Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Socio-political news from Assam in 2007

Women’s body highlights plight of Bodos at UN
GUWAHATI, June 3 – The world community listened to the grievances of the Boro Women’s Justice Forum in the recently concluded sixth session of United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, which began from May 14 in New York.Anjali Daimari, president, Boro Women’s Justice Forum, stated before the august gathering that the Bodo indigenous people were facing threat to their very existence and identity as the protective laws for the tribal people had some inherent defects and as the State Government and the Central Government never bothered to honour the accords signed in respect to the problems of the Bodos.Daimari had further said that the symbiotic relation of the Bodo people with nature had been shattered by the so-called development projects and activities. Daimary asserted that the problems faced by the Bodos could not be solved unless they gained political empowerment and the right of self-determination. “Without total autonomy, the freedom and pride, and the rich cultural heritage of the Bodos cannot be protected,” she had said.On the other hand, referring to the prevailing situation in the North East, Daimari said that though the five indigenous people’s revolutionary organizations struggling for their right to self-determination were under ceasefire with the Government of India, the government was not respecting the ceasefire agreements and was resorting to unprovoked killings of the members of the groups, alleged Daimari. “The Assam Police has killed 10 members of National Democratic Front of Boroland since the ceasefire agreement,” said Daimari.Daimari suggested that to protect the interests of the Bodos, a mechanism should be developed to recover the alienated lands of the Bodo people from the clutches of the non- indigenous people in Assam and to restore the tribal belts and blocks created for safeguarding the indigenous Bodos and other tribal people. Daimari also said that the Government of India should demonstrate sincerity and commitment to the ongoing peace process among various indigenous revolutionary groups by repealing the draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act. Daimari said that as part of the anti-insurgency operations, violence against women was perpetrated by the security forces.“ In most of the South Asian countries indigenous women continue to face human rights violations both from the State and the non-State actors,” Daimari had rued.Daimari further said that indigenous women who practised traditional method of healing were targetted and often killed in brutal manner.

State lauded for GP awards
GUWAHATI, June 8 — Union Rural Development Minister Raghubangsh Prasad Singh has congratulated the State Government and the its officers concerned for the success the State has attained in securing Nirmal Gram Purashkar for three gaon panchayats for this year.The three gaon panchayats include – Kamarbandha Gaon Panchayat in Golaghat district, Bardamal Gaon Panchayat and Mornoi Gaon Panchayat in Goalpara district. President of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam presented them the awards at a function held in New Delhi on May 4 last.The Union Minster has conveyed his appreciation through a letter to Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi, said an official press release here. State’s Panchayat and Rural Development Minister Chandan Brahma today congratulated the three gaon panchayats and the team of officers and others for their sterling performance. He also expressed the hope that this success of the three gaon panchayats would inspire and motivate the other gaon panchayats of the State to work relentlessly towards the goal of total sanitation in their respective areas, said another official press release.

Annexation of Assam by Dhaka just a matter of time’
GUWAHATI, June 10 – Public activist Prof Deven Dutta today said that the hue and cry raised by political parties over the issue of delimitation of constituencies after having remained totally silent throughout the entire exercise from the beginning was merely an attempt to save their faces and throw dust in the eyes of the people. “It is like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted,” he said.Prof Dutta said that no matter whether the delimitation exercise was kept in abeyance till completion of the NRC or carried on with complete disregard to it, and no matter in whatever way and with whatever boundaries the constituencies were redefined, the ultimate gainer from all sides would be a particular party working overtime in the interest of a particular community including even non-Indians, particularly Bangladeshis, in the name of so-called “minorities.” Prof Dutta said that for full four years and a half from January 2003, the parties slept over the matter, and now, “suddenly waking up from their deep slumber and rubbing their eyes after a particular students’ organization has poked them, they are creating a hullabaloo only to cheat the people.” Prof Dutta said that while other political parties and individual members had started expressing themselves against the ongoing delimitation exercise, though belatedly and for purely political and sectional considerations, the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF), for easily understandable reasons, had maintained an amusing but loud silence. He said that though representatives from the party attended the multi-party meeting convened by the students’ body, “it is common knowledge that it is a party formed with the vested interest of safeguarding the unjust and illegitimate claims of a particular community including non-Indians, particularly Bangladeshis, masquerading as ‘Indian minorities’, and is a true inheritor of its predecessor, the UMF” “As such, irrespective of suspension or completion of the delimitation work and irrespective of alterations or new demarcations of boundaries, though election-aspiring individual members of the party here and there may feel disadvantaged, the party as a whole has nothing to lose but everything to gain, and is going to have the last laugh,” Prof Dutta said. Prof Dutta said that except the “entirely naïve or utterly dishonest ones”, all those who had seen the interior areas in different parts of the State, would agree that unless some firm and immediate measures were taken to check the trend, annexation of Assam by Bangladesh was just a few years away.

Descendent objects to Ahom royal assembly
JORHAT, June 20 – A day after a self-proclaimed Ahom swargadeo (the venerated title conferred on a Ahom king) held a ‘royal assembly’ on the premises of the historic Kareng Ghar in Sivasagar district, a living descendent of the royal Ahom lineage Rajkumar Ajit Narayan Singha has raised serious objections to the ‘curious development.’ Addressing reporters here on Tuesday, Singha, a resident of Jorhat, said the very use of the title, which denotes a sovereign authority, is objectionable and tantamounts to committing sacrilege. The conferment of the title, swargadeo, on a claimant is preceded by an intricate coronation ceremony, Singha pointed out. He implied that the ceremony, obviously, did not take place in the present instance as the ‘self-proclaimed Ahom swargadeo’ has appeared from nowhere. In his guarded reaction, Singha said that the present claimant did not appear to represent any of the four royal clans – Dihingia, Somuguria, Parbatia and Tungkhungia – of the Ahoms. Singha also objected to the use of the precincts of the Kareng Ghar for the ‘assembly.’ The Kareng Ghar is a public property which should not be used for “such events,” he stressed. It is not clear whether the meeting has any political or social motive, Singha, who is a mouzadar and a columnist, maintained. But the development is not amenable to the democratic scheme of things, he said and added: “In fact it is a bad sign for the State.” “The ideals espoused by Siu-Ka-Pha, the founder of the Ahom kingdom, should be embraced in the present-day context,” Singha said. There should not be any vested attempt to seek the royal trappings which would appear out of place, the great grandson of the last Ahom king Purandhar Singha summed up. One Pratap Singha had taken upon himself the title of the swargadeo and convened a “monsoon session” of the ‘royal Ahom assembly’ at Sivasagar on Sunday. Singpho king Bisanang was also present at the meeting.

People’s consent must for development projects
GUWAHATI, June 19 – Participants of the two-day national dialogue on environment and sustainable development that ended at the BKB Auditorium of Gauhati University yesterday, resolved to reject all development policies and programmes if free, prior and informed consent to them is not obtained from the indigenous peoples of the region. They announced that any attempt to impose such policies and programmes without meeting these conditions would be resisted.They also expressed serious concern over the proposals to build numerous dams in the region and warned that attempts to impose the dams whether small or large would also be resisted if the above conditions were not met.The development projects imposed on the region have also led to its further militarisation, curtailment of the people’s democratic rights and even resulted in loss of human lives, they said. The seismic survey proposed by the Oil India Ltd (OIL) on the Brahmaputra riverbed for mineral oil exploration has also been opposed by the participants on the ground that preparedness of the OIL for the survey is inadequate. Use of dynamite in the survey may bring lot of changes in the river course, which may affect its valley areas in the form of bank erosion and intense flood extending to many new areas. The design for use of air gun for the purpose is also inadequate, they said.Peoples in the region have been losing their right over resources both under colonial regime and also in the hands of the post-colonial Indian state. They have hence doubted link of the proposed seismic survey with the neo-imperial objective of extraction of oil, the participants said and demanded immediate revocation of the decision to undertake the survey.They also demanded abandonment of the Arunachal Pradesh Government’s decision to sign MoU with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) on the Lower Subansiri Hydel Project once for all.The participants have also demanded Forest village land settlement and rehabilitation of evicted people and the families displaced by floods and erosion. They also called for immediate declaration of rehabilitation and resettlement policies by the NE states.The participants of the dialogue also underlined the need to forge a strong alliance by the region’s movements for fighting their causes together.Over 2,000 participants from all over the NE region and other parts of the country took part in the dialogue, which was also attended by Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar.

Rs 10-cr additional grant sanctioned
UDALGURI, June 18 – “A group of misled youths have been trying their best to derail the development process of Bodoland Territorial Council area, which has rightly come to a perfect track as a result of Congress-BPPF(H) alliance. But those who do not want development in the BTC region are our enemy No 1.” This was said by Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Health Minister of Assam, while addressing a mammoth gathering here at Udalguri DC Court on the occasion of completion of one year of Congress-BPPF(H) alliance government at Dispur. “BTC is now striving for peace and development and there is a clear sign of communal harmony seen between Bodo and non-Bodo community at present”, he added.The Health Minister while addressing the meeting as chief guest also declared that the much-awaited 100-bed civil hospital of Udalguri has been sanctioned Rs 10 crore additional grant and the hospital will be completed within this current year.Speaking on the occasion, Chandan Brahma, Panchayat and Transport Minister hoped that BTC would march forward towards rapid development. “For this, we appeal all concerned to co-operate with Hagrama Mohilary”, he added. He also slammed Rabiram Narzary saying that he is trying to destablise the development and peace process in the region.Agri workshop: The Central Integrated Pest Management Centre (CIPMC) of Ministry of Agriculture, Government of India, organised a day-long workshop on ‘Seed-treatment with bio-pesticides and seedling-dip-treatment’ here at KIBR Kristi Sangha auditorium on Saturday in Udalguri town where about 150 farmers participated.Held in association with the Directorate of Agriculture of the State government, the workshop proved fruitful to the farmers who attended the workshop. Seed-treatment was discussed thoroughly and live demonstration to this effect influenced the farmers to a great extent.Demonstration and speech on pest management were carried out by Dr SP Sarmah, assistant-director, CIPMC, Guwahati, AK Chattopadhyaya, assistant plant protection officer, CIPMC, Guwahati, BS Kushwaha, senior scientific assistant-III. Besides, Udalguri district officials of Agriculture department attended the workshop.The CIPMC had earlier organised a workshop on pest management on June 14 at Mangaldoi and Nagaon on June 13 where 150 and 300 farmers participated respectively.The government is organising another workshop at Debargaon HS School in Kokrajhar district in BTAD on June 19 next which will be inaugurated by Pramila Rani Brahma, Agriculture Minister of the State.

Mass movement taking shape in Barak Valley
KARIMGANJ, June 26 – A mass movement demanding an economic development council for Barak Valley is crystallising in Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi. Although the demand for economic autonomy was first mooted in 1961 in the erstwhile undivided district of Cachar, the movement could not gather momentum in the subsequent years due to many reasons including lack of able political leadership and peoples unawareness in 1998 when Assam was under AGP rule for the second term. The autonomy movement in Barak Valley districts had shown the sign of rebuilding in the wake of economic deprivation of the people of the valley. But the movement did not last long. This time a well organised movement in support of the Economic Development Council for Barak Valley is being planned for and several political leaders belonging to various parties have come forward to patronise the movement. Not only this, general people are openly backing a movement for creation of a separate autonomous economic council for Barak Valley under relevant provision of the Constitution.On September 18, 2006, a mass convention of the representatives of Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi supporting the demand for an autonomous economic council was held in Silchar and a resolution was unanimously passed to launch a mass-based peoples movement under the banner of Barak Upatyaka Economic Development Council Demand Committee. It was also decided to go to the people at every nook and corner of the valley and to make them aware and organise them for the movement later on. District-level demand committees for economic development council were formed in all the three districts covering representatives from all communities living in Barak Valley.Recently, in a joint meeting of the office bearers and representatives of three districts, an adhoc central committee has been constituted in Silchar to steer the cause of movement and to expand organisational base at grassroot level. The daylong meeting was held in Milan Mandir of Silchar with Manas– Bhattacharjee, former ADC in the chair. At the outset Kishore Bhattacharjee, a trade union leader and the president of Silchar Block Congress Committee explained the objective of the meeting. Quoting various figures and statistics from the Planning Commission’s documents and government papers he set out many examples how people of Barak Valley were being economically deprived compared to the people of other regions of the country. He cited examples of Vidarbha Development Council in Maharastra, Gorkaland Council in West Bengal and Bodoland Territorial in Assam.Bhattacharjee said only an economic development council as envisaged in the Constitution could remove the regional disparity and economic underdevelopment of Barak Valley people. He requested the people to rigidly stand behind this demand and take forward the movement till the goal is achieved.Presidents of Karimganj and Hailakandi districts units of the Demand Committee, Jyotirmaya Das and MR Chaudhury and other speakers including TB Nath, Jyotish Das, Paritosh Paul Chaudhury spoke in the same tune favouring a strong movement for the purpose.Apart from constituting an adhoc central committee, the meeting decided to extend organisational base at every block and town level within next two months by organising meetings at the behest of respective district committee. The meeting authorised the central committee to constitute two sub-committees one for by laws and registration and other for preparing memorandum. An advisory committee including leading doctors, advocates, teachers, retired govt. officials; politicians and businessmen from Cachar, Karimganj and Hailakandi districts was formed in the meeting. Representatives from different communities have been covered in the formation of the central committee.

Muslims must change their mindset’
GOALPARA, June 23 – “Following unveiling of dismal position of Muslims in the country in various echelons in society like security, equality and upliftment by the Sachar Committee recommendations, and lackadaisical attitude of the Union government towards the implementation of the recommendations, it is imperative to mobilise in large numbers so that our own short comings can be reformed and government is compelled to take effective steps. While for the former target the Muslims need to change their mindset, the latter necessiates greater unity among democratic and secular people”. This was opined by Prof Abdul Mannan of Gauhati University while speaking as the chief guest in a seminar on “Sachar Commission Report and the Minorities of Assam” organised by Progressive Social and Cultural Forum, an NGO of Goalpara at Gandhi Bhawan, Goalpara on June 17 last.Stressing on introspection of the backwardness inherent in the community, the social scientist quoted 2001 census figures which states that the population of all groups taken together for persons below 19 years was 23 per cent while it was 27 per cent for Muslims alone. However, in case of population above 60 years the figure hovers around 7.1 for all communities taken together and 5.7 per cent for Muslims alone. While this speaks of lack of consciousness of Muslims regarding population explosion and eventual backwardness, the pitiable picture of literacy rate (22 per cent Muslim women are literate in Dhubri and Darrang district) also require us to interfere for a change.Apart from India and Saudi Arabia, all the Muslim-populated countries have changed their personal law, disclosed Prof Mannan while referring to Shah Bano case. Optimistic about implementation of the recommendations, Prof Mannan appealed to the concerned Muslim citizens to contribute for educational upliftment without which nothing could be achieved.In his key-note address, Abul Hussain, general secretary of the forum said that in Assam with 30 per cent population, the representation of Muslims in government jobs in just one third of what they deserve. He also recorded that if Muslims as a whole are declared as most backward community then opinion in the north is sharply divided as Muslim OBCs are apprehensive that benefits will be wholly appropriated by the elite.N I Choudhury, senior advocate of Dhubri in his speech as appointed speaker narrated the plight of Muslims as regards access of health care, education, jobs in CBI, defence organisations, and other key positions and said how the community is discriminated and neglected even after 60 years of independence. He made mention of ‘state-backed terrorism in Gujarat’, a section of politicians doing communal politics in various parts of India, some treating Muslims as second class citizen and so his panacea to Muslims was that they should stand on their own feet and take part in democratic movement and fight unitedly with other secular parties.Mizanur Rahman Mondol, a civilian and Dr Nazibar Rahman, lecturer of West Goalpara College also took part in the seminar. Both the speakers analysed the ground realities faced by 14 per cent minority population of the country and suggested a lot for preparation of a concrete road map for the advancement of the Muslim minorities in the country as a whole and Assam in particular. Dr Abul Hussain Ahmed, president of the Forum, who conducted the seminar also highlighted the problems and advanced some action plan.The seminar adopted a number of resolutions which include demand for a sub-plan for Muslims, equitable share in jobs and bodies, consideration of population structure in delimitation exercise and a consensus for a state-wide forum for the advancement of Muslim community in the light of Sachar Committee Recommendations.

Influx causing grave problem in NE
NEW DELHI, June 28 – In a significant remark, M Veerappa Moily Committee’s Report on Administrative Reforms has conceded that illegal migration from Bangladesh has created ‘intractable problem’ in the region, reducing the indigenous people to minority in ‘some parts’ tracing rise of militancy to the menace. The six-member Committee which submitted its report to the Prime Minister on Monday, dwelt on the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh at length. Initially, this migration represented movement of peasants from the over-populated eastern districts of Bengal to the sparsely populated and fertile and fallow Brahmaputra Valley consisting Assam.The redrawing of national boundaries following partition provided an impetus to migrants from East Pakistan for reasons of personal safety to settle in Assam, where their presence gave rise to ethnic and linguistic tensions. This was followed by fresh influx of all communities due to the agrarian crisis in East Pakistan. This migration has continued even after the emergence of Bangladesh. The fear among the local populace that this immigrant population would reduce them to minority, as has in fact happened in some parts, has fuelled militancy in the region, the Moily Committee admitted. The report goes on to say that militancy in Assam, on the ‘foreigners issue’ has multiplied and spread to many new areas. Large-scale immigration into Tripura gave birth to militancy there in the 1960s the report acclaimed.The Committee has further criticised the policy of giving autonomy to various groups and communities. Ad hoc solutions resulting in widely varying degrees of ‘autonomy’ to different bodies — sometimes within a single State – have led to competitive demands and when they are not met, to alienation and violence. The report has also touched on the problem of militancy in the North-east. The numerous militant movements in the region have different objectives, the Committee noted.Apart from causing huge loss of human lives, militancy has hampered economic development of the region. The situation is compounded by the involvement of some foreign intelligence agencies, which are providing material support to the insurgents. Besides, the long porous international borders have facilitated the movement of these groups and smuggling of arms, it said.The problem of militancy in pockets of the North-east is obviously very complex. The ethnicity, diversity, geography and history of the region demand a comprehensive nation building approach for resolving the complex issues. Fair reconciliation of conflicting interests in the region, adequate local empowerment with accountability, infrastructure development, economic growth, greater economic linkages with neighbouring regions and better governance and democratic legitimacy must go together for the foundation of durable peace and prosperity in the region.However, in the short term, security agencies need to be strengthened, extortion and abductions must be stopped, militancy should be curbed and accountability should be institutionalised in order to protect human rights, Moily Committee recommended.The Committee has also noted the steps initiated by the Central Government like revamping of the North Eastern Council, creation of separate Ministry of DoNER for the region, earmarking of 10 per cent of Budgetary allocation of Central Ministries for the region besides setting up of the Non Lapsable Pool of Central Resources. Moily Committee has recommended insertion of a new chapter in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (ULPA) instead of enacting a new legislation, to replace the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The new Chapter VI A in the ULPA, proposes to empower the Centre to deploy forces under its control to quell internal disturbance, even if the concerned State has not requested for Central forces.While recommending repeal of the dreaded Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Moily Committee has spelled out several built-in safeguards in the new chapter to safeguard against human right abuse by the security forces.

A tale of raw deal and woes of deprived childhood
MIRZA, June 29 – Elimination of poverty – the main impediment to all-round development is still a distant dream for the rural areas. And worse still, children in the age group of five to 14 are reported to be engaged as underpaid wage earners to provide much-needed relief to respective needy families.Interacting with this correspondent, a few children who are supporting their families by various wage earning means held abject poverty responsible for their incomplete schooling in the early part of their lives. “I sell fish for Rs 15 to 20 only to enable my father to buy basic edibles,” Sambaru, 10, of village 3 No. Amtala under Palasbari constituency lamented. Confirming his son’s facts of life, Kartik Das said the trivial earnings of my son come in handy to run my needy family.Poverty the constant companion of this schedule caste village with a smattering of a few government employees was reported to have cost the schooling of many children. And lackadaisical attitude of the government has made the matter worse for them. Going by the ground realties of the rural areas, this menace has raised the spectre of bleak future of the new generation.Of the reported fastest increase in primary school enrolment between 1999 to 2004, South including South West Asia accounted for 19 per cent of this spurt. But the overall picture is still dismal as children of the marginalised section have been reported to have shouldered the heavy burden of running their families. Ujjal, 12, and Jainaty, 7, are two brothers who reportedly work in tantem to support their family besides acting as cook following the death of their mother.Moreover, apart from regular angling some are reported the labourious job of earth cutting. “Per earth load of pushcart fetches us Rs 30 and excluding the hired rate of the handcart, we realize Rs 180 as benefit,” a three-member group of children said. Also, the pathetic view of children carrying and loaded sacks from tributaries is a scene which has to be seen to be believed. “At first we bring the sand from the river bed and later on sell them,” said a four-member group of children including a girl child of Balahidi under Chhaygaon constituency.Further, children such as Nayan, Anil Newla to name but a few were reported to have played traditional musical instrument such as cymballs, nagara etc in Chaitali naam which earn them Rs 10 to 15. “We could not help going for angling besides playing our part in during traditional cultural functions,” said Bidyut Das and his company. They further added that paltry contribution serves the much needed purpose of rather simple living.Rapid decline in income generating avenues in rural areas has emerged as a cause of concern and people are solely dependent on the sale of their labour power which is exploited. “It is an uphill task to run my four member family without the meagre contribution of my two sons,” Uday said expressing his sordid tale of woes.According to an ILO report, 250 million children in the age group of five to 14 years were working as labourers in the developing nations including India where out of five children, one of 10 is engaged as a labour. And the number of child labourers in rural areas working as helpers of masons was on the rise. They have taken to spadework to the detriment of not only their health but also of mental development.Chakra, a 14-year-old school dropout took recourse to the job of welding utensils here at Bijoynagar, four years ago, when his father died prematurely Moreover, the girl children are not lagging behind boy children in terms of domestic help to weaving for which they are extending financial help to their family of battered economic status.What needs to be mentioned is that taking the gigantic problem into account, scores of laws enacted to protect the interest of the children have failed to curb the menace.And so the laws — Factories Act, 1948, Mines Act, 1952, Motor Transport Workers Act, 1961 — are in dire need of more teeth to deaccelerate the rapid growth of this social evil. And the owners of industrial units including brick kilns should refrain from exploiting the child work force to the hilt.

Row over NE students’ dress code resolved
NEW DELHI, July 17 — The controversy over the Delhi Police booklet on dress code of Northeast students has been solved amicably this evening. Delhi Police and the students representing various student organizations today held a meeting to discuss the problems arising out of publication of the booklet which was drafted by DCP (West Delhi) Robin Hibu. The police officer initiated the move to find an amicable solution in this regard. The vice president of Assamese Students Association Delhi (ASAD) Mallika Baruah told this newspaper that the students are satisfied with the explanation given by Hibu, hailing from Arunachal Pradesh. “The booklet is acceptable for us to guide us in Delhi,” Baruah said. “We had objection about dress code and guidelines on food,” she also said. The officer had apologized to us and explained the dress code was not meant to hurt the sentiment of the students.The meeting was held at police headquarters which was attended by a professor of Delhi University and students.

Lawlessness prevailing in transport sector: Dutta
GUWAHATI, July 26 – Does Transport Minister Chandan Brahma know the difference between an ASTC bus and ‘under ASTC operation’ bus? asked public activist Professor Deven Dutta on Thursday.Dutta while going hammer and tongs at the transport department and the police said that their utter inaction and inefficiency in the matter of enforcing the rules has emboldened a group of rogue bus drivers and handymen to the extent of launching attacks on the law enforcing agency itself.Referring to the incident in Jorhat district wherein a group of bus drivers and handymen had beaten up a traffic police officer on duty, Dutta said that the incident should be an eye opener to the complete dereliction of duty and unworthiness of the transport minister and the chief secretary Prafulla Sarma. “ Despite the staggering rise in fatal road accidents and chaotic traffic situations becoming the order of the day, the authorities concerned are yet to wake up to the problem created solely by lawless transporters,” rued Dutta adding that a ‘jungle raj’ was prevalent in the transport sector.Dutta said that traffic jams and road accidents resulting from escapades of greedy owners and drivers of commercial vehicles like city buses, trucks, auto rickshaws and delivery vans had taken a most terrible turn in the last couple of years. “ But as countless ministers, MLAs, former ministers, former MLAs, bureaucrats, policemen and middle aged so called youth leaders as well as middle aged non student ‘student leaders’ are directly or indirectly owners of such commercial vehicles, nobody dares to raise their little finger against these regular killers of men and animals,” said Dutta.Dutta further said that it was such indulgence given by corrupt policemen and transport officials to the commercial transporters over the years that had led to the shocking incident of a group of drivers, conductors and handymen of private buses bashing up a traffic policeman on duty who was trying to enforce traffic discipline.On the other hand, Dutta taking the opposition to task for their silence over the incident asked AGP president Brindaban Goswami why he was not demanding the resignation of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi over the incident. “Goswami demands the resignation of Gogoi at the drop of hat, why does not he do so now,” Dutta asked inviting the AGP chief to publicise the names of their party members who owned commercial vehicles. He also called upon the people of the State to keep close watch on whether any legislator raises the pressing public issues including the Jorhat issue in the ensuing Assembly session.Dutta also alleged that owners of innumerable private buses running under ASTC operation deliberately displayed only ASTC on the bodies of the buses instead of ‘under ASTC operation’ and called upon the Government to streamline the transport department.

Govt to introduce new Bill
GUWAHATI, Aug 7 – The State Government is considering bringing a Bill to authorise the unnayan samities of the Guwahati localities to undertake development activities in their respective localities. The councillors of the wards concerned will head the unnayan samities in such endeavours, said Guwahati Development Department Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma in the State Assembly today.The Minister was replying to a Zero Hour question of Ramendra Narayan Kalita (AGP). He also said that the ban imposed on the use of plastic bags for the second time had lessened the problem of flash flood in the city.However, some other factors like wastes of fruits, lack of civic sense of the residents of the city etc are also responsible for the problem of flash flood in the city, he said. Iodised salt: Civil Supplies Minister Dr Nazrul Islam denied any smuggling of iodised salt to Bangladesh from the State. He was replying to a Zero Hour question raised by Ananta Deka (CPI-M).The State gets a quarterly allotment of 30 rakes of iodised salt from the Central Government. But it does not receive the allotted 120 rakes every year. Of the allotted quota of its iodised salt, 50 per cent goes to public distribution system (PDS) and 40 per cent goes to the open market and this portion of allotment is sold in the open market as per the Government fixed rate.Ten per cent of the allotted quota of State’s iodised salt is kept in hand, said the Minister.As many of the PDS agencies do not lift their allotted quota, hence their allotted amounts are also diverted to the open market after expiry of a month from the date of making the allotments, he said.He also claimed that the iodised salt sold in the open market is fit for human consumption. The Taja brand of iodised salt sold at Rs 5 per packet are not bought by the well off people doubting its quality. This section of the people goes for the Tata brand of packet iodised salt, which costs Rs 10 per packet, he said.

2,449 foreigners detected since Assam Accord, only 2,221 deported till date GUWAHATI, Aug 7 – Since the signing of the Assam Accord, 42,449 foreign nationals have been identified and of them only 2,221 have been deported. Disclosing this in the State Assembly today in reply to a question put by Ramendranarayan Kalita (AGP) Assam Accord Implementation Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman told the House that 85 per cent of the barbed wire fencing along the Indo-Bangla border had so far been completed.However, he told the House in reply to a question from Keshab Mahanta (AGP) that initially, the deadline for completion of the barbed wire fencing along the Indo-Banlga border was fixed to be December 31, 2006 as per the decision of the tripartite meetings on Assam Accord implementation held on May 5, 2005 and February 2, 2006. The revised deadline fixed for the purpose by the tripartite meeting held on July 11 last is yet to be known, he said.The Minister told the House in reply to a question from Dr Alaka Sarma (AGP) that by March 31, 2008, repair of the barbed wire fences built under Phase-I of the Border Management Division would be completed. Implementation of the clauses 8,13,14 and 15 of the Assam Accord has been completed, said the Minister in reply to a question from Karendra Basumatary (BPPF- H).Dr Barman said, in reply to another question from Uddhab Barman (CPI-M) that the possibility of some secret attempts at infiltrating into the State by Bangladeshi nationals couldn’t be ruled out.The House witnessed a din following the Minister’s failure to give an exact time frame for the completion of the updating of the 1951 National Register of Citizens (NRC).The Opposition members demanded that the Minister should announce an exact time frame for the completion of the NRC updating process. But the Minster said that it was not possible on the part of the State Government to state the exact time of the completion of the process. The State Government alone cannot complete the process, he said.Opposition members like Girindra Kumar Barua (AGP), Ranjit Dutta (BJP) and Abdul Aziz (AGP) were heard saying that the State Government had been saying that the process of updating of the 1951 document was on.At that point, the Minister told the House that the State Government had been asking the Centre to give the former the sole authority to prepare the document and also to provide it with the modalities for the purpose as early as possible.Leader of the Opposition Brindaban Goswami then reminded the Minister that at the first tripartite meeting on the implementation of the Assam Accord the decision to complete the updating process within two years was taken. He also wanted to know as to whether the modalities for the purpose were formulated. Dr Barman said that the sincerity of the Government should not be doubted and scanning of the old copies of the document had been almost completed. The AMTRON has been doing the data entry now. The Union Government was moved for the modalities in August 2005 and it has asked the State Government to state its requirements in matters of formulating the modalities.Moreover, the Chief Minister is setting up a Cabinet sub-committee, which will finalise the modalities and then send them to the Union Government. The State Government will need some more time for the purpose, he said, adding, “But I don’t know how much, as it involves the Central Government.”Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma supplemented Dr Barman, saying that the Cabinet sub-committee would finalise the modalities in consultation with the AASU within the next one to one and a half month.The problem in updating the NRC arose when Ministers Prithivi Majhi and Chandan Brahma alleged in a Cabinet meeting that names of many tea tribe people and indigenous tribal people were not enrolled in the 1971 voters’ lists.The Government will come up with a statement on the NRC after the return of the Chief Minister who is now visiting the flood-ravaged areas with UPA Chairman Sonia Gandhi, he said.Minister Barman also told the House in reply to Uddhab Barman’s question that the definition of Assamese people needed to be arrived at for implementing the Clause VI of the Assam Accord. The State Government has initiated all actions for arriving at a conclusion on the issue, he said.On the issue, he also told the House in reply to the question put by Ramendranarayan Kalita that a Ministerial level committee has been examining all the aspects connected with the definition. The State Government will consider the recommendations of this committee and send them to the Union Government for approval, he said.The Minister told the House in reply to a question from Girindra Kumar Barua (AGP) that there were 32 foreigners’ tribunals in the State. One of them had no judge, while judges assuming additional responsibilities are running five other tribunals, he said.

Future of Assam uncertain, speculates prominent scholar
KAMPUR, Aug 4 – Dr Robin Deb Choudhury, former Director General of the Indian Museum at New Delhi appealed to the people of the State irrespective of caste, creed and religious affiliation to eschew violence and internal strife and stand united in this hour of crisis to save Assam from the clutches of foreign nationals who are making a beeline to the State from across the border.Dr Deb was addressing the open session of the 12th yearly session of the Assam branch of Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal as chief guest held at Kampur Sankardev Bidya Niketan in proscuer of members of Shikshan Mandal drawn from all over Assam, along with the local public. Dr Choudhury further implored the people of Assam to develop a sense of work culture and do something worthwhile instead of sitting idle in order to build up a strong economic foundation. The people will have to pay a heavy penalty for their complacency, Dr Deb warned.Presided over by Dr Tarini Charan Deka, former professor of Zoology of Gauhati University and the present president of the Assam branch of Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal, the meeting was attended by a number of eminent personalities and scholars, including Dr Trilochan Deb Goswami former professor of Physics, Guwahati University and a renowned scientist, Dr D Bisheswaram, general secretary All India Shikshan Mandal, Dr Narendra Lahkar, Head of the Department of Library Science, Gauhati University, professor Prafulla Goswami, former principal of Handique Sanskrit College, Guwahati, Krishnendu Roy president of Rotary Club, West Guwahati and a host of other personalities.Earlier, Sarat Goswami explained the objectives of the meeting, while Dr Narendra Lahkar State general secretary, BSM presented a synopsis of activities of the Bharatiya Shikshan Mandal since its inception. Rebati Mohan Barthakur, president of Kampur unit of the mandal welcomed the guests and the public.The three-day long programme pertaining to the 12th session of the Mandal which started from July 13 included seminars and discussions on various topics connected with the present educational systems with special emphasis on cultural rejuvenation of India through education. A number of scholary and eminent personalities participated. Quiz competitions, cultural programmes were also held on the occasion.

Award-winning NGO rendering yeoman’s service
GUWAHATI, Aug 26 – The Chief Minister’s Best Community Action Award for Development, 2007, which was presented to the Human Resource Development Foundation (HRDF), a non-governmental organisation of south Kamrup on Independence Day at Judges’ Field, Guwahati could not have come on a more befitting day to its founding members. For it was with the vision to liberate the grassroot people from the shackles of every constraint that HRDF was floated by a handful of individuals about two decades back. Later talking to The Assam Tribune, Ananda Kumar Das, a founding member and executive secretary of HRDF, said that he was happy for the people of his area. “ We had a dream of salvaging our people from the socio-economic quagmire that was pulling them deep into a state of frustration and uncertainty,” recalled Das.The dream was big and the resources were small initially, but the spirit never dimmed. So from 1985, when its activities encompassed only education, sports, and assistance to financially weaker families, HRDF came a long way by expanding its activities to include every aspect of a common man’s life. “We soon got into credit linkages, income generating activities, malaria control, etc,” informed Das.When Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi gave the certificate and cash award to Das before the august gathering, Das felt elated not for himself, but for hundreds of families who had discovered life anew. “ The award is a recognition of the people’s efforts and aspirations to change the momentum of their lives,” said Das.It may be mentioned here that through the relentless efforts of HRDF, 400 SHGs were formed in south Kamrup and credit linkages were provided to 150 SHGs amounting to Rs two crore under the SGSY through SIRD, Government of Assam.“ Now 1956 families of south Kamrup are engaged in different income generating activities such as mushroom cultivation, farmer service centre, dairy farming, poultry, diversified handloom, computer training unit, etc,” said Das.Das further added that HRDF’s micro security deposit and credit centre has extended support to the tune of Rs 50 lakh through ICICI Bank. “This year our target is to extend micro credit to the tune of Rs 2.5 crore through ICICI Bank,” said Das.HRDF is also running a total sanitation campaign project to provide low cost sanitary latrine to BPL families. Already 3,500 families have benefited from this project and according to Das, more families would be covered under the project.“ Through our schemes and projects, the womenfolk have benefited and that is the greatest award for us,” concluded Das.

Indian Idol star Amit bridges tribal, non-tribal divide
SHILLONG, Sept 3 – Whether ‘Indian Idol 3’ contestant Amit Paul wins or not is irrelevant now for he has certainly succeeded in bringing the tribal and non-tribal communities in a small but significant way, in this hills State. Thousands today marched, chanted and danced when the Shillong lad landed here for a day’s performance at Mawlai Madan Heh and JN Sports Complex. The State Capital was totally thrown out of gear in a passionate outburst in support of the city boy.This is perhaps the second time in the State’s history that such a huge crowd from all communities gathered for a city hero. The first time it was for Captain Clifford Nongrum - the Kargil War martyr. At that time thousands gathered at the city streets during Captain Nongrum’s funeral procession.Today, thousands of people in a similar emotional outburst came down to the streets and thronged the venue where Amit performed. The schools had thin attendance, the office were open but with little or no attendance. In one of the city suburb, Mawlai, an unprecedented number of Amit’s fan gathered and waited for hours for their idol at the field and at building tops. Once he reached the venue there was frenzy with teenagers and adults alike wallowing in mud, dancing and singing songs. The venue was packed with a 30 thousand capacity crowd.Amit for the crowd donned a traditional Khasi outfit and danced with a troupe and performed songs, including Khasi numbers. Later he proceeded for JN Sports Complex. The venue witnessed not less than 50 thousand crowd. Some of Amit’s teenage fans were heard saying: “U Amit u bhabriew bha (Amit is so handsome)”. So much so that the teenage girls broke the barricade and made a mockery of the security arrangements. Two children were lost and found in the confusion. Seeing today’s response from both tribals and non-tribals coming together, Amit had certainly justified his being named the State brand ambassador for: “communal peace, harmony and excellence”.

Services finish atop ‘best-ever Games’
GUWAHATI, Feb 18 – Asom proved the doubting Thomases wrong as they hosted the 33rd National Games in a manner that would make any State proud. The north-eastern State bid for the Games in a period of severe financial crunch and frequent floods and not many would have bet on a largely incident-free mega event. There was speculation whether the Games would be held at all with the banned separatist outfit ULFA carrying out attacks on non-Assamese people throughout the State. But the Games passed off better than most of the observers, including the Indian Olympic Association, had expected beforehand. There were thousands of keen sports-lovers at each venue with many having to be sent back with the stadia already filled to the brim.On the medal tally, Services came back with a bang to outstrip runaway leaders Manipur who almost stalled at the finish line. The defence contingent thus claimed the coveted Raja Balendra Singh Trophy for the first time. Manipur ruled the combat sports but their haul slowed down thereafter. The servicemen finished with 59 gold medals, 46 silver and 37 bronze to get ahead of Manipur (51-32-40).There was reason for much cheer as the hosts proved to be a force to be reckoned with in national sport with a tally of 148 medals, including 38 gold, for third place. It was a major jump from the 11 medals (one gold) achieved at Hyderabad in 2002. The Games were the biggest so far with around 11,000 participants from 33 contingents (29 States, three Union territories and Services). There were a record 32 disciplines, including four debutants – lawn bowls, rugby sevens, wushu and karate. In a heartening feature, as many as 30 teams, including debutants Nagaland and the tiny Andaman and Nicobar islands, managed to win medals. The Games saw 46 meet records rewritten with another equalled as competitors showed true sporting spirit in striving to give their best performance to bring glory to their teams. No wonder IOA President Suresh Kalmadi described the Guwahati National Games as the “best ever”. However, the bus accident involving 20 people, including 12 Services rowers, was an unfortunate incident to take place during the Games. Fortunately, all the competitors were out of danger. The weather, which was considered to be a concern in the lead-up, also cooperated to a large extent and only affected events on one day.Among the athletes, Karnataka swimmer Rehan Poncha was the most successful with a haul of nine gold medals and three silvers and a bronze each. Delhi’s Richa Mishra was the most successful woman competitor with eight golds. On the athletics front, Kerala’s S Arunjith claimed three gold medals, including the 100m-200m double, while his statemate Preeja Sreedharan did the middle distance hat trick of 1,500m, 5,000m and 10,000m. Apart from Asom, Uttar Pradesh was one of the States to make the biggest improvement since the last Games, with a tally of 25 golds compared to eight last time. Madhya Pradesh (12 from three) and Delhi (27 from six) were the other big movers. On the other hand, Andhra Pradesh fell from the high of 93 gold medals at Hyderabad in 2002 to 21 this time

Curtains come down on National Games
GUWAHATI, Feb 18 – The curtains today came down on the 33rd National Games after 10 action-filled days. The mega sporting extravaganza concluded with a gala function at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium at Sarusajai this evening which was witnessed by a capacity crowd. Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh watched the finale as the chief guest. State Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ajai Singh, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi were also amongst the guests who were present at the ceremony.Addressing the huge gathering, the Prime Minister said that the scale and magnitude of this largest-ever National Games was impressive and it speaks for itself. Expressing his satisfaction over the successful completion of the Games he said that the time had come for all our sportspersons across the country to roll up their sleeves, tighten their belts and get prepared for the 2010 Commonwealth Games.He said the country is committed to taking the top place in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games and with the efforts and dedication of the sportspersons, in the Olympics.He also revealed that the country needed to develop a broad-based sports culture in which the children are encouraged by their parents and guardians to take up games and sports seriously. He further said that the sports infrastructure also had to be developed all over the country and sporting facilities had to be made available to the youngsters in the rural areas. He also appealed to the corporate sector to look beyond a few popular games like cricket and support new disciplines where domestic talent is blossoming.Expressing his satisfaction over the organising part of the Games, the Prime Minister complimented the State Government and the Chief Minister for creating such an impressive infrastructure. The Prime Minister also handed over the prizes to the best team Services, best woman athlete Richa Mishra of Delhi and best male athlete Rehan Poncha of Karnataka in the function.The guests were greeted by the cultural troupes with excellent performance of jhumur, bagrumba, bihu, etc.After the military band played the National Anthem, the official song of Asom –O mur aapunar desh– was sang by a group of noted singers. A cultural procession of the north-eastern States was also hald where japi dance of Asom, butterfly of Meghalaya, dhols of Manipur, bamboo dance of Mizoram, Naga spears of Nagaland, yak dance of Sikkim, Hozagiri dance of Tripura and paper mask of Arunachal were performed by artistes in their colourful attires.After completion of the cultural procession, the combined march-past began, which was led by the band of Assam Regimental Centre, Shillong. Although all the 33 participating contingents with over 10,000 members have participated in the march-mast, it was a well disciplined yet fun-filled affair and was regarded as one of the most exciting events of the closing ceremony. Athletes showed off their traditional cultural dances in front of the huge gathering. Finally, it was the Assam Police band which came out playing the tune of Kapau phoole nohoai to give the final touch to the march-past.Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said that the dream of hosting the 33rd National Games was realised. He said that despite having problems of financial constraints, floods, insurgency, etc., the State had been able to host the mega event very successfully.IOA president Suresh Kalmadi, in his address at the function, said that it had been a fantastic Games. The newly created infrastructure also will help in producing sportspersons of international repute from this region, he added. Complimenting the State football team for its glorious title winning performance last evening in the final, Kalmadi said that it was a befitting finale to the Games which will be an event to remember. In the closing function after extingushing the Olympic flame, the IOA flag was lowered and handed over to the representatives of the Jharkhand Olympic Association which will host the next edition of the Games in 2009. The closing function included an attractive cultural extravaganza featuring Bollywood star Urmila Matondkar, singer Usha Uthup, Zee Sa-re-ga-ma-pa ‘Voice of India’ Debojit Saha, besides State film personalities Zerifa Wahid, Barasharani Bishaya, Kapil Bora and Joy Kashyap. Around 2284 children from 18 city schools also participated in the function.

Physically-challenged farmer shows the way to being self-reliant
PANBARI, March 18 – Panbari, a small village of Kamrup district, has now become a focal point of orange buyers. A physically challenged farmer has brought about a sea change to the village by motivating the people towards orange cultivation. The Panbari villagers are now self-reliant and economically vibrant thanks to farmer Rajani Kanta Das.The 40-year-old farmer has attained godfather status in the village for his dedication and commitment in the field of horticulture.“Disability is not a barrier for me, rather I am more active than a normal farmer,” Rajani said confidently while sharing his views with this Correspondent. The farmer had to get his left leg amputated at the age of 10 following a tragic accident. But that did not make him any less able.It was in November 2000, Rajani had opened an orange garden on a hillock in Panbari village covering 80 bighas of land with an investment of Rs 3 lakh. The garden had started production from last year.“This year I am expecting more than Rs 4 lakh from my garden. For orange, it takes seven years time for complete production”, Rajani said. To carry forward his plan, the dedicated farmer spends at least 10 hours in his orange orchard. “Despite the misfortune, I do not want to be a burden on my family members and therefore I had opened the garden to earn my livelihood”, he added.Rajani wants to expand his garden keeping in view the growing demand for orange in the market. Elaborating his plan to export his produce abroad, Rajani said that Panbari oranges are free from fertilizer. “We do not use any chemical fertilizer for which we can easily export our products to western countries”, he informed.Inspired by his commitment and dedication, several unemployed youths of Panbari area have come forward to involve themselves in orange cultivation. “For us Rajani is the pathfinder in our life as we have learnt a lot from him about orange cultivation,” a group of youths said unequivocally.Meanwhile, the Organic Farmers’ Association of Assam (OFAA), an NGO closely associated with the farmers of Panbari and Dimoria, has been promoting organic orange cultivation in the areas considering the growing market potential. Saurav Gogoi of OFAA said that Panbari area is suitable for orange cultivation and hence it needs more attention from the authorities concerned. “Since Panbari oranges are free from any chemical fertilizer, the farmers can easily capture the global market. But to materialize the plan, the existing marketing system needs to be strengthened,” he observed.According to available statistics, Assam produces 60,000 MT oranges annually in which Tinsukia district contributes a lion’s share. In Kamrup district, people cultivate orange in Sonapur, Khetri and Panbari.

cine star vows to work for the deprived
GUWAHATI, March 18 – The charm of the moonlight casting a spell even on the die hard materialist is an acknowledged fact. Such is the appeal of the delicate beauty that shrouds the world once the night descends, that none in his senses would like to resist an offer to spread the light of the moon around the unfortunate souls. So when renowned actor Jatin Borah was approached with the proposal to become the ambassador of an organization that has taken its name after the light of the moon, the actor jumped at the proposal agreeing to work for the uplift of children and women.On Thursday, the actor of many hit films formally sealed the pact with Jonak, an NGO claiming to work for the unreached and underprivileged people in general and children in particular residing within the State of Assam. Borah would from now on be using his popularity to create awareness about the activities of Jonak. Talking to media persons, Borah said that he felt privileged to be a part of the family of Jonak. Set up in the year 2003, Jonak in its first initiative had selected the village of Maniknagar, situated at North Guwahati around 8 kms from the Doulgovinda temple. The village inhabited by the Garo community had no facilities like electricity, doctors, higher education etc except a provincialized lower primary school. Jonak is committed to convert this village into an ideal village within a span of five to six years, and after adopting the village in 2004, has been working specifically in the areas of education, health and socio-economic development.“ I am confident that I would be able to meet the expectations of the organization,” said Borah. He further said that he would gladly share his childhood experiences with the youth while interacting with them. “ I believe my experiences would inspire the youth to develop a positive attitude towards life,” he observed.The actor, a dedicated theatre personality, revealed that the day was an auspicious one for him as it co-incided with the birthday of his daughter Astha.Another young and reputed singer Moushumi Saharia has set aside some moments from her busy schedule to teach the children of Maniknagar.President of Jonak, Dr Nilima Bhagawati, announced that they were toying with the idea of constructing a community hall in Maniknagar. “ Our vision is to enhance the life of all, and particularly of the girl child,” declared Dr Bhagawati.

Meet highlights common social thread bonding NE tribes
GUWAHATI, March 25 – A similarity in terms of belief, rituals and festivals is perceptible amongst the diverse communities in the North East, which is one major factor contributing to the strong sense of brotherhood and unity shared by the people of the region. This observation was made by former Prof of Gauhati University, Dr Satyandra Narayan Goswami on Sunday while delivering his inaugural address on the occasion of Assam Divas observed at the ongoing 8th North East Book Fair at the Assam Engineering Institute playground.Dr Goswami, while highlighting the cultural life of the communities of the North East, said that certain symbols and images pertaining to myths and beliefs were same for a majority of the communities in the region. “ The different communities in the region celebrate more than 300 festivals, and out of it nearly 160 are related to agriculture,” said Dr Goswami, asserting that a common thread of understanding and tolerance was keeping the North East united.Dr Goswami further opined that the division of greater Assam had not erected walls of isolation between Assam and the newly created states, but rued the fact that the division effected with the purpose of preserving the distinctive cultural identities of the myriad communities, had not served the purpose. “ In Mizoram, there is dearth of people to celebrate the national festivals, as conversion has dealt a heavy blow to the traditional practices,” said Dr Goswami. He even recalled an experience in Garo Hills saying that he was stunned to see that people had to be cajoled and brought from far away places to showcase their own culture.Speaking on the occasion, Dr Banikanta Sarma, former Prof, Gauhati University, pointed out that problems for the State began to multiply since the times of Ahom king Gaurinath Singha, and that the tsunami of decay was evident during the reign of Chandrakanta Singha.Earlier, welcoming the dignitaries, Giripod Dev Choudhury, said that the focal theme of the North East Book Fair was getting warm response and was successful in bringing all the North East states closer.It needs mention here that the book fair since its first edition has been selecting a North East state as its focal theme. Assam is the focal theme of this year’s fair.

NE youths have potential to excel: Air Marshal Borbora
GUWAHATI, April 1 – If given proper guidance and exposure, the youths of Assam and other states of the North Eastern Region have the capability to excel not only in defence forces but also in other spheres of life, said Air Marshal PK Borbora, who is taking over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Command tomorrow. He also said that the Air Force is always ready to extend help to the State Government in dealing with any natural calamity.Talking to The Assam Tribune on the eve of taking over his new assignment, Air Marshal Borbora asserted that it would be his endeavour to make the people of this region aware of the activities of the Air Force.Borbora expressed the view that for years, the Northeast remained away from the attention of the national mainstream because of various reasons and because of that the youths of the region did not get the proper exposure. He said that because of lack of exposure, the youths of this part of the country were also reluctant to go out. However, he pointed out that those few, who went out of the region, excelled in different walks of life and brought laurels to the region. “I moved out in 1965 and today I am on the verge of taking over as the Air Officer Commanding the Eastern Command,” he pointed out.Borbora asserted that the youths of the Northeast have the talent, honestly and integrity to excel in different walks of life including the Defence forces and “ I am confident that the youths of this part of the country can not only match the youths of other parts of the country but can do even better.” He also pointed out that the youths indulging in anti-national activities have become a force to reckon with, but unfortunately they are misguided and with proper guidance, they could have been used for the well being of the country.Replying to a question on his immediate goals as the head of the Eastern Command of the Air Force, Borbora said that carrying forward the vision of the Air Force would be one of his main goals and assured that he would try his best to create awareness among the people of the region about the Force so that youths are encouraged to come forward to join the Force. He said that the air displays of the Air Force are parts of the aim to create awareness among the people and last year, the Force organized air shows in different parts of the region including in Guwahati city, Jorhat, Chabua, Shillong, Aizawl and even in Siliguri, which generated widespread interest among the people. He said that he would be taking steps to hold such air shows in other parts of the region and even in remote places in the days to come to create awareness among the people. Giving an account of the activities of the Air Force in the Northeast, Borbora said that the primary objective of the Force is to guard the skies day and night to ensure that the people can sleep peacefully at night.Borbora said that the Air Force is always ready to extend helping hand to the State Governments during natural calamities in rescue and relief operations. He said that whenever any natural calamity takes place, the choppers at the disposal of the Eastern command of the air force are pressed into service to assist the civil administration in relief and rescue operations and additional aircraft can be moved in within 48 hours whenever necessary. It may be mentioned here that the choppers of the Air Force are always pressed into service in Assam during floods to airdrop relief materials to the marooned people and in some cases, the Air Force personnel also rescued the marooned people. Borbora also said that Air Force regularly drops food items in the remote and inaccessible parts of this region, particularly in Arunachal Pradesh.Borbora joined the National Defence Academy in 1965 and joined the Air Force as a cadet in 1969. He got his commission in 1970 and till date, he has more than 3500 hours of safe flying experience. He took active part in the 1971 war with Pakistan and served as an air attaché to Indian Embassy in Russia for three years. “I must say that apart from my hard work, help and support from my family and friends and the moral support from the people of Assam made me what I am today,” he added.

Passport seekers in NE growingBy R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, Jan 2 – The number of persons seeking passports from the Regional Passport office is increasing with every passing year and interestingly the citizens living near the international border areas have started coming to seek passports to avoid harassment by the personnel of the law enforcing agencies. The Regional Passport office in Guwahati caters to the needs of the people from the states of Asom, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and Manipur and the number of passports issued by the office is increasing with every passing year.In the year 2006, the Regional office issued 24,735 ordinary passports and 2,683 under the Tatkal scheme up to November 30. The office issued 22,983 ordinary and 2027 Tatkal passports in 2005 and 18,978 ordinary and 2184 Tatkal passports in the year 2004.Talking to The Assam Tribune, the Regional Passport Officer, P Malakar said that even people belonging to the lower strata of life and illiterate persons have started applying for passports. He revealed that there has been a rush of people living along the international border areas to apply for passports, apparently to avoid harassment by the security agencies. Some people, who have their land across the fencing along the Indo-Bangla border, have also started to apply for passports.It may be mentioned here that the Indian citizens living near the international border areas often face harassment in the name of identifying foreign nationals. Meanwhile, as the border fencing has been erected 150 metres inside the international boundary, the agricultural land of a number of farmers is located outside the fencing and they have to face trouble in going to cultivate their land. Of course, the gates in the fencing are opened by the BSF in the morning to allow such persons to go out to cultivate their land and they are allowed in before sunset. But in the process, they are sometimes subjected to harassment and because of growing sense of insecurity, such persons have started applying for passports to avoid harassment.Meanwhile, the Regional Passport Officer said that these days, because of growing awareness among the people, those who have no intention to go abroad, also apply for passports, which is considered a citizenship document. He revealed that the number of persons seeking passports to go for Haj has increased considerably over the years, particularly from the Barak valley districts of the State, while, the number of those trying to go to the Middle East countries seeking jobs also increased. Malakar said that the students, who have no immediate plans to go outside the country, have started applying for passports, as it is an identity proof to apply for jobs and the students studying outside, need identity proof to open bank accounts. He said that the number of tourists from this region seeking passports has also increased as the tour operators have started offering package tours to places like Bangkok. He revealed that some schools have also started taking out students to different countries on study tours and the students selected to go for such tours need passports. However, he said that it is difficult for the Passport office to issue passports to minors if their parents do not have passports and in that case, a guarantee is taken from the authorities of the schools. He also revealed that in recent past, different organizations like the SOS villages, an orphanage from Manipur and even Christian Missionaries took out teams to other countries.

Replacing ‘Assam’ with ‘Asom’ will create identity crisis’
GUWAHATI, Feb 9 – The Committee for retention of the name Assam has made an appeal to all concerned to retain the English name of the State, as it is known as Assam in many foreign and Indian languages, besides English, it said.Since the identity of Assam and the Assamese people is well established worldwide as Assam and Assamese, deletion of the name Assam from the general usage will spark an identity crisis, observed the committee.The committee described the move to replace the name Assam with Asom as a grossly unjustified and retrogressive act. This is a move undertaken by the people who are totally ignorant of the historical facts and of the adverse impact of their deed in the days to come. This is guided by a false sense of Assamese nationalism, said the committee.The committee was formed at a convention in the city last month. It was attended by various organisations opposed to the move to change the name of the State. The committee in its document prepared to explain the historicity of the name Assam, has said that the word Asom in reality is neither of the Assamese origin nor it has any base in other languages. It is neither the original word for Assam nor its derivatives. It is simply a word where the Assamese sound ‘x’ is substituted by the sibilant ‘s’, which is highly incorrect, said the committee.Replacement of the word Assam with Asom in the Indian Constitution will mean the dropping of an Assamese heritage from the glorious Ahom era, cherished proudly by a large segment of the Assamese people. This could upset the fragile ethnic balance prevailing among the various parts of the Assamese society, it observed.

Tributes paid to Dr Bhaben Saikia
GUWAHATI, Feb 20 – It was a usual birthday bash no doubt with everyone relishing cakes and other delicacies. But it was more an occasion to recall past memories, as fans and admirers paid tributes to the late Dr Bhabendranath Saikia on his 76th birth anniversary on Tuesday.On the birthday of the literary stalwart, noted economist Jayanta Madhav, poet Harekrishna Deka and former VC of Gauhati University Dr Nirmal Kumar Choudhury took a trip down memory lane recalling their association with the multifaceted personality.The day-long programme began with a memorial meet which was presided over by Dr Shyama Prasad Sarma. As the day progressed, music took over words with sarod player Tarun Kalita using his instrument to pay a musical tribute to Dr Saikia. Accompanied by Debashish Bhattacharya on the tabla, the sarod player gave a musical interpretation of Dr Saikia, creating images of the great personality in his various moods. Dr Saikia, who was a film-maker with a difference, had immense love for the children and his love had culminated in Aarohan, a centre for the children to develop their talents. The programme, conducted by Utpal Dutta, also included a lecture on Dr Saikia’s films by playwright and film critic Ghana Hazarika and screening of Itihas.

ATASU appeal to retain ‘Assam’
GUWAHATI, Feb 19 – The All Tai Ahom Students’ Union (ATASU) has made an appeal to the people of the State not to use Asom as the English name of the State instead of Assam. In a statement here, the ATASU said that the State Government changed the State’s name into Asom replacing the historically important Assam, without there being a consensus on the issue. It has also sent a proposal to the Central Government to approve the new name using the majority the Congress and its partner BPPF (H) have in the State Assembly after endorsing the Cabinet decision on the issue through a voice vote, said the students’ body.It has alleged that with this act, the State Government has hurt the sentiments of the Tai Ahoms, who are the builders of the Assamese nationality and several other ethnic groups, besides, violating the provisions of the Indian Constitution.To justify its act, the Government has been describing the State’s name Assam as a product of the British colonial rule. But, many scholars with the help of historical records have proved this assertion of the Government wrong. Several of the ex-presidents of the Asam Sahitya Sabha and leading people have joined hands with many of the organizations of the State to raise the demand for keeping Assam as the English name of the State. Meanwhile, a case is also pending in the court challenging the State Government’s unjustified decision to change the State’s name to Asom. But regrettably, a section of the print media has been using Asom as the English name of the State even as unanimity on the issue and the Constitutional justification for it are still awaited, said the students’ body.

Games will help development of city outskirts
GUWAHATI, Feb 17 — Holding of different sports events of the National Games in the venues in the outskirts of Guwahati has given an opportunity to expand the city and the State Government is planning to take full advantage of the situation to ease the population pressure in the heart of the city. The flow of people of Guwahati city to the sports venues located in the periphery of the city was an encouraging sign for the Government to go ahead with the plan to ease the population pressure in the heart of the city and a number of schemes have been mooted to expand Guwahati city.The Minister in charge of the Guwahati Development Department (GDD), Himanta Biswa Sarma told The Assam Tribune here today that a large number of people from the city visited the sports venues in Amingaon and Tepesia to enjoy the sports events, which have encouraged to the Government to develop the outskirts of the city. He said that the Government has taken a decision not to construct any new office building in the heart of the city and to develop the outskirts instead.Sarma revealed that as the Amingaon area already has an international standard sports venue and quality educational institutions, the Government has decided to shift the office of the Kamrup (Rural) Deputy Commissioner to that area. He said that the foundation stone of the new office building would be laid next month and an amount of Rs 10 crore has been earmarked for the same. He revealed that the building is expected to be completed within one and half years. He said that a civil hospital would also be constructed in that area and for that also, the Government has already sanctioned an amount of Rs 10 crore. He pointed out that implementation of the project to expand the width of the Saraighat Bridge is likely to be completed within 2009, which would ease the traffic congestion to North Guwahati, which along with the plans to develop the area, would encourage people to shift to North Guwahati.The Minister revealed that a Rs 30 crore ropeway project connecting Guwahati city with North Guwahati is in the pipeline and the Government has already released an amount of Rs 18 crore to the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) to go ahead with the project. A foot bridge connecting Guwahati with North Guwahati is also in the pipeline and an amount of Rs five crore has been sanctioned for carrying out the feasibility survey. However, the location of the bridge is yet to be selected and the same would be done during the feasibility study only.The Guwahati Development Department has submitted a proposal to the Government to convert the unused building of the STATFED in Amingaon, which used to house the Tripti Vanaspati plant, into an information technology park and the proposal is under consideration of the Chief Minister.Sarma expressed the view that the pressure of population in the heart of Guwahati must be reduced to improve the condition of the city and to protect the hills from encroachment and the steps initiated by the Government to develop the periphery of the city and to shift some of the government offices would definitely encourage the people to sift from the heart of Guwahati.Sarma also disclosed that the draft of the new master plan of Guwahati would be formally released in the first week of next month to enable the people to give their opinion on the same before the final plan is announced.

Call to build new Assam by imbibing Lachit’s patriotism
SUALKUCHI, March 12 – The brilliant victory of the Assamese forces at Saraighat led Dr Suryya Kumar Bhuyan, renowned historian, to aptly remark “Saraighat was Assam’s Trafalgar”. The Saraighat battle left an undying legacy of unflincing bravery and remarkable patriotism of Assamese. The example of Lachit Borphukan and selfless patriots of Saraighat will be a source of perennial inspiration not only to the people of Assam, but also to others elsewhere in India.With these historic comments of a famous historian like Dr SK Bhuyan, engraved in a marble plate and statues made of bronze of Assamese soldiers created in the park, the Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi inaugurated the Saraighat War Memorial Park constructed at the foothilla of Agyathuri hill, 15 km away from Guwahati, on March 9. This park with a variety of flowers and different objects for recreation of the children will surely attract the attention of the viewers.Addressing the inaugural ceremony, the Chief Minister recalled the heroic patriotism of Lachit Borphukan as well as the bravery of the Assamese soldiers under the guidance of Lachit Barphukan who stopped the Mughals from advancing and called upon the people to build a new Assam following the path of patriotism showed by Lachit Barphukan. Gogoi said we should always remember the glorious history of the past to solve the problems of present times. He said some divisive forces are trying to make disturbances in name of language and religion in the country. These divisive elements are the enemies of our country and we should fight against those elements.The Chief Minister also stressed the need of preservation of the historical monuments of the locality.In his address Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, said that the brilliant victory in Saraighat is a matter of pride for the people of Assam. To mould the sense of patriotism in the minds of younger generations the historical monuments lying in the Allaboi hills should be preserved he said. The minister also said the famous incident of killing of his uncle by Lachit Borphukan will be sculptured and will be preserved in the park. Rockybul Hussain, Minister of Forest and Tourism released a leaflet brought out on the occasion.The meeting was attended by Smt Uttara Kalita, MLA Kamalpur and the Parliamentary Secretary for Panchayat, Nurul Hussain MLA Hajo and Dr Haren Das, secretary APCCL Ganesh Kalita, deputy commissioner of Dhubri, RC Jain DC Kamrup also attended the meeting.Earlier the guests were felicitated by the Kamrup district administration. The district administration also felicitated historian Dr Jogen Kr Phukan, Smt IS Muntasa Begum, Amitabh Barthakur and the sculptor Biren Singha.The chief minister gave away two cheques of rupees three lakhs to Garima Kalita wife late Basanta Kalita of Sualkuchi and Smt Malati Das wife of late Ghanashyam Das of Hajo both of them were killed by ULFA.

Elders provide definition of ‘Assamese
GUWAHATI, March 11 – The Guwahati Senior Citizens’ Association by a resolution adopted in its special general meeting yesterday suggested that all those persons and their descendants who draw their ancestry from the Assamese community dating back to the pre-British days of 1826, including all the indigenous tribal communities of the hills and the plains, should be enlisted as ‘Assamese’ for the purpose of availing cultural, political and economic protection as per the sixth para of the Assam Accord.The meeting, presided over by Kamaleswar Bora, ex-VC the Dibrugarh University, also opined that tea garden labourers and such other communities who have fully assimilated with the mainstream Assamese, leaving no roots elsewhere in the country or abroad, should also invariably be accepted as bonafide ‘Assamese’.The meeting also discussed at length the hardships caused to the general masses and more particularly, the poorer sections, by the alarming price rise of essential commodities. The meeting urged the government to streamline the public distribution system and provide some relief to the elderly citizens.DN Chakravartty, member in charge of administration and co-ordination, explained the purpose of the meeting and tabled the resolutions. Tabiul Hussain, Jagannath Goswami, Dr LC Das, Mahesh Bhuyan, Dr Indra Nath Bhuyan, Basanta Dowarah and Sardar Kan Singh in their speeches offered suggestions for the protection of the rights of the Assamese community. Dr Malati Barua, Ramani Malakar, SK Barua, Kanika Bardoloi, Bijuli Sarma, Golap Rajkonwar, Khanindra Chandra Das andProf Bazlur Rahman Barua took part in the discussion.

Govt yet to define ‘Assamese’
GUWAHATI, March 6 – The Government is yet to take the final decision on the definition of Assamese people for giving constitutional protection under the provisions of clause 6 of the Assam Accord, admitted the Minister in charge of the Assam Accord Implementation, Dr Bhumidhar Barman in the State Assembly today. Replying to a question by Karendra Basumatary (BPPF), the Minister said that a group of Ministers has been constituted to look into all aspects of clause 6 of the Accord including finalization of the definition of Assamese people and the group had two sittings so far. He said that the group would have discussions with the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU), political parties, literary organizations and cross sections of people to arrive at a consensus on the definition of Assamese people. He asserted that all sections of people of Assam would get constitutional protection.Earlier raising the question, Basumatary demanded that the clause 6 of the Assam Accord should be amended to provide constitutional protection to all the indigenous people living in Assam. Girindra Kumar Baruah (AGP) said that all indigenous people must get constitutional protection. Drupad Borgohain (CPI) said that Assam should be declared a tribal state so that the indigenous people have the right over land.Meanwhile, replying to questions by Alaka Sarma and Dr Monoranjan Das of the AGP, the Accord Implementation Minister said that the construction of barbed wire fencing along the Assam-Bangladesh border, which was scheduled to be completed by December last year, is now expected to be completed by March 31 this year. He said that various factors like exchange of firing between BSF and BDR personnel, inclement weather, floods, etc. delayed the construction of border roads and fencing. He also said that the Government of India has been requested to inform the State Government about the targeted time of completion of construction of fencing work in Masalabari char. He admitted that the State Government does not have any proposal as yet on providing identity cards to Indian citizens living in Assam. He further asserted that the Government is keen on implementation of all the clauses of the accord , but no time frame has been chalked out for the implementation of different clauses of the accord.In reply to another question by Girindra Kumar Baruah, Dr Barman said that the family members of 852 martyrs of Assam movement received ex gratia grant of Rs 30,000 each from the Government. He said that so far, close relatives of 310 martyrs were provided with Government jobs and the family members of the martyrs can submit applications to concerned appointing authorities whenever any vacancy is notified. However, he admitted that no Government job is kept reserved for the family members of the martyrs of Assam movement.

Draft master plan for Guwahati released
GUWAHATI, March 31 — The draft Master Plan for Guwahati was released today for consideration of the people. This draft has proposed a vision for designing the development of the city till 2025. For the time being, one month’s time from today has been granted to the people to file their claims and objections on the document. If the people desire, the time for the purpose may be extended. A committee being constituted with the approval of the Chief Minister will finalize the draft after examining the claims and objections of the people, said Guwahati Development Department (GDD) Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma while releasing the document at a function this forenoon.The draft will be available for public inspection at the offices of the CEO, GMDA, Deputy Commissioners of the two Kamrup districts, Palasbari SDC and North Guwahati Town Committee. It will also be available in CD format for procurement from April 7 next at the said offices.The draft of the Master Plan has been prepared by the Delhi-based Consulting Engineering Services (I) Private Limited and the Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has spent an amount of Rs 86 lakh on it. It took nearly four years to prepare the draft Master Plan.The draft has projected the population of the city in 2025 as 21.74 lakh. It has proposed inclusion of an area of 328.07 sq km under the Guwahati metropolitan area and also the creation of three new towns inside it. The new towns are to be developed towards Changsari (Sila-Matiya-Najirakhat-Bhulung area), towards Sualkuchi (Charamajulipam-Gandhmau-Ambari-Bamun) and towards Rani (Panchniyapara-Sajjanpara-Gariyapara-Alibari-Tarapatipara), said the Minister.Environment: It has suggested preservation of environment and sensitive areas like hills, river basins and natural wetlands and proposed earmarking of about 16 per cent of the developed land as Green Belt for recreational and open space. It has proposed earmarking of an area of 294 hectares of land within the category one new town, and 382 hectares of land within the category two new town, as eco-sensitive zone. These zones will cover about 24 per cent of the developed area.No construction will be allowed in the eco-sensitive zones. Even those having permanent settlement rights in these areas will have to limit their construction activities within Assam Type structures, said the Minister.Transportation: It has proposed a new by-pass along the eastern side of the city from NH 31 through North Guwahati Rajaduar with a new bridge across the Brahmaputra on the eastern side and another new bridge across the river on the western side. This will provide the city with a ring road flanking the city boundaries. A tunnel has also been proposed in the draft to connect the AT Road with Fatasil Ambari Road.Besides, it has suggested a Light Rail Transit System (LRTS) alignment for the city. Initially, this system will use bus and as and when the number of trips increases there will be provision to shift this system to monorail using the same network and infrastructure, said the Minister.A new institutional arrangement for an integrated transport board is suggested to streamline city’s mass transport system.Water supply, sewerage: It has projected the water demand of the city as 319.28 million litres per day (MLD) in 2025 against the existing demand of 132 MLD.For water treatment, it has suggested three service districts-Eastern, Western and North. For the new towns also, it has proposed separate intake and treatment plants to meet their water requirements. It has suggested the own effluent treatment plants for large industries, common effluent treatment plants for industrial estates and selected three locations for domestic sewage treatment plants for eastern, western and north service sectors.Power, housing: It has assessed an additional 474 MVA as the power requirement of the city in 2025 and suggested a five-tier hierarchy for social infrastructure from city level to housing cluster level of 5,000 people.It has estimated the requirement of new housing units at 2.8 lakh with the proposal of 90, 999 dwelling units in new towns, 1, 31, 721 dwelling units in new residential areas and infill development of the 56,315 existing residential units.Recreation etc: For recreation and as open space, it has proposed earmarking of 324 hectares of land within the category one new town meant for wholesale, 475 hectares of land within the category two new town meant for industrial activities and 332 hectares of land within the category three new town meant for SEZ and IT. Hierarchal city: It has emphasized the need to enhance the city image through creation of landmark and developing a hierarchical city structure in detail, besides, proposing a regulation for conservation of heritage buildings and heritage precincts and creation of a heritage conservation committee, the Minister said

Retain ‘Assam’ as State’s English name
GUWAHATI, Feb 14 – The Sanmilita Sahitya Sabha Mancha, Assam has made an appeal to the State Government to retain ‘Assam’ as the State’s English name. The Mancha is the joint platform of the Sahitya Sabhas of the State.Meanwhile, the Koch Rajbanshi Pancha (KRP), a body of the Koch intellectuals and social workers, today demanded renaming of the State as Kamrup Kamata.In its extra-ordinary meeting held at the Joybhadra Hagjer Bhawan headquarters of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha here on February 7 under the presidentship of Dr Basanta Doley, the Mancha said in one of its resolutions that the circulation of the name ‘Assam’ is historically established and it has a popular acceptance. This has been stated in a Mancha statement here today.The Mancha that day also formed an Akademi to prepare the multi-lingual dictionary on its behalf with Dr Basanta Kumar Doley as the chairman, Dr Jagadish Patgiri as the convenor, Bidya Borgohain and Kamala Kanta Musahary as the members, Dr Satyendra Narayan Goswami as the chief editor and Sumanta Chaliha as the editor. It also decided to co-opt one member nominated by each of the Sahitya Sabhas in the Akademi.While welcoming the decision of the militant outfit United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) to withdraw the call to boycott the National Games, it also called upon both the Government and the ULFA to resolve the contentious issues through unconditional negotiation for the sake of lasting peace in the State.It also called upon the State Government to include the president and secretary of the Mancha and one member nominated by each of the ethnic groups of the State in the akademi proposed by the Government.The meeting also decided to send a delegation of the Mancha to meet the Chief Minister for taking up the issues raised by it.The KRP said in a statement here that the State’s name Kamrup Kamata is thousand-year old. This name does not represent any particular ethnic group, rather it represents all the ethnic groups and cultures of the State, which had its western boundary extended beyond North Bengal, it said.It has also stated that it will soon take up the issue with the All Koch Rajbonghsi Students’ Union, Koch Rajbongshi Sanmilani and the Greater Cooch Behar People’s Association.

CM’s award to agri service body
GUWAHATI, Sept 11 – Rural Organisation for Agro Development Service (Roads), a social service organisation of Morigaon district at Laharighat working mainly in the field of agriculture and health, was awarded coveted Chief Minister’s Best Community Action Award for Development, 2007.The award containing a citation and cash, was delivered to the Nekibur Rahman Hazarika of the NGO on recently by Pramila Rani Brahma, Agriculture Minister Assam, in the presence of AK Phukan, Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent of Police Madhav, Morigaon, respectively, a press release stated.Reacting to receipt of the award, NR Hazarika said getting the award was the recognition of good work which every worker looked for. Such recognition encourages the worker to perform in a still better manner. ROADS has been boosted by the award, he said, adding, it would work relentlessly for the betterment of the poor agriculture artisans.

Finding a ‘Destination’ for special children
GUWAHATI, Sept 12-There are certain moments in life when moistness in the eyes is felt more on account of the happiness for others. Wednesday was such a day when every one present at the informal function at Destination, a home for mentally retarded children and others was happy for Arati and Jerry, aged 14 and 13 years respectively.Both these special girls were in need of a permanent shelter, which came at last thanks to the initiative taken by SOS Children’s Village, Snehalaya, an organization for the destitute children, Guwahati Street Children Project (GSCP) of World Vision and Ashadeep, a society for the mentally ill. The forum of all these NGOs called Ekta had been searching for a home for these two girls and their search was rewarded at last when Destination, located at Bhagaduttapur, Kahilipara entered into the scenario.SOS Children’s Village committed itself to bear the expenditure of Arati and Jerry for six months and Snehalaya for two months. “ These girls have no one in this world. As their problem has no complete treatment, they have to be looked by like minded philanthropic organizations and individuals for life,” said S Koul, director of SOS Children’s Village.Koul said that the girls needed the support of Samaritan individuals as Destination, which was taking care of mentally retarded individuals had limited resources.Father Lukose, director of Snehalaya appealed to the philanthropic individuals to come forward and be a part of the effort of Ekta.Arati and Jerry were found by Guwahati Child Line (GCL) a couple of years back and they were handed over to Ashadeep. “ When Arati and Jerry were brought to us, they were in very bad shape. Now they have improved a lot. But as our society is concerned with the mentally ill, we were looking for a place meant for special people like these girls,” said Anjana Goswami of Ashadeep.For Arati and Jerry, the day was a mixture of joy and pain. They had found the right place for individuals like them, but there was the pain of getting separated from the people of Ashadeep with whom they had established a close bond. “ Aamak log koriboloi ahi thakibi,” these were the words uttered again and again by Arati and Jerry.Arati and Jerry got close to the inmates of Destination by distributing sweets to them. “ We are happy to have Arati and Jerry in our midst,” said Rupa Hazarika, director of Destination.Rupa, a mother of a special child herself, had found the calling in life when she decided to start Destination in 2005. The place has 30 residential individuals and altogether 40 special people attend its school. A student of this special school, Neelotpal Deka even made through the HSLC exams this year.

Assam agitation student leader donates 700 books, land
DUNI, Sept 9 – Mahesh Deka of Alikhapara village near Patharighat who played an active role during Assam agitation as a regional-level student leader has come to focus again by performing some uncommon social welfare activities.According to information available here, Deka recently distributed 700 text books among the poor students of Patharighat area. Besides this, he donated a plot of land measuring one katha to the local Arunodoi Sangha. Deka who has initiated steps in order to develop a local ‘namghar’ is now serving in Hotel Kuber International, Guwahati as its GM.Kali Puja: Like in previous years, this year also the Duni Anchalik Kali Puja celebration samiti has decided to celebrate Kali Puja at Duni with a two-day-long programme from November 9.In this connection a celebration committee was formed with Pradeep Kr Kalita as the president and Adyaprasad Sarma as the secretary at a meeting held under the presidentship of the retired principal of Duni HS school Pradip Kalita recently.The newly-formed celebration committee has requested all Sakti-devotees of the locality to extend full cooperation to the samiti.Medical camp: Duni Mandal Congress Committee organised a day-long free medical camp at Govara Adarsa LP School recently.More than 300 patients, mostly women coming from greater Gavara and its adjoining villages were treated by a team of experienced doctors under the leadership of Patharighat SDMO. Some medicines were also distributed among the patients free of cost.

Locals oppose proposed aerodrome project
GOSSAIGAON, Sept 9 – A joint meeting of the leading students organisations including AASAA, AAMSU, AJYCP and the citizens of Gossaigaon civil subdivision was held on the premises of Srirampur Junior College with Basir Uddin Ahmed in the chair on September 3 last. The meeting aimed at chalking out plans and programmes on how to safeguard the land and to protect the interest of the indigenous people of Bhomrabil, Polashguri, Serfanguri, and Malaguri villages under Kokrajhar district from that of the construction of the proposed aerodrome to be constructed here as per BTC accord.The meeting felt that the proposed aerodrome will not serve the interest of the people living in western part of Assam bordering West Bengal and Bhutan. It was felt that instead of establishing a new aerodrome on this vulnerable international border of Assam, the abandoned Rupsi aerodrome should be rejuvenated into a modern airport which will serve the purpose of the people of Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Barpeta, Bongaigaon and Goalpara districts simultaneously.Addressing the meeting, Samsul Hoque, secretary, Bhumi Surksha Samiti said that a memorandum highlighting the woes and will of the people has already been handed over to the BTC chief Hagrama Mahilary, local MLA Majendra Brahma, MCLA Rajendra Narzary and other political leaders of the BPPF (H) party demanding immediate withdrawal of the decision of establishing the proposed aerodrome in the residential areas of Bhomrabil, Malaguri, Palashguri, Maktaigaon, Serfanguri and Ballamguri villages under Gossaigaon revenue circle. Abdul Wahab Ahmed, president, KDC/AAMSU said that a delegation has already given a memorandum to the chief minister on August 2 last demanding withdrawal of the same in the greater interest of the people living in the said villages.It has been reported that the proposed aerodrome to be constructed by the Airport Authority of India in a bid to fulfill one of the clauses of the BTC Accord. Hence, the BTC authority has already sent a proposal of its cabinet decision to the government of India to materialize it as early as possible. Following this, the circle officer, Gossaigaon made an estimate and a map of the land covering 7,539 bighas of land including 4,113 bighas of miyadi patta land and another 3,426 bighas of government khash land falling under Gossaigaon Revenue Circle. This created panic and among the people of the said villages who will have to move out from their lands.The people of the said villages are running from pillar to post in a bid to stop this proposed aerodrome in the densely populated residential areas.It is pertinent to mention that the proposed aerodrome will definitely demolish many community centres, commercial markets, schools (14 primary, 4 MEs and 2 High Schools) temples, mosques etc. It is apprehended that the proposed aerodrome will seriously aggravate the problem of rehabilitation of thousands of patta holders, permanent settlers and the arson affected families as a whole. Besides, many natural ponds and perennial rivers like Haraputa, Burachara etc. will be adversely affected by the proposed aerodrome.To oppose this move, a delegation of AAMSU and AASAA headed by Safibar Rahman and Lakhikanta Marondi arrived in New Delhi on September 6 to meet the Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel so as to apprise him about the suffering of the people in the areas where the aerodrome is proposed to be established.

Security agencies rule out possibility
GUWAHATI, Sept 16 – Though the Sri Lanka Government recently stated that the LTTE was maintaining close links with militant groups of India including the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), the security agencies have expressed doubts on the authenticity of the statement. Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that there was no intelligence input to suggest close links between the ULFA and LTTE at present. Sources also pointed out that the distance between the areas of operation of the two outfits would make it difficult to maintain close operational links.Sources revealed that the ULFA had once tried to establish contacts with the LTTE, but according to intelligence inputs, the move did not yield any positive result for the outfit because of various reasons including the distance involved.Security sources said that according to information available, a two or three-member team of the ULFA had gone to Sri Lanka in the late 1980s in an attempt to establish contacts with the LTTE and it is also reported that a few hardcore militants of the LTTE visited the camps of the ULFA to examine the training facilities of the ULFA. The ULFA also created its “enigma units” on the lines of such suicide squads of the LTTE. However, the enigma units are now believed to be defunct.But according to intelligence inputs, the attempts by the ULFA to maintain close operational links with the LTTE did not take off because of factors like the distance involved and because of the fact that Assam is not connected by any international port. Sources said that the language barrier also acted as hurdles in the way of ULFA maintaining links with the LTTE as most of the members of the LTTE can only speak Tamil. It may be mentioned here that the Sri Lankan Foreign Minister, speaking at an international seminar on challenges of terrorism, held at Brussels early this month, had stated that the LTTE was maintaining close links with other terrorist outfits including the ULFA, al-Qaida and Afghan rebel groups.

GRP unearths global link
GUWAHATI, Sept 17 – After undertaking a painstaking investigation for almost a fortnight, the Government Railway Police (GRP) has unearthed an international link behind the recent spurt in the contraband smuggling via the North-eastern States. According to sources in the GRP, smuggling of contrabands like ganja has attained alarming proportions in the recent past and in order to counter this menace, a team of GRP is heading for Nagaland, which is believed to be the hub of contraband business in the region.“We have plans to meet some senior police officials in Dimapur where we will try to devise some sort of counter measures to arrest the rise in contraband smuggling,” informed a senior GRP official while talking to The Assam Tribune.Our intelligence sources have said that huge quantities of contraband are being pushed from Myanmar border to the region every month and we are trying to initiate efforts to stop the inflow,” the official said.According to the GRP sources, contraband goods worth more than Rs 2 crore have been smuggled to various parts of the country in the last couple of years though trains. Apart from this, the GRP team is also initiating moves to unearth the smuggling racket also involving some security force personnel besides some railway employees.“The latest investigation has also cast serious doubts over the role of Northeast Frontier Railway officials in smuggling activities.Going by the nature of the last few smuggling cases, we have come to the conclusion that some of the smuggling attempts could not have been possible without the help of some railway personnel. We have asked the authorities concerned to look into the matter and simultaneously we are also trying to get to the culprits,” a senior GRP official remarked.“ They are certainly under the scanner after the recent spurt in the number of smuggling cases on trains and very soon we will get to them,” asserted the official.Moreover, according to sources in the GRP, preliminary investigation has shown that some of the criminals are smuggling contrabands like ganja by impersonating as security personnel.“In the last couple of months, we have arrested a couple of security personnel for illegal possession of ammunition and contrabands in huge quantity.Though initially, one of them introduced himself as an Assam Rifles personnel, later he turned out to be a civilian,” official sources added.

35,000 passport applications pending
GUWAHATI, Sept 21 – At a time when international travel is becoming popular among people of the region, the Regional Passport Office at Guwahati is witnessing a huge backlog of application forms. According to well-placed sources, at least 35,000 application forms are “pending for quite some time” and the number is rising. Among the applicants whose papers are pending are students, senior citizens and businessmen, not to speak of young professionals with opportunities to work abroad. For them, it is still not certain when their forms would be processed, and that much-awaited travel would take place. The delay in processing affects people not just in Assam, but also in several other neighbouring States. Except for Tripura, people in all the north-eastern States are served by the office at Guwahati. Ironically, one of the reasons for the delay is severe staff shortage at the Regional Passport Office, where there have been situations when employees had to work on weekends although they have a five-day week. “There is no other way to tackle the large number of forms coming in,” said an office personnel.Several posts have been lying vacant at the office, including two posts of Upper Division Clerk, two posts of Lower Division Clerk, one post of a superintendent and one post of an assistant. Significantly, at present only one Passport Issuing Authority is working at the office His absence or leave would have a detrimental effect on already constrained office operations. Sources revealed that there have been repeated communications to the Joint Secretary and Chief Passport Officer at the Ministry of External Affairs. However, till now no effective measures have been taken to improve the situation. Another reason for delay in issuance of passport has been attributed to the lengthy police verification process. Except for the two slabs of Tatkal passports, police verification has to be carried out before the document could be issued. There have been frequent complaints by applicants that there are inordinate delays in the checks carried out by the police. The checking process, particularly at the Special Branch, reportedly takes a very long time. Omissions and commissions by some applicants have also added to the pending list of passports. One of the most common faults is the non-enclosure of necessary documents, in which case there is nothing that the passport office could do to process the form. Authorities point out that instructions given out with the application form must be carefully read before they fill in the form and make submissions to avoid delay in processing.

Mamoni to continue with peace process
GUWAHATI, Sept 21 – Eminent author and peace negotiator Dr Mamoni Raisom Goswami today said that she would continue to do her bit towards bringing the banned ULFA to the negotiating table, but her role would not extend beyond that. Dr Goswami also revealed that she would be busy writing a novel on the valiant Bodo woman, Thengphakri, the first woman revenue collector of Assam. “My duty is to make the ULFA and the Government sit across the negotiating table, and beyond that I have no role… Everybody in Assam wants peace and there is no alternative to peace,” Dr Goswami said at a press conference just before she was discharged from the Guwahati Neurological Research Centre (GNRC) this evening. Dr Goswami was admitted in the GNRC 12 days back following a mild cerebral stroke. “She is almost cured now but will have to take a couple of weeks’ rest at home. She responded well to the treatment and made our task easier. Her mental faculty is intact,” Dr NC Borah, chairman-cum-managing director, GNRC, said. Dr Borah, however, advised the author against donning the mantle of a negotiator for at least a couple of weeks. “She can resume activities like reading and writing immediately but should not subject herself to any stress or strain,” he said.Dr Goswami also felt that the State Government being the parent body, it had to play a more responsible role in initiating the dialogue with the militants. “The ULFA had not called off the proposed talks, and the State Government has to take the first step and expedite the peace process,” she said, adding that the People’s Consultative Group (PCG), which had been formed to carry forward the peace initiative, would have a sitting at her home soon.Dr Goswami said that the restoration of peace in Assam needed sacrifice from all concerned. “Look how Mizoram became a peaceful State after a prolonged period of turmoil, mainly due to the sacrifice of Lalthanhawla,” she said. On the creative front, the author said that she had been working on a novel based on Thengphakri, a much-neglected heroic figure of the British rule in India. “She was a great lady with immense courage and conviction but has not been given her due place in history. One of my aims of writing the novel is to bring her to focus in the right perspective,” she said.Dr Goswami said that she had already done much of the research work for the novel. “I have made several visits to Bijni in lower Assam, which is the backdrop of my novel. Thengphakri was the first woman revenue collector of Assam and she lived in the Bijni area,” she said.

Sabha blacklisting draws flak
GUWAHATI, Sept 21 – The apex literary body in the State, the Asam Sahitya Sabha, which had hit the headlines recently on account of being blacklisted by the Central Government, came under attack today from the group constituted by Dr Nishipad Devchoudhury, Dr Nabin Chandra Sarma, Dr Satyendra Narayan Goswami and other intellectuals that committed itself to reviving the lost glory of the literary body. Addressing media-persons, Dr Devchoudhury, president of Sahitya Sabhar Hrita Maryada Uddhar Samity, said that the news of blacklisting has besmirched Sahitya Sabha, the nerve centre of the State’s socio-cultural life and regretted that the present president and vice-president of the Sabha had felt no scruples in subjecting the institution to shame and scandal again and again.It may be mentioned here that president Kanaksen Deka and vice-president Satish Chandra Choudhury of the Sahitya Sabha had asserted before mediapersons that the fault was not on the part of the Sabha but that of the Central Government. Referring to the clarification of the Sabha president and vice-president, Dr Devchoudhury said that the explanation was weedy and reflective of the insensitiveness of the functionaries towards the Sabha and the people.Demanding of the Sabha to make public the actual reasons for which the Central Government took the punitive action against it, Dr Devchoudhury alleged that some of the functionaries of the Sabha were cleverly hiding the real facts.“The Sabha should have called an emergency executive meet soon after the news of blacklisting, but unfortunately it was not done and that shows how much the president cares for the reputation of the institution,” said Dr Devchoudhury.On the other hand, functionaries of the samity taking to task the vice-president alleged that the Sabha was blacklisted solely on account of Satish Chandra Choudhury. “The people of the State know that the vice-president of the Sabha, who was involved in the operation blackboard scandal, has brought shame for the Sabha again,” alleged the samity.Expressing surprise at the conduct of Kanaksen Deka for coming to the rescue of Satish Chandra Choudhury in connection with the blacklisting issue, the samity rued that Deka had forgotten the responsibilities of his position by turning a blind eye to the anomalies of the vice-president.Warning that the people of the State would not forgive the shameful acts of the Sabha, the samity said that Deka and the vice-president had no right to destroy the 90-year-old institution through their misdeeds.The samity has also demanded presentation of the records of the activities and expenditure of the Sabha in the last 25 years. “Satish Chandra Choudhury has misappropriated around Rs 25 lakh and there should be an enquiry into it,” demanded the samity.

NE people facing identity crisis
GUWAHATI, Sept 20 – Magsaysay award winner social activist Dr Sandeep Pandey today said that North East, like Jammu and Kashmir is facing the brunt of ‘identity crisis’ and the local people would have to rise to the occasion to overcome it.“Even after 60 years of Independence, the Central Government has failed to ensure democracy both in NE and J&K, which is very unfortunate,” Dr Pandey said.While citing the instance of the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) he said, “Though Sharmila has been fighting for years to repeal this Act, yet no Government officials have been able to ensure her any kind of assurance in this regard.”“States like Uttar Pradesh and Bihar are witnessing more anti-social activities but there is no such act imposed on these States,” he pointed out while interacting with media during the ‘Meet the Press’ programme organised in the Guwahati Press Club.Sandeep Pandey, who quit his job at the Indian Institute of Technology-Kanpur, and plunged into working for Asha – an education programme for underprivileged children a decade ago was conferred with Magsaysay award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize in the year 2002.Dr Pandey further said that the Central Government has also failed to ensure democracy in the region, where human rights violation is taking place every day.

Importance of mother tongue highlighted
MIRZA, Sept 19 – Given the predominance of the English language, the necessity of learning this language, besides mother language needs no mention. But there is no need to be equipped with English customs to learn their language, felt Dr Abani Kanta Bhagabati, former VC of Arunachal University.Dr Bhagabati, in his speech here at a symposium titled, ‘Necessity of learning English’ held at the DK College, Mirza under the joint auspices of the college’s Study Forum and Anweshan emphasised on the importance of moulding the habit of reading English, besides formation of a knack for talking as well as reading.

ULFA close to Islamic ultras; US group
NEW DELHI, Sept 19 – Assam Government may not be in a great hurry to resume dialogue with outlawed ULFA, but a reputed US intelligence thinktank has reported that with the militant outfit increasingly hobnobbing with Islamic militant groups, Government of India cannot afford to ignore ULFA much longer. “Though ULFA’s militant activity is confined to India’s restive North-east, the group’s financial enterprise and strong links with Islamist militant groups have made it a threat that New Delhi will not be able to ignore much longer,” Stratfor said in its latest analytical report titled ‘India: ULFA abandons peace talks’.“Though India has largely turned a blind eye to militant groups operating in its far-flung North-east, the growing Islamisation of the region, the deteriorating security situation in Bangladesh and these insurgents’ recent reach into the heart of India’s financial hub provide more than enough reason for New Delhi to start paying closer attention to its North Eastern border,” the report said.The report significantly linked ULFA with the recent Hyderabad blast. “The two prime suspects in that bombing belonged to Bangladesh-based Islamist militant group Harkat-ul-Jihad e-Islami, which is known to have a working relationship with ULFA and other North Eastern insurgent groups, and with Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency,” the report stated. “ULFA regularly dances around the idea of peace talks and knows full well that New Delhi is not serious about rewarding its militant campaign with political concessions. “At the same time, ULFA prefers keeping up the militant front to maintain its financial network and its beneficial relationship with Pakistan’s intelligence agency that helps keep India’s hands tied. Thus, talk of negotiations does not really hold much weight,” Startfor opined.The report analysed that with Indian Government facing ‘loads of political pressure’ over its civilian nuclear deal with the US and the entry of corporate retail firms into the country, ULFA in all likelihood saw this as an opportune time to pressure New Delhi into coming to the negotiating table. “The Indian Government is reluctant to continue talks, especially as the chief mediator for ULFA, Dr Mamoni Raisom Goswami, is in hospital after suffering a cerebral stroke,” the report stated. New Delhi would have to pay more attention to the ULFA as it has begun to outsource operations like suicide attacks from Islamic groups, Stratfor opined.“Stratfor has been closely monitoring the growing nexus between India’s North Eastern insurgent outfits and militant Islamist groups that regularly traverse India’s extremely porous border with Bangladesh. “This is an area where ideology, religion and ethnicity hold little or no regard, as each militant group works with another to promote its cause. ULFA, in particular, has shown a growing propensity to work with Islamist militant groups in the area, and has even begun to outsource operations, including suicide attacks,” the report stated.

India yet to attain maturity in world politics’
JAGIROAD, Sept 24 – India is in a severe political crisis. Never before in her independent history, India experienced such an unstable foreign policy crisis as of today. The coalition politics at the Centre has threatened the security of the nation and domestic politics have brought out the fact that though we are culturally old, we are yet to attain maturity in world politics.Addressing a press conference here, well-known geographer Dr Jyotirmoy Das Chowdhury reminded of the fact that India had to counter four wars since 1947 and still now half of Kashmir is under the control of Pakistan and China has illegally occupied and retained over 38,000 sq. km of Indian territory. In 1950, she grabbed Tibet and for the first time became our neighbour. In 1962, China invaded India and declined to accept Mc Mohan Line as the historical boundary between the two countries.Dr Das Chowdhury added that today India is strategically insecure as the motive of her stronger neighbour is unclear– it has not buldged an inch from her claim of whole of Arunachal Pradesh. Why are Indian political parties not using their power to regain the lost territories from Pakistan and China, he wondered.According to Dr Das Chowdhury, the US-India nuclear agreement was the best possible deal to solve our growing energy crisis and also to achieve a number of our strategic and political interests. But unfortunately internal political rivalry has threatened to destabilise the government and bring catastrophic change in India’s foreign policy. At worst, the failure on our part to implement the agreement would invite global humiliation for the country, Dr Das Chowdhury asserted.When India’s neighbours, i.e., Sri Lanka is experiencing a devastating civil war, Myanmar and Bangladesh are under military rule, Pakistan is experiencing al-Qaeda, Taliban backlash, anarchy prevails in Nepal, a strategically weak India will easily succumb to her stronger neighbour China, observed Dr Das Chowdhury.How secure is India compared to defence and strategic development of China and Pakistan? Who can give a guarantee that there would not be any future war imposed on India, Dr Das Chowdhury questioned. He further added that there should be grassroot level campaign in favour of implementing the nuclear-deal. The safety and national security of the country is paramount and general public awareness of the issue deserve immediate governmental attention, opined Dr Das Chowdhury.

Sabha flays ‘derogatory remarks
GUWAHATI, Sept 23 – The Asam Sahitya Sabha today went hammer and tongs at all those who are blaming it for financial irregularities leading to blacklisting by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry. Lambasting the former chief secretary of the Sabha Dr Jagadish Patgiri and former executive member Dr Nishipad Devchowdhury over their alleged ‘derogatory remarks’ against its present elected office bearers, the Sabha warned them of appropriate legal action. “One expelled chief secretary of the Sabha along with former executive member Dr Nishipad Devchowdhury has started a malice campaign against the Asam Sahitya Sabha members, against which we have decided to file a legal suit in our executive meeting today,” revealed the Sabha president Kanaksen Deka. “This is indeed ridiculous to get such remarks from those persons who themselves are responsible for the fund lapses,” Deka said, explaining that during the tenure of Patgiri as the chief secretary of the Sabha, a huge irregularity involving a sum of more than Rs 48 lakh was found. Regarding blacklisting, he said that the fund given by the Union Ministry concerned was utilised properly and Sabha has all the documents proving the fact. In today’s executive meeting, the Sabha decided to take some assertive measurers for the implementation of the State Language Act. “The State governments, over the past 45 years, have utterly failed to implement Assamese as a State language. The present State government also does not appear keen on this front,” Deka alleged. “As a part of our effort to promote Assamese language, the Sabha has taken a month-long programme commencing from October 14, the birthday of Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaruah. A campaign would be launched on the occasion, promoting the compulsory use of Assamese in government offices,” he added. He requested all the students, teachers, officials, farmers, and workers to come forward and contribute to the uplift of their language. “Moreover, we have also decided to install statues of the famous personalities of the State at a stretch from Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Airport to Dispur,” he maintained. September 27 will be celebrated as the Remembrance day of famous literary figure Bihuram Boro. The executive meeting also unanimously accepted Ahatguri, on the west of Raha and close to the river Kopili as the real birthplace of Lakshminath Bezbaruah.

ULFA man’s diary may open Pandora’s box
GUWAHATI, Sept 23 – The diary of Prabal Neog, the arrested commander of the 28 battalion of the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) may lead to unearthing of the outfit’s links with others, and the security agencies are now cross checking the phone numbers recorded in the diary. Prabal was arrested along with his wife in Tezpur on September 17 last and highly placed police sources said that he turned out to be a “tough nut to crack” during questioning by the security agencies. Sources said that during the process of checking the phone numbers recorded in the diary recovered from the arrested ULFA leader, the numbers of several political personalities of the North East were found , but it is not yet known whether the outfit had any links with them.Police said that the diary of the arrested ULFA man also had details of operations of programmable time device switches, used frequently by the ULFA in recent years to trigger off explosions, which proved that Prabal was well versed with the sophisticated device used to trigger off explosions. Police sources said that the Pakistani Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) provided the PTD switches to the ULFA and a batch of militants belonging to the outfit were even taken to Pakistan to impart training on the use of the switches. According to reports available with the police, more than 20 militants of the ULFA received training on operation of PTD switches in the middle part of 1990s.Sources said that of late, Prabal Neog was involved more in organizational matters of the ULFA, he was known to be one of the key operational person of the outfit. He was well versed with use of sophisticated weapons and he even knew how to make bombs. In fact, during questioning by the security agencies, Prabal admitted that he had masterminded the attacks on the Hindi speaking people in different parts of the State as per the directive of the ULFA commander in chief Paresh Baruah. Police said that he was spotted in Karbi Anglong before the recent spurt of attack on Hindi speaking people in the hill district and it is believed that he also masterminded those attacks.Prabal spent most of his time between 2001 to 2005 in the camps of the ULFA in Myanmar and it is believed that he was responsible for overseeing the training of the new recruits. Sources said that he was made the acting commander of the 28 battalion of the ULFA, the strongest wing of the outfit, only last year and of late, he was given the responsibility of establishing “operational groups” in Karbi Anglong and for that the ULFA was planning to bring in trained cadres of the 28 battalion from the upper Assam districts.

Sabha to observe ethnic literature day
GUWAHATI, Sept 22 – The Asam Sahitya Sabha will observe September 27 as the Janagoshthiya Bhasa-Sahityar Bikash Divas in memory of Late Bihuram Boro, a former general secretary of the Bodo Sahitya Sabha. The Sahitya Sabha said in a statement here today that a central programme would be organised at the Lakhiram Baruah Sadan here on September 27. The highlights of the programme include–flag hoisting, commemoration meeting and a colloquium on the major problems facing the ethnic languages and literatures of the State. On the evening that day, an illumination programme is also planned, said the Sabha in its statement.The Sabha has also asked its units to observe the day in a befitting manner and to send the reports on their programmes to the Chandrakanta Handique Bhawan, Jorhat.Blacklisting issue: The demand of a nascent organisation to punish the persons whose failure led to the blacklisting of the Asam Sahitya Sabha by the Union Government has drawn sharp criticism. The Sahitya Sabha has also reacted sharply to the demand and it will make its stand clear on the issue tomorrow before the media persons.Meanwhile, Dr Nabin Chandra Sarma has clarified today that he had not permitted the organisers of the Sahitya Sabhar Hrita Maryada Uddhar Samity to include him as the working president of their organisation. The office bearers of the Samity had announced Dr Sarma as its working president while addressing media persons yesterday.Dr Sarma said in a press statement here today that neither his permission was granted to the organisers of the Samity nor he was physically present at the meeting of the Samity. The news that appeared in the media today describing him as the working president of the Samity has hurt him much, said Dr Sarma.

Bloggers question ULFA actions
NEW DELHI, Sept 28 – In an interesting turn of events, outlawed ULFA finds itself in a spot, hard put to explain its demand for sovereignty and the senseless killings it has been indulging in. “You might know that every fool or mad man always thinks himself is intelligent and wise.” That was ULFA spokesman Ruby Bhuyan reacting sharply to a blogger in an ongoing debate in an egroup, Assamonline.“Many Asssamese net users wish to debate on Assam’s sovereignty. But why they cannot discuss deliberately with us on the matter? We are ready to debate, we are ready to fight against colonial India. But not with own brothers. Yes we are ready to discuss, talk, exchange our views with Assamese brothers, with well wishers,” said the spokesman of ULFA, which has so far shied away from a public debate on its ‘core demand’. “Our practical experience says always debate is coming from enemy line. In case of netters most of the pro-Indian netters by hitting our sentiment or insulting us they start their debate. I do not know who you are. If you consider us as brothers and really want to discuss with us, or really want to discuss for the amicable and peaceful political solution of the Assam-India conflict, then, we will feel glad to discuss with you.The debate started with a statement by ULFA chairman wishing Jnanpith Awardee, Dr Mamoni Raisom Goswami a speedy recovery, when she was undergoing treatment in a hospital. A few of the bloggers took offence and protested.The outburst triggered an interesting debate when Ruby Bhuyan, ULFA’s spokesman breaking silence responded. With whom ULFA is fighting? It is hard to comprehend with whom are they fighting? Is it the common innocent people? It is surprising that ULFA has a soft corner for Bangladeshis but burst bombs at places where innocent people walk.They even don’t have the guts to fight with army and spread terror among common people. It is what they call revolution? Asks an angry member.Another member went a step ahead and asked will ULFA reveal about the value of the total properties owned by Paresh Barua and his family now and before April 7, 1979. If so, please tell us the means of acquiring the whole property. I am afraid ... Ruby’s answer to this will be once again the same ‘What will you do...”“Your idea of sovereignty is doubtful just because of your actions. Killings can’t be supported anywhere. We’re not Taliban, mind you,” commented a member, some of whom are apparently based abroad.Just because of you people, investors still hesitate going to Assam. Even tourism is getting discouraged, and your inhuman activities are affecting localites directly. Their business getting affected and their family always live in tensions and fear.“Whoever you’re, don’t misuse open forums like these. Do not insult our sentiments. I am still replying to you because I consider you as my own brother and sister who is misled and misguided by anti-human fraternity,” reacted Ruby sharply in one message.“In 60 years, Rubi has asked, what have we achieved as a part of India? I believe that we have achieved a lot and could achieve even more, if investors would not shy from investing in Assam. This is possible only if the violence in the state is stopped. Assam has the same opportunity as any other state in India. It is the Government of Assam that is responsible for any shortcomings that you may point. And to solve that, my feeling is you should fight an election and take charge, suggested another.A Guwahati-based journalist joined in by pleading to carry on the debate. Please do not stop, especially Ruby. We, the lesser mortals who are making a living out of roaming around hundreds of villages of Assam in the past 20 years, are enjoying the debate very much. Specially Ruby, glad that you are also responding to barrage of outbursts.“This is the first time in 20 years of covering militancy, we have found some one from the ULFA responding so frequently. Do not disengage Ruby. This is a blog and everyone has full right to express their opinion fearlessly.”

ISI ‘agents’ among alien labourers
JONAI, Sept 27 – Leaders of All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union (AAPSU) and All Assam Students Union (AASU), on Monday reiterated their demand to make Arunachal and Assam free from Bangladeshis.Addressing a huge public meeting at Solung Ground of Pasighat town under East Siang district, 35 km from here organised by East Siang unit of AAPSU on the special occasion of ‘Operation Clean Drive-II against illegal migrants, Kanu Bagang, president of AAPSU and Kamta Lapung, convenor of AAPSU and chairman of ‘Operation Clean Drive’ said that like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh is going to become overburdened with the illegal Bangladeshi infiltrators.Referring to their ongoing agitation against such migrants in Papumpare and East Siang districts, AAPSU leaders stated that some sections of Bangladeshis recently deported from the state were coming back because of lack of proper policy by the state government. Explaining to people gathered at the meeting, about the ongoing operation, student leaders said that it was strictly adhering to laid-down constitutional norms and abiding by the law of the land for the detection and extradition of illegal Bangladeshis from Arunachal.They disclosed that due to the ignorance of rural Arunachalis, thousands of Bangladeshis are being engaged as cheap labour in agriculture farms and works which has resulted in the alarming increase of Bangladeshi nationals in the area. The duo first then clarified that the anti-Bangladeshi operation is to protect the state from the grip of infiltrators, but is not against any religion, caste, community or creed as projected by some anti-social sections.The meeting chaired by Gumjum Hyder, the general secretary of North East Students Organisation (NESO) interacted on the present steps against immigrants between AAPSU and AASU and the people particularly of East Siang and bordering Dhemaji district of Assam.Representative of AASU led by central committee literacy secretary Arnold Taye and Dhemaji district unit general secretary Citraranjan Basumatary and others from Assam, reiterated their present steps against the Bangladeshi infiltrators and appreciated the need of a unified movement in this regard. Both the student organisations have demanded that issuing inner line permits (ILP) to labourers for entering Arunachal should be stopped and appealed to the political leaders, contractors, business communities and others not to engage Bangladeshis as cheap labour.The AAPSU leader alleged that, a large section of Bangladeshi national residing in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam have been working as ISI agents which is a threat to both the States and even to disintegration of the nation.Elucidating their present stand against illegal immigrants, the AAPSU announced their second phase of stir launched recently at Papumpare and East Siang district. The apex student body urged the Chief Minister Darjee Khandu to convene an early meeting of deputy commissioners of all Arunachal districts to find a permanent solution to the problem and strengthen the checkgates to prevent illegal entries of Bangladeshis.

Sabha bid to promote ethnic groups
GUWAHATI, Sept 26 – The apex literary body of the State, the Assam Sahitya Sabha has decided to observe September 27 as Janagosthia Vasha-Sahitya Bikash Divas in memory of Bihuram Bodo, the illustrious son of the soil who was also the general secretary of Bodo Sahitya Sabha.According to functionaries of the literary body, the day would be observed annually from this year. The daylong programme tomorrow would begin at Lakhiram Baruah Sadan with hoisting of the flag followed by a memorial function. The chief speaker at the function will be Lakhminath Panging, former president of Mising Sahitya Sabha. The open session would be conducted by Dilip Sarma, the eminent dictionary compiler. The speakers would be Dr Upen Rabha Hakasam, Rama Basumatary, Nabin Taye and others and they would be deliberating on the hurdles in the development of the language and literature of the indigenous communities.It may be mentioned here that the Sabha also celebrated the birth anniversary of the Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardeva as Sangsati Divash with an elaborate agenda. The programme began with Usha Kirtan and Nam Prasanga and the open session in the afternoon was presided by president Kanaksen Deka. Eminent speakers including Kanak Chandra Sarma highlighted on the philosophy of universal harmony and integrity propounded by Sankardeva and regretted that the philosophy of the great saint was facing threat from the destabilising forces.

Sabha bid to promote ethnic groups
GUWAHATI, Sept 26 – The apex literary body of the State, the Assam Sahitya Sabha has decided to observe September 27 as Janagosthia Vasha-Sahitya Bikash Divas in memory of Bihuram Bodo, the illustrious son of the soil who was also the general secretary of Bodo Sahitya Sabha.According to functionaries of the literary body, the day would be observed annually from this year. The daylong programme tomorrow would begin at Lakhiram Baruah Sadan with hoisting of the flag followed by a memorial function. The chief speaker at the function will be Lakhminath Panging, former president of Mising Sahitya Sabha. The open session would be conducted by Dilip Sarma, the eminent dictionary compiler. The speakers would be Dr Upen Rabha Hakasam, Rama Basumatary, Nabin Taye and others and they would be deliberating on the hurdles in the development of the language and literature of the indigenous communities.It may be mentioned here that the Sabha also celebrated the birth anniversary of the Vaishnavite saint Srimanta Sankardeva as Sangsati Divash with an elaborate agenda. The programme began with Usha Kirtan and Nam Prasanga and the open session in the afternoon was presided by president Kanaksen Deka. Eminent speakers including Kanak Chandra Sarma highlighted on the philosophy of universal harmony and integrity propounded by Sankardeva and regretted that the philosophy of the great saint was facing threat from the destabilising forces.

City to join global campaign against poverty on Oct 17
GUWAHATI, Oct 4 – Students of Guwahati will take part in a worldwide campaign against poverty to be jointly launched by The Art of Living and United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC) on October 17.The joint effort is aimed at eradicating poverty and inching towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the United Nations. The MDGs include achieving universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring sustainability and developing a global partnership for development.Art of Living’s North East coordinator Pinki Hazarika said that along with the rest of the world, the students of the city will take the pledge to eradicate poverty by standing up for two minutes.The ‘Stand Up’ campaign would seek to mobilise public opinion to support the UNMC’s initiative to achieve a poverty-free world by 2015. The Art of Living has taken the lead to mobilise over four million people across the globe to support the vision to defeat poverty.The Art of Living is going to organize several public events in over 100 countries for people from all walks of life to take the pledge. The ‘Stand Up’ events would be held all over the world, from the busiest square in the world, New York’s Times Square to the smallest school in the tsunami-struck Ache province in Indonesia. The events would be in different forms such as simple public gatherings, music concerts, group dances, rallies, carnivals, street theatres and satsangs. The idea behind the ‘Stand Up’ campaign is to remind the world leaders of their promise of achieving the MDGs and urge them to show the necessary political will. The rich countries would be enjoined to provide more aid, cancel debts and practice fair trade, whereas the poor countries would be requested to save the lives of the poorest citizens and achieve real transparency and accountability in utilization of resources.“In the North East we are mainly targeting the schools,” said Pinki. Schools with more than 500 students in the city are being approached for the forthcoming programme.The Art of Living, North East has requested the people of the region to come forward and make the world a more beautiful place to live.The ensuing event is a follow-up to an alliance finalised in May 2007 between the Art of Living and UNMC.

Public cooperation key to administrative success’
SIPAJHAR, Oct 3 – The efficiency in administration depends largely on public co-operation. It is essential, to make an administrator more effective, said superintendent of police, Darrang Imdadul Hussain Bora. He was addressing the farewell function organised to offer farewell to former SP, Darrang Rounak Ali Hazarika at Mangaldoi Youth Club.The function was addressed by Deputy Commissioner, Darrang Sailendra Kumar Nath, journalist Dr Mahendra Prasad Baruah, Col SB Singh of 65 Field Regiment of Indian Army, Commanding officer R R Meena, of 37 battalion of CRPF Rajendra Nath Hazarika, secy, Mangaldoi Press Club, Govinda Upadhaya, president, Youth Club, Krisna Baruah, SDO, Monimoy Goswami, president, Darrang District Unit, AASU and Mayukh Goswami. Idris Ali chaired the function. Prominent businessman Rajiv Kr Deka, SDO Dhruba Jyoti Das, additional SP Sudharkar Singh, superintendent of Food and Civil Supplies Rabin Chakraborti, Diganta Moni Bora, vice-president, AASU, Bhupen Nath and Chandan Saikia, president and secy, Darrang District Unit, AJYCP, leading social activists Anupam Deka and Circle officer, Sipajhar Revenue Circle Bishnu Dutta Sarma also attended the function which was moderated by Kanteswar Gogoi.

Twenty-five model villages to be set up in Sivasagar dist
SIVASAGAR, Sept 3 — Sivasagar deputy commissioner NM Hussain in a recent UDC meeting called upon all departmental heads to work in tandem in developing 25 models villages in the district. The deputy commissioner stressed on optimum use of solar energy in lighting these village besides the border outposts on Assam-Nagaland border. The district officers of Agriculture, Veterinary, Revenue, Health, PHE, Supply and Water Resource were instructed to work with dedication in alleviating the hardship of the flood-affected people of the district and to chalk out schemes for massive rabi crop and fair production.NM Hussain instructed health inspectors to make surprise visits to hotels, restaurants and fish-meat selling booths and penalise the erring traders and restaurant owners.After a meeting with the traders recently, the deputy commissioner instructed the retailers to sell vegetable at Rs 5 more than the wholesellers price per kg to relieve the customers hit by the soaring price rise. The price of mutton and chicken (below) were fixed at Rs 140 per kg and Rs 100 per kg instead of Rs 160 and Rs 120 earlier. The price of potatoes per kg has been fixed at Rs 11 per kg while that of onion at Rs 25 per kg from September 27 till further orderThough a circular, district administration has banned selling of ‘lali gur’, low quality molasses which is widely bused in preparing country liquor. For preparing fodder or cattle feed from molasses, the buyer or the seller must now have prior permission from the administration. Section 144 CrPC was also clamped in regards to selling of harmful drugs, liquor, plastic bags and rotten fish or meat that can cause threat to public health in the district.Workshop on domestic violence: Attending a workshop on domestic violence in Sivasagar College on September 27 last, Sunity Sonowal, advocate Gauhati High Court and chairperson of women rights body said that every woman now needs to be aware of the constitutional provisions of the Domestic Violence Act (1995) and should also be aware of the responsibilities, as well as a daughter as mother, as daughter-in-law as mother-in-law and as a responsible citizen.Advocate Fazul Ali Hazarika in his speech said that legal provisions alone cannot protect women but healthy social customs, culture and the age-old tradition can and women should not forget it.Monika Saikia, vice-principal, Sivasagar College, said that women today are nowhere safe, not even at home and hence they must equip themselves with legal and other provisions at an early age. Advocate Anil Dutta said that the government has not yet come out with an administrative set up to implement the Act in due earnest.Advocate Bikash Dey, Aniruddha Selen and MU Ahmed spoke as resource persons on Right to Information Act on September 28. Sivasagar DC NM Hussain inaugurated the workshop. Minister’s visit: Minister Law, Sericulture, Textile & Handloom Pranab Gogoi recently visited Panbecha, Dhopabor, Garkosh, Khowarpur, Betbari, Khelowa. Nagalamora, Baghchu, Kenduguri, Chingelibari and Desangmukh etc areas badly hit by the recent flood in Sivasagar subdivision and met the flood-affected people. He assured the people of all possible help for the Rabi crop on a massive scale to compensate the agricultural loss. He also said that every weaver will be given 4.5 kg grey cotton thread for producing finished sarees so as to be exported to other states.District administration so far has released over 2000 quintal rice, 375 quintals dal and 117 quintal salt for distribution among flood-hit people of the subdivision and another 800 quintal rice, 150 quintal dal and 20 quintal salt for Charaideo subdivision. In Nazira subdivision, 153 quintals fodder, 51 quintal cattle feed have been distributed. Cattle and poultry immunisation campaign was carried out in every subdivision simultaneously.Revenue Minister Dr Bhumidhar Barman also visited Sivasagar recently and discussed the problems found by the flood-affected population with Sivasagar DC, NM Hussain and other officials. Revenue Minister released Rs 1 lakh for procuring fresh rice seedling for distribution. A rabi crop scheme of Rs 77 lakh has been submitted to the government.

Singphos demand naming of tea centre after Ningroola
TINSUKIA, Oct 3 – There has been allegation by the Singpho National Council in dedication of the newly-constructed ‘Tea Commerce Centre Building’ at Guwahati in the name of Moniram Dewan. This declaration was made by Dr Monteksing Ahuwallia, chairman of planning commission on June 25 at Pragjyotika ITA complex at Guwahati. Singpho National Council has submitted a memorandum to Jai Ram Ramesh, Union Minister of State for Commerce to reemsider the matter and dedicate the Tea Commerce Centre Building in order to honour ‘Ningroola’ the frontier Singpho chief of Ningroo, who was the first planter of Assam.History says that the genesis of Assam tea begins from the powerful frontier Singpho tribe of Assam. Robert Bruce, the secret agent to David Scott travelled on a strategic mission for beyond to eastern frontier of British India and discovered tea plant growing wild in the Singpho country. During the travels in 1823, Robert Bruce extended friendship with Beesa Goun, the Singpho chief of Beesa, who gave tea plants and seeds gift to him as a testimony of friendship. And this incident was the turning point in the discovery of tea in India, stated Duwa Bisanong Singpho, president and Bhupewar Ningda, vice president of Singpho National Council said in a press release.According to them, Moniram Dutta (Dewan) worked with Assam Company as a Dewan or land agent. On the other Ningroola occupies a glorious place in the history of tea cultivation of the country. Even, he was an enterprising pioneer of tea cultivation in the region. Thus, the British govt offered financial assistance not only to Ningroola but also to other Singphos. As Ningroola owned broad knowledge on tea cultivation he was given excess responsibilities in tea gardens. Since 1823, Ningroola and other Singphos had their own respective tea gardens. At that time, no Assamese or Maniram Dewan ever thought of opening tea garden in the plains of Assam, stated the release.Therefore, the council appealed to dedicate the Tea Promotion Centre in the name of Ningroola, the first tea planter of Assam and demanded to install a statue of Ningroola in front of the tea building at Guwahati in order to co-memorate his remarkable contribution to tea cultivation.

State must involve youths in business: Dr Madhab
GUWAHATI, Oct 3 – Noted economist and economic adviser to Government of Assam, Dr Jayanta Madhab, on Monday, said that the State need to involve more and more people, especially the youths, in business activities in order to solve its unemployed problem.He further said, “ It is virtually impossible for the State Government to employ all the 25 lakh unemployed youths as they are not qualified enough to meet the job requirements. Therefore, the people in the State would have to create a ‘business friendly’ environment themselves to bail the State out of this age-old problem.Dr Madhab was speaking during the inaugural function of a training programme under the Employment Generation Programme, Government of Assam, being organized by ASOMI, a non-government organisation (NGO) working in this field at the ITI, Guwahati. More than 20 members of SHGs from across the State took part in the programme. Under the programme, members of self help groups and other educated unemployed youths would be given training on various entrepreneurship skills by ASOMI.We need to imbibe in us the mentality to start our own business, no matter how small it is, for the advancement of the society. I am sure that the programme would inspire the trainees to work for the overall development of the society,” Madhab said.“We will first train them on various fields like readymade garment making to setting up a piggery and only after that we would facilitate them with funds to carry out their work,” Subhra Jyoti Bharali of ASOMI, said.“We have been facilitating the SHGs and other educated unemployed with loans (with the help of financial institutions) for quite some time but most of them have failed miserably in cashing in on the opportunity owing to sheer lack of entrepreneur skills,” Bharali pointed out.“The new training under the State Government’s Employment Generation Programme would acquaint the youths with the entrepreneur skills so that they can make full use of it,” he said. ASOMI, a leading NGO in the State is currently working in as many as 16 districts in the State. The training programme, which commenced today with training on agro service and readymade garments, would be carried out in a phased manner henceforth.

Sabha to intensify official language demand
GUWAHATI, Oct 3 – Asam Sahitya Sabha will fight it out to get the official language implemented in the real sense. The apex literary body, peeved at the lackadaisical attitude of the Government in implementing the Assam official Language Act, 1960 has announced its decision to launch an extensive and intensive movement from October 14, coinciding with the birthday of Lakshminath Bezboruah to jolt the authorities to action.Addressing mediapersons on Wednesday, president Kanaksen Deka said that the Sabha has decided to intensify its demand for the implementation of the official language respecting the sentiment of the common people who were getting over the treatment meted out to the official language.Though the Assam Official Language Act was approved in 1960, there has been little progress in its actual implementation. In most of the Government offices, English is the language preferred much to the inconvenience of the common people who have no knowledge of English. The Act was published in the Assam Gazette on March 14, 1963 and in 1964, the Government constituted a sub committee for implementation of the official language. In December 1969, the Government issued a directive to all departmental heads to use Assamese as the official language. The rules for the Act were formulated in 1970, and in 1979, the Directorate of Official Language was set up.However in all these decades, the official language has been getting a poor deal, despite the claim of successive Governments that the issue of implementation of the official language was not neglected.The Sabha not interested to buy the Government’s assertions any more, declared that it has chalked out a month long programme to highlight the failure of the Government in implementing the official language as well as pinpoint the culprits who have blatantly ignored the Act. The Sabha will take out processions, its members will assemble at the offices of the deputy commissioners to get first hand knowledge of the fate of the official language and involve the litterateurs, students, teachers and all concerned citizens in its forthcoming programme.“On October 15, the Sabha will press for identifying all the departments that have not been following the Act,” disclosed Deka.The Sabha during its month long movement will see to it that all the business establishments display their names in Assamese. It has directed all its district units to actively participate in the programme or face disciplinary action.

Rural welfare must for national progress
NORTH GUWAHATI, Oct 2 – While delivering a talk on ‘Role of self-help organisations’, Bhabesh Kalita, a representative of the National Rural Development Fund, asserted that the country can prosper by implementing rural development oriented schemes launched by the Centre.Kalita participated as a resource person at the talk arranged here at Amingaon on September 23 under the auspices of Yuva Vikash Kendra. About 40 students hailing from various educational institutions joined the seminar.Earlier, Phanindra Bujarboruah, project executive officer of the Kendra, while welcoming the guests and the participants explained the various programmes launched by the Kendra.Continuing his speech, Kalita pointed out how 23 percent people of the rural areas lived below the poverty line against 7 per cent in the urban areas. The unemployed rural youths below the poverty line could organise self-help units with the help of the Govt-sponsored programmes. Kalita explained with ample examples how the country’s burning unemployment problem would be solved to a considerable extent by forming organised self-help units in the hitherto unexplored rural areas.Dr Shankar Jois , president of the Kendra, summarised the proceedings of the meeting at the end. Workshop: Under the auspices of the Yuva Vikas Kendra, an Amingaon based project of students experience in Inter-state living, a one-day workshop on, How to face an interview was organised at the centre on September 30 from 9.30 am. Participants from different colleges of the State, including resource persons and from the Rotary Club of Guwahati South like Haren Das, retired chief secretary, Govt of Assam, Dr Umesh Chandra Goswami (GU) Subhas Chandra Goswami retired engineer attended.

Assamese Muslims demand special community status
GUWAHATI, Oct 7 – A senior advocate of Gauhati High Court Nekibur Zaman and a host of social activists belonging to Assamese Muslim community demanded special community status for the 35 lakh Assamese Muslims living in the State.Ruing Government apathy towards the Assamese Muslims for the last many years, the citizens on Saturday also stressed the need for constitutional safeguard and special economic package for the community.Speaking in a press conference, Zaman said that the Assamese Muslims in the State have been deprived of all the conveniences, which were meant for them and instead, it is the Muslims of West Bengal origin, who have been the beneficiaries of all the schemes.“The Assamese Muslim community, which has a history of 800 years and contributed immensely for the overall development of the State, is being overlooked. At this stage, the Assamese Muslims are forced to a situation where they are facing an identity crisis,” Zaman said.“Moreover, with the escalating infiltration of Bangladeshi nationals to the State, we are looked at with suspicion,” he opined while pinpointing as the number of public representative from the Assamese Muslim is very negligible, the people have failed to make their woes heard, which is not the case with Muslims of West Bengal origin living in the State. “The definition of Assamese Muslim in the present context does not hold any gravity. If the Government cannot give us our dues then it should strip off the tag of minorities from us,” Zaman demanded. Zaman further informed that the need for special community status along with other aforesaid demands was felt after consulting the people of the community in large numbers.“If the Government does not take steps towards it, then it would have to face the brunt of rigorous protests,” the senior lawyer asserted.Citing instances of the apathy by the Government, A Ali Mir, author of many books written on Assamese Muslims, said, “The so-called Government schemes such as Char Area Development Corporation undertaken in the State have never reached the areas dominated by the Assamese Muslims. Here too, the Muslims of West Bengal origin who have been here since the last 100 years.”“We want the Government to prove that the schemes meant for the minorities did reach the Assamese Muslim community too,” he rued. “We have no grudge against them who have a larger presence than us but at the same time the people of Assamese Muslim community should also get their dues,” Mir said.

APW to promote work culture
GUWAHATI, Oct 7 – In an effort to seal the recruitment route of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA), Assam Public Works (APW) has decided to resort to the weapon called work culture which will be utilised from October 28. The new endeavour of APW has come in the wake of reports that the banned outfit has gone for a recruitment drive to elevate its sagging strength and image.Though the main objective behind the attempt is to put a hurdle in the efforts of the ULFA, the APW claims that the endeavour would also be effective in pushing out the Bangladeshis from the State. The APW had not long ago announced its resolve to protect the rights of the indigenous communities of the State by boycotting the illegal migrants.During its forthcoming movement, the members of APW would motivate the indigenous communities of the State to worship work and imbibe respect for any form of work be it manual and on the level of a rickshaw puller or selling betel nut and leaf.Beginning from the capital city, the initiative would be taken to all the districts and according to functionaries of the APW, within a year around one lakh unemployed youth of the State would get settled in various trades.“We are confident that by evoking work culture in the State, we would be able to stop our youths from taking to the path of destruction,” said functionaries of APW.About 80 members of APW would take part in the first phase of the movement. The members would start by pulling rickshaw, handcart, selling vegetables and other items.“The unabated influx of Bangladeshis could be stopped only if our people shed of their inhibition and take up those jobs that have been considered a Bangladeshi bastion,” said the APW asserting that the issue of Bangladeshi showed no sign of a political solution and the only way of giving the issue a conclusion was to go for a economic boycott.The APW would also provide skill development training to the interested young men and women.

Seminar to discuss NE situation
PANDU, Oct 5 – A day-long seminar on Political violence and issues of human rights in North East India is being organised jointly by the North East India Political Association and Department of Political Science, Pandu College on October 10 at the college auditorium.The primary objective of the seminar is to explore new perspectives on the multiplicity of political violence in this part of the country and to asses the efficacy of conventional wisdom and past policies that have been applied to solve various problems of the region. Besides, the seminar is also expected to shed light on the influence of the four-decade long violence from state and non-state actors on human rights scenario of North East India. One of the special objectives of the seminar is to analyse the impact of political violence on women and children.The seminar will be attended by professor Dr Niru Hazarika of Gauhati University, Professor Dr Anuradha Dutt, Peace Chair OKD, Dr Arupjyoti Choudhury of Cotton College, Dr Subham Rajkhowa of GU Law College, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, MP, Lok Sabha, GM Srivastava, DGP and Subir Bhowmick, Chief of Bureau, BBC Eastern India as resource persons with their valuable presentations.The organising committee has urged all citizens, including teachers, concerned citizens, intellectuals, representatives of political and non-political organisations to attend the seminar to put forward their valuable views and suggestions on the burning issues and take part in the interactions across the table.Interested individuals and organisations may contact Navajyoti Borah, GS and Pranjal Patiri, chief co-ordinator, organising committee for further details.

Govt refusal to raise retirement age irks SAKP
GUWAHATI, Oct 5 – The Sadou Asam Karmachari Parishad (SAKP) has questioned the justification of the refusal of the State Government to raise the retirement age of the Government employees to 62 years. It has also opposed the move to retain the superannuating schoolteachers on contractual basis. The Parishad said in a statement that it had been demanding an extension of the service period for the Government employees and officers up to 60 years. Now that the State Government has raised the retirement age of the medical college teachers to 62 year , there should be no problem in raising the retirement age of other Government officers and employees to the same age limit, it said.The Parishad has also convened a meeting of its central executive committee at its headquarters at 11 am of October 16 to discuss the situation concerning its demands for setting up the pay commission, timescale promotion etc, said the statement.

Blacklist tag on Sabha removed
NEW DELHI, Oct 10 – In a major respite for Asam Sahitya Sabha, the Ministry of Human Resources Development (HRD) has removed the blacklist tag on the literary body after it furnished the Utilisation Certificate (UCs). In what appears to be major lapse on part of the ASS, it had failed to submit the UCs for three years taken for promotion of language schemes. The first lapse goes back to 1978 when it had received Rs 7500. Then again in 1988 it failed to furnish a UC for Rs 85,000. The last was in 1992, when ASS failed to submit UC for Rs 26,964 received from the HRD.Failure to submit the UCs led to the HRD Ministry to blacklist Sabha in 2005 along with 30 other NGOs. The blacklisting led to denial of government funding and Sabha faced one of its worst crisis in recent years. President of Sabha, Kanak Sen Deka toured Delhi and met top HRD Ministry officials to ascertain the details and resorted to damage control exercise. Official sources said that representatives of Sabha had on September 21 submitted these UCs to the Central Hindi Directorate paving the way for removing the taj. Based on the recommendation of the Directorate, the HRD Ministry has cleared the decision on several organisations including the ASS. A memorandum to this affect was signed between the two organisations on October 8, sources said.It was in the Monsoon Session of Parliament, when in reply to an un-starred question by Bal Apte and Vinay Katiyar, Union Minister of State for HRD, D.Purandeswari disclosed that 31 NGOs were blacklisted by the Ministry. Of these four belonged to Assam and included two branches of ASS at Guwahati and Jorhat. The other organisation was identified as Urvashi Rastrabhasa. Blacklisting of NGOs is done in case where it is found that the organisation is either not in existence or functioning from the given address, or non-submission of audited accounts and UCs. The Ministry also blacklists organisation for submitting fake inspection reports or when grants are not utilised for the project according to the objective of the scheme.The complaints received against the NGOs are verified through concerned State Governments. Wherever necessary, NGOs are proceeded against under the relevant provisions of the Revenue Recovery Act.The blacklisting of ASS provoked sharp reactions in Assam and office bearers of the Sabha were hard put to explain the serious lapse on its part. However, Sabha's president Kanaksen Deka had claimed that the fault was not on the part of the Sabha but that of the Central Government.The office bearers soon faced a demand to present records of its activities and expenditure in the last 25 years.

Jorhat Engineering College crying for attention
JORHAT, Oct 9 – Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has gone on record saying that his government would give the topmost priority to the technical institutions in the State. However, the premier Jorhat Engineering College, located in his home district itself, is practically going to ruins, allegedly due to neglect. The only engineering institution of its kind in upper Assam, JEC came into existence in 1960. However, lack of proper attention towards the development of the college in the new era has reduced it to a struggling institution which even had faced the threat of being de-recognized by All India Council of Technical Education. Despite passing through such turbulent days, the Congress-led State government is yet to wake up to the genuine needs of JEC, office-bearers of Jorhat District Students’ Union said. A team of the Jorhat AASU unit visited the college recently and voiced its concern over the crumbling infrastructure there. Tarpaulin sheets are being used to cover the leaking roofs, JDSU general secretary Dhrubajyoti Hazarika said. A number of computer sets have been damaged by rainwater seeping in through the roofs, he added. The Chief Minister had announced a Rs 2-crore package in March 2005 when several students took ill after using contaminated water, the JDSU general secretary recalled. Though a sum of Rs 37 lakh was released for the construction of a water supply project, the remaining funds were never received, Hazarika maintained. To top it all, the water supply project is not working, he pointed out. The State government also pledged to provide Rs 10 crore to JEC in August last year, the student leader said, adding that not a single penny has reportedly been received by the college authorities till date. JDSU president Biren Saikia said that girl students have been forced to seek accommodation elsewhere despite the existence of a hostel for them. While 21 students are staying at the girls’ hostel of Prince of Wales Institute of Engineering and Technology, as many as 11 others have moved into their hostel superintendent’s official quarters due to the dilapidated state of their hostel. These girl students are staying in an unsafe environment, Saikia stressed. The JDSU duo reiterated that such apathy on the part of the government was responsible for the flight of students from the State. The student body set October 20 as the deadline for the State government to make its stand known on the development of JEC. “Otherwise, we will forced to take to the path of agitation to restore the glory of the engineering college,” the two AASU activists warned. There are other problems, too, which plague JEC. Sources said that as much as 40 per cent of the total area of the college has been encroached on. The Jorhat district administration called for a survey of the landscape of JEC in 2003. A year later, a directive was also issued by the then Jorhat Deputy Commissioner for the eviction of encroachers. The sources further stated that the 12th Finance Commission had awarded Rs 1107.37 crore to the State Education Department for the period 2005-2010 to upgrade the facilities at the engineering colleges and polytechnics in the State. Training prog : As many as 29 farmers from different NGOs, self-help groups and welfare societies based in the district attended a daylong training session held at Rain Forest Research Institute here recently. The session, sponsored by Science and Society Division of Union Department of Science and Technology, was aimed at disseminating information on the scientific management of bamboos in nursery, plantation and storage, a press note said. RFRI Group Coordinator (Research) Elusing Meru exhorted the farmers to emulate the achievements of self-help groups in Andhra Pradesh where active participation led to the development of the rural economy. He stressed that bamboo cultivation would play a vital role in the economy of the North-east. The NGOs here can also transform the rural scene through beneficial public-private participation, Meru added. The group coordinator later released a training manual published in Assamese and English copies of which were among the farmersSenior RFRI scientists briefed the trainees about the various aspects of the training programme and highlighted the uses of bamboo in daily life as well as in the industrial sector. Research officer Dr TC Bhuyan delivered a talk on the selection of species, management of nursery and plantation, inter-cropping and use of organic and biological fertilizers. He also spoke on the treatment and preservation of bamboo. The trainee farmers were also initiated to a practical demonstration on the methods for vegetative propagation of bamboo. Senior RFRI scientist Dr RK Bora expressed satisfaction over the feedback received from the farmers. RFRI scientist Dr Senthilkumar, who supervised the programme, thanked the resource persons and farmers involved in the training for their cooperation in the successful completion of the session, the press release added.

Media has become revenue-centric: Basu
GUWAHATI, Oct 9 – Former Member of Parliament and senior Leftist leader Nilutpal Basu today said that the media, over the years, has lost its accountability towards the woes and concern of the general public and instead it has become more revenue-centric. Speaking on the final day of the two-day golden jubilee celebration of the Assam Tribune Employees Union (ATEU), Basu said that the term ‘mass media’ is fast losing its importance as far as addressing the grievances of the common people is concerned.“The level of professional journalism has gone down, thanks to the large-scale influence of the advertisements which has distorted the agenda of mass media in the country,” the former MP said.“This is the biggest challenge media and the people involved with will face in greater proportions. Moreover, the mushrooming theory of cross media investment, which gives privilege to the proprietors to head more than one tool of media has further aggravated the situation,” Basu opined.“There was a time when around 75 per cent of the revenue was garnered from the readers while in the present scenario it is the other way around,” he said. “Media is not projecting the issues of the common people, the way it should have. It is more under the influence of multinational companies or for that reason market research organisation and public relation organisation which gets them the revenue,” stressed Basu.“When I was an MP, I saw that the other public representatives present in the parliament hailing from the rest of India failed to identify themselves with the problems of the NE. This is largely due to the ineffective role of the media in reaching people in general. More than 65 per cent of the news are generated from the metros and region like the NE hardly gets importance,” reiterated Basu.“Failure of media, over the years, to predict the election results through exit polls is another instance that speak volumes about the inability of mass media in reading the minds of the people,” he added.He while congratulating the members of ATEU for completing 50 years urged the union to make a concentrate effort to address the hurdles that media as a whole is pitted against.Madan Talwar, treasurer, All India Newspapers Employees’ Federation (AINEF) speaking on the occasion, urged the ATEU members to strengthen its organisation and involve more people to add teeth to its campaign. “The last Wage Board for the employees of the newspapers was constituted after a hard fought battle. If we do not increase our strength, then our union may lose its existence,” Talwar said.Lauding the effort of The Assam Tribune, Ananta Kalita, director, Central Board, State Bank of India, said, “ I hope that the members of the union continue to carry out the good work for the greater interest of the State and people in general.”Earlier, the ATEU felicitated the retired employees and former leaders of the union at the beginning of the function.Dugdha Ram Kalita, convenor, Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee, while presenting a report, highlighted the step-motherly treatment meted out to the working class and flayed the Central Government for turning deaf ears to issues like flood, price rise and unemployment.He further informed that the union, as always, would continue to fight against such anti-labour policy.The open session was presided over by Saifuddin Ahmed, president, Golden Jubilee Celebration Committee.A host of other members of AINEF including Santosh Kumar and Pulin Nath were also present on the occasion.

Postal Dept gets into address verification services
GUWAHATI, Oct 15 – Next time when a postman knocks on your door, he might not necessarily be there to deliver your mails, etc, but to verify if you are there.The address verification services started by the Assam Postal Circle is deploying postman and other delivery staff to verify the addresses of the BSNL customers. “This step has been taken considering the security aspect of the country and the State,” said the Post Master General of Dibrugarh Region, Vasumitra. “As per the telecom regulatory body’s norms, it is mandatory to verify the addresses of the customers, thus the Postal Department took responsibility to do the work for the Telecom Department and an MoU was signed in the first week of this year,” he added. So far the circle has completed the verification of 98,504 applications. While addressing the media gathering in connection with the National Postal Week celebrations of India Post from October 9 to October 13, the Assam Postal Circle announced the success of the freight service started in North East around a month back. “Lack of a reliable mode of transmission of carriage of mail parcel and logistics for the region was always a severe constraint on the service quality. In order to improve the mail delivery and transmission services, the Department of Posts inducted a dedicated freighter aircraft for carriage of mail, parcel and logistics to and from the NE region,” said Vasumitra.The freighter aircraft, which can carry a payload of around 14 tonnes, is leased from Indian and it operates on all days except Mondays in the Kolkata-Guwahati-Imphal-Agartala-Kolkata route. “Response from the customers has been very heartening, specially in the field of logistics mails, business mails and cargo services. We are planning to introduce another aircraft in this field,” he added. The Assam Postal Circle made a total revenue of Rs 28.60 crore with a growth of 25 per cent over the last financial year. The circle is also planning a total computerisation of its post offices. “19 Head Post offices and 288 sub post offices were computerised under the 10th Five Year Plan. Another 317 post offices are soon going to be computerised by the end of this year,” said Dr N Vinod Kumar, Director Postal Services (HQ) Assam Circle. Apart from this, the Postal Department has also introduced e-payment facility, through which bills of various corporate bill payers can be collected in the post offices and the collection, information and payment details can be checked online by the bill payers. “We want to implement the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) in all the districts of the State as we have done in Bongaigaon. The scheme is truly beneficial for the rural population as it avoids the role a middleman in transactions. If we get the positive feedback from the district authorities, we would be able to provide this service all over the State,” he added. The department would also introduced Passenger Reservation System at Mangaldoi within a month.To spread the knowledge of philately among the younger generation, the circle has taken an initiative in association with the Don Bosco School authorities to open a philately club, which will be inaugurated soon.

City Banking Ombudsman gets few complaints
GUWAHATI, Oct 15 – The office of the Banking Ombudsman, Guwahati, is concerned about the lack of awareness amongst the customers regarding the functions of the Ombudsman. Though this office has completed 12 years, it has received very few complaints compared to those in other parts of the country.The Banking Ombudsman is a person appointed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to redress the grievances of the customers in connection to certain deficiency in the banking services. Officials of RBI, regional office say that despite the Banking Ombudsman scheme being an inexpensive, expeditious and hassle free respite for the aggrieved customers, few people are coming forward to register their complaints.The new Banking Ombudsman scheme, which came into force from January 1, 2006, enables resolution of complaints of bank customers relating to certain services rendered by all the scheduled commercial banks, regional rural banks and scheduled primary co-operative banks.“The Banking Ombudsman is a quasi judicial authority and it has power to summon both the bank and its customers to facilitate resolution of complaint through mediation,” said RBI officials.The Banking Ombudsman receives and considers any complaint relating to the following deficiency in banking services: • non-payment or inordinate delay in payment or collection of cheques, drafts, bills, etc.,• non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of small denomination notes tendered for any purpose, and for charging of commission for this service,• non-acceptance, without sufficient cause, of coins tendered and for charging of commission for this service:• non-payment or delay in payment of inward remittances,• failure to issue or delay in issue of drafts, pay orders or bankers’ cheques,• non adherence to prescribed working hours,• refusal to open deposit accounts without any valid reason for refusal and ,• levying of charges without adequate prior notice to the customer, etc.“For filing a complaint before the Banking Ombudsman, it is essential for a complainant to first attempt to find a satisfactory solution directly with his bank by making a written representation,” said an official of RBI, explaining that the complainant can approach the Banking Ombudsman if the reply is not received from the bank concerned within a period of one month or if the bank rejects the complaint or he is not satisfied with the reply given by the bank. The complaint can be filed before the Banking Ombudsman simply by writing on a plain paper or online also at Prescribed forms are also available with all the branches of the banks for filing the complaint.

Asom Lekhika Samaroh forms Mumbai branch
GUWAHATI, Oct 15 – Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh established its 301st branch in Mumbai, Gateway of India.The event organised in association with the Mumbai-based Shreemoyee Asomiya Matri Asomiya Mahila Samiti was held on the premises of Assam Bhavan. The main meeting started with the chorus Chirachenehi Mor Bhasha Janani performed by the members of Shreemoyee Mahila Samiti followed by laying of agenda and inaugural speech by Nibedita Hazarika and Bina Saikia, secretary and president of the Mahila Samiti, a press release stated.Resident deputy commissioner of Assam Bhavan Devasis Sharma, renowned Hindi litterateur Sanwarmol Sanganeria, Marathi, litterateur Neha Sharpure, renowned writer Rathin Goswami attended the function.The 13-member visiting team from Assam and Delhi representing Sadou Asom Lekhika Samaroh Samiti were felicitated on the occasion, A 30-member working committee with Bina Saikia as president and Nibedita Hazarika as secretary was constituted as Mumbai Samannoy Sakha (Branch) Samiti of SALSS.Pratima Barua, general secretary of SALSS spoke about the aims, objectives and activities of the Lekhika Samaroh Samiti and suggested the newly-formed Mumbai branch to organise two days a week of Assamese teaching programmes for children of Assamese residing in Mumbai and also promote national integrity by means of translating famous literary works of Assamese literature into other languages and vice-versa.

Proper planning, public cooperation key to development’
DUNI, Oct 14 – “Though money is essential for development activities, it is not the be-all and end-all of development of an area.“Right planning and spontaneous public cooperation are also essential for sustainable development of an area,” said Binanda Kumar Saikia, MLA, Sipajhar constituency.Addressing an open meeting of Duni Anchalik Bybasayi Santha’s 21st annual session at Duni Swahid Bhawan recently, Saikia in his speech as distinguished guest said, he had already undertaken several schemes for the all-round development of his constituency.Appealing to the people to extend full cooperation with him and the departments concerned, the MLA further said that he had done considerable work but much more is needed to be done for the improvement of the backward areas.Gajen Bora, permanent president of the santha, presided over the meeting inaugurated by Tilak Ch Kalita, retired officer of Geology Department, Nagaland.Among others, Lalit Ch Saikia, retired teacher and Bhaben Deka, incharge principal of Duni Higher Secondary School spoke on the occasion.The two-day long programme began with flag hoisting and ended with banti prajjalan

CM launches new scheme for women’s empowerment
JORHAT, Oct 13 – With an eye on the forthcoming Panchayat elections, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday unveiled a new scheme for empowerment of women in his home constituency Titabor. The Chief Minister distributed sewing machines among 250 self-help groups under the scheme implemented by the Social Welfare Department. Stressing the need for increase of income at all levels, Gogoi reiterated that his Government was committed to the welfare of the poor and marginalized sections of society. The Chief Minister highlighted the importance of the economic independence of women for the overall development of society. Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers BK Handique, who was also present at the meeting held on the occasion, said the Government was initiating steps to bring about the economic welfare of women. The Union Minister of State mentioned that the current decade was being styled as the decade of the empowerment of women. State Social Welfare minister Ajanta Neog revealed that as many as 2,400 SHGs have been formed at the initiative of her department. The Chief Minister also inaugurated the first phase of the works of the storm water disposal project. The current works will entail a cost of Rs 8.28 crore. Earlier, Gogoi inaugurated the new building of Titabor Press Club. He called for constructive criticism from the media to facilitate policy-making by the government. Apart from this, the Chief Minister inaugurated the Gandhi Park, a newly-constructed building at NN Saikia College and a poultry farm in Titabor subdivision. He laid the foundation stone of the building of Mariani Town Committee also. Gogoi inaugurated the five-day Gramya Mela organized by Jorhat District Rural Development Agency on Jorhat District Sports Association grounds here on Tuesday evening.

Visa facility likely in city
SHILLONG, Oct 12 – The Centre was considering steps to provide visa facilities of some countries in Guwahati to boost civil aviation in the North-East, Minister of State for Civil Aviation Praful Patel said here today, reports PTI. Underlining the need to enchance air transport facilities in the region, Patel told reporters here that the Civil Aviation Ministry was working with the External Affairs Ministry to provide visa facilities of some countries in Guwahati. “Passengers tend to take flights from Kolkata instead of Guwahati owing to the visa facilities there. Once they can get visa from Guwahati, travellers in the North-East will take flights from here instead of Kolkata, the minister said. Patel said efforts are being made to arrange visa camps of some countries in Guwahati, at least once a month, initially. “Gradually, the number of flights would also be increased. We are also considering connecting Nepal and Bhutan to Guwahati directly,” he said. The Minister also informed that a proposal for an airport has been cleared for Gangtok and one in Arunachal Pradesh. Patel also said that another airport at Kohima was awaiting clearence. Assuring that Meghalaya would be effectively connected with the rest of the country, Patel said measures are being undertaken to extend the airport facilities at Shillong and Tura. To make the Shillong airport reliable and operational for long-distance flights, the runway should be increased to at least 7500 ft, he said. “We have requested the state government for the land,” Patel said, assuring all technical and financial assistance for the facelift. The work at Tura airport would also be completed by year-end, he said, adding the runway would be extended and other facilities enhanced as part of the expansion mode. The Minister was understood to have discussed the land allotment issue with Chief Minister D D Lapang. Patel further said that a proposal had been moved to name the Tura airport after Meghalaya’s first chief minister Captain Williamson Sangma and the Shillong airport after the late B B Lyngdoh.

RG’s manifold contributions recalled
GUWAHATI, Oct 17 – RG Baruah’s pioneering efforts in diverse fields enriched the State’s social life in a way few others had done before. From industry and sports to culture and literature, the Assamese society owes a lot to his path-breaking initiatives. Observing this at the 107th birth anniversary of RG Baruah, the architect of modern Assam, noted journalist and Principal Correspondent (North-east) of Indian Express, Samudra Gupta Kashyap today said that RG Baruah’s striving for excellence encompassed many a front, which impacted Assamese social life. The function was organized by the RG Baruah Smriti Rakshya Committee at the B Barooah College auditorium. “Apart from being the pioneer in the newspaper industry, RG Baruah, as a great organizer, left his indelible imprint in the spheres of sports, music, literature and culture. But for him, Bihu would have been found only in the museum,” Kashyap said.Kashyap said that when RG Baruah started The Assam Tribune, running a newspaper was considered to be a social service and newspapers had a very uncertain life. “It was RG Baruah who transformed newspaper into an industry. He was a pioneer in using mass communication as an effective tool for empowering the society,” he said.Terming RG Baruah as the epitome of leadership and achievement, Kashyap said that in developed countries a lot of research goes into the lives and activities of such people, so that the society, especially the younger generation, could follow their ideals. “Setting up an institute of leadership training in his name would be a befitting tribute to his memory,” he added.Drawing a parallel between RG Baruah and Maniram Dewan, another pioneering personality of 19th century Assam, Kashyap said that both were true leaders of men in the past two centuries and contributed immensely to the State’s cause. “Leaders put others before self, and the lives of these two exemplify that,” he said. Veteran journalist and former editor of Dainik Asom, DN Chakravorty who presided over the proceedings, urged the State Government to name one of the newly-constructed stadiums in the National Games complex in RG Baruah’s name. TG Baruah, chairman of The Assam Tribune group of newspapers, in his speech, spoke on the life and diverse activities of RG Baruah. “We all should endeavour to carry forward his legacy – the ideals he personified and stood for. That would be the best tribute to him,” he said. He also rued that none of the National Games stadiums had been named after him.Principal of B Barooah College Dr Dinesh Baishya, sports organizers Dwarik Sarma and Balendra Mohan Chakravorty also addressed the gathering. Bhuban Lahkar, general secretary of the RG Baruah Smriti Rakshya Committee also spoke. Veteran sports journalist Pulin Das alos graced the function.

Comprehensive history can help end NE conflicts’
GUWAHATI, Oct 18 – Preparation of a comprehensive history of the NE region can be an important step towards solving the region’s ethnic conflicts. Thus observed the participants of a recent two-day workshop on conflicts and peace in NE region. The workshop was organised by the North Eastern Social Research Centre.The participants belonging to the region’s five states also resolved to work towards this end during the next 12 months. They expressed the opinion that each ethnic group of the region attempted at rewriting its history with an aim at strengthening its claim over the area, it inhabits and thus to assert its exclusive rights over all the resources there.To the participants, exclusive identity formation due to economic restrictions and attack on culture are the major causes of conflicts. In this context, they observed, every community used to rewrite its history in order to claim exclusive rights over the resources in an area. They therefore decided to begin reflection on these issues at the grassroots level as support to peace initiatives.According to a press release of the organisers here, taking part in the deliberations, Dr Nanigopal Mahanta of Gauhati University identified homeland politics, immigration and underdevelopment as the three main areas around which conflicts used to arise.He criticised the temporary arrangements like the Sixth Schedule and conflict resolution instruments and suggested conflict transformation through new initiatives such as an NE Ethnic Council to negotiate the disagreements.Inaugurating the workshop, Dr Thomas Menamparampil, Catholic Archbishop of Guwahati spoke on the importance of the peace initiative by an all-inclusive alliance of the youth, civil society and religious leaders. He said that cultural autonomy and justice should be the focal points in the search for peace.Dr Sanjoy Barbora of Panos South Asia focused on the two different views on land as sustenance and as commodity while dwelling on the Assam-Nagaland boundary dispute. Dr Chandan Sarma of Tezpur University dwelt on the history of immigration in the region and the new forms it took under colonialism and the present exclusive focus on the Bangladeshis.ABSU leader Promode Boro said, while dealing with the 1996 Bodo-Santhal conflict, that a third party engineered it but both the communities were deceived by those who wanted to give a different direction to the Bodoland movement. Bulu Terang and Joseph Damzen also spoke in a similar vein while speaking on the Karbi Anglong conflicts.Thomas Mangazhathude of Jirsong Ason, Diphu referred to land, identity, international arms trade and unemployment as the major sources of conflicts in the region. Dr Deben Sarma described various peace initiatives in the region and pleaded for networking in order to strengthen the voices working for a new NE region.Babloo Singh of Humanrights Alert, Imphal described how every individual had many identities but in case of conflicts, one identity used to get exclusive focus and the rest got ignored. Then the individual identity gets submerged with the community and is put in opposition to other communities. This is from where conflicts grow, he said.Dr K Debbarma of NEHU described the process that resulted in massive influx of Hindu immigrants from Bangladesh into Tripura and loss of 60 per cent of tribal land to them. He identified this as the main cause of insurgency in Tripura.P J Joseph of Agartala, Amrit Sangma of NERYC and CP Anto of Peace Channel, Dimapur also addressed the workshop.

Symposium on ‘Sovereignty and the Assamese mind’
GUWAHATI, Oct 18 — A symposium was held on October 13 and 14 at Kaziranga on “sovereignty and the Assamese mind”. Organised under the aegis of The Kaziranga Group, a newly established association of young scholars, the symposium brought together young lecturers of colleges and universities from different parts of the State to debate the vexed issue of sovereignty. This was stated in a press release.The primary aim of the symposium was to convene a meeting of young minds, and form an association in order to regularly meet and debate issues that concern the State. In its maiden venture, The Kaziranga Group debated and discussed the important issue of sovereignty for Assam that has been demanded by certain separatist organisations like ULFA.The participants of the symposium were of the opinion that in its quest for ‘Swadhin Asom’, ULFA has not only waged war against the Indian state, but countless innocent lives have been lost as a result of the continued demand by the organisation not to come forward for dialogue. Participants were also of the opinion that sovereignty was an impossible demand, and was perhaps made only at the behest of forces inimical to the development of Assam. They were of the view that although NSCN and NDFB had not given up their demand for sovereignty, it had not prevented them from entering into a ceasefire with the State, ushering thereby a modicum of peace in their respective areas. The symposium’s participants wondered as to why ULFA could not follow a similar course of action, the release pointed out.The symposium also stated that the question of sovereignty has never been adequately discussed in an academic manner. To that end, that they questioned whether proponents of ‘Swadhin Asom’ have studied the dynamics of the concept before it pronounced such a question. The group of young lecturers speaking at the symposium also questioned whether there was unanimity among the people of Assam for the concept, or whether the concept was being thrust upon them by a few.Examining the concept of sovereignty from a variety of angles, including history, geography and perspective of the ethnic population of Assam, participants examined the cartographical and geo-political realities of ‘Swadhin Asom’, and queried whether the concept would not, for instance, militate with the space sought by groups such as NDFB, UPDS and DHD. Would not a situation of internecine strife engulf the region as a result of the cartographical dissonance that would inevitably be encountered? The conglomeration also questioned whether the proponents of ‘Swadhin Asom’ have taken into consideration the wishes and aspirations of the smaller ethnic groups and the minorities of Assam. It lamented the absence of a viable blueprint for ‘Swadhin Asom’ that could be placed before the people of Assam — economic, socio-political and geostrategic — and wondered whether the concept is a mere fantasy in order to continue an unnecessary conflict, where the worst sufferers were the marginalised people of Assam, the release informed.Participants were also forthcoming in their censure of the State, which they felt had not paid adequate attention to the issues such as development, and was insensitive to burning problems such as flood and unemployment, issues that had probably led separatist movements to propound concepts such as ‘Swadhin Asom’. They appealed to ULFA to abjure all forms of violence, and immediately come for dialogue, without continuing to stick to its demand of sovereignty, which the participants felt did not even reflect the aspiration of 90% of the Assamese population.They also made an appeal to the government to withdraw the black laws that are in force in Assam, halt all forms of repressive measures, ensure that human rights abuse do not take place in the name of military action against insurgency, begin a dialogue process with ULFA and seriously consider the possibility of returning the Army to the barracks for an experimental period of time in order to create a conducive atmosphere for a dialogue process to begin, the release stated.Participants of the symposium were lecturer Political Science, Dibrugarh University (DU), lecturer, department of History, DU, Chandan Sarma, assistant director, Indian Council of Historical Research, Uttam Bathari, lecturer Political Science, Gauhati University (GU), Surajit Konwar, lecturer, Political Science, Cotton College, Dilip Gogoi and lecturer, Political Science, Darrang College, Amardeep Pegu, among others, the release added.

Muslim students demand deportation
UDALGURI, Oct 19 – Muslim Students’ Association, Asom, Udalguri has demanded deportation of all illegal migrants who entered Assam after March 25, 1971.Stating this in a press communique, Badrul Islam, secretary of the organisation said that if all the organisations of the state hold the common view that foreign nationals irrespective of caste, creed and religion entering the soil of Assam after March 25, 1971 as illegal migrants, then the Muslim Students’ Association of the state agrees to it and would demand driving out such illegal migrants for the greater interest of the state.But, since a large number of voters who came to Assam before March 25 of 1971 has been kept as ‘D’ voters, the government should justify their right to vote failing which the students’ organisation would launch a mass movement, the press release added.Red FM: Udalguri district committee of Assam Gorkha Sammelan has demanded an immediate ban on Red FM of New Delhi for its allegedly derogatory comments on the Nepali community of the country soon after Prashant Tamang of Darjeeling was crowned with the coveted Indian Idol title recently.Stating this in a press note, Lakshmi Sedhain and Deepak Nirola, president and secretary respectively of the organisation said the Nepali/Gorkha community of the country cannot tolerate such result on the martial race and the government should ban such ‘evil-minded’ FM stations which fuel communal feelings among countrymen.Radio jockey Nitin of Red FM recently made a comment on Prashant Tamang’ crowning as ‘from chowkidar to Indian Idol, which hurt the sentiments of Nepali-speaking community of the country which triggered fight at Siliguri town in North Bengal causing causalities recently.

Call to uphold past values shown by RG
DIBRUGARH, Oct 22 – The Indian society is going back to the genesis and Assam is not different from the rest of the country. We are going through a period of degeneration. Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Judge of the Gauhati High Court made this remark at a function organised to mark the 107th birth anniversary of Radha Govinda Baruah, the founder of The Assam Tribune at the Sahityarathi Lakshminath Bezbaruah Bhawan here today.Giving a lucid picture of the present socio-political and economic scenario of the country Justice Gogoi observed that the present society was not different from the ancient Moghul period, which was witness to lack of civic morality and personal integrity. “This is very much in contrast in relation to what RG Baruah envisaged of Assam. RG Baruah is therefore not the architect of the present modern Assam, as speculated”, Justice Gogoi observed.Emphasizing on the life of R G Baruah, Justice Gogoi said that the noble soul (RG Baruah) had contributed enormously to the society by pioneering in banking culture, promoting sports, culture, literature and the media in the state from among the Assamese citizens. “ RG Baruah was honest, kind, compassionate and hardworking. Moreover, he never compromised with ethics and principles”, Justice Gogoi asserted.He said it was high time for all to recall the past values of honesty, hard work, commitment and kindness as shown by RG Baruah and march forward in establishing a progressive and prosperous society.The function presided over by Indira Shah, District & Sessions Judge, Dibrugarh, which was organised under the aegis of the Dibrugarh RG Baruah Smrity Rakhshya Samity. Local MLA Prasanta Phukan, Asam Sahitya Sabha’s Dibrugarh branch president Lakhi Gogoi, Principal of the local RKB Law College, Niruddha Chandra Gohain, proprietor of Dainik Batori and former Assam minister of transport, Anjan Dutta were also present as distinguished guests on the occasion.Hosts Dibrugarh RG Baruah Smrity Rakhshya Samity gave away the RG Baruah Memorial Institutional award to Naharkatia College for its services towards the upliftment of higher education in the rural part of the district. State Bank of India (SBI), Dibrugarh and two social organisations- Diamond Club and SEWA were also honoured with the institutional awards for their relentless service to the society. The Smrity Rakshya Samity offered the ‘Deshasevak’ title to noted journalist and litterateur Radhikamohan Bhagwati, editor of Dainik Batori, in recognition to his valuable service to the society. Anjan Dutta, proprietor of the daily received the award on behalf of Bhagwati. Several other individuals were also felicitated on the occasion for their contribution towards the society through various fields.Earlier, Justice Ranjan Gogoi, unveiled a portrait of RG Baruah inside State Bank of India (SBI), Dibrugarh main branch premise. The founder of The Assam Tribune, RG Baruah was the first Indian to serve the Imperial Bank of India during British period as an advisor , which was later became the State Bank of India.

Sabha seeks apology from Centre
GUWAHATI, Oct 23 – The Asam Sahitya Sabha today received the copy of the order of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development, withdrawing the ‘blacklisted’ tag from the Sabha, but said that it would seek an apology from the Union Human Resource Development Minister in the Parliament for blacklisting it without any valid reason. “We welcome the announcement of the Centre to remove the blacklisted tag from the Sabha. However, it is our demand before the Centre that the Union Human Resource Development Minister tender an apology in the Parliament to that effect. It is necessary because the act of the ministry lowered the image of the biggest national institution of the North-east before the public for no fault of it,” Sabha general secretary Dr Pradip Bhuyan said in a statement. The Sabha had received grants worth Rs 7,500, Rs 85,000 and Rs 26,464 during 1978-79, 1987-88 and 1991-92 respectively, and it also submitted the utilization certificates in time. “Despite this, the Sabha was blacklisted, and a formal apology by the minister in the Parliament would be of great help in restoring the image of the Sabha,” Dr Bhuyan said.

Move to blend diplomacy with NE growth
NEW DELHI, Oct 31 – Under pressure, the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) conceded that the diplomatic and political structures put in place over the years by India needed to be made to work for the North Eastern States (NES) and diplomatic initiatives converted into commercial opportunities. The remarks were made by External Affairs Minister, Pranab Mukherjee after hearing out the Chief Ministers of the NES at a meeting on the Look East Policy convened by his Ministry. The conference, filled as the first such comprehensive exercise was attended by several Union Ministers including Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, Shipping, Road Transport and Highway Minister, TR Baalu, DoNER Minister, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Ministers of State for Commerce Ashwini Kumar and Jairam Ramesh, besides the Chief Ministers of the NES. Chief Minister of Sikkim, Paban Chamling was the lone absentee. The turn out of so many top Central Ministers besides senior officials of the Finance Ministry, Planning Commission and other Central agencies reflected the importance attached by the Prime Minister’s Office to link up the North Eastern Region with the Look East Policy. Later, briefing newsmen after the deliberations that stretch on for over four hours, the External Affairs Minister said that essentially what they were looking at here was a paradigm of development whereby the country’s foreign policy initiatives blended seamlessly into the country’s national economic development. Acknowledging that the meeting came about following submission of a note by Minister, DoNER, Mukherjee said diplomatic initiatives urgently needed to be converted into commercial opportunities. “For this purpose, MEA will work in close cooperation with the Ministry of DoNER and Planning Commission, all economic ministries and the State Governments,” he assured. Stressing that physical connectivity and infrastructure emerged at the meeting as crucial issues, which needed immediate attention, the External Affairs Minister said India’s desire to cooperate with neighbouring countries to enable more efficient transit stands firm and all efforts would be made to ensure that the objectives were achieved as quickly as possible. Mukherjee said the interventions by the Chief Ministers at the meeting focused primarily on the current state of connectivity and of infrastructure available in the Region, capacity building, future potential for exports and tourism, the possibility of institutional cooperation in training and research and ongoing action being taken by State Government, with a view to dovetail national development strategies with various foreign initiatives. Curiously, the MEA swung into action after it faced criticism from the NES, as well as Ministry DoNER for ignoring the interest of the Region. Several of the Chief Minister felt that there was an urgent need for greater participation of the NES in the policy making process, as far as the Look East Policy was concerned. The Chief Minister of NER requested DoNER to bring to the attention of the core Central Ministries and authorities the need for adjustments and changes in policies and mindsets that might enable NER to break through the frontiers that have thus far proved to be its prison, Aiyar had written to the MEA. The foremost requirement is transit through Bangladesh, and getting there might first require a by-pass through Myanmar. The next major infrastructure initiative needed is to link NER to Thailand through Myanmar. It is possible only if Government of India undertakes the major part of funding the link within Myanmar. “The economic spin-off of making Indian investment in infrastructure through the Region to Myanmar border and through Myanmar into Thailand would be an investment with assured high returns. “Perhaps more sensitive is the reopening of the Stilwell Road or some such link from the NER to Kunming. South-west China like South-east Asia, boomtown of 21 st Century. Fast, reliable transport links direct between NER and Yunan would, quite literally, open up a whole new world for the Region, Aiyar said.

Upper Assam cynical of NE Vision draft
DIBRUGARH, Nov 6 – M S Sodhi, the engineer – turned - advisor to the North Eastern Council (NEC) just managed to flash a smile, knowing fully well that the aspirations of the people are much larger than anticipated. The New Delhi – based National Institute for Public Finance and Policy has prepared a draft on the proposed Vision 2020 for the Northeast, and the NEC hopes that with a few modifications, the draft would help the government in setting a course of action for the eight northeastern states. However, at the public hearing that the NEC organised here today on the draft, those who spoke said little about what has already been documented. Rather, most were demanding local issues to be incorporated: from civic infrastructure in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia to culture preservation in Majuli. Shikha Dutta Saikia, a Congress worker here, said the Assamese are a sentimental people because “outsiders have never learnt to respect local sentiments in the region.”Prepared mostly by bureaucrats and NGO activists who have mostly bookish knowledge of the northeast, the Vision 2020 document in its present form attempts to touch upon the broad aspects of deemed weaknesses and strengths of the societies of the northeast. This led to one Dibrugarh University teacher to ask if the Centre has any plan for a similar ‘vision’ for western India, comprising states like Punjab, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Kerala. “If these western states cannot be clubbed together because they have their own distinct identities, why not treat the issues of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim on a state to state basis,” he queried. Obviously, he was asking a question that was too complex to reply in a single sentence. Most of the members of the public who participated in the function said the major issue is of corruption, and that this is responsible for the poor material results despite heavy monetary input for the region’s states by the Central government. Many speakers like Subhash Dutta, Kalpana Khound were of the opinion that transparency in government functioning would go a long way in curbing corruption. The NEC will be taking opinion of the people till November 20 on the Vision 2020 document, before submitting its proposals for the Centre's consideration. The one positive stress of the draft document is the emphasis on strengthening communication infrastructure in the region's states, from improved roads and air connectivity to BG rail links to state of the art telecommunications. How the Centre proposes to give these issues prime national significance is a matter that keeps the man on the street here pondering. For the common man here, the road from the city to Guwahati, more flights and trains to Kolkata, Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi, functional streetlights, a working stormwater drainage system and roads without potholes and craters is a greater issue than academic fantasies like “participatory development” and “secure, responsive governance.”
Assamese Muslims threaten to boycott Panchayat pollsBy Our Correspondent GUWAHATI, Nov 14 – Disgruntled by the lack of concern shown by the public representatives of the State in highlighting the issues of the people of the Assamese Muslim community, the All Assam Khilanjia Asomiya Musalman Unnayan Parishad (AAKAMUP) has threatened to boycott the ensuing panchayat elections in the State.This came after the leaders of Opposition parties allegedly did not show any desire to raise the concern of the people of the Assamese community in the floor of the State Assembly, which began today even after repeated pleas.“We have submitted memorandum highlighting our grievances to the State Government as well as all the Opposition parties including the Asom Gana Parishad, Bharatiya Janata Party and Asom Gana Parishad (Pragatisheel) but all of them exuded their lack of interest, which is evident by their complacent approach,” said H Ali, secretary, AAKAMUP while talking to media persons on Monday.The demands include granting of special status to the people of the Assamese Muslim community, issuing identity cards and formation of a development wing for the welfare of the members of the Assamese Muslim community among others. “We believe that this lacklustre attitude on the part of the political parties is backed by a well-hatched plan to safeguard the interest of the illegal Bangladeshi Musalmans, who forms a formidable vote bank in the State,” he said, while adding, “ We want all the political parties to clear their stand towards our grievances very soon.”“They are certainly not behaving like our representatives. The political parties would do well by not taking the Assamese Muslim voters for granted,” he pointed out.The AAKAMUP further alleged, “ As the Panchayat polls is nearing, no political party want to take a chance by disheartening the Bangladeshi voters.” “The Assamese Muslims have a population of over 23 lakh in the State and if no immediate measure is initiated to address our grievances, we will go the extent of organising a mass agitation programme across the State,” Hasan opined.The AAKAMUP will chalk out their future course of action against the alleged irresponsible attitude of the various political parties in the executive meeting slated for Sunday.

Move to highlight inequalities prevalent in State
GUWAHATI, Nov 12 – India is a country where the richest man on earth lives. But in the same country’s state of Assam, 77 per cent people earn a meagre amount of Rs 20 per day. This is just one example of the inequality, which is widespread in our society in the economic, social and educational spheres. In its bid to fight against the social, economic and educational inequality prevailing in the society, the Gyan Vigyan Samity, Assam has planned a cultural movement for creating awareness among the common people about their rights. The ‘Power to people Kalajatra’, which is an extension of the Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samity’s countrywide movement against social inequalities, will be conducted in different parts of the Northeast from November to January 2008. “Through this Kalajatra, we will concentrate on informing the masses about the government policies meant for them, making them aware of their rights and promoting reading habits through our book selling centres,” said the vice president of the organization Dev Dutta Borkataki. “In education sector also, 28 per cent children of the State are out of the governments’ education programmes. Even the Sarvasiksha Abhijan also has not been of much help to these children,” he said. The organization further asked for improving the health facilities in the rural areas of the State. “In this Kalajatra, a team of artistes will perform dance-dramas, group songs and other cultural programmes at different places of the State on panchayat level,” said the State co-ordinator of the Kalajatra, Samiran Brahma. This Kalajatra will go to seven districts of the State and it will cover 105 panchayats in around 2000 kilometres area of the State. The districts to be visited by the cultural group are Nagaon, Morigaon, Sonitpur, Darrang, Kamrup, Goalpara and Bongaigaon in its first phase. “Everyday three to five shows, each one of an hour’s duration, will be performed by the artistes. Apart from Assam, in other north-eastern states of Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Meghalaya also such cultural programmes would be conducted by their respective Gyan Bigyan Samiti units. The programme will be kicked off on Tuesday at the Freedom Fighters’ building, Roopnagar in the city.

Seminar on development-induced displacement in Northeast
GUWAHATI, Nov 12 – North Eastern Social Research Centre (NESRC), in collaboration with Panos, ActionAid and CADA, is organising a seminar on ‘Development-induced Displacement and Rehabilitation in the Northeast’ tomorrow at Social Forum, Joypur, Guwahati. Its objective, according to a press release issued by the NESRC, is to discuss the present situation of development-induced displacement and rehabilitation and develop an alternative rehabilitation policy.The draft State water policy, the Guwahati Master Plan and the proposed SEZs in the region will also be discussed, the release added.Development-induced displacement and deprivation have become intrinsic to India’s progress because most perceive development as raising the standard of living through economic growth and improved services leading to a better lifestyle. However, studies and experience show that economic benefits do not reach the class that pays its price, For the progress of another class, the State acquires huge areas of land for the projects, most of it in the resource rich tribal or ‘backward regions’. The project forces them to sacrifice their land for ‘national development’ whose benefits do not reach them. Displacement, thus, deprives a large number of them from their livelihood but rehabilitation has been weak. Studies and experience point to a high degree of impoverishment resulting from it. It turns displacement into a human rights issue all over India, the centre stated.A study of NESRC ‘Development-Induced Displacement in Assam 1947-2000’ shows that in the State development projects have displaced or deprived of livelihood 19,09,368 persons from 14,01,186 acres. But by official count they have used only 3,91,773 acres. Official records refer only to patta land because the colonial land laws that continue to be in force recognise only individual ownership while much of the land in Assam in community owned. Thus, more than 70 per cent of what was used in Assam is common land but no record is kept of it. The situation is similar in the rest of the Northeast.This seminar is meant to bring some of these issues to the fore, discuss the impact of displacement and deprivation on the people of the region and contribute to the search for the type of development that creates productive jobs while minimising displacement. A rehabilitation policy specific to the Northeast is essential. These and other issues will be discussed and follow up planned, the release concluded.

Kalakshetra’s bid to spread Assamese culture abroad
GUWAHATI, Nov 10 – The Srimanta Sankardev Kalakshetra, which has completed nine years of its existence, is embarking on a drive to showcase the composite Assamese culture and literature to a worldwide audience through the web. “The Kalakshetra has an invaluable collection of information and data on languages, literatures and cultures of different ethnic communities of the State due to its persistent efforts over the last nine years. This also includes folklores in the form of dances and songs preserved in both audio and visual mediums. Now we plan to make this treasure-trove available to a wider audience through the Internet,” a Kalakshetra official said. Every year the Kalakshetra organizes workshops and seminars on indigenous cultures and literatures besides collecting relevant information from the areas, and the result is a comprehensive database on the composite Assamese society including the diverse ethnic groups. The Kalakshetra has so far collected information on the folklore of as many as 33 indigenous communities of the State, mostly in audio-visual form. This also includes traditional forms of folk drama and institutions such as Bhaona, Kushan Pala, Ankiya Pala Bhaona, Khuliya, Ras, Mukha Bhaona, Dhuliya Bhaoria, etc. The Kalakshetra hopes to make these information available through the Internet within a year. Among the recent novel initiatives of the Kalakshetra is the craft design centre, which will provide the much-needed technological assistance to the traditional artisans to craft their bell metal and other ornaments with necessary modifications and a greater choice of designs with the help of computer graphics. “The centre will help the artisans engaged in traditional jewellery and bell metal industry in making new designs and make their products appeal more to modern tastes,” the official said, adding that one training workshop for artisans had already been held. The Kalakshetra has also started collaborations with other organizations in its various research-based projects. “It has already completed two ventures on oral history and customary laws of tribal societies in collaboration with the Indira Gandhi National Centre for Arts, New Delhi. The next project is on the Satra institutions of the State,” the official said.

Definition of Assamese yet to be finalised
GUWAHATI, Nov 19 – Though more than 22 years have passed since the signing of the Assam Accord, the State Government has not yet been able to finalise the definition of “Assamese people” to provide constitutional safeguards under the provisions of Clause 6 of the Accord. The Minister in charge of Implementation of Assam Accord, Dr Bhumidhar Barman recently admitted the fact so far the Government has not been able to determine the definition of Assamese people and two rounds of discussions were held with representatives of different literary organizations of the State in 2005, but the meetings failed to arrive at a consensus. As per the minutes of the last meeting with the literary organizations, held on October 1, 2005, the representatives of the organizations stressed the need for replacing the words “Assamese people” in clause 6 of the Accord with “indigenous people of Assam” to avoid controversies. The representatives also felt that the people living in the state for years historically and adopted the language, culture etc and whom the greater Assamese society adopted as their own are the indigenous people of Assam. Different literary organizations representing the ethnic groups of the State also expressed their own views on the controversial issue.On its part, the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) had submitted a proposal to the Government on definition of Assamese people long back, but that has also not been accepted by the Government. According to the proposal submitted by the AASU, the solution to the issue could be of two types, one is purely from the anthropological point of view and persons speaking the indigenous languages of Assam could be termed as Assamese people. The proposal, however, admitted that a workable solution would be one with a cut off year. Three options in this regard include when the British rule began in 1826, when India became independent and when the Constitution of India was adopted.The proposal concluded that considering the great historical process of assimilation that had been going on in the entire North East, the freedom struggle and partition of the country, the most workable solution would be the National Register of Citizens of 1951 and persons enlisted in the NRC and their decedents should be treated as Assamese people. The students’ body also demanded reservation of seats in Assembly, Parliament and local bodies for the indigenous people of Assam under the provisions of clause 6 of the Assam Accord and though a tripartite sub committee was formed to examine the matter, the issue is still undecided mainly because of the failure of the State Government to finalize the definition of Assamese people. In fact, no meeting of the tripartite sub committee was held so far this year.Meanwhile, the AASU has strongly criticised the State Government for its failure to finalize the definition of Assamese people and alleged that the Government was not sincere in providing constitutional protection to the indigenous people.AASU president Sankar Prasad Roy said that the Government lacked the political will to finalise the definition of Assamese people to provide constitutional protection to the indigenous people of Assam. He said that the proposal submitted by the AASU was the most workable formula as it would not create any controversy, but the Government is yet to accept the same.AASU general secretary Tapan Kumar Gogoi pointed out that constitutional protection for the indigenous people of the state is the need of the hour to protect the political rights of the indigenous people in the face of unabated infiltration of foreigners. He demanded that the State Government should settle the issue as soon as possible if it is interested in protecting the rights of the indigenous people.

Confer highest honour on Dhireswarcharyya’
GUWAHATI, Nov 19 – The Bengali scholars and intellectuals discerned the wonderful brilliance and rare qualities and creativity in the genius of renowned Sanskrit poet of Assam, Dhireswarcharyya in the later part of the eighteenth century and pushed his case to the Government of India for conferment of the highest literary honour – the title of ‘ Mahamohopadhyay’. This was stated in a press release.Dr Bimal Krishna Bhattacharyya, a Sanskrit scholar and Deputy Director of Sanskrit Education, Assam observed in this way in course of his speech on the life and works of Dhireswarcharyya, as the appointed speaker in the 29th sitting of the Sarat Chandra Sharma Praccya-tatwa Adhyayan Kendra on November 11 on the occasion of his death anniversary at Panchakanyadham Vidyapith, Basistha.In the sitting convened by Bhrigugiri, the founder – Acharyya of the Dham and presided over by Major Satyabrata Lahkar, the editor of ‘Namnai’, retired professor Umakanta Sarma of KK Handique Sanskrit College, acting as chief guest analysed in detail the beautiful metrical lines of Vritta Manjari, Acharyya’s famed book on prosody and informed the audience that the book contains many new meters, not available in the Indian Chandamanjaris (prosody books), which extended upto 610 Sanskrit meters. Had Dhireswarcharyya been born elsewhere other than in Assam, his name and fame, his genius would have been spread far and wide. He lamented that this unique book is not, till date, the text-book in the Assam universities.The nonagenarian leader, scholar and litterateur Siva Prasad Barua speaking on the occasion, showered high encomium on Dhireswarcharyya and requested the Addhyayan Kendra to publish early a book on the great Sanskrit scholars of Assam of the past, on which task he will also contribute in the process. He said that he has been highly benefitted by this discourse.In the beginning the sitting commenced with Mangala-charanam by Uma Sarma in presence of a number of scholars, litterateurs, poets and members, followed by devotional song by young artist Kumari Anindita Bhattacharyya of Rangiya.Kanak Chandra Sharma read out the proceedings of the last sitting and his secretarial report stating that the observance of the death anniversary of this great poet has been regular annual feature of the Kendra since a few years back.Earlier, Bhrigugiri Acharyya in his speech, welcomed the audience, inaugurated the function and declared that his establishment will come forward to publish a biography of this great scholar, if the Kendra immediately comes forward to prepare it.The sitting was made enlivened by questions and querries from the audience. It ended with vote of thanks by Dhiren Sarma, the joint secretary.

Rise in retirement age hailed
NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Nov 22 – The State government’s latest announcement, extending the service period of its employees to 60 years from 59 years has been hailed by all North Lakhimpur people. The State government’s new rule will benefit thousands of its employees who are supposed to retire from their jobs very soon.Employees belonging to various services like the education, medical, agriculture and civil administration have hailed the government’s move terming it as right step for those who are about to lose the service benefits shortly after their retirement. Particularly for those employees who are due to retire in a month’s time, the latest policy will be double bonanza as they will avail one more year’s benefits of their services. Similarly, for the college teachers, whose services were provincialised recently by the State government, their about to retire personnel will get most of the benefits immediately from this government decision.

Vernacular newspapers major means to gauge local opinion
GUWAHATI, Nov 21 – “In a vast country like India, vernacular newspapers are often the only sources of information on events in a region, providing an important means of gauging the local opinions on historical events,” said Professor KS Raghavan of Document Research and Training Centre (DRTC), at a workshop on newspaper preservation at Media Trust, here. The four-day national workshop-cum-training on ‘Preservation and Digital Conservation Methods of Newspapers, Magazines and Archival Materials with Reference to the Northeast’ has been organised by the Media Trust, Assam in collaboration with the National Library, Kolkata and Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation, Kolkata. Delivering the keynote address during the inaugural session of the workshop on ‘Digitisation of Newspapers: Issues and Opportunities, Prof Raghavan stressed on the preservation, and accessibility of the newspapers and archival materials to a wider community. “Even if the regional newspapers often represent the views of a particular political party or editors rather that an objective factual representation of the events, it nowhere negates their importance as a powerful source of historical information,” he pointed out. Further delving on the popular methods of preservation of newspapers, he presented a brainstorming session on the ‘Benefits and Limitations of Microfilming and Digitisation Methods of Preservation’. “Bulky and space consuming newspapers are always difficult to handle and catalogue Properly. Moreover, the original newspaper deteriorate rapidly due to the high acid contents, thus it is necessary to transfer the newspapers to some other medium for long-term preservation,” he said. “Microfilming, considered as a stable method of preservation, ensures preservation as long as 500 years if kept in ideal condition, but in this method accessibility to the end user is very difficult. On the other hand, the digital medium presents better possibilities for providing access to newspapers but there are doubts about its stability,” he maintained. Giving the example of some newspaper preservation steps taken up by the US, UK and countries like Kenya he warned that it is high time that we preserved our newspapers for the posterity, before everything is lost. In the technical session, PJ Baruah, executive editor of The Assam Tribune threw light on the historical background of newspapers in Assam and the neighbouring states of the region, starting from the Arunodoi period till date. Baruah also highlighted the role played by the press during the major historical events in the State. In the same session, Mrinal Talukdar, bureau chief of UNI, Guwahati, spoke on the preservation and conservation of the local newspapers, newsmagazines and magazines as primary historical and cultural information. As a custodian of Nanda Talukdar Foundation, he highlighted on the applicability, custodianship and technological aspects of preservation. Earlier, veteran journalist Siva Prasad Baruah lighted the ceremonial lamp and Dr Rabin Deb Chowdhury, former director, National Museum, delivered the inaugural speech. HN Das, former Chief Secretary to the Government of Assam, PC Borua, organising secretary of the workshop, Malabika Ghosh of National Library and RN Dutta Barua, director, Institute of Mass Communication and Media also spoke on the occasion. The meeting was presided over by veteran journalist Radhikamohan Bhagawati, chairman of Media Trust, Assam and the whole workshop was co-ordinated by Rangnathan Kawla Gold Medal Award winner, Prof Alaka Buragohain.

Govt orders survey, resettlement in char areas
BARPETA, Dec 3 – The government has ordered survey and resettlement of residents of the char areas and May 15 has been proposed as cut-off date for this purpose.This was disclosed by Dr Bhumidhar Barman, State Minister of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Assam Accord Implementation, at a meeting held at Mandia near here recently.Dr Barman was speaking as chief guest on the occasion. He inaugurated the new office buildings of Baghbar Revenue Circle. Dr Barman also informed that all revenue circle offices functioning from rented houses will soon get new buildings.The Government has sanctioned the required fund for this scheme, he informed.For the convenience of the public, sub-registrar offices will be established in the same campus of the circle offices. The sub-registrar offices run on commission basis have been taken over by the government and these are being computerised.The Minister also informed that all Ejmali (joint) pattas will be separated soon and circle officers have been strictly ordered to enact separation as this is the main reason behind low collection of land revenue in the State. He admitted that only 20 per cent of the land revenue is collected in Assam as the mouzadars do not accept part revenue of a land patta. The government has also directed to accept part revenue to the Mouzadars, he disclosed.Referring to large scale encroachment over government land, the Minister clarified that circle officers have been empowered to evict illegal occupants. However, all erosion-affected people settled in a plot for 15 years at a stretch would be provided pattas.The meeting was chaired by RL Duwarah, DC, Barpeta and addressed by Dildar Rezza, parliamentary secretary, and MLAs Dr TP Das and Abdul Khaleque.

MLA’s campaign for ‘light in darkness’ hailed
NORTH LAKHIMPUR, Dec 1 – The Lakhimpur MLA, Ghana Buragohain has started a campaign of providing street lights in various areas under his constituency in North Lakhimpur to extend public services to the needy. The campaign initially aims rural centres and sub-urban areas of Lakhimpur Legislative Assembly areas to provide halogen streetlights for which the entire cost will be borne from the area development fund of the MLA. The first of this streetlight campaign was launched in Chaboti area of North Lakhimpur in front of the North Lakhimpur Civil Hospital. Speaking on the occasion the MLA, Buragohain said rural and sub-urban areas would be covered by this scheme initially after which urban localities of North Lakhimpur town would be targeted. Electricity to those streetlights would be borne by the MLA’s fund for first three months and thereafter these would be maintained and electric costs would be borne by local businessmen’s development committees. Street-lights will also be installed in Angarkhowa, Panigaon, Azad, Leelabari, etc.This public service scheme by the Lakhimpur MLA has been widely hailed by the people here in North Lakhimpur.Haj farewell: Haj pilgrims from North Lakhimpur area of Lakhimpur district were given an official farewell here on Wednesday at public meeting held by District Haj Committee in the Eidgah field for that occasion. The meeting was chaired by Samsuddin Ahmed, secretary Lakhimpur District Haj Committee and attended by Ajit Kr Das, ADC, Lakhimpur representing the deputy commissioner and the president of the district Haj committee. Thousands of people of the Islamic faith converged in the Eidgah field from the early hours of the morning to send off the Haj pilgrims to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. All together eight pilgrims were given farewell by the district Haj committee on that occasion. Speaking on the occasion, the ADC, Das asked the pilgrims to pray peace and development of Lakhimpur, Assam and India during the Haj at Mecca. Superintendent of Police, Lakhimpur, Sayed Ataul Kerim and the District and Sessions’ Judge, Lakhimpur, Sayed Muzzammil Hussain also attended the function as invited guests. The pilgrims were presented with gifts and other items by the public and were sent off ceremonially after a prayer. The pilgrims joined other Haj pilgrims of the district at Bangalmara, some 30 km away from North Lakhimpur en-route to the state Haji Musafir Khana at Guwahati. The district administration provided full security to the pilgrims during their journey to Guwahati as precaution to the Assam bandh called by Chaotal Students’ Union on that day.Death mourned: The sudden and untimely demise of Ali Akbar alias Bubul of Kamala Barie Road of North Lakhimpur town cast a spell of gloom on November 25 here. Ali akbar died of a massive heart attack on the midnight of November 24. An employee of the Assam State Transport Corporation, North Lakhimpur, late Akbar was associated with various social activities and was one of the initial co-founders of the Maina Parijat activities in North Lakhimpur. He was the younger brother of noted playwright Ali Hyder and an ardent lover of art and theatre. He was 52 at the time of his death and was unmarried.

Centre denies reports of Chinese incursion
GANGTOK, Dec 1 — India today denied that China had intruded into its territory in the North-Eastern sector and had destroyed forward posts and bunkers in Sikkim but admitted there were divergent perceptions on the Line of Actual Control between India and China. Defence Minister A K Antony today refuted media reports that China had destroyed two forward posts and bunkers on the Sikkim border last month. Replying to a volley of questions by reporters here, Antony said, “there was no incursion by the Chinese troops in Indian territory, be it in Sikkim or Arunachal Pradesh”. However, he said there were divergent perceptions of India and China on the Line of Actual Control. “We have a long border with India and dispute regarding most of them are settled. But it doesn’t mean that there is no problem. There are differences in perception — we have our own perception and they have their own (over boundary)”, he said. The defence minister, however, admitted that there may be isolated incidents on the borders arising out of the difference of perception on territorial jurisdiction between the two countries. He expressed confidence that all minor problems and differences of perception with regard to territorial disputes between India and China would be resolved through bilateral negotiations. – PTIDescribing China as “our strategic partner”, Antony said the armed forces of the two countries would participate in joint military exercise in the second half of December in order to understand each other better.Antony said there were mechanisms to resolve the territorial dispute between the two countries like the flag meeting between top military officials and bilateral negotiations for resolution of such disputes. Describing the security of the borders as paramount national interest, the Defence Minister laid stress on building modern infrastructure in all border states and providing the most modern equipment and other facilities to the armed forces. Lamenting that infrastructural development had not taken place in the North-Eastern states yet, Antony emphasised “We have to improve our system to develop infrastructure at the borders and in the bordering states as quickly as possible”. He said he had visited the border in Jammu and Kashmir and the North-Eastern states several times after assuming charge of the defence ministry in order to take stock of the infrastructural development and the requirement of the armed forces. Antony exuded confidence that no external force could undermine the strength and capabilities of our armed forces who diligently guard our borders in all parts of the country. Asked whether the Chinese troops had incursed into Indian territory at Tamang in Arunachal Pradesh and allegedly damaged a Buddhist statue there, Antony denied there had been any incursion by China in Arunachal Pradesh. Admitting that the Buddhist structure was indeed damaged, the Defence minister, however, said “there was no confirmation of the alleged Chinese incursion in Indian territory in Arunachal Pradesh on the date the Buddhist structure was damaged or on some other day”.Earlier in the day, the Defence Minister who is on a two-day visit to Sikkim, along with the Army Chief General Deepak Kapoor and other officials interacted with the officials and soldiers of the 17th mountain division manning the Indian border at Sikkim. Antony lauded the army for working under difficult conditions and adverse weather conditions to defend our borders and for establishment of peace and stability in the country. Seeking to bolster the morale of the soldiers, he said the troops would be provided with the most modern equipment and high quality of other essential supplies in order to enhance their preparedness. He said he would also seek better financial benefits for the army personnel under the Sixth Pay Commission in acknowledgement of their services rendered for defending the territorial borders of our country. – PTI

Plea to reserve 70 pc seats for indigenous people
NEW DELHI, Dec 6 – With unabated influx from Bangladesh posing serious threat, a citizens group has revived the demand for reservation of 70 percent seats for indigenous people in elected bodies. The constitutional safeguards are essential for political safeguard of ethnic people of the State, who are soon going to be reduced to minorities in their own land, this was argued by delegation of the NGO ‘Save Guwahati, Build Guwahati’ that called on Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh here on Wednesday evening.The Centre has been urged to break the logjam over the ULFA peace process.A nine-member delegation led by president of the organisation, Dhiren Baruah pleaded for solution of a slew of demands ranging from the insurgency, to burgeoning unemployment problems to constitutional safeguards.A member of the delegation said they conveyed to the Prime Minister that they apprehend that the demography of the entire State might change in the next 20 years, turning the indigenous people into minority. They called for reservation of at least 70 per cent seats in Assembly and Parliament for the indigenous people.They further called for change in land law restricting sale and transfer of land to indigenous people. The special rule is under application in some neighbouring hill states, where outsiders are prohibited from buying and transferring land.The Prime Minister, said a member of the delegation heard them in rapt attention. “Assamese people may soon meet the same fate as that of the Aborigine tribe of Australia,” the Prime Minister was told.The delegation also brought up the issue of reviving the talks with ULFA. They the Prime Minister to take fresh initiative to resolve the ULFA problem. Sources said they tried to impress on the Prime Minister that the insurgency was the State’s bane and root cause of majority of the problems.The meeting in which National Security Adviser, MK Narayanan was also present saw the Prime Minister reportedly comment that the door for negotiation was open and the Centre is waiting for communication from ULFA. The delegation was conveyed that there has been no forward movement from the other side.On development of Guwahati City, the delegation pleaded for review of the decision to cut down funds. The Urban Development Ministry had sanctioned Rs 3,100 crore for the City under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM). However, the figure was slashed down to Rs 500 crore following review of the rules. The City lost out on account of the criteria of population.The nine-member delegation also included three general secretaries of the body including Kailash Sarma, Satyen Doley and Krishna Borooah, among others.

Centre evasive on time-frame
GUWAHATI, Dec 4 – The Central Government is not in a position to state categorically as to when the Koch-Rajbongshis of the State will be granted the Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. Union Minister of Tribal Affairs P R Kyndiah revealed this in reply to a question put by Kumar Deepak Das of the AGP in the Rajya Sabha yesterday. The Minister said that the modalities approved by the Government on June 15, 1999 for determining the claims for inclusion/ exclusion from the other modifications in Orders specifying Scheduled Cases (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) list required consent of the concerned State Government, Registrar General of India and the National Commission for STs. This process takes time, therefore, no specific time frame can be mentioned at present for granting ST status to the Koch-Rajbongshis, said the Minister.The Minister also apprised the House that the Koch-Rajbongshis were included in the ST category of Assam (excluding autonomous districts of the State) with an ordinance on January 27, 1996. The ordinance was re-promulgated thrice on March 27, 1996, June 27, 1996 and January 9, 1997 for giving continued effect to their inclusion in the category. The ordinance lapsed on April 2, 1997.It needs mention here that since then, the Koch-Rajbongshis have been raising the demand for their re-inclusion in the ST category. But the Government of India is yet to re-include them in the category. This has been resented by the Koch-Rajbongshis and their organisations have been agitating for the fulfilment of the demand. Recently, the All Koch-Rajbongshi Student’ Union (AKRSU) called for a 300-hour bandh in support of the demand. The supporters of the bandh also set ablaze a passenger bus injuring around 22 of its occupants.

Translation key to building bridges of amity: Mamoni
GUWAHATI, Dec 7 – Jnanpith winner Mamoni Raisom Goswami on Friday stressed the need for encouraging translation work to build bridges of amity between Assam and its neighbouring States. Inaugurating the 9th edition of the North East Book Fair which got underway at Sonaram school ground today, the noted writer said that amongst the creations of men, books were the most wonderful development, permanent and forever young and motivating.Calling upon the people of the State to imbibe respect and love for books, the writer said that the power of knowledge, which came through books, was invincible and unsurpassable. On the other hand, speaking on the occasion, former Sahitya Sabha president Dr Lakhinandan Borah highlighted on the dwindling reading habit of the young generation under the spell of the electronic media. Dr Borah expressing concern at the poor reading habit of the young people said that to woo the children away from the idiot box, emphasis should be given on development of children literature.Stressing the need for increasing the readership of Assamese books, Dr Borah said that apart from organising book fairs for promoting Assamese books, the publishers should go for aggressive marketing and give preference to books with unconventional ideas. “The taste of the readers is changing and our publishers should not hesitate to bring out books with thematic variation,” said Dr Borah.The 12-day fair organised by the All Assam Publishers and Book Sellers Association could not have begun at a more opportune time to make people forget the memories of a black Saturday and commit their faith in the power of knowledge and rationality. President of the association, Giripada Dev Choudhury, while welcoming the dignitaries said that books bring positive changes in the society by making people forget all painful events. He further said that the publishing business in the State was badly hit with the Government taking up the job of text book publishing. The organizers have made all the arrangements to attract the children, youth and worshipper of the Muses to the fair in large.The third day of the fair would be dedicated to the largest riverine island, Majuli. Satradhikar of Sri Sri Auniati Satra, Pitambar Dev Goswami will be present on this day to create awareness on conservation of Majuli.The inaugural ceremony was attended by many distinguished citizens including Dr Satyendra Narayan Goswami, former Prof of Gauhati University, Sahitya Akademi regional secretary RK Mukhyopadhya and others.Altogether 68 publishing houses are participating in the fair.

Sports Dept ensures help to Spl Olympics
GUWAHATI, Dec 7 – A five-day regional coaching camp for trainers under the Special Olympics, Bharat programme is being held in Guwahati from November 26, 2007. The camp was inaugurated by Pradip Hazarika, Commissioner and Secretary, Sports, Government of Assam at the Tarun Ram Phookan Indoor Stadium on Tuesday.Speaking on the occasion, Hazarika assured the organisers all support from his department to ensure mentally challenged athletes from the region bring laurels for their States in the next Special Olympic, which will be held in Athens, Greece.Earlier in her welcome address, Anjana Goswami, North East Co-ordinator of Special Olympics, Bharat stated that sports and games bring joy to the otherwise hard life of the intellectually challenged persons. She also informed the audience that the Assam Chapter of Special Olympics had hosted a training camp in Guwahati in October 2006 in which 400 athletes were trained. This time about 200 coaches are being trained. In addition to that the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan has sponsored 23 trainees, one from each district of Assam to undergo this training. Once they go back to their districts, they will take up training programmes at the Block level, she added.One of the resource persons deputed by the Special Olympics headquarters, Vivek Bardhan said that he was associated with the movement in Assam for the last one-and-a-half year and is greatly impressed by the hard work put in by the Assam Chapter for creating mass awareness about the programme. Among others who spoke on the occasion were Bhaskar Barua, president of Ashadeep Subhas Basumatary, Director of Sports Authority of India, NE Region Sub Centre; and Nurul Islam Laskar. Students of B. Barooah College, Dispur College and K.C. Das Commerce College have set an example by sparing their time as volunteers at the Camp.

Interview lays bare info level of local youths
GUWAHATI, Dec 7 – That the Union Government has a separate Ministry for the North-eastern Region is not known by 95 per cent of the State’s youths interviewed by the Assamese monthly youth magazine Jiban during a survey. And more interestingly, 46 per cent of these youths have demanded that such a Ministry should be created.The magazine had distributed questionnaires among 2,270 youths of more than 100 villages and towns of the country. The respondents were in the age group of 15 to 40 years and they were selected applying the random sampling technique maintaining the parity in the male-female ratio and a logical rural-urban ratio. The respondents were generally found on the college campuses, libraries, canteens, hostels, restaurants, evening gatherings, offices etc.Of the respondents, 76 per cent do not know the location of the headquarters of the NEC. While 29 per cent of them were not aware of the existence of the NEC, 22 per cent of them thought that the Council was located in Kolkata! Fifty nine per cent of the respondents were not aware of the RTI Act.For the AASU and the like organisations, there is an important finding—37 per cent of the respondents did not know the cut-off date for the deportation of foreign nationals as set in the Assam Accord!Another significant finding of the survey is that 74 per cent of the respondents did not know that Srimanta Sankaradeva had written— Dhanya Janam Bharat Barishe. Twenty-two per cent of the respondents thought that Sukafa, the founder the Ahom dynasty was born at Charaideo, while ten per cent thought that he was born at Gargaon and for 20 per cent of them, it was on the Patkai Hills that the great unifier of the Assam peoples was born. And 36 per cent of the respondents had no clue in this respect.

State Govt ready to help ethnic groups
GUWAHATI, Dec 10 – Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today announced that the State Government would soon set up six development councils for the all round development of equal number of ethnic groups restively demanding Scheduled Tribe (ST) status. He also announced readiness of the State Government to extend help to the six ethnic groups in matters of securing ST status provided none of the rights of the existing ST communities are affected.Granting of ST status to these groups is possible if all the political parties agree to ensure it through an amendment to the Constitution of the country, as, it is not possible to do so under the present set up. But that should not infringe upon the political rights of the existing ST communities, he said. Addressing a press conference at his official conference hall here this afternoon, Gogoi said that he was not perturbed with the growing restiveness among the smaller communities. Spread of education among these communities has made them assertive, he said.He told the mediapersons that a Cabinet sub-committee had also been formed with Planning and Development Minister Prithivi Majhi as the chairman to look into the needs of the proposed development councils.He also apprised newspersons that an expert committee was also being set up to examine how much benefits these communities would have derived if they were granted ST status and what could be done for them in matters concerning their socio-economic development.The Government will also publish a white paper within a week’s time, on the roles played by the present State Government and the ones led by the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) on the issue of granting ST status to the six ethnic groups, he said.The idea behind the development councils is to provide similar economic benefits to the six ethnic groups in a manner that matches the benefits enjoyed by the existing ST communities of the State. This includes a special package for socio-economic and educational benefits to these restive ethnic groups, he said.He reiterated the readiness of the State Government to assist these ethnic groups in staking their claims before the Registrar General of India (RGI) for granting them the ST status. The ethnic groups may form their own expert committees with legal experts for the purpose, he said.The Chief Minister also announced that the State Government would extend all help to the All Koch-Rajbongshi Students’ Union (AKRSU) if it moved the Supreme Court of India seeking judicial intervention for granting ST status to the Koch-Rajbongshis. “ They can engage best of the lawyers and we will pay for that,” he said. But in the same breath, he said, “We can’t support the AKRSU demand for a separate state.” He was replying to a question on the AKRSU stance to move the Apex Court and to launch a fast unto death in support of its demand for a separate Kamatapur state.Meanwhile, an all-party delegation led by Speaker Tanka Bahadur Rai has left for New Delhi to meet the Prime Minister and the Union Ministers for Home and Tribal Affairs on the issue of granting ST status to the six ethnic groups. He would also leave for the National Capital next week to take up issue with the Union Government, Gogoi said.The Government is also for reservation or the like arrangement for the other economically and socially backward sections of the people, he announced.On the issue of BPPF chief Hagrama Mohilary opposing the demand of the six ethnic groups for granting them ST status, Gogoi said that Mohilary had met him earlier. The BPPF chief was assured that the political rights of the existing ST communities would not be allowed to be affected by such arrangements for the six ethnic groups, said Gogoi.

Gramin Bank declares Botabari a model village
SIPAJHAR, Dec 14 – Assam Gramin Vikash Bank, Bordoulguri branch has declared Botabari village under Sipajhar revenue circle in Darrang district as a model village.A day-long programme was organised on the premises of Botabari Yuvak Sangha on this occasion. The programme started with lighting of lamp by Jatindra Nath Sarma followed by tree plantation.Exhibition of handloom and pottery items organised on the occasion was inaugurated by Bhuban Chandra Baruah.Open meeting was held under the presidentship of Achyut Chandra Baruah, prominent freedom fighter.Addressing the meeting as chief guest MLA, Sipajhar LAC Binanda Kumar Saikia lauding the efforts of the bank hoped it will bring socio-economic development to the locality.Babul Bora, in-charge officer, Nalbari of the bank highlifhted the schemes of the bank.Loken Das, DDM, NABARD also spoke in the meeting. Sulav Sarma, branch manager, Bordoulguri branch of the bank offered vote of thanks.Casual woes: The plight of a casual employee of Orang National Park has come to light recently. The name of this employee is Karim Ali (35).Since 1987 he worked for the conservation of the park with other 36 such employees who are now facing acute financial crisis as their posts haven’t been regularised till date.It is known from a reliable source that Ali is going to sell one of his kidneys to collect the money which is required for the medical treatment of his wife as she is suffering from kidney trouble. Karim also has six grown-up children.Karim after working 20 years long as casual employee has become worried about their future.

Memorial meet recalls contributions of Syed Abdul Malik
GUWAHATI, Dec 14 – It was just waiting to happen. All it needed was a key to unlock the floodgates of memory. As members of socio-cultural organisation Adharshila created a perfect ambience, speaker after speaker recounted their tryst with Sahityacharyya Syed Abdul Malik - the master weaver of words - at an unconventional memorial function arranged at the Srimanta Sankaradeva Kalakshetra here recently. The trickle finally ended in a torrent.Deftly compered by Ashim Kumar Kazi, the introductory speech was delivered by the working president of Adharshila, Tobiul Hussain. The function was sandwiched between winged words. Songs were presented, poems recited, selected work of the versatile litterateur narrated, and a story was dramatised. Interesting personal experiences with the towering personality of Assamese literature too were shared, the organisers informed. To start with, a poem eulogizing Syed Abdul Malik composed by Kaustavmani Saikia was recited by child participant Anuranan Kumar Kazi. It was followed by narration of Kiodongsha from Malik’s famous novel Surujmukhir Swapna by Nikumoni Hussain. While noted critic Dr Gobinda Prasad Sarma coined the term ‘realistic romantic’ to define the unparalleled short-story writer-cum-novelist, actress Moloya Goswami subsequently recited Moi Asomiya, a poem penned by Malik in 1941.A sequence from the story Sikar was aptly dramatised by Anupjyoti Choudhury and Juri Laskar. Going down memory lane, Malik’s younger sister Lily dwelt on her late brother’s kind-hearted nature, as daughter Farjina apprised the audience about her father’s culinary preferences. Only son Kamil mentioned about his mother Syeda Hasna’s lifelong sacrifice. Having pre-deceased Malik, it was she who had shouldered the onerous burden of running the entire household so that her husband could devote quality time in his literary pursuits, Kamil disclosed.As artist Pullock Gogoi, actor-director Abdul Mazid, Prafulla Bora, educationist-cum-artiste Dr Lakhyahira Das, Bhaben Borthakur and critic Shivnath Barman recounted their rich experiences with the witty humanist, the latter lamented that proper literary assessment of Malik’s works was yet to be undertaken.A song titled Eta Natun Gaan which was set to music by Kamal Kotoky was presented by eminent journalist and Editor of Saadin, Anuradha Sarma Pujari. Likewise, popular singer Ajanta Goswami lent her voice for the evergreen title Jibone Morone Moi Sirodin Asomiya.Significantly, adding a new dimension to the memorial function, publisher Surya Hazarika offered to print the complete works of the Sahityacharyya.For the record, since his emergence as a writer in 1935 when he was a youth of 16, Malik completed his 67th novel at the age of 80. A writer par excellence who specialised in wit and humour, his light though thought-provoking banterings in print evoked peals of laughter, though it often provided food for thought to his readers and admirers. The master of the pen also contributed towards children’s literature.He even wrote two novels on the life and philosophy of saint-poets Srimanta Sankaradeva and Madhavadeva. Having created thousands of characters, he is credited with writing over 2,000 short-stories, besides plays, satires and humorous pieces. Winning accolades throughout his life for his prolific dispensation, this gifted personality saw many a coveted award coming his way, notable among them being the Sahitya Akademi Award in 1972, Soviet Land Nehru Award in 1966, Assam Valley Literary Award in 1994, Padmashree in 1984, Padmabhushan in 1992, D Lit by Dibrugarh University, Sahityacharyya in 1997 and Sankaradeva Award in 1999. Having adorned the chair as president of the Asam Sahitya Sabha in 1977, he was the general secretary of the State’s premier literary organisation from 1969 to 1970, besides presiding over the Tihu session of the Sabha in 1976.It may not be out of place to mention here that Surujmukhir Swapna has been translated into all Indian languages, while Oghori Atmar Kahini has been translated into English. A poet and playright of the first order, he also composed many a social and historical drama, besides writing lucid poetry. Having compiled and edited Asomiya Jikir Aru Jari and Raijor Mukhor Maat, he even researched into various aspects of these suhjects. Taking pains to translate over ten books, the Sahityacharyya’s works lie scattered in numerous books, periodicals, souvenirs, novels, magazines and newspapers. Associated throughout his lifetime with a number of State and national-level institutions, the invaluable contributions of the literary genius will forever provide an insight into finer aspects of Assamese creative writing, besides inspiring generations to come.In a grand finale to the day’s event, prominent social thinker and senior journalist Homen Borgohain claimed, “Malik himself is a colourful chapter in the history of modern Assamese literature”. Continuing, he remarked, “the Sahityacharyya was not only a nationalist and patriot, but a man above all religious boundaries”. Choked with emotion, he nevertheless rightfully observed: “The likes of Malik do not die, they simply depart”.

Without economic liberation, political freedom is meaningless’
BARPETA, Dec 14 – Panchayati Raj is the dream of Congress and the party uses it as a tool for expediting rural development. Dethroning the British, political freedom was attained and its purpose was to provide food, shelter and cloth to rural poor of the country. Freedom will be complete that day when poverty is fully eliminated from the country. Without economic liberation, political freedom is meaningless, said Bhubaneswar Kalita president of Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) at a party meeting recently.Congress party in Assam wants to establish Gram Swaraj as dreamed by the Father of the Nation Mahatma Gandhi in the true sense of the term. For many other political parties, panchayat poll is aimed at only electing few representatives but Congress is not content with the mere selection of Gaon Panchayat president, Anchalik Panchayat or Zila Parishad members. It wants to select the best persons dedicated to rural development through this process. The party feels that without development of the rural areas freedom movement spearheaded by the party will not be completed. He, thus, exhorted every Congressman aspiring to be elected as panchayat functionary to remember Mahatma Gandhi who said, ‘Soul of India resides in her villages’.Describing Rajiv Gandhi as the architect of present Panchayat system, he said that Rajiv Gandhi wanted to fulfil the dream of Mahatma and introduced the Panchayat Act which provided 33% reservation to women. Keeping all these in mind one should remind that only those committed to the solution of the problems of rural agrarian people is the real Congressmen and eligible for nomination for election to panchayats. There will be no compromise with the interest of the people and the party and quoted AICC president Sonia as saying “Party and not the leader is supreme”.The meeting was presided over by Abdul Hamid, president, Barpeta District Congress Committee and was formally opened with the lighting of lamps by APCC president Bhubaneswar Kalita, Vande Mataram was presented by Congress Sewadal of Barpeta Road unit. It was attended by several party leaders such as APCC secretary Chandan Sarkar, ex-ministers Sukur Ali, Ismail Hussain, ex-MP and Minister, Ismail Hussain Khan, MLA and president APCC Women Cell, Malaya Barman and Tara Prasad Das, APCC member Rita Deka and Barpeta Municipality Board chairperson Seema Goswami.MLA Tara Prasad Das and Rita Deka sitting on the same dais considered as one of the important developments in Congress politics in the district as both of them are known to be arch rivals. Rita Deka made statement in a public meeting a few days ago that TP Das is neither a Congressman nor he can be until 2012. But in a separate public meeting organized by the District Youth Congress at Kukarpara APCC president declared that Sarukshetri MLA will have an important role in the selection of party nominees for panchayat poll.About 200 AGP members and supporters of the district led by Mantu Ojah, former president of Asom Juba Parishad, Barpeta district unit and present organising secretary of the district committee of the regional outfit joined the Congress in presence of APCC president.Bhubaneswar Kalita and Chandan Sarkar welcomed them to the party fold and directed the DCC to provide the constitution to them so that they are well-acquainted with the party organization and principles at the earliest.

Journey of colours for peace in State
GUWAHATI, Dec 14 – Under the prevailing situation in the State, one cannot help but recall the revolutionary, poet and artist who had predicted that the indifference of the political and social leaders towards the backward communities will lead to a grave crisis. With words of the people’s man Bishnu Prasad Rabha coming true, Kuwamara Satra in Sivasagar district will take the ideals of Rabha to the grassroot population and build the bridge between the ethnic communities through brush and colour.With the yearlong birth centenary celebration of Rabha, also known as Kalaguru, scheduled to begin on January 31, 2008, Sujit Baruah from the Kuwamara Satra has made the decision to pay tribute to the illustrious son of the soil through a mobile exhibition of paintings titled Biswar Chande Chande.The journey of colours will start on December 15, from Jyoti Bharati in Tezpur with the unveiling of the first painting on the life and works of Rabha measuring five by six ft.“In view of the prevailing situation in Assam, we felt that it was time to take the ideals of Rabha to the man living in the village,” said Sujit while talking to The Assam Tribune.This young man from the Satra caught up by the idealism of Rabha said that the exhibition would mainly target the rural areas and visit places on invitation. The first painting titled Way is a medley of colours symbolising the multifaceted personality of the revolutionary.The other paintings would be done on the spot before the people. From Tezpur, the exhibition will move to the interior villages in Sibasagar.“We wanted to start the exhibition from Rabha’s home with the blessings of Mohini Rabha,” informed Sujit.Though Sujit can take the credit for the idea of the exhibition entirely, he is grateful to the family of Rabha and to his elders for helping him realise his dream. “The other members of the Satra are eager to be a part of the effort,” revealed Sujit.In reverence to the philosophy of Rabha, the artist will portray the colourful culture of the ethnic communities on his journey in an attempt to build trust and solidarity.However, Sujit and his team has decided that the youth of the State should come forward to bring back the elusive peace and so they would be appealing to the young generation to imbibe love for their motherland and culture and put Assam on the road to peace and progress.

New generation unaware of Kalaguru’s ideals’
GUWAHATI, Dec 13 – Though preparations have been afoot to observe the birth centenary of Kalaguru Bishnu Prasad Rabha with pomp and gaeity by some organisations, Mohini Rabha, wife of the late multifaceted personality, is unsure whether the ideals of the Kalaguru would be acceptable to the young generation. Mohini Rabha who was in the capital city on Thursday in connection to the year long centenary celebration of Bishnu Prasad Rabha taken up by Indian People’s Theatre Association (IPTA), Assam branch and Asom Pragitisheel Silpi Sahityik Sangha, said that today’s young people growing up under the influence of alien culture were not aware about Rabha. “Lets see what could be done during the year long programme to make Rabha and his ideals agreeable to the youngsters,” said Mohini Rabha. She is associated with the organizers and expressed that she was ready to extend all possible help to ensure that the programme met its objective.The programme will get under way on January 31, 2008 with a central function scheduled in the capital city.A colourful cultural procession will be the starting point of the year long agenda. “The objective of the programme is to make the people especially the young generation aware about the contributions of the Kalaguru,” said Divash Phukan, joint general secretary of the organizing committee.The organizers will hold programmes in Kolkata, Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore to take the ideals of Rabha to the national platform. “We have also planned for organizing workshops on Rabha Sangeet at various places in the State,” said Phukan.A convention of the ethnic communities will be held in Beltola as part of the programme.The organizers will also bring out a book on the life and works of Rabha in Assamese, which will be translated into English, Bengali and Hindi.A statue of Rabha will be installed at Dibrugarh, state level essay, quiz and debate competitons will be held for the students, and symposiums on Rabha will be held at various places in the State. From the centenary celebration year, Bishnu Rabha award will be given every year on June 20.A documentary on the life and works of Rabha will also be made as part of the celebration. The concluding function will be held at Tezpur on January 29, 30, 31, 2009.

Cong to nominate candidates with leadership quality, clean image
BARPETA, Dec 11 – The Congress in Barpeta will nominate only such candidates in the ensuing panchayat polls who have winning prospects. A number of observers have been appointed who will scrutinize the popularity of the candidate in the area he seeks to represent, record of corruption of the person concerned, criminal background if any and quality of leadership inherent. This was disclosed by secretary of the district committee and one of the observers, Sabita Bharali recently.Talking to this correspondent, Bharali said party prefers to nominate at least 80 per cent of its candidates from among new faces with clean image and flatly refused the charge that money power will play a vital role in the process of selection. She made it clear and her party would be strict in selection of candidates for panchayat election this time and there will be no compromise with principle. While she referred to several news items regarding large-scale corruption by some Zila Parishad members during the previous term she retorted, “No, they will not be given a second chance because of corrupt practices.”However, she admitted the infighting in the party at several places including Sarukshetri and asserted that this will be sorted out before the election and dissidence will be dealt with sternly.Meanwhile, the district president of the party has issued directives to follow the party norm of one-man, one-post and check the apprehension of favoritism and nepotism in the process of selection of party nominee for the panchayat polls. In a letter written to the presidents of the Block, Mandal and Booth committees and other sister organizations, district president Abdul Hamid directed that if a president or the spouse of an above mentioned unit wants to apply for party nomination, he or she must relinquish his or her party post prior to application for nomination.The charge of the incumbent should be handed over to the vice president or even if the vice president is also an aspirant, it should be bestowed on a person deemed fit for the job. Such transfer should be intimated to the district committee immediately. The reversal of the charge would be effected only after the election process. The district president warned that if someone violates this order, he would be relieved of his assignment with immediate effect.

ISI links with 24 NE outfits revealed
GUWAHATI, Dec 16 — Hardcore ISI operator SM Alam alias Mojibullah Alam alias Asif Alam today revealed before the police that the ISI has links with 24 militant outfits, which are active in the entire North East region. Alam during questioning further revealed that he entered Assam exactly 25 days back and since then he was consistently on the move and even travelled to various parts of Northern India recently.The Assam Police arrested Alam, who had been under surveillance of the police for some time, on December 14. Police has also recovered a fake passport from Alam’s possession. Sources in the police department further said that the ISI cadre also revealed certain valuable inputs regarding the jehadi activities in Assam and other parts of the Northeast.However, the sources refused to go into details, saying, “It might hamper the process of investigation.”The special court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, meanwhile, has granted ten-day policy custody to hardcore ISI operator.Alam, son of Maidan Ali, is a resident of Azampur under Uttara police station in Dhaka. Prior to his becoming an ISI operator in the North East, Alam was a Jamaat-e-Islami activist closely connected with the Chatra Shibir. In 1993, he joined Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, a Pakistan-based jehadi outfit. He also underwent training in the Pak-occupied Kashmir.

NF Rly bore brunt of ultra attacks in ’07
GUWAHATI, Dec 17 – The year 2007 turned out to be a bad year for the NF Railway because of frequent attacks by the militant groups. According to records available, the Railways faced as many as ten blasts in different parts of Assam so far this year. Railway sources said that the first blast of the year took place between Diphu and Daldali railway stations on January 6, but fortunately there was no casualty in the explosion that took place on the tracks. That was followed by a blast in the New Bongaigaon railway station on January 21, in which five persons were injured. On the very next day, another blast took place on the tracks between Diphu and Daldali stations but no one was injured in the attack.Two blasts took place in the month of February this year and the first one was at the Kamakhyaguri station on February 5 and the second at Kamakhya station on February 9, but no casualties were reported in both the incidents.After the blasts in the months of January and February, there was a lull period for a few months and the next blast occurred in the month of September. One person was killed and at least 15 others were injured in the blast in the Bamunimaidam Railway Colony in the city on September 1.Though no major incident was reported in the months of October and November, the current month turned out to be one of the worst with four blasts taking place in different parts of the State so far. The first blast of this month took place on the tracks between Bokajan and Khatkhati railway stations on December 4 and the second on the very next day, again on the tracks, between Diphu and Nailalong stations. But no casualty was reported. The third blast of the month took place between Tangla and Harisinga stations on December 7 in which no one was injured. The blast on the Rajdhani Express on December 13 between Naojan and Chongajan stations was the worst this year as five persons were killed and four others were seriously injured in the incident, Railway sources said.Militant outfit All Adivasi National Liberation Army (AANLA) is suspected to be involved in the recent blasts in the districts of Golaghat and Karbi Anglong and following the series of blasts, the NF Railway authorities have introduced a special security drill. Now mobile teams of the RPF and RPSF have been deployed for the patrolling of the tracks, while, all passenger trains would be preceded by either a goods train, or a light engine or a motor trolley to increase occupancy of the tracks so that the militants do not get enough time to plant bombs on the tracks.

Elders define Assamese; discuss Beltola clash
GUWAHATI, Dec 17 – The Guwahati Senior Citizens’ Association (GSCA) expressed indignation at the unwarranted exaggeration and biased presentation of the Beltola incident by the national press and a section of the electronic media and held the view that what happened in the city on November 24 was most unprecedented and by no means was it an isolated incident.The meeting, held under the presidentship of Kamaleswar Bora, former Vice Chancellor of Dibrugarh University, expressed the view that it would indeed be unjustified, unfortunate and unethical to hold the citizens of Beltola or of Assam responsible for what happened at Beltola in view of the fact that similar violent incidents have occurred in this country as many as 36 lakh times during the last six decades of freedom.The meeting by another resolution offered the definition of the Assamese community in the context of the constitutional protection to be extended as per the provisions of the historic Assam Accord of 1985.The GSCA was of the opinion that all those people who have for centuries been identified as the Assamese with their distinctive language and culture including those ethnic groups whose mother tongue stemmed from the soil of Assam should be accorded constitutional recognition as Assamese people.Elaborating on the resolution, DN Chakravartty said that only those people should be treated as the Assamese who do not have any other earthly shelter except Assam, and who would have to flourish or perish only in this part of the world either at times of foreign invasion, pestilence or natural calamities.He said that ethnic groups having the prospective abode elsewhere and having protectors or guardians from out side should hardly qualify to enjoy the constitutional safeguards as may be given to the Assamese people.

Assam Sena issues diktat to New Year eve revellers
GUWAHATIM Dec 22 – The Assam Sena has urged the organisers of the New Year eve functions not to patronise any thing that encourages debased culture. In a statement here, chief convenor of the Sena Nirnjan Nath said that the functions being held to welcome the New Year at the hotels, restaurants, resorts, lounge bars etc should be organised with decency. This approach was endorsed also by the representatives of the restaurants, resorts, lounge bars at a meeting they had with the representatives of the Sena and All Guwahati Students’ Union on December 7, said Nath.He made an appeal to all members of the Sena to keep a vigil on the functions and demanded that the State Government should take steps to prevent any deviation from civility.Meanwhile, the city unit of the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba-Chatra Parishad (AJYCP) has also made an appeal to the owners of the beer bars, discothèques, shopping malls etc to abide by the cultural norms of the State’s society.In a statement it has resented the way some of these establishments have been functioning. It has also objected to the manner the authorities concerned have been issuing permits to such establishments and warned steps like sending its teams to visit such establishments

PM pulls up NE leadership
NEW DELHI, Dec 20 – Raising an alarm over unabated extortions in the North-East, Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh exhorted the region’s political leadership to buck up and curb militancy to ensure that the people feel safe. In his hard-hitting speech on militancy in the North-East, Dr Singh minced no words when he said, “We need much better leadership at all levels so that militancy is curbed and people feel secure.”“Extortion seems to be a frequent occurrence (in North-East). We need to put an end to this. We need to enforce the rule of law and create a respect for the state apparatus. National considerations and requirements should take overriding priority,” the Prime Minister said, addressing a meeting of the Chief Ministers on Internal Security, convened by the Ministry of Home Affairs.The meeting attended by Union Home Minister, Shivraj Patil, top officials of the Ministry, intelligence agencies among others was held under unprecedented tight security and even the media was kept out of the main Vigyan Bhavan premises. The deliberation at the meeting was kept under tight wraps. The Home Minister has convened the meeting on direction of the Prime Minister following a spate of bomb blasts all-over the country and rising naxal violence. Conceding that the problems of the North Eastern States and Jammu and Kashmir were unique, Dr Singh observed that they suffer from poor infrastructure and communication facilities. “It has been our sincere attempt to improve these facilities so that these states too can benefit from our booming economy,” he said. But, these States have vulnerabilities on the internal security front which we need to address. Each State has its specific nuances and characteristics and we cannot generalize the problems, he further opined.The Prime Minister said there are many regional and tribal demands, which needed to be addressed systematically. “If not done so, they can lead to dissatisfaction and law and order problems,” he cautioned, indirectly referring to the recent trouble involving the Adivasis in Assam.While there has been an improvement in the overall situation in all the North Eastern, Manipur and Nagaland appear particularly vulnerable, he said.Emphasising the need for a secure environment, the Prime Minister said there were regions, where the absence of a peaceful, secure environment has become a major hurdle in improving their prevailing economic conditions. “State agencies find it difficult to run schools, healthcare services and PDS systems. Construction of essential infrastructure like roads, railways, electricity lines, telecom lines, irrigation systems and drinking water facilities is slowed down or stopped because of inadequate security,” he said.In Assam, work on several projects including the vital gauge conversion project linking Lumding with Silchar, has slowed down after militants gunned down 11 railway-men. “Such an atmosphere then is certainly not conducive to investment or rapid economic development,” the Prime Minister argued. The Prime Minister emphasised that there were no easy solutions to the internal security challenges, the country is facing. “They cannot be seen only through the prism of law and order nor can they be solved through a pure policing approach,” he observed.“The internal security challenges we face need personal attention and leadership. It is only then can they be addressed in a coordinated and comprehensive manner, he said.Earlier, the Home Minister gave an over view of the internal security situation in the country, high-lighting the threats faced by the States, ranging from militancy in the North-East and Jammu and Kashmir to naxal violence.

Weaving an integral part of Bodo society: Rihon
UDALGURI, Dec 23 – “Weaving and handloom products are inseparable parts of Bodo society. It is their tradition and so cannot part with it at any cost. The first-ever special handloom expo being held at Udalguri town will surely open a new avenue for our upcoming talents. They will get an exposure through such expos in our area.” This was said by Rihon Daimari, chief guest of second special handloom expo (first ever in Udalguri).The expo was attended by a mammoth gathering here at Udalguri Durga Puja mandap.Biswajit Daimari, chairman of ARTFED, in his speech, hoped that the expo would be able to reach its target sale of Rs 80 lakh for the expo is being held at Udlaguri ahead of Christmas. The meeting was also addressed by Maheswar Boro, MLA, Kalaigaon LAC, Kamali Basumatary, MLA, Panery LAC, Mitharam Basumatary, executive member for agriculture of BTC and Alindra Mochahary, MCLA of Rotwa BTC seat, George Basumatary, deputy commissioner as guest of the day, among many others.Earlier, NN Ranapatgiri, managing director of ARTFED, read out his welcome address. In his speech, MD of ARTFED hoped that the expo would be able to get exposure in this region.Ranapatgiri also informed that there are about 65 lakh weavers in India at present out of which 13 lakh weavers are in Assam.The second of its kind, the special expo organised by ARTFED and sponsored by Development Commissioner of Handloom, Government of India held its first special expo at Sualkuchi from November 22 to December 5, where it achieved its target of Rs 1 crore sale, informed Mukul Ch Deka, general manager of ARTFED and officer i/c of Special Handloom expo, ’07.Talking to this Correspondent, Deka also said the Third Special Handloom Expo would be held at Tura from December 21 to January 3, 2008 next even as the Fourth Special Expo is scheduled to be held at Kokrajhar from February 1, 2008 to February 14 next. The fifth expo of its kind would be held in Dibrugarh from February 20 to March 6, 2008 for the 2007-08 session.The general manager of the organisation also informed that a national-level expo is scheduled to be held at Guwahati from January 9 to January 29 next where the target of total sale has been fixed at Rs 5 crore. He also informed that about 10 trained self-help groups (SHGs) are participating in the ARTFED-organised expos. The ARTFED official also informed that the ARTFED, the biggest-ever handloom state organisation, has already organised eight district-level exhibitions so far in Bongaigaon, Abhayapuri, Guwahati (Beltola), Bijni, Nazira, Naharkatiya, Nalbari and Tamulpur while two such district-level handloom expos are going on in North Guwahati and Lekhapani till the filing of this report. Another five such district-level expos would be held in Sankardeva Kalakshetra in Guwahati, Dhaligaon in Bongaigaon, Lumding, Mushalpur and in Titabor shortly.Health mela: As per the instruction of Health and Family Welfare Ministry of State Government, the governing body of District Health Society, Udalguri (BTAD), decided to hold the second health mela for Udalguri district at Danda Sahariah Higher Secondary School playground in February next, the dates of which are yet to be finalised.The decision to this effect was taken in the meeting of the governing body of Udalguri District Health Society held at the conference hall of Deputy Commissioner here at Udalguri recently with George Basumatari, Deputy Commissioner of Udalguri district in the chair.The objectives of the meeting was explained by Dr DN Das, joint director of Health Services-cum-member secretary of District Health Society, Udalguri while Dr HK Das, CM and HO (CD), Udalguri presented the action plan of health mela.Speaking on the occasion as chief guest, Kamali Basumatary, MLA of Panery LAC, hailed the decision to hold the health mela every year by the state government in every district of the state. She hoped that the rural masses would surely avail the benefit of such health mela. She also requested District Health Society to organise the third health mela at Tangla in 2009 which was unanimously endorsed.Organising committee of Health Mela, Udalguri-2008 was also formed with Rihon Daimari, PHE minister of the state as chief adviser, George Basumatari, DC of Udalguri district as president, Dr DN Das, member secretary of Health Society, Udalguri as working president while Dr HK Das, CM and HO (CD) and Dr GC Brahma were selected as orgnaising secretaries. Dr Gautam Boro and Dr C Thakuria were given the assignment of assistant secretaries while Nomal Singh Borgoyari will look after the activities of health mela as office secretary and Samarjit Kachari district media expert, NRHM has been entrused with the publicity duty.The meeting held in a cordial atmosphere was attended by Dr Rohit Brahma, senior physician of Udalguri town, Dr Debicharan Boro of Udalguri CHC, Jerimiya Daimari of Immanual Hospital Society, Gautam J Talukdar, president of Udalguri District Journalists’ Union, among others.

Crime and controversies ruled the roost in 2007
GUWAHATI, Dec 28 – Crime and controversy continued to rule the roost in the State throughout the year 2007, as the law-enforcing agencies were pitted against some of the most intricate cases, out of which some would continue to challenge Assam Police’s efficacy in the ensuing year.Though the city, which virtually turned into a den of illegal activities registering 150 cases of abduction, over 100 extortion cases and over 4,000 various other crimes, some of them turned out as a hard nut to crack. Dr PC Ram abduction mystery: This year’s most-talked-about case was the abduction and subsequent killing of former executive director of Food Corporation of India (North East) Dr PC Ram. The senior official of FCI was abducted by the United Liberation Front of Asom from the city and remained in the custody of the extremist group for several months. Police, despite making claims of breakthrough time to time, failed to come up with any positive results. But the real controversy began when a body of a schoolteacher found in Nalbari was mistaken as Ram’s body and was handed over to the family members after being identified by his son. A few weeks later, Dr Ram was killed during an encounter between the police and a group of ULFA members at Kamalpur, after which the integrity of the police team also came under the scanner. Though initially the case was handed over to the Criminal Investigation Department, the State Government in October handed over the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. CBI is likely to form its camp office very soon. The family members of Dr Ram have also filed a petition in the Gauhati High Court requesting it to transfer all the police officers who were involved in the investigation procedure from their office so that they cannot hamper or tamper with the CBI investigation.Family members of Ram also informed the court that Ram was aware of a multi-crore rupee scam in the FCI, which could well be the reason behind his abduction and subsequent killing. Assam Police Battalion scam: The ghost of the multi-crore rupee salary scam in the 3rd Assam Police Battalion at Titabor, detected a couple of years back, took a serious turn in the current year when the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested a host of senior police officials for masterminding the scam. Not only that, two more salary scams were detected in the 10th ABPN and 4th APBn. Though the investigation into the anomalies in the 10th APBn has also been handed over to the CID sleuths, no arrests have been made so far and investigation is on. According to sources in the CID, more senior officials of the respective battalions are likely to be arrested. Beltola clash: The November 24 clash between the members of the Adivasi community and a section of locals totally jolted the entire State machinery in the biggest way this year. Though the official number of death remains just one, the issue of granting ST status to the Adivasis, along with five other communities, made headlines across the country.The repelling incident of stripping an Adivasi woman during the clash was condemned throughout the length and breadth of the country. Police, however, arrested the trio who were responsible for the crime. Though the findings of as many as three probes into the Beltola case are likely to come up early next year, the issue of ST status would continue to haunt the State Government, for some more time. A special investigation team of police has also been entrusted with the job of framing criminal charges against the people, who instigated the clash.Tapan Das murder case: The Tapan Dey murder case, in which popular singer Zubeen Garg was also named gave a tough time to the city police. Though, according to police, involvement of NK Production, a leading music local production house, was more or less established, however there has been no breakthrough into the case. Zubeen, however, denied any involvement in the incident.Abduction of MK Biswas: MK Biswas, a city-based builder abducted by unidentified miscreants on December 2, was released on Monday. Though the abductors demanded a ransom of Rs 10 crore initially, Biswas’s unconditional release once again gave momentum to rumour against police. According to police too, Biswas’s unconditional release is a matter of investigation. Abduction of Manipuri students: The abduction of four Manipuri students by some Manipur-based extre-mists from the heart of the city in board day light once again posed serious question of over the efficacy of the law-and-order machinery in the State. Surprisingly, the abductors also released the four youths unconditionally the very next day. Though police to have solved the case, the students’ unconditional release was something a section of people find hard to digest.

Media urged to promote gender equality
GUWAHATI, Dec 27 – The Assam State Commission for Women today appealed to the media to promote gender equality and empowerment of women. The Commission, which is planning to reach out to the grassroots women and taking up more welfare activities in the coming year, said that media had an important role in projecting the problems of women.The Commission today organized a symposium on the topic ‘The Role of Media in Projecting Women Issues’, to generate awareness on women’s issues and to get the media’s support to make its welfare schemes successful.The Commission, while lauding the efforts of the media in projecting the issues of women, said that the media, the fourth pillar of democracy, should project positive images of women.Speaking on the occasion, Mridula Saharia, chairperson of the Commission, said that the press in India was an institution and it should serve the purpose of ensuring welfare of the country and the people. “Under the provisions of the Constitution, the press enjoys certain freedom and is considered an authentic medium through which people of the country can ask for their rights,” said Saharia.Saharia said that starting from the Bengal Gazette till the present-day publications and TV news channels, the press in India had come a long way facing all the challenges of time. “However, in the present day, a major change has come in the press in the form of 24-hour news channels,” said Saharia, adding that the responsibility of the electronic media had increased with 24-hour news presentation. “The responsibility of a scribe who reports live has increased. It is the duty of each and every person related to the media to understand and realise their responsibilities,” said Saharia.The chairperson further said that the impact of globalisation has changed the society’s attitude towards women’s issues. She said that on the one hand, women were scaling great heights professionally, but on the other hand women continued victims of physical and emotional abuse, trafficking, etc. “The media can play an important role by reflecting the social issues such as gender inequality,” said Saharia, calling upon the media to project women in proper perspective and sensitise the society towards the problems faced by women.The Commission has requested the media to avoid displaying women for sales promotion and displaying news with concern for the modesty of women.

Women empowerment gets a boost
GUWAHATI, Dec 27 – Not to restrict visions like ‘women empowerment’ to just words uttered in symposia and other elite fora or confined within the newspaper articles, Satadal, a Guwahati-based socio-cultural organization has decided to go to the women at the grassroot and create awareness there.In this connection, Satadal recently organized a daylong programme at Topatali under the aegis of the Social Welfare Department. The women of the area, who had so long little idea on how to tackle the various problems encountered at various moments in life, were explained in detail about the ways of overcoming such problems.According to Satadal, women would be empowered in the real sense of the term only when they attain the capacity to solve their problems themselves. “Whether it is the home front or the work place, women face many problems, and unless they learn to face the problems with courage, they won’t be empowered,” said Satadal’s vice-president Putali Kayastha.With the objective to make the women in the rural areas more vocal about their problems and make them aware of their rights, the programme was organized on the outskirts of the city and it received encouraging response from the rural women.The participants were trained on the methods of small saving to meet the family expenditure. They were also trained on food preservation.“If the women are keen, they can improve their economic condition through food-based production activities with the locally available produce,” said Kayastha.However, the Satadal observed that the women in the area were not taking to productive ventures, despite coming together as SHGs. “The women SHGs have the mentality of extending credit at three percent interest with their savings and lethargic about undertaking any productive venture,” said Kayastha adding that the women were simply satisfied with the profit coming from their credit.The Satadal explained to the participants the need to take up productive activities through their SHGs.

Demand for dual citizenship
GUWAHATI, Dec 26 – In view of the unchecked migration to the State, the demand for dual citizenship has been raised once again by the Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP). The student body, while expressing concern at the unabated influx to the State, said that the only way of dealing with the problem was to introduce dual citizenship.Lambasting the Government for not taking any bold measures to address the problem of influx, functionaries of the AJYCP, president Putul Dutta and general secretary Manoj Baruah said that international and inter-State migration has changed the demography of Assam, but the Government was yet to wake up to the threat.“Unchecked migration has threatened the existence of the indigenous communities of the State, but the Government is not taking any step to safeguard the interests of the indigenous communities,” said Dutta.Dutta further said that even the Centre was ignoring the threat to the indigenous communities and warned that the AJYCP would not remain silent over the issue.It may be mentioned here that the AJYCP has also been demanding introduction of inner line permit to protect the interests of the indigenous communities. It had in the last few months taken to several agitational programmes demanding introduction of inner line permit. The entry of thousands of people of dubious citizenship from the neighbouring States to Assam a few months back had endorsed the demand of inner line permit, the AJYCP had claimed.“The vote bank politics has emerged as the greatest evil for the State,” said Baruah.The AJYCP said that it had been demanding dual citizenship since its inception in the year 1978 as a shield for the indigenous people. The student body announced that it would intensify its demand for dual citizenship in the coming days.On December 31, the student body will stage its first programme throughout the State in demand of dual citizenship. The AJYCP has appealed to the people of the State to extend support to its demand and the agitational programmes that would be taken up in this regard.
When yearnings for home become hard to ignorePriyanka Bhuyan It is always said that the days gone by are always good. Well I don't know how to comment on it! For me it is always a mixed bag and I am quite sure that it stands the same for everyone because life is like that, sometimes good and sometimes bad. As we are on threshold of bidding adieu to 2007 and ushering in 2008 it is a time to look back on all these days. 2007 will always hold great importance in my heart for I took some life changing decisions during this year. I have always been a born rebel in my life and have always followed the course of my heart. For the last three years I had been staying in Delhi. From hating the place to loving it was a slow and gradual transition. Delhi for all Assamese staying outside is a place whom we first hate and then slowly love. So the same story runs with me. Now when I look back I miss my carefree days out there, my PG mates who came from every nook of the country, the shopping outings and most importantly my college days which appeared to be just like a leaf of “Rang de Basanti.” I finished my Masters degree in Mass Communication in 2007 and first joined “The Asian Age.” But only after a week I realised that this was not my cup of tea. So I left and joined one of the country's top PR firms. I loved the challenges that my job offered me and was slowly moving forward towards my goal. It was a platform where I came across some of India's biggest business tycoons. It was a great feeling to come close to people whom so far I had seen only in TV and newspapers. Everything was going on fine but slowly I realised that I was also being sucked into the great metro life where people are nothing but mechanical Zombies, where our lives are controlled by clocks. Complaints started pouring in from my home that I had become too practical to an extent that I didn't have the time to even make calls. But where was the time to even make calls? Once I went to a post conference party that was thrown at Maurya Sheraton. I saw the people dancing to the sway of music at the discotheque. Among them I saw one of my classmates also who was busy smoking and boozing. I got the shock of my life because she hailed from a conservative family in Bihar and during the entire college life she was always salwar clad let alone jeans. She even refrained from coming to freshers social or any other event during college days. I went up to her and greeted her. She saw the look on my face and said “Don’t look so shocked. It happens Yaar, there is so much pressure in work that smoking is only way to beat the stress. Anyway what brings you here? I don’t think you are a party person to come here.” I told her I was on an official party. Seeing her I remembered what my teacher had told me in college “Have you seen Page 3? Life in media is really Page 3.” (Page 3 is a movie by Madhur Bhandarkar) Slowly the truth dawned on me. I started missing my life back in Assam. I realised that it is only love that matters in life and not money. Amidst the concrete jungles in Delhi, I pined for the greenery of my state. I had the opportunity to have food in five star hotels but still my tongue wished for masor tenga and alu pitika. I told my parents of my desire to come back and they stood by me. They told me that there was ample scope even in Assam. I started applying for jobs but media jobs in Assam were very rare. But still I did not relent. I thought it was better to serve my own people than others. Then bingo! As if God heard my prayers the National Rural Health Mission gave advertisements for District Media Experts. I applied for the post, but I told mom that there will be people who are far more experienced than me. But my mom told me “If you are the best, nobody can take it away from you.” I kept my fingers crossed and just prayed that I get my interview call. I was continuing in my job in Delhi but then one day something happened that forced me to do something which I have never done before. It was 26th September and the next day was my birthday. I was feeling very low as I was working till 9 pm as I was handling 3-4 clients. Then I received a call from my boss that I need to work even Sunday because some other team member did not turn up. But I don't know anything about that client, I protested. Then you need to find out was the flat reply. I decided then and there. I gave a call to my mom that I need to come back right now. I was crying but at that same time my mom was apprehensive about my father. Just then my father picked up the phone and he shouted “What the hell are you doing till 9 am? This way you will be reduced to bones. Come back and leave that stupid job.”I will never forget that night when my father took my side. I made a call to my friend who was working with Hindustan Times and asked whether a ticket was possible to Guwahati by the next possible flight. He came to pick me up from the office but already all the ticket agencies were closed down and the only possible way was to book the ticket from the airport. I made a dash back to my flat and started packing up things. All my friends were shocked. They told me “Wait for sometime, at least go when you get a job or complete the month and take your salary and then go.” But I knew that if I stayed back this time I would be never be able to go back. It's now or never. One of my friends said “You are nuts! You worked so hard to reach here and now you are leaving it.” I told them my priorities had changed. I booked the 5:30 morning flight and reached Guwahati by 8 am. Reaching Guwahati, I felt the old days coming back. But I was also a bit apprehensive; I am now a well educated unemployed girl. I prayed to Goddess Durga during Durga Puja “Mother hear my prayers and put an end to my troubles. I really want to stay here and serve my people.” And the Goddess answered. I was short-listed for the District Media Expert post. During the interview the interview board wanted to know why I left Delhi and whether I would be able to work in even remote conditions. I answered yes. But they were not convinced that after staying in Delhi I would be able to work in far-lung areas. But my joy knew no bounds when I scored the third position in the interview and man appointed as the District Media Expert of Chirang district. By this, I became the youngest district official in NRHM. So the year as it seems is finally coming to a happy ending. 2007 taught me many things. It taught me to believe in myself, to stand by one's dictions, that the road is not as hard as it seems and that even strangers could be helpful. So on this note here's wishing a very Happy and prosperous New Year to all the people of my beloved State.

Investigative journalism is of prime importance today’
GUWAHATI, Dec 30 – His memory is not the same he used to be known for. But his love for sports continues to be the same, undeterred and selfless. This is about veteran sports personality Pulin Das, who in spite of being 90 years of age is still going strong. Speaking as the guest of the month today at the Guwahati Press Club, an organisation, which was his brainchild, Das, who is credited to have revolutionised the concept of sports journalism in the State, said, “ The concept of journalism has undergone drastic changes from what it used to be in our time. Thanks to the existing environment of stiff competition, investigation journalism has assumed greater importance and with the quality of the work.”Das who started his journalism career as a freelancer for many a leading national newspaper including some Kolkota based dailies, was associated with The Assam Tribune since its inception and became its first sports sub-editor apart from serving the newspaper also as a photographer. He retired from the job in the year 1982.Urging the young and upcoming journalists of the State not to get influenced by any unsocial and powerful elements existing in society, Das said, “Merely filing a report for the sake of it is not what people expects from the journalists. A journalist must analyse the pros and cons of a finding before giving it a final shape and that’s where scribe’s investigation instinct comes into play.”“The idea should be to work for the greater interest of the people of the State and not just for a section of people,” Das stated.Born in 1918, Das, a vibrant sports organiser, was instrumental in floating a host of sports organisations including the Guwahati Cricket Association (1946), Gauhati Table Tennis Association (1948), Gauhati Hockey Association (1956) and Gauhati Lawn Tennis Association (1979) besides playing an active role in forming the famous Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi Trophy Football Tournament and the Gauhati Sports Association. “Cricket is my first love but almost all other sports event fascinated me be it table tennis, hockey or lawn tennis. It was my love for these games or sports as a whole that I took special interest in floating a host of sports organisations.Expressing his overview of the existing sports scenario in the State, Das opined that unlike what the problems which sportsmen, few decades back faced, the scenario is much better today and this should inspire every one associated with it.“Government is coming up with financial help, which is indeed very encouraging,” he said.However, he rued over the lack of public interest for sports event like football in the State, revival of which is a challenge for the journalist fraternity.“The Bordoloi trophy, which was hosted few months back received lukewarm response, which was a very sorry site,” he pointed out.Pulin Das today also gave away the fellowship cash award instituted by vernacular newspaper Adinor Sambad for a research work (Hindi) on the songs of veteran singer Deepali Barthakur to journalist Azhar Alam.Das also released a book titled ‘Siriakhanar Behela’ penned by senior journalist and editor of Asom Bani Dilip Chandan.

Was there anything to cheer about in ’07?
GUWAHATI, Dec 30 – The year 2007. Was it just another year passing by for the residents of the Guwahati city, which is being billed as the gateway of the entire SE Asia, or was there something to cheer about?Well, the city residents are struggling to find an answer to this query. Though the year 2007 began with lots of hopes and aspirations, Guwahatians are still being haunted by basic problems like drinking water crisis finds this hard to answerDilapidated roads, rising pollution level, dirty lanes and streets without poor lighting facilities even at the heart of the city continues to affect the Guwahatians, the rising number of multiplexes and shopping malls made the city a happening place. “If we talk about the civic facilities in the city, we can point out very little thing positive. The numbers of building and shopping outlets, multiplexes have gone up, but hardly any work has been done to reduce the drinking water crisis in the city,” argues senior citizen Satish Das of Chandmari.“The hike in water tax from Rs seven to Rs 18 per one thousand litres of water by the Assam Water Supply and Sewarage Board, increase in power tariff by ASEB as well as improper cleaning of the daily wastes was a cause of worry for the residents,” said Preeti Boro, a resident of Guwahati’s Noonmati area.But as far as the officials of the Guwahati Municipal Corporation is concerned, the year 2007 was significant from the perspective of streamlining of the process of city development.“The New Year would show the results of the work done in the current year,” a senior GMC official told this correspondent.According to GMC official, the corporation prepared some of the projects under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission, which, according to the official, would revamp the total infrastructure and civic facilities in the city in the New Year.“We have already engaged Israeli firm Tahal for the three-tier water supply, sewerage and drainage project in the city. We have streamlined the waste collection system and work in the solid waste management project would start soon. We have started the works in 2007 and the residents will get the results in the days to come,” claims the official.It was not that nothing was done for the development of the city.“The renovation of the Tarun Ram Phookan Park at Bharalumukh, construction of the city’s first footbridge at Sukleswar temple, initiation of the river front beautification, three multi-level parking lots as well as ongoing construction of the flyovers were something, which has paved the way for overall development of the city,” opined Santosh Das, a bank official. “At least the government initiated some moves to improve the facilities. We hope the New Year would make more difference to the city problems,” Das asserted.

Citizens’ resolve to welcome New Year with positivity GUWAHATI, Dec 30 – One more eventful year will be a chapter of the past – despite the uncertainty and the sense of fear that is slowly casting its shadow on the public psyche, the citizens are resolved to welcome the New Year with the anticipation of good and positivism prevailing over the maddening condition of destructivity and bloodshed. And the citizens fed up with the recurrent violence have thought out that there would be no better way of reposing faith in the power of human goodness and rationalism other than through books, verses and music.It would be a show of that collective desire for positive change on the last day of the old year. In this connection, prominent citizens including noted intellectual Dr Hiren Gohain would converge at the Chandmari Engineering ground, the venue of the Guwahati Book Fair.Though the occasion would be a book release, nevertheless the get together will bear significance, as the citizens would voice for a cessation of all the violent activities in the New Year. Asomar Bibhinna Janagosthir Bibah Padhati, a book that is an effort at compiling the marriage system of various tribes, communities and religious groups in the State, would be released by Dr Gohain. Published by Satadal, a socio-cultural group, the book highlights the marriage system of 28 communities, both indigenous as well as migrants, and the changes that have come over the marriage system as the communities have tried to assimilate and accept each other. “The book is an attempt at showcasing the fabric of the society that respects the tradition of unity and peace,” said functionaries of Satadal.The first day of 2008, would also begin with a wonderful note by invoking the powers of goodness. Chirantan Sahityar Din will organise its annual poetry day dedicated to the greenness of the earth at the book fair venue from 11 am. No other way of welcoming the New Year could have been better other than showing one’s gratitude to the earth and its green goodness. Poets, both veteran and young will try to bridge the gap between readers and writers through their verses that will be a commitment for promoting the power of humanity and rationalism. Apart from book lovers who are desperate for a change in the prevailing condition, several organisations including the Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS) have appealed for peace in the New Year. The MASS has called upon everyone to respect each other’s rights as a human being and work together for a peaceful and prosperous Assam.

Ashar Asom’ looks back at positive events of 2007 GUWAHATI, Dec 29 – Holding of the 33rd National Games, the growing self-help group (SHG) movement, path-breaking scientific research by a few Assamese scientists, changing mindset of the youth, laurels won by several Assamese in the field of culture and literature, etc., are some of the positive developments during 2007 that hold hope for the State’s future. Six distinguished speakers, who deliberated on the ‘good news’ for the State in different spheres at a programme Ashar Asom-2007 organized by the All Guwahati Students’ Union (AGSU) and Asom Unnati Sabha today, were unanimous that there was no dearth of good news but that those tended to get overshadowed by the undesirable incidents. Educationist Dr Dinesh Baishya, who spoke on science and education, said that Assamese scientist Uddhav Bharali had been creating ripples in the scientific world with 60 inventions. “Bharali, in fact, is being hailed as the 21st century Thomas Alva Edison,” he said, adding that another Assamese scientist had done the State proud by being the key man in India’s space odyssey Chandrayan. On the education front, the launching of 80 professional courses by Gauhati University and the opening of the AK Handique Open University on professional and vocational courses was a welcome development, he said.Speaking on politics, Samudragupta Kashyap, Principal Correspondent of Indian Express, while terming 2007 as a volatile year for the State, said that the intensifying stir among the indigenous communities for getting constitutional safeguards, including scheduling, in the face of an infiltration-induced changing demography was a significant development. “This has given a new dimension to the politics of the State,” he said.The tabling of the secret killing report, keenness of the ULFA to come for talks, defeat of the Congress at NC Hills Autonomous Council polls, holding of the National Games against heavy odds, growing opposition of the people to bandhs, etc., were some other notable developments as cited by Kashyap.Dr Rani Mudiar Deka, Head of Economics, Dispur College, held the changing mindset of the youth in looking for self-employment and trade and industry, the progressive SHG movement, Centre’s sincere efforts in giving a boost to the State’s development process, role of NGOs in reaching out to the grassroots, diversification of agriculture yielding rich dividends, gradually increasing per capita income, etc., as some of the promising developments. “The youth of Assam has taken up the challenge of globalization, and is using it to his advantage,” she said.Veteran sports journalist with The Assam Tribune Pabitra Gogoi said that National Games, which created world-class sports infrastructure in the State, would further the prospects of sports like never before. “Along with the infrastructure, it has led to an ideal sporting environment,” he said. He also said that a number of sportspersons such as Jayanta Talukdar and Rajiv Basumatary (both archery), Fariha Zaman, Abu Nachim Ahmed, etc., besides those who earned gold medals at the National Games, were the achievers for the State. The State also hosted international tennis and badminton tournaments besides the Indo-Pak one-day international, which were significant developments.Columnist Dr Mallika Kandoli and Dr Bibhash Choudhury, Reader, Dept of English, GU, spoke on art and culture, and literature respectively. Dr Kandoli said that Assamese cinema, Satriya dance, etc., were being showcased before a worldwide audience, while artistes like Zubeen Garg earned global acclaim. She also pointed out the growing drama movement as another good development. Dr Choudhury said that several Assamese authors’ works had earned nationwide acclaim in the year. Moreover, the year also saw translation of a number of Assamese works into other languages. “In a significant development, Pranab Jyoti Deka compiled the world’s first ever bilingual thesaurus,” he said. AGSU’s Bipul Rabha compered the programme, which also featured a lively interaction between the speakers and the audience.


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