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Ramdev likely to skip JNU visit amidst students protest, university stands by invitation

The three-day convention– organised by the university’s Special Center for Sanskrit Studies in collaboration with the Institute of Advanced Sciences, Dartmouth, USA and the Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth — began here on December 27. Ramdev has been invited to deliver the key-note address on December 30.

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Atrocities against women increasing in Assam, says Smriti Irani <!– /.block –>
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Former Assam Congress minister makes comments against Smriti Irani; BJP to sue

Strongly condemning the remarks, Union Sports Minister and Assam unit BJP Chief Sarbananda Sonowal told reporters here that the party’s state unit will soon file a defamation case against him.<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

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Also ReadIndiaTrinamool Congress claims CPI(M)’s rally was a flop showIndiaHurriyat cautions against possible attempts to vitiate Indo-Pak peace processIndiaFormer Assam Congress minister makes comments against Smriti Irani; BJP to sueIndiaGujarat: 50 booked for rioting during funeral procession of Patel youthIndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt conducts trial run with 750 private busesIndiaHyerabad Police questions youths who allegedly wanted to join jihadi groups <!– /.block –>

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Gujarat: 50 booked for rioting during funeral procession of Patel youth

Mayur Patel (22), who was allegedly shot at by security forces during the Patel quota agitation here on August 26, died at a private hospital on December 25. He had suffered a bullet injury in the neck at Modhera cross-roads.
A large number of Patel community members had turned up for his funeral, local Patel leaders said.

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<!– /.block –>Pakistan’s Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif and Afghan leaders meet, agree to revive peace talks <!– /.block –>
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Also ReadIndiaTrinamool Congress claims CPI(M)’s rally was a flop showIndiaHurriyat cautions against possible attempts to vitiate Indo-Pak peace processIndiaFormer Assam Congress minister makes comments against Smriti Irani; BJP to sueIndiaGujarat: 50 booked for rioting during funeral procession of Patel youthIndiaOdd-even formula: Delhi govt conducts trial run with 750 private busesIndiaHyerabad Police questions youths who allegedly wanted to join jihadi groups <!– /.block –>

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ULFA leader Anup Chetia released from jail

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Following his extradition on November 11, Chetia was arrested by CBI in Delhi in connection with a murder in Golaghat

Anup Chetia

ULFA general secretary Golap Baruah, alias Anup Chetia, was on Thursday released from the Guwahati Central Jail after obtaining bail in four cases registered against him.Chetia had on Wednesday got bail in the last of the four cases against him paving the way for his release from the jail Emerging from the jail, the ULFA leader told journalists that he will participate in the peace talks.Chetia said that he was in favour the ongoing peace talks between the central government and ULFA for restoring peace in Assam. “Many quarters have suspected that as in 1992 we will not continue with the talks with the government. I want to sincerely say that the political times then have changed today and have made us think afresh”, Chetia said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I will be a part of the ongoing tripartite talks among the ULFA, central and Assam governments to resolve the insurgency issue”, he said. On the role of his former colleague and now ULFA (Independent) ‘commander-in-chief’ Paresh Baruah in the peace talks, Chetia said “the contributions of Paresh Baruah have to be acknowledged in taking forward our revolution during the last three decades. It is sad that he is not a part of the peace talks”.Following his extradition on November 11, Chetia was arrested by CBI in Delhi in connection with a murder in Golaghat. Chetia was handed over to India by Bangladesh where he was in jail since his arrest by the country’s police in 1997 on charges of cross-border intrusion, carrying fake passports and illegally keeping foreign currencies.

BJP eyes ordinance to change poll dynamics in Assam

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Technically, the Centre can bring in an ordinance after the end of winter session of Parliament on December 23 as government cannot promulgate ordinances when Parliament is in session.

Tarun Gogoi

To steal show over Tarun Gogoi-led Congress government in Assam ahead of assembly elections due in April next year, BJP government is preparing to grant scheduled tribe status to six communities that right now are clubbed as Other Backward Castes (OBCs).Sources said that as the bill to grant status to these six communities – Tai Ahom, Moran, Muttock, Koch Rajbongshi, 97 groups of tea tribes and Adivasis and Sooteas – is still stuck at cabinet note stage and given the current status of Parliament logjam, the government may bring in an ordinance within next two months.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Technically, the Centre can bring in an ordinance after the end of winter session of Parliament on December 23 as government cannot promulgate ordinances when Parliament is in session.Sources said that PMO could either decide to take up change in rules for granting ST status in a cabinet meeting or directly approve an ordinance in which case, the Parliament will have to pass a constitutional amendment within six months from the issuance of the ordinance.The BJP knows that promulgation of an ordinance could drastically improve its chances in coming state assembly elections as it would pave the way for sealing a peace accord with the pro-talks faction of United LiberationFront of Asom (ULFA) led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. Efforts are on an advance state to make ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia a part of it. A successful peace accord with ULFA can change the election dynamics for the BJP that is already breathing down the neck of Congress in Assam.Besides the six communities in question, a large number of native Assamese are keen to have the arrangement in place to as it would take care of the fear that stems from the influx of Bangladeshis.Granting ST status to these communities will bring more than 40 per cent population of Assam under the tribal status that in terms of assembly strength would bring as many as 80 out of 126 assembly seats under reserved tribal status.Gogoi government knows the impact the ordinance can have and is trying to assert its claim over it.In fact, the process to grant scheduled tribe status to these communities had begun during fag end of Congress led UPA-II rule, it could not pick up speed as it required inclusion of five norms to declare a community as scheduled tribe.These included socio-economic, including educational backwardness vis-à-vis rest of the population of the state; historical geographical location; consideration of autonomous religious practices where the priests or ojas are from the community; distinct language or dialect; presence of a core culture relating to life-style, marriage, songs, dances, paintings and folklore; and, endogamy or marital relationship primarily with other Scheduled Tribes. Upper handThe BJP knows that promulgation of an ordinance could drastically improve its chances in coming state assembly elections as it would pave the way for sealing a peace accord with the pro-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) led by its chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa. Efforts are on an advance state to make ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia a part of it. A successful peace accord with ULFA can change the election dynamics for the BJP that is already breathing down the neck of Congress in Assam.

National Herald Case: Income Tax has issued notices, says Finance Minister Arun Jaitley

The Congress party has claimed the Enforcement Directorate under the Modi government had reopened the National Herald case after having closed it.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley
File Photo
PTI
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Monday said Income Tax Department has issued notices in National Herald case and now it is its duty to assess the parties allegedly involved in it.”When Income Tax has already issued notices asking for details, Income Tax is under the duty to assess. It has to assess Congress party, it has to assess the Associated Journal, it has to assess Young Indian. There is certain proceeding, and notices and that process is on,” he said in an interview to NDTV.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”I have never said that process is not on. I have never said that process will stop or its not on. They issue notices, they hear assessees. These are quasi-judicial authority. I don’t even know who is the assessing officer,” he said when asked why ED and Income Tax department were not taking action in the matter related to National Herald. He, however, denied that the Enforcement Directorate reopened case.ED is not looking into the matter, he said, adding, they are independent investigative agency and the Finance Minister has no role in it. The Congress party has claimed the Enforcement Directorate under the Modi government had reopened the National Herald case after having closed it.”Why did the government reopen a closed enquiry by the Enforcement Directorate? After the BJP government came into office, the ED closed the case. Then the ED was abruptly transferred and enquiry was reopened. I am not criticising the judge, I am criticising the judgement,” senior party leader and former finance minister P Chidambaram had said last week.Congress has been protesting in Parliament on the National Herald issue alleging political vendetta after the Delhi High Court refused to quash summonses to its leaders including party chief Sonia Gandhi and her deputy Rahul Gandhi.To a question on Congress stalling Parliament, Jaitley said, “Mature politics requires that we get out of this cry baby syndrome. I just saw a statement on my phone in one of the news sites saying the Assam Minister has denied this allegation (that Rahul was allegedly stopped from entering a temple there).”The Assam Minister has said what their leader is saying is not correct,” he said.Jaitley said: “We can make political assaults on the opponents, we can make criticism but we cannot come crying everyday and say today we want to stall for reason A, tomorrow I want to stall for reason B, day after I want to stall it for reason C and some of these reasons don’t exist.” On GST, Jaitley said if there is an intention to resolve “all can be resolved”.”My original proposal never had one per cent cess. It’s the manufacturing states which insisted and, if that’s the sticking point, I can go back to manufacturing states and tell them if you suffer a loss at least one per cent tax is for two years for these two years we have already undertaken to make good all the losses that you suffer,” he said.On food inflation, he said prices of pulses is a matter of concern and the government is seriously making efforts to bring them down.

