needs warm and moist conditions with well distributed rainfall. Soil for vanilla should be loose and friable with a high organic matter content and of loamy texture. 9.5lakh voters, 2,130 candidates across State - Assam civic polls on Dec 1 under security net: Guwahati: The stage is set for the elections to the 54 municipal boards and town committees across the State alongwith 57 wards of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC). Polling for the Tinsukia Municipal Board and Makum and Doomdooma town committees have been deferred to December 15 because of the tense situation prevailing in these areas. An estimated 9,54,650 voters will exercise their franchise, of whom 5,09,724 are male, in the 1,103 polling stations across the State. A total of 2,130 candidates are in fray for the 354 municipal board and 172 town committee wards in the State. 100% rly jobs for locals NESO sets December 14 deadline, threatens stir: Guwahati: In a new twist to the issue of anti-Bihari violence in Assam which has taken a toll of 56 lives so far, the North East Students' Organisation (NESO), a powerful student umbrella body, on Nov 30 claimed that more than 50 girl train passengers were molested in Bihar and demanded resignation of Railway Minister Nitish Kumar. "The Railway Minister should accept the moral responsibility of gruesome attack on train passengers in Bihar for long ten hours on Nov 12 and resign", NESO general secretary NSN Lotha told here. He said NESO had served an ultimatum to the Centre to ensure cent per cent job reservation for locals in the Central Government sector by December 14 or else threatened to launch a 72-hour hunger strike in all NE State capitals to be followed by a call of North- east bandh. Playwright Sharma, 2 others from Assam bags Akademi: Guwahati: Noted Assamese playwright Arun Sharma has bagged this year's prestigious Sangeet Natak Akademi Award, along with 33 other front ranking persons for their contribution in diverse fields of performing arts. Manipur's Suryamukhi Devi and Kalavati Devi bagged the Award for dance, while Prabhat Sarma of Assam has bagged the Award for folk music. Another Assamese, Kosha Kanta Deva Goswami has received the Award for mask making. Manipur's Laishram Birendra Kumar has bagged the Award for folk and tribal dance. 'River linking needed to generate livelihood': Guwahati: the Centre's proposal to link rivers of India needs to be connected with livelihood generation and greater dialogue with stakeholders was required, according to experts. Cautioning against large- scale interventions in the river without adequate comprehension of either long-term effects on people, participants at a seminar on 'Livelihoods and Linking' organised by the Centre for North-east Studies and policy research on environment, social and economic sectors. Lachit statue as good as pilgrimage site: Gen Sinha Guwahati: At a grand function graced by the Governors of two militant-hit States in the country, Jammu & Kashmir and Assam, here on Nov 30, the hero of the historic battle of Saraighat was commemorated. Lt Gen (retd) SK Sinha, Governor of Jammu & Kashmir unveiled the plaques of the Battle of Saraighat and replica of the Victory Pillar and the North Brook Gate in the presence of his Assam counterpart Lt Gen (retd) Ajai Singh and Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi at the Gateway of Assam, the Sukreswar Park. Seven Karbis killed, 256 houses torched in Kuki night attack in Karbi Anglong Ultra strikes continue with impunity: Diphu: The past over 24-hour lull in ethnic violence-torn Karbi Anglong district proved to be deceptive when armed cadres of the Kuki Revolutionary army (KRA), accompanied by a group of Kuki people armed with sharp weapons, swooped down on residents of four villages at a place under Bokajan police station in the district killing at least seven villagers, including three women and child at 2am on Nov 29 when the villagers were fast asleep, forcing the district administration to recall the Army. Besides injuring many and torching as many as 256 houses, the fierce attack rendered over 1,000 Karbi people homeless. They have been shifted to temporary relief camps. News on 1st December '2003 Uncertainty prevails among relief camp inmates Tinsukia limping back to normal: Tinsukia: After the recent spate of violence in various parts of the district, the situation here limping back to normal. But uncertainty prevails over the acceptance of the camp inmates by the local villagers after their return to their respective places. The Tinsukia district administration seems to be extremely worried on how to tackle the situation as the traumatised camp inmates have expressed keenness to return to their homes. ASDC blast Gogoi Govt: Guwahati: ASDC leader and MLA, Dharamsigh Teron, upon return from a visit to the affected area in the evening on Nov 29 strongly condemned the Gogoi Government for its total failure to contain the situation in the district. Mr Teron said, the people of Karbi Anglong were very hopeful that after the recent visits to the district by the Governor and the Chief Minister the situation would normalise. But on Nov 29's incident has totally shattered that hope of the and pushed the situation to a very dangerous abyss. He also expressed deep concern over the UPDS (anti-talk) faction's call for 120-hour Karbi Anglong bandh from December 2 and said, this would seriously jeopardise the relief and rehabilitation work for the affected people in the on-going violence. He appealed to the UPDS (anti-talk function) to call off the bandh for greater interest of the people of Karbi Anglong. Lachit Barphukan Memorial Lecture Army executioner of democratic will: Sinha Guwahati: "In functioning democracy, the civil administration must be supreme over the military, but this subordination does not by any means should stand for servility", said Governor of Jammu and Kashmir Lt Gen. (Retd) SK Sinha. The general was delivering the sixth Lachit Barphukan Memorial Lecture on "Role of Military in Democracy" at Gauhati University on Nov 29 evening. City refinery launches quality products: Guwahati: In a step towards value enhancement, the Guwahati Refinery has started a stream-sharing initiative with the Digboi Refinery. The initiative will involve exchange of raw materials required in the respective units. The refinery here has also commissioned three new units as part of its strategy to cater to the changing needs of the oil industry. AASU puts job quota stir on hold, warns politicians: Guwahati: To prevent hijacking the main issue of 100 percent job reservation for Grade III and IV posts for locals at the Central and semi-central sectors, the All Assam Students' Union (AASU) has decided not to launch any major democratic agitation for the next fortnight. The AASU has found that "some forces are trying to incite communal feelings among the Hindus and Muslims by taking advantage of local sentiment arisen out of the Railway recruitment issue". Protesting against Army and Police atrocities on innocent people, the AASU has decided to stage a one-hour sit-in demonstration on December 4 at all district headquarters under the leadership of State executive members from the respective districts. 'ISI helping NE ultras': Guwahati: The Inter-services Intelligence of Pakistan is backing North-east based militant groups having camps in Bangladesh with the help of Al-Qaeda and Taliban terrorist organisation, the BSF claimed here. Sharma to sworn in as Addl Judge of HC: Guwahati: Mr Biplab Kumar sharma will be sworn in as the Additional Judge of the Gauhati High Court on December 2 at 10.39 a.m. at High Court premise here. The oath will be administered by the Chief Justice of Gauhati High Court.
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