BJP accuses Rahul Gandhi of becoming a ‘lying machine’

The party said also hit back at Gandhi after he blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for withdrawal of invitation to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for an event, saying he was making “petty and childish” charges and that the decision was taken by the organisers

Rahul Gandhi

PTI
BJP today termed as “fabricated” Rahul Gandhi’s charge that he was denied entry into a temple in Assam by RSS workers, alleging that the Congress vice president had become a “lying machine” and was talking about such non-issues to disrupt Parliament.The party said also hit back at Gandhi after he blamed Prime Minister Narendra Modi for withdrawal of invitation to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy for an event, saying he was making “petty and childish” charges and that the decision was taken by the organisers. “Rahul Gandhi claims he was stopped by RSS from entering an Assam temple. Earlier somebody (Selja) claimed that she was stopped from entering a temple in Dwarka and she was exposed in Parliament. What Gandhi says is fabricated and a lie,” Union Minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told a press conference.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>He claimed Chandy had himself written a letter, stating he will not be able to attend the event. Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said in Parliament that the decision to cancel the invitation to Chandy for tomorrow’s event in Kerala was taken by the organisers and the government had nothing to do with it as it was a private function. BJP secretary Shrikant Sharma said it was a matter of “shame” for Gandhi if he was not permitted to enter a temple in a state run by a Congress government.”His disinformation campaign against RSS is well known. It is difficult to accept his lies against RSS. He has become a lying machine. Does RSS run temples? Does he have any evidence that those protesting against him were RSS workers? If RSS was stopping him then how did he manage to go to the temple later in evening?” Sharma asked in a statement. His campaign on such a fabricated charge was a part of Congress’ strategy to disrupt Parliament, Sharma said.Speaking about the Kerala event, he said the decision of organisers was a reflection on the “plummeting popularity” of Chandy due to his alleged involvement in corruption. “Rahul Gandhi should not blame BJP and Modi for everything. He is only showing his immaturity and childishness with such comments,” he said. Rahul Gandhi today claimed that he was stopped from entering a temple in Barpeta by RSS workers during his recent visit to Assam, saying this was BJP’s style of politics which was “unacceptable”.

Additional BSF deployed to prevent illegal activities at Indo-Bangladesh borders, govt tells Supreme Court

The ministry of home affairs also informed the court that the government has approved the projects for border fencing and installation of floodlights for proper visibility during night in the border areas.

The Centre has told the Supreme Court that in order to prevent illegal cross-border activities at the Indo-Bangladesh borders, additional BSF personnel have been deployed.The ministry of home affairs also informed the court that the government has approved the projects for border fencing and installation of floodlights for proper visibility during night in the border areas.Filing an affidavit in response to a PIL against illegal Bangladeshi immigration, the government said 29 Border outposts have been identified and adequate men power have been deployed with special surveillance equipments, vehicles and othe infrastructure in support to prevent smuggling of cattles.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Earlier, the court-appointed one-man commission had recommended a high-powered committee to inquire into various issues relating to infiltration.Senior advocate Upamanyu Hazarika, who was appointed by the court in May, had submitted the 53-page report to the court suggesting the shifting of cattle ‘haats’ 20km away from the boundary area and re-location of the villages from the border fencing area.After visiting extensively to the border area, Hazarika submitted the report.Citing the causes leading to such influx into Assam, the report said as a Bangladeshi passport holder can not only own land in Assam but also contest an Assembly election, it shows that the illegal migrant lobby has struck deep roots in the state. Therefore, the necessity, for an independent investigation and an enquiry into these nexuses and all the facts in this regard, cannot be overstated.The court, which is hearing a plea about the threat of the indigenous population of Assam being reduced to a minority by the year 2047 looming large, is to take a call on the report on November 5.

National Herald: Case being ‘driven’ by Prime Minister’s office, says Rahul Gandhi

A Delhi court on December 8 had directed Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and others to appear in person on December 19 in the National Herald case.

Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi with Prime Minister Narendra Modi

PTI
Asserting that National Herald is a not-for-profit organisation and not a paisa can be taken out, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Friday alleged that the legal procedure in the case was “driven by the Prime Minister’s office”.”It is being driven by the Prime Minister’s office,” he claimed while responding to reporters’ questions whether the National Herald case was an outcome of vendetta politics.Rahul said, “We have faith in the legal system and we respect it. There is a legal provision. It (National Herald) is a not-for-profit organisation and not a paisa can be taken out.” Asked if he would be applying for bail, he replied, “Let’s see what happens on December 19.” A Delhi court on December 8 had directed Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Rahul and others to appear in person on December 19 in the National Herald case.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>On Congress protests which resulted in the stalling of proceedings in Parliament, Rahul said, “As far as the stalemate in Parliament is concerned, an impression is being given that we (Congress) are not interested on the GST issue. We have told the government that we have differences with them on three issues.”Confident about the ruling Congress returning to power for the fourth consecutive term in Assam in the 2016 Assembly polls, he said that the party will demonstrate who will win in Assam.”(Chief Minister) Tarun Gogoi and Congress will win. We have defeated opponents in Bihar,” he said.Asked if the Congress would forge a grand alliance in Assam on the Bihar line, Gandhi said, “Tarun Gogoi and Anjan Dutta (APCC president) are in charge and they will decide.”

Guwahati: NDFB(S) militant killed in encounter

NDFB(S) cadre, Nerswn Brahma alias Naidaw, who was involved in the 2012 Bodo-Muslim violence, killed in gunfight with the security forces.

Representational Image

File Photo
An NDFB (Songbijit) militant was killed in an encounter with a joint police and Army team in Assam’s Kokrajhar district, a senior police official said.The encounter took place at about 5.20 am between NDFB(S) cadres and security forces at Silaimatha forest area under Bogribari police station, IGP Dr L R Bishnoi, said.An AK-47 rifle with two magazines, 44 rounds of ammunition, two bags, two mobile phones, extortion notes, a solar power plate, clothes, blankets and some other materials were recovered from the slain insurgent.The deceased has been identified as Nerswn Brahma alias Naidaw, a cadre trained in Bangladesh, who was involved in the 2012 Bodo-Muslim violence, the IGP said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Search was on for the other Ultras.

BJP veterans’ revolt: Ram Madhav says concerns ‘well taken’ care of, chapter over

Senior party leaders, including Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, had met Advani following the outburst. Madhav also said BJP had learnt its lessons from Bihar assembly election, in which it suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the grand alliance of JD(U)-RJD-Congress despite its high-pitched campaign helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.

LK Advani

The sharp attack by LK Advani and other BJP veterans on the party’s leadership after its staggering defeat in Bihar is now a closed chapter, a top BJP functionary said on Wednesday.Ram Madhav, BJP General Secretary and a former RSS spokesperson, told PTI that concerns of the veterans had been “well taken” by the party leadership which had detailed discussions with them. “They had certain concerns about the Bihar outcome. Party has taken their views, observations seriously. Our leaders reached out to them. When you reach out to them, you will have larger discussion for longer duration. We had detailed discussions with them. Our leadership has explained its position to them.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Those concerns were well taken by us… I think broadly that chapter is now over…I hope they are satisfied,” Madhav said, while referring to Advani’s recent statement to drive home his point.After breathing fire at the BJP leadership, Advani had said last week in Gujarat that “consciousness” in the party had increased following its Bihar loss and also praised the Modi government, saying it is going in the right direction.”So, broadly after our leadership’s interactions (with them), things have settled down,” Madhav said, adding that the party had learnt its lessons from the defeat but declined to elaborate. Madhav was among the few BJP leaders who had articulated the party’s position after Murli Manohar Joshi, Shanta Kumar and Yashwant Sinha besides Advani had issued a public condemnation of the leadership on the Diwali eve, saying the party had been “emasculated” in the past one year.They had demanded that accountability be fixed for the loss. Senior party leaders, including Arun Jaitley and Rajnath Singh, had met Advani following the outburst. Madhav also said BJP had learnt its lessons from Bihar assembly election, in which it suffered a massive defeat at the hands of the grand alliance of JD(U)-RJD-Congress despite its high-pitched campaign helmed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself.”We have done enough review and analysis of the outcome that was totally unexpected. Yes, it was disappointing. Several factors were there that have led to this kind of outcome. We have learnt our lessons but have decided not to discuss them in media,” he said.Asked about the criticism of the party’s campaign by a number of Bihar leaders, he said BJP has taken it in its stride, noting that there are strong reactions to both – unanticipated victory and unexpected defeat.”We take both in our stride… We have learnt our lessons from Bihar election. Now we have left it behind and moved on to other challenges coming. Whatever needs to be learnt has been learnt,” he said.To a query whether BJP’s decision to project Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as its main face in Assam assembly polls next year was necessitated by the debacle in Bihar where it was alleged to have ignore the local leadership, he said “each state and each election is different and not all elections are alike”.Madhav, however, underlined that Sonowal was their “most important leader” in Assam. “We projected a chief ministerial candidate in Delhi, we lost. We did not project a chief ministerial candidate in Bihar, we still lost. So you cannot say because of Bihar you have projected… Bihar is different, Assam is different,” he said.In strong signals that Sonowal could be its chief minister if voted to power, BJP recently appointed him as its Assam unit chief and also head of the Election Management Committee. However, Madhav, who handles the north eastern states in the party, declined to comment on whether Sonowal will be formally announced as its chief ministerial pick.Assam along with Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, Kerala and West Bengal is going to the polls next year and is seen as the best bet for BJP among all five states. “In each state, there will be different milestones to be crossed. We are trying to form the next government in Assam. Even in other states we will try our best and give good performance,” he said.

Congress open for ‘understanding’ with parties to defeat BJP in Assam, says Tarun Gogoi

Holding a press conference in Guwahati, Gogoi also said that BJP has no local leadership in the state and was dominated by “Hindi-speaking” leaders from outside.

Tarun Gogoi

Ruling Congress will not go for any pre-poll alliance with any party in the Assembly polls next year but is open for “understanding” to defeat communal forces, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi said on Monday.Holding a press conference in Guwahati, Gogoi also said that BJP has no local leadership in the state and was dominated by “Hindi-speaking” leaders from outside. “We will not go for an alliance before the polls. We are only for understanding with any party. We must fight communal forces like BJP,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Congress is open for an understanding with opposition parties like AGP, AIUDF and even RTI activist Akhil Gogoi-led farmers’ body Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti to defeat the BJP in the forthcoming Assembly polls, he added. “I want understanding with one and all, including the media and intellectuals,” Gogoi said.Referring to NDA’s drubbing in Bihar polls, he said, “It was the battle of Kurukshetra and they were defeated very pathetically. They are now nervous and engaged in false propaganda against me here.”Launching attack on local BJP leadership, “BJP in Assam is run by Hindigiri. The local leaders are spineless.They do not have the Assamese blood in their veins.” Taking swipe at turncoat Himanta Biswa Sarma, the chief minister described his former party colleague and now BJP leader as an “opportunist”. “He is like a professional singer. While Himanta was with me, I was the best person on earth. Now there is no one worse than me. He does not have any commitment to any ideology or party,” Gogoi said.He added that the state government will bring a White Paper by December 20 regarding the Centre’s contribution to Assam during NDA tenure against the UPA rule. He also criticised the Centre for failing to control rising prices of essential items, including food.

‘Hindustan only for Hindus’ remark: Congress wants dismissal of Assam Governor PB Acharya

Gogoi alleged Acharya was working more as an “RSS pracharak than a Constitutional Head of the state.”

The Assam Pradesh Congress Committee on Friday took out a rally in Guwahati demanding dismissal of acting Governor PB Acharya for his alleged remark that “Hindustan is only for Hindus,” even as the BJP held a rally in Dibrugarh launching its campaign for the Assembly polls in the state due next year. Addressing the rally Congress president Anjan Dutta alleged that by his remark the Governor demeaned his post and violated his position of maintaining neutrality as a Constitutional head of the state by acting as a spokesman of the RSS.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Dutta, along with other Congress leaders demanded Acharya’s dismissal alleging the Governor was using the Raj Bhavan as a headquarter of the RSS and claimed that the Governor had appointed pro-RSS persons without required qualifications in University governing bodies here. Earlier on November 22 Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had also demanded the Centre to appoint a permanent Governor in the state by replacing acting incumbent Acharya with an open minded person to keep unity in the country and continue with its development. Gogoi alleged Acharya was working more as an “RSS pracharak than a Constitutional Head of the state.” Meanwhile, launching a scathing attack on the Tarun Gogoi government, BJP president Amit Shah addressing a party Karyakarta Sanmelan in Dibrugarh, exhorted people to vote for BJP in Assam to bring in development, install a corruption-free government, increase employment avenues and safeguard its borders from illegal migrants.

A question for Aamir Khan: Where in the world do you think intolerance isn’t ‘growing’ in these times?

The storm over actor Aamir Khan’s statement on “rising intolerance” on Monday needs to be understood against the backdrop of the recent political temperature raised over the issue. Given the nature of minority politics in India, where such issues are drummed up by “secular” parties to ensure that the minorities continue to vote on the basis of fear rather than pursuing their real economic and political interests, it would have been a surprise if Khan had said anything else.

What the statement reveals is Aamir’s decision to fall in line with the dominant narrative being tom-tommed by the mainstream English media that has been left out in the cold by Narendra Modi. Incidentally, an interesting aspect of the rising English media chorus of “growing intolerance” is that it is not supported by any kind of data or a benchmark from which this “rise” can be calculated. Barring a cacophony of statements by Sanghis, there is no evidence whatsoever that there is any actual rise in intolerance.

Aamir’s calculated statement can at best be put down as another voice added to this self-indulgent and self-righteous echo chamber in the English language media.

He has not thought through what he really meant when he said that there was an increased sense of despondency over the last six to eight months, and that he was alarmed by it. For effect, he added that his wife Kiran Rao had asked if they should move out of the country, as she feared for the safety of their child.

On the face of it, there is nothing wrong with what Aamir said, or what his wife may have asked him, though it is far from clear whether Aamir was firing his shots from his wife’s shoulder, or whether she genuinely meant what she said.

However, we should still check Aamir’s calculated statement in the light of three realities:

File image of Aamir Khan. AFP

File image of Aamir Khan. AFP

First, I doubt if anybody in India thinks we have nothing to fear, given the state of our policing, our weak legal systems, and the space we have given to criminals and vested interests in cities and villages. I too would fear for the safety of my daughters in India, especially given the patriarchal nature of our society and its inability to bring up its sons to respect women. We have strong laws and a weak state, making it near impossible to assume that we will be protected from rabid elements.

The problem though is this: Did this state of affairs emerge over the last six to eight months, as Aamir is believed to have said, or has this been the case all along? Did Nirbhaya happen after Modi was elected? Did the Assam communal riots — and the mass exodus of the northeastern people from Bangalore — happen due to the Modi administration’s lack of statement-making on this issue? Did the attack by a mob in Mumbai’s Azad Maidan in 2012 (the attacked included policewomen) happen during Modi’s watch? Did attacks on Dalits not happen before 26 May, 2014?

For an intelligent man, Aamir Khan clearly played to a script, and it does not do him credit.

Second, let’s come to his claim that his wife wondered whether they should move abroad? Now, this too is not an uncommon feeling among Indians. Many Indians have left Indian shores for better prospects, and it is this diaspora that believes in Modi and his idea of India by and large. From businessmen to ordinary students to techies, Indians have always sought to improve their material condition by taking advantage of merit-based systems in the West. The poor, on the other hand, went to West Asia to earn more while living like second-class citizens, whether in Saudi Arabia or even parts of the UAE. After decades, they are still not given citizenship.

Aamir’s insinuation is egregiously wrong: Indians leave India largely for economic reasons; almost none have left for the kind of reasons Kiran Rao is said to have suggested. In fact, Indians and others have come back to India because this is the only place that will give them a measure of citizenship, despite the handicap of a weak state.

In the sub-continent, Hindus and Muslims from Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, and now even Pakistan have, legally or illegally, moved into India as economic or political refugees. The Nepalese have been welcomed like they were our own citizens, and despite some hesitation to accept Muslim economic refugees from Bangladesh, they are here and voting their own leaders in Assam, West Bengal and Bihar.

If there is a beacon of tolerance in the sub-continent, it is India. The only areas of long-term intolerance (as opposed to short-term intolerance caused by riots) are in Kashmir, where an entire generation of Pandits has been driven out in the worst act of ethnic cleansing ever practised after 1947.

Third, let’s assume Aamir’s statement has entirely to do with the hate lines of some Sangh parivaar and BJP members like Sakshi Maharaj, Yogi Adityanath and culture minister Mahesh Sharma.

There is little doubt that these loud-mouths have helped derail the Modi agenda of inclusiveness, and if there is any despondency, it is because the Opposition has latched on to these to block the government’s programme of reforms. So, if anyone at all should be feeling despondent, it should be the Modi government and its well-wishers.

But the fact is these Sanghi elements were always saying the same things, and similar things are being said by communal elements in the Opposition as well. Remember the statements of Akbaruddin Owaisi, or Imran Khan, the Congress nominee from Saharanpur in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, with whom Rahul Gandhi was seen last week? Or those of a Samajwadi member who wanted to pay crores for those willing to murder the Danish cartoonists?

The fringe will be the fringe, and there is no point assuming that in a country of 125 crore, no one will ever make politically-incorrect statements.

Aamir also needs to ask himself a more basic question: Where in the world does he think tolerance is ‘growing’ in these times, when the angst of economic slowdown is being exacerbated by rising anger over Islamic fascism, especially with the emergence of the murderous Islamic State in parts of Syria and Iraq?

Two years ago, a white supremacist shot people in a gurdwara in Wisconsin. Over the last two years, we have seen race riots after the shooting of African-Americans in Ferguson and Baltimore by trigger-happy cops. When his name is Khan, can Aamir really expect to be treated as an equal in America?

In France and Belgium, we are seeing regular police action against Islamists in the wake of the Paris terror attacks. The far right is rising under Marine Le Pen. The face veil is banned in France, not in India.

In Norway, Anders Breivik went on a shooting spree in 2011 to fight Islamism.

In the United Kingdom, despite serious efforts at multi-culturalism and political correctness, the media reported a child abuse scandal run substantially by Muslim gangs. Intolerance is rising as political correctness is seen as the reason why this happened.

As for any of the countries in West Asia or our neighbourhood, surely Aamir can’t claim these are better places to bring up his children in.

The real problem with Aamir’s statement is that it is factually correct when seen non-contextually. But once you look around you and see where the world is heading – towards intolerance – India is actually far from the precipice. This is because our Indic nature, despite occasional lapses into intolerant words and violence, asserts itself.

For a country with 125 crore people and all their multiple diversities, insecurities and concerns involving caste, religion, and ethnicity, we are a mighty tolerant lot.

This does not mean we should bask in what we have achieved, but it does mean that we have a lot to be thankful for too.

This does not also mean that the Sangh hotheads should continue to vitiate the atmosphere. Modi would do well to put a tape across their mouths or even chuck them out of his ministry. But that still will be no guarantee that someone will not make an intolerant statement somewhere.

Surely, Aamir Khan does not want a state where everyone is gagged. That would be even more intolerant than the intolerance he would like to complain about.

#AwardsWapsi: BJP MP from Assam claims that Congress paid returnees Rs 10-15 lakh

Assam Chief Minister Tarun today hit back at BJP MP Rameswar Teli’s allegation that Sahitya Akademi awardees returning their prizes were paid heftily by the Congress, terming the claims as “baseless, unfortunate and disrespectful”.

Wikimedia Commons
Assam Chief Minister Tarun today hit back at BJP MP Rameswar Teli’s allegation that Sahitya Akademi awardees returning their prizes were paid heftily by the Congress, terming the claims as “baseless, unfortunate and disrespectful”. In an official statement, Gogoi said, “Such an allegation is an insult to the fraternity of journalists and intelligentsia in our society.” Teli while making the claims at a press conference at Dibrugarh was apparently referring to senior journalist Homen Borgohain’s decision to return his Akademi award. Gogoi’s statement condemning the MP’s reference to Borghain said, “The person who has all along been serving society by being an honest journalist and whose integrity is beyond doubt, such a statement is a slur against his towering personality who himself is an institution in journalism.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Borgohain had returned his award in protest against growing intolerance in the country after the Dadri incident took place. Teli during his Dibrugarh press conference claimed that writers, artistes, historians and scientists, who returned their national prizes were “paid” by the Congress to do so. He alleged that those returning their national awards “were paid Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh each by the Congress”.

Sarbananda Sonowal takes charge as Assam BJP chief

Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state Congress heavyweight who recently joined BJP along with many Congress MLAs, will be the committee’s convener.

Union Minister Sarabnanda Sonowal
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
BJP on Saturday appointed Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal its Assam unit president and also the head of an election management committee it constituted for the poll-bound state, signalling that he could be its chief ministerial face.Making the announcement, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state Congress heavyweight who recently joined BJP along with many Congress MLAs, will be the committee’s convener.The party’s decision is a break from its Bihar Assembly poll strategy as it had not formed any state wide election committee and instead put many outside as well as local leaders in charge of various zones. A massive loss in Bihar triggered a backlash from within the party over its campaign. Sonowal currently holds the independent charge of Sports and Youths Affairs Ministry.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Javadekar parried query on whether Sonowal will be the party’s chief ministerial face, saying a decision will be taken by the Parliamentary Board at an appropriate time.”This is the beginning of our election preparation for Assam. In 2016, BJP will return to its winning ways,” he said.Party president Amit Shah will go to Dibrugarh on November 27 to attend a party meeting, Javadekar said. Assam is the only one of the five states going to the polls in 2016 which BJP has a realistic chance of winning. After winning Assembly elections in four states in 2014, it suffered massive defeats in Delhi and Bihar that has invigorated the opposition.Sonowal (53), who was All Assam Students Union president and AGP leader before joining BJP in 2011, headed the party’s Assam unit before he was made a Minister in the Narendra Modi government. BJP won most Lok Sabha seats in Assam in 2014 elections and expects to repeat its feat in the Assembly polls likely to be held in April-May. The term of Siddhartha Bhattacharya, who was was appointed head of Assam BJP, ended in October.Javadekar said Bhattacharya has been appointed as the party’s national spokesperson for north eastern states. He will also be one of the three vice-chairmen of the election management committee along with MPs Ramen Deka and Rajen Gohain.Bijoy Chakraborty, Kamakhya Tasha, Rajdeep Ray, Vijay Gupta and Mohammad Awal are the members of the election committee. Congress is in power in Assam for the last 15 years. Javadekar said Assam was ready for a change and cited BJP’s victory in local body elections as en evidence of its strong position.”The way Congress has ruled in the state no section of society is happy,” he said.He also pooh-poohed coming together of non-BJP leaders at the swearing in of Nitish Kumar as Bihar Chief Minister, saying they were brought together by their bitterness against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP was talking about development but the opposition leaders are talking about opposing Modi, he said.

Union Sports minister Sarbananda Sonowal made Assam BJP chief

The party’s decision is a break from its strategy in Bihar where it had not projected a chief ministerial candidate

Party president Amit Shah will go to Dibrugarh on November 27 to attend a party meeting, Javadekar said.

Apparently learning quick lessons from the Bihar debacle, BJP today appointed Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal as its Assam unit President and also as the head of election management committee ahead of next year’s Assembly polls, signalling that he could be its chief ministerial face. Making the announcement, Union Minister Prakash Javadekar said Himanta Biswa Sarma, a state Congress heavyweight who had recently joined BJP along with many Congress MLAs, will be the committee’s convener.The party’s decision is a break from its strategy in Bihar where it had not projected a chief ministerial candidate. It had also not formed any statewide election committee and instead put many outsiders as well as local leaders in charge of various zones. A massive loss in Bihar triggered a backlash from within the party over its campaign. Sonowal currently holds independent charge of Sports and Youths Affairs Ministry. Javadekar parried a query on whether Sonowal will be the party’s chief ministerial face, saying a decision will be taken by the Parliamentary Board at an appropriate time. “This is the beginning of our election preparation for Assam. In 2016, BJP will return to its winning ways,” he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Party president Amit Shah will go to Dibrugarh on November 27 to attend a party meeting, Javadekar said. Assam is the only one of the five states, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Tripura being the other four–going to the polls in 2016 where BJP is said to have good chance of being in the fray. After winning Assembly elections in four states in 2014, the BJP has suffered massive defeats in Delhi and Bihar that has invigorated the opposition. Sonowal (53), who was All Assam Students Union president and AGP leader before joining BJP in 2011, headed the party’s Assam unit before he was made a Minister in the Narendra Modi government. BJP won most Lok Sabha seats in Assam in 2014 elections and expects to repeat its feat in the Assembly polls likely to be held in April-May.The term of Siddhartha Bhattacharya, who was was appointed head of Assam BJP, ended in October. Javadekar said Bhattacharya has been appointed as the party’s national spokesperson for north eastern states. He will also be one of the three vice-chairmen of the election management committee along with MPs Ramen Deka and Rajen Gohain. Bijoy Chakraborty, Kamakhya Tasha, Rajdeep Ray, Vijay Gupta and Mohammad Awal are the members of the election committee. Congress is in power in Assam for the last 15 years. Javadekar said Assam was ready for a change and cited BJP’s victory in local body elections as en evidence of its strong position. “The way Congress has ruled in the state no section of society is happy,” he said. He also pooh-poohed coming together of non-BJP leaders at the swearing in of Nitish Kumar as Bihar Chief Minister, saying they were brought together by their bitterness against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. BJP was talking about development but the opposition leaders are talking about opposing Modi, he said.

Bangladesh hands over ULFA’s Anup Chetia to BSF, being flown to Delhi

New Delhi/Dhaka: Golap Baruah alias Anup Chetia, the fugitive leader of the separatist United Liberation Front of Asom (Ulfa), has been handed over by Bangladesh to India, a top Indian official said.

This undated picture shows Anup Kumar Chetia surrounded by Bangladeshi police as he comes at Dhaka's court. AFP

This undated picture shows Anup Kumar Chetia surrounded by Bangladeshi police as he comes at Dhaka’s court. AFP

Bangladesh Rifles handed over Chetia, the runaway general secretary of Ulfa, to the Border Security Force (BSF) at Dawki in Meghalaya at around 2 am on Wednesday morning, a senior official from India’s Prime Minister’s Office said. Chetia is being flown to New Delhi by the CBI.

Dawki is a border trade centre between India and Bangladesh.

“He (Chetia) has been handed over to India following the request of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval,” a PMO official told IANS, requesting anonymity.

“The Central Bureau of Investigation will take custody of Chetia. He is being flown to New Delhi and will have to face trial in India for various crimes committed by him in Assam which include murder, kidnapping and extortion,” he said.

Chetia is wanted by India to stand trial in various criminal cases of extortion, kidnapping, murder and attempt to murder.

Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal confirmed in Dhaka that Chetia has been handed over to India.

“Chetia has been handed over to India legally after completing his prison term,” the Bangladesh home minister told IANS.

Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju on Wednesday said Anup Chetia’s deportation from Bangladesh would help crack many cases related to the banned outfit.

“Handing over of Anup Chetia by Bangladesh to India is a major breakthrough. Chetia is a top leader of Ulfa and his handing over will lead to cracking of many cases. The central agencies and the Assam Police will investigate him,” Rijiju told the media in New Delhi.

The Assamese insurgent leader was once arrested in Assam in 1991, but was freed by the state government and fled to Bangladesh.

Chetia and his two bodyguards were later arrested from his plush apartment in North Adabar under Muhammedpur police station in Dhaka on 21 December, 1997, for illegally entering Bangladesh and for illegally carrying foreign currency and a satellite phone. Chetia was tried and sent to jail.

His prison term ended 25 February, 2007, and he was kept in the Kashimpur Jail on the outskirts of Dhaka since 2012 in view of a Dhaka High Court directive to keep him in safe custody until the Bangladesh government decided on his plea for political asylum in Bangladesh.

Chetia founded the Ulfa in 1979 with five other leaders, including the outfit’s commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah who is now believed to be hiding somewhere in China or Myanmar, having escaped Bangladesh earlier.

The Assamese separatist leader had sought political asylum in Bangladesh on three occasions — in 2005, 2008 and in 2011. He also applied to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for political asylum in Bangladesh, contending he had been fighting for a sovereign Assam.

But later Chetia sought that his application for political asylum in Bangladesh should be cancelled as he wanted to be part of the ongoing peace talks between the government (of India) and the Ulfa.

On 13 May, 2013, Chetia in his petition submitted to the Rajshahi Central Jail in Bangladesh, where he was kept in detention, said: “Earlier, I wanted to stay in this country. I have changed my mind and I have decided to live the rest of my life with my children in my country (India).”

In fact, Chairman of Ulfa’s pro-talk faction Arabinda Rajkhowa on several occasion had asked the Indian government to seek Chetia’s extradition from Bangladesh to India.

Rajkhowa and other Ulfa leaders Sasha Choudhury and Chitraban Hazarika have initiated peace talks with the Indian government.

IANS

Govt against Swamy’s plea for ending provision on hate speech

New Delhi: The Centre has sought in the Supreme Court the dismissal of BJP leader Subramanian Swamy’s plea challenging the constitutional validity of penal provisions on speeches and writings that could cause enmity and hatred among communities.

“That the challenge of the constitutionality of section 153A of the IPC on the ground that it violates the guarantee of the freedom of speech and expression must be rejected because the section seeks to punish only (a) such acts which have the tendency to promote enmity or hatred between different classes (b) such as which are prejudicial to the maintenance of the harmony between different classes and which have tendency to disturb public tranquillity.

Subramanian Swamy. Reuters

Subramanian Swamy. Reuters

“These acts are clearly calculated to disturb public order and show the limitation imposed by section 153A are in the interest of public order. Article 19(2) would, therefore, save section 153A as being within the scope of permissible legislative restriction on the fundamental right guaranteed under Article 19 (1)(a),” said the affidavit filed by an Under Secretary in the Home Ministry.

The affidavit has also referred to a book written by the BJP leader.

“The petitioner has written a book named Terrorism in India where he has made hate speeches against the community of India. The book-its theme, its language, innuendos, similes it employs and the moral of its story, if any–in order to ascertain whether the offending passages read in the context of the book as a whole fall within the mischief of section 153A.

“The book (is) to be considered in all its aspect as it contains matter which “promotes feelings of enmity and hatred between Hindus and Muslims in India.” Therefore, the petitioner has violated the sections of IPC,” the MHA said in its affidavit.

Swamy, who is facing a court case in Karimganj in Assam for allegedly delivering an inflammatory address at Kaziranga University, sought relief from the apex court in the case.

He also challenged the constitutional validity of Section 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) of the Indian Penal Code.

Earlier, on 21 May, a judge of the apex court had recused from hearing his plea challenging the validity of some penal provisions relating to “hate speech”.

The apex court was hearing Swamy’s plea against the order of an Assam trial court issuing an NBW against him for failing to appear before it on 19 March in a case of alleged hate speech.

The NBW was issued on June 1 by a court in Karimganj on a complaint accusing him of allegedly delivering an inflammatory address on 15 March at Kaziranga University.

The Karimganj court had ordered that the arrest warrant be complied with on or before June 30. Proceedings in the case have been stayed in the Assam court.

PTI

Irom Sharmila completes 15 years of a hunger fast

The 42-year-old Manipuri started her fast in 2000, after the death of 10 Manipuris at the hands of the Assam Rifles in Imphal.

Irom Sharmila

AFP
A historic day went by quietly on Sunday as human rights activist from Manipur, Irom Sharmila, completed 15 years of her hunger strike against the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. The 42-year-old Manipuri started her fast in 2000, after the death of 10 Manipuris at the hands of the Assam Rifles in Imphal. Amnesty International, on Sunday said it was “15 years of the selfless and unparalleled protest”.As the speakers at the Convention to Repeal AFSPA, in New Delhi, repeatedly said, Sharmila is an ordinary woman representing people’s ordinary desires, to live as equal citizens with rights and dignity. How she has carried on her protest is extraordinary said Professor Deepti Priya Mehrotra, author of Burning Bright a biography of Sharmila; she practices non-violence “philosophically” not strategically. Her’s is the declaration that life cannot be lived unless the state accords an equal right to life to all its citizens, said Mehrotra.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Unfortunately, as the solemn gathering recognised, the state does not seem to listen. According to the activists these are the most peaceful times the north eastern states have seen in the recent past. However, “fractured” the Mizo Accord for peace with these groups, it has held for 30 years. Yet, as Amnesty said “despite repeated calls to withdraw the AFSPA from UN experts as well as national and international groups, the Act continues to be enforced and continues to cause flagrant human rights violations.”AS the Amnesty statement added, “the Indian government-appointed High Level Committee on the Status of Women recommended repealing AFSPA. Previously, several other government-appointed commissions have recommended repealing the law. The Justice Jeevan Reddy Committee, the Second Administrative Reforms Commission and the Prime Minister’s Working Group on Confidence-Building Measures in Jammu and Kashmir have recommended the repeal of the AFSPA.”Sharmila herself, said Babloo Loitongbam, from Human Rights Alert, is living a legal and political paradox. Her fight, he said, was for the right to live. In her own words, she didn’t want to die but live a full life. Yet, she has been charged with attempt to suicide and remanded to judicial custody 365 times; a “ritual” that takes place every 15 days. Loitongbam said that Sharmila wanted “people of prominence” to come to court with her to repeat her arguments.Sociologist Nandini Sundar read out the testimonies of two anonymous students who had applied for the Irom Sharmila scholarship–for students from AFSPA affected areas–a man from Manipur, and a woman from Kashmir. Both accounts spoke of coming terrifyingly close to death at the army’s hands, and its impact on one’s mind. Academic Sanjoy Hazarika elaborated this psychological impact, talking about generations living with trauma and mental health problems wherever there was AFSPA. What was telling was the absolute lack of medical help available to these people.A short film presented by the Extra Judicial Execution Victims Families’ Association (EEVFAM) said that in 2012 they had present 1528 cases of killings by the armed forces in Manipur, to the Supreme Court. The apex court picked six cases at random to be investigated and found the army version to be false. The film said that since these cases reached the court, the number of extra judicial killings came down from 500 in a year to 2 in 2013. However, there is concern that if the court does not expedite the other cases, the killings could go back to their former frequency. Families and witnesses, too, need to be protected and rehabilitated, as the film showed the widow of a man slain by the army talking about the pressure the latter was putting on her to withdraw the case.More bleakly, as Professor Ashok Agarwal and Babloo Loitongbam of the Human Right Alert questioned, were civil societies waiting for Irom Sharmila to die to make a statement of her struggle. If so, there would be “riots in Manipur” as Loitongbam put it, but as Agarwal added, it would be a collective failure of not being able to transform her sacrifice in to a “political struggle”. “If this is so,” said Agarwal, “then Sharmila is right in feeling there isn’t enough support for her struggle.”

RSS likely to pass resolution on population ‘imbalance’

The recent census showed that the Muslim community had registered a moderate 0.8 per cent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the 10 year period between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 96.63 crore during the period.

“There would be extensive deliberations on the subject during the meeting and a resolution in this context may be taken up,” he said.

With the recent census figures recording the Muslim population count at over 17 crores, the three-day RSS executive beginning tomorrow is expected to adopt a resolution calling for a check in the “imbalance” of population growth. Addressing the media on the eve of the meet, RSS spokesperson Manmohan Vaidya said the recent census which had just come showed an imbalance in the growth of population. “There would be extensive deliberations on the subject during the meeting and a resolution in this context may be taken up,” he said. Entire top brass of the RSS, including its chief Mohan Bhagwat, will attend the meet. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The recent census showed that the Muslim community had registered a moderate 0.8 per cent growth to touch 17.22 crore in the 10 year period between 2001 and 2011, up from 13.8 crore, while Hindus population showed a decline by 0.7 per cent at 96.63 crore during the period.In his Vijya Dashmi address last week, Bhagwat had said that facts and figures of the last two census reports and the imbalances that had come to notice as a result were being widely discussed. “Our present and future is getting impacted by it. We need to rise above vote bank politics to formulate a holistic approach, equally applicable to all citizens, towards the population policy. “Such a population policy be enforced by our governments or laws alone. Considerable efforts are required to tune society’s psyche to the same. It would be prudent to think about it during policy-making exercise,” he had said.Vaidya also sought a countrywide debate over the Upamanyu Hazarika Commission’s report that illegal migration from Bangladesh is threatening to reduce the indigenous population of Assam to a minority by the year 2047. “Recently, the Hazarika Commission report has given a startling information about changing demographic situation in Assam and Bengal. If the trend continues then population of Indians would be reduced and foreigners would be increased,” he said.

Boat with 200 onboard capsizes in Assam

The boat overturned with the passengers falling into the river, which was in spate.

Representational Image

An overcrowded mechanised boat carrying nearly 200 people on Monday capsized in River Kolohi in Assam’s Kamrup district. The details on the casualty is not known yet, and there are no reports yet on any passenger being rescued. The engine of the boat, carrying the passengers from Chaygaon to Champupara to attend a boat race, failed to function in the middle of the river and hit against the post of a bridge, Kamrup (Rural) Deputy Commissioner Vinod Kumar Seshan said.The boat overturned with the passengers falling into the river, which was in spate, he said. The local residents have begun rescue operations and NDRF and SDRF personnel have rushed to the spot.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Seshan, however, said many may have swam to safety to the other bank of the river, but reports were yet to come in. He further said the exact number of passengers travelling in the boat was yet to be ascertained and the local people have only said it was overcrowded.Senior police and civil officials have rushed to the spot and the hospital authorities nearby have been alerted.

NDFB(S) ‘self-styled’ chief Rabi Basumatary arrested

In what the security forces have called the “final push” launched on September 18 against the anti-talk faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB)(Songbijit), the Army, in a joint operation with the Sashastra Seema Bal and the Assam police on Friday arrested its chief Rabi Basumatary, alias Rongja Baja, along with his personal security officer from Kokrajhar district.NDFB(S) is the group involved in massacre of 71 Adivasis in lower Assam in December last and 46 minorities in May last year. The self-styled chief was also involved in the killing of Narayan Barman , the then in-charge of a police post in the district on 26 September, 2013.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Officials said that one AK-56 rifle, 170 rounds of AK ammunition, 50 rounds of INSAS ammunition and four hand grenades were recovered from them.So far , eight NDFB(S) militants have been killed, while 539 militants and their associates have been arrested in the operations launched by the security forces after the December massacre.Senior officials also said that additional troops have been mobilised to flush out the remaining cadre of the insurgent group.NDFB(S) senior commanders like G Bidai and K Batha are among those who are yet to be apprehended.

Taking cue from Europe, India to distribute ‘illegal Hindu migrants’ from Assam across states

The plan seems to have also stemmed because of ruling BJP dispensation’s fear of political backlash in Assam against it for forcing native population to share finite land resources with “illegal migrants” that can have a bearing on the next year’s state assembly elections.

As agitations continue to spread in Assam against a recent central notification allowing non-Muslim (read Hindu) migrants from Bangladesh to settle even without any valid documents, the Centre, taking cue from the European countries, is considering dispersing them across several states instead of keeping them just in Assam. Highly placed sources in the government said the Centre is evolving a plan to distribute the non-Muslim Bangladeshi population to several states as Assam alone cannot bear such an enormous load of population. The plan seems to have also stemmed because of ruling BJP dispensation’s fear of political backlash in Assam against it for forcing native population to share finite land resources with “illegal migrants” that can have a bearing on the next year’s state assembly elections.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Union home ministry notification of September 7 that allows persons belonging to minority communities in Bangladesh and Pakistan who entered into India on or before the 31st December, 2014 to stay on without any valid documents immediately sparked off agitations by over a dozen organisations in Assam, including All Assam Students Union (AASU) and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuva Chhatra Parishad (AJYCP). They claim the notification is an abrogation of Assam Accord of 1985 that states that foreigners who came to Assam on or after 25 March, 1971 will be expelled. The Accord was arrived at on 15 August 1985 after a prolonged anti-Foreigners agitation in Assam.”We are working out on the modalities and procedures of the distribution and will soon be talking to states about it to bring them on board. Hopefully, the states will see the reason and accommodate them,” said a senior official.The Bangladeshi Hindu migrant population living in Assam alone is expected to be in several lakhs and has to distributed among close to a dozen states so that it does not become a troubling issue.”We have a sterling example of European countries that have worked out a solution for accommodating thousands of refugees from Syria, Lebanon and other Asian and African countries. Why can’t it be done within a country,” said the official. However, the decision to issue a notification seems to have been taken in a rush without working out modalities of distributing the migrants across the country as the Centre is has not made any guidelines, procedures or methods of detecting people from minority communities in the neighbouring countries. “We are asking all such people to report to the Foreigners Regional Registration Officers (FRROs) but we do not have an estimate of the numbers yet,” an official said.Moreover, the government is yet to decide the status of these people as they are neither refugees nor citizens but have been simply allowed to stay on.

NIA announces bounty to capture NSCN-K top brass involved in Manipur attack

New Delhi: Three months after the gruesome attack in Manipur that left 18 army personnel dead, NIA on Thursday announced a cash reward of Rs 7 lakh for information leading to arrest of SS Khaplang, Chief of NSCN-K, a rebel Naga group allegedly responsible for the killings.

Representational image. AFP

Representational image. AFP

NIA also announced a cash reward of Rs 10 lakh on Niki Sumi, self-styled chief of the armed wing of NSCN-K, who is alleged to have led a group of rebels on 4 June and carried out an attack on Army personnel in Manipur’s Chandel district.

“SS Khaplang is head of the NSCN (K) group and Niki Sumi is holding the charge of armed wing of said group. They were closely associated with the decision to attack Assam Rifles personnel at Indira Gandhi Stadium, Kohima on March 26 and subsequent string of attacks on armed forces including the attack on 6 Dogra Regiment Convoy in Chandel district of Manipur on June four killing 18 Army personnel,” the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in a statement.

The agency said any member of the public giving any reliable information about the whereabouts of these hardcore terrorists that could lead to their arrest will be rewarded.

Khaplang is a resident of Myanmar while Sumi hails from Nagaland. There are reports that 75-year-old Khaplang was in a hospital and later shifted to Taga, a place which is at a junction of India-Myanmar-China border.

Piecing together the evidence collected so far, the anti-terror probe agency said the total number of militants who participated in the attack was 23 out of whom two were killed on June four in retaliatory action by the Army in Chandel district of Manipur, official sources said.

Army trucks were attacked with ‘Lathod guns’ and grenades by suspected terrorists of NSCN (Khaplang), killing 18 soldiers and injuring 15 others in the Manipur attack.

The militants had formed three groups to carry out the attack and explosive-laden cans were planted alongside the road to maximise the damage, the sources said.

During the investigations, NIA examined several surrendered militants of NSCN-K, who also helped them identify many of the accused.

In retaliatory strikes following the ambush, Indian army commandos had hit two insurgent camps at different locations along Myanmar’s border with Nagaland and Manipur, inflicting significant damage and casualties.

NSCN(K), which walked out of a ceasefire agreement with India in March this year, has been involved in a series of attacks in tandem with some other militant groups in the North-East under the banner of ‘United Liberation Front of South East Asia’.

NIA had registered a case under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in connection with the attack.

PTI

Army strikes inside Myanmar again, kills three militants

The operation was carried out by Assam Rifles on Saturday, when soldiers of 11th battalion waded inside Myanmar, northeast of Tamu in Manipur’s Chandel district, in broad daylight and engaged PLA soldiers in gunfight and brought two bodies back with them.

The killed militants: Kangjam Romi, Tongbram Samananda & Chongtham Nabanta

Nearly three months after launching surgical strikes to avenge the death of 18 of their fellow soldiers, Indian security forces once again carried out daring strikes, some three kilometres inside Myanmar, killing three cadres of Manipur-based People’s Liberation Army (PLA).The operation was carried out by Assam Rifles on Saturday, when soldiers of 11th battalion waded inside Myanmar, northeast of Tamu in Manipur’s Chandel district, in broad daylight and engaged PLA soldiers in gunfight and brought two bodies back with them.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>While the Army spokesperson in New Delhi said the operation took place along the border and Indian troops did not go beyond, it seemed the strikes have taken place with the knowledge of Myanmar’s Army.According to sources, National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval, during his strategic visit to Nay Pyi Taw in June, had struck a deal with the military junta to allow India to carry out short surgical strikes against Indian insurgent groups that were using Myanmar as a base to prepare and launch attacks on Indian soil.Affirming Assam Rifles’ claim, the Revolutionary People’s Front (political wing of the People’s Liberation Army) paid condolence to three cadres of the PLA, identified as 2nd lieutenant Amar alias Kangjam Romi, sergeant Shyam alias Tongbram Samananda and Corporal Andy alias Chongtham Nabanta.The gunfight lasted an hour, sources said, in which three militants, including a self-styled major, captain and a lieutenant were killed.One body was taken away by the PLA cadres who retreated after the encounter while the Assam Rifles brought back bodies of two slain militants and handed them over to Moreh police.The Meitei-dominated insurgent group, PLA was founded in 1978 and is fighting for an independent Manipur by operating from its camps based in Sagaing division of Myanmar.It was involved in the attack on Dogra regiment on June 4 in Chandel district of Manipur along with KYKL and NSCN (Khaplang) in which 18 soldiers were killed and is part of the United National Liberation Front of Western South East Asia (UNLFWSEA), formed recently by ULFA’s commander in-chief Paresh Baruah, who is based close to China border in north Myanmar.

Assam floods: 42 lives claimed, over 18 lakh people affected

ASDMA said nearly 18 lakh persons are affected across Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Morigaon, Cachar, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Darrang, Nalbari, Kamrup, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Nagaon, Dhubri, Kamrup Metropolitan and Goalpara districts.

A girl stands in floodwater infront of her submerged hut in Morigaon district of Assam on Saturday.

PTI photo
Nearly 80 % of Assam has been engulfed by floods which has affected 20 out of the total 27 districts, claimed 42 lives and affected 18 lakh people, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said today. Loss of six lives was reported during the day in the flood, which has affected 18 lakh people in almost 1,880 villages and submerged over 1.1 lakh hectares of crop land.ASDMA said one person was killed at Sipajhar in Darrang district, one at Barkhetri in Nalbari district, two persons at Mayong and Laharighat in Morigaon district and another two at Lakhipur in Goalpara. With this, the current wave of flood has claimed lives of 42 persons so far taking the total toll in this year’s two waves to 47 in Assam.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>ASDMA said nearly 18 lakh persons are affected across Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Morigaon, Cachar, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Darrang, Nalbari, Kamrup, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Golaghat, Nagaon, Dhubri, Kamrup Metropolitan and Goalpara districts. The worst hit is Dhubri district where nearly 4.5 lakh people have been affected due to floods, followed by Morigaon with more than 2.6 lakh people, the ASDMA said.Authorities are running 308 relief camps in Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Cachar, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Sonitpur, Nalbari, Dibrugarh, Morigaon, Nagaon, Golaghat, Kamrup, Goalpara and Dhubri sheltering nearly 1.4 lakh people, it said. Brahmaputra is flowing above its danger level in Jorhat, Goalpara and Dhubri districts.Burhidehing river is flowing above danger level at Khowang in Dibrugarh, Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at NT Road crossing in Sonitpur, Kopili at Kampur in Nagaon and Kushiyara river is flowing above the red mark at Karimganj town, the ASDMA said.

National Highway 40, road link between Guwahati-Shillong closed due to landslides

The National Highway Authority of India has pressed into service several bulldozers to clear the landslide and the road was expected to be cleared by tomorrow.

Representational Image

File Photo
Road communication between Guwahati and Shillong remained cut off on Sunday following landslides triggered by heavy rainfall for the past few days. Landslides were reported from the Byrinhat area last evening and again today at Unming near Nongpoh, bringing road traffic along National Highway 40 to a standstill, an official source said here today.The National Highway Authority of India has pressed into service several bulldozers to clear the landslide and the road was expected to be cleared by tomorrow. Hundreds of vehicle have been stranded on both the Assam and Meghalaya sides.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>NH-40 links Assam with Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram along with Southern Assam’s Barak Valley.

Assam floods: Death toll rises to 46, 2 lakh people displaced

A mother along with her daughter looks after her son inside a temporarily constructed hut that is partially submerged in flood water in Morigaon district

PTI
In Assam, five deaths have been reported during last 24 hours due to flood. With this, the death toll due to flood and landslide has gone up to 46 in this year. Official sources said that the army, NDRF and SDRF have carried out rescue and relief operations. Around 10 thousand people have been evacuated in Morigaon and Nagaon districts yesterday. Nearly 16 lakh people are reeling under the fury of flood in 20 districts although situation has improved in Upper Assam.Nearly 2 lakh people have taken shelter at relief camps. 352 villages have been submerged in Barpeta district. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>

Assam floods: Death toll reaches 31, alarming situation continues

Guwahati: Assam’s flood situation continued to be alarming on Thursday, even as the deluge claimed two more lives, taking the death toll to 31.

Around 14 lakh people in 19 districts of the state are being affected by the floods.

An Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) release on Thursday said one person died in Dibrugarh and Tinsukia district each taking the toll in current phase of floods to 31.

Flood-hit Assam. AFP.

Flood-hit Assam. AFP.

Meanwhile, the swirling flood waters of Brahmaputra and its tributaries entered 2,200 villages and submerged 1.8 lakh crop lands, the release said.

The affected districts are Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Goalpara, Morigaon, Cachar, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Darrang, Baksa, Nalbari, Kamrup, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Golaghat and Nagaon.

Army has been called by Dibrugarh administration for rescuing the marooned people and for relief operations.

The Pobitora Wildlife Sanctuary in Morigaon district, home to the one horned rhinos in the world, has been completely inundated by the deluge forcing wild animals to move to safer high grounds, forest officials said.

The district administration said the link roads to Pobitora Sanctuary were breached at several places.

The Brahmaputra was flowing above the danger mark at Dibrugarh town, Nematighat in Jorhat district, Tezpur in Sonitpur, Guwahati, Goalpara town and Dhubri town, ASDMA said.

River Burhidehing was running above the danger level at Khowang in Dibrugarh, Desang at Nanglamuraghat in Sivasagar, Dhansiri at Numaligarh in Golaghat, Jia Bharali at NT Road crossing in Sonitpur, Puthimari at NH Road crossing in Kamrup, Beki at Road Bridge in Barpeta and Kushiyara at Karimganj town.

In view of the Brahmaputra flowing above the red mark in Guwahati, the Kamrup Metropolitan district authority has indefinitely suspended all types of ferry and boat services on the river.

Roads and bridges were reported to be damaged by the flood waters in Morigaon, Golaghat, Dhemaji, Jorhat, Lakhimpur, Goalpara, Cachar, Dibrugarh, Sonitpur and Darrang districts, while embankments breached in Barpeta, Dibrugarh, Nalbari and Nagaon districts.

Meanwhile, Assam government has reacted to Union Minister of State for Sports and Youth Affairs Sarbananda Sonowal’s recent statement that the Centre had released Rs 207 crore for flood relief to the state this year.

The state government clarified that the Central funds of Rs 207 crore released to the state government by the Centre was only the first installment of the current year’s central allocation of Rs 414 crore available under the State Disaster Response Funds.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi accused the Union minister, a native of Assam, of not pressurising the Centre to release the due fund to the state to meet the emergent situation and also for continuation of Special Category Status to the NE states, the release added.

PTI

MoEF gives forest nod to controversial hydro projects in Arunachal

A staggering 44 hydro power projects have been planned in the Siang basin, one of the chief tributaries of the Brahmaputra River.

An expert panel of the environment ministry has recommended forest clearance for three crucial hydro projects located in the Siang river basin, Arunachal Pradesh, that will collectively denude 200 hectares of biodiversity rich forests. The three projects – Pauk, Heo and Tato-I, are all proposed on Yarjep River, a tributary of Siyom River, and have a generating capacity of 571 MW. Earlier, the expert committee appraising projects for forest clearances had deferred clearances as there was no cumulative impact assessment study (CIAS) carried out of the Siang basin.A staggering 44 hydro power projects have been planned in the Siang basin, one of the chief tributaries of the Brahmaputra River. The Central Water Commission (CWC) authorised a CIAS study of the Siang basin, that was carried out by RS Environlinks Technologies Private Limited. The expert panel, in their latest meeting, passed the projects on the basis of the CIAS. But, environmentalists said that the expert panel and the CIAS has overlooked several key issues.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>According to the South Asia Network for Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP), there is a conflict of interest issue as RS Environlinks that carried out the Siang CIAS study also did the environment impact assessment studies for the three projects. The NGO had raised this issue in a meeting of the expert appraisal committee of the environment ministry this June. Also, SANDRP pointed out that no comprehensive seismic study was carried out, which is critical in Arunachal Pradesh that falls in seismic zone V More importantly, the CIAS delves little into the impact of the projects in downstream Assam.”There has also been no participatory process in the affected regions in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh about the study. The study was also not made available to locals too,” said Himanshu Thakkar of the SANDRP. Additionally, the expert panel has given out the clearance even as the state government of Arunachal Pradesh is yet to settle the forest rights of local communities. Conflict of interestAccording to the South Asia Network for Dams Rivers and People (SANDRP), there is a conflict of interest issue as RS Environlinks that carried out the Siang CIAS study also did the environment impact assessment studies for the three projects. The NGO had raised this issue in a meeting of the expert appraisal committee of the environment ministry this June.

Three more killed in Assam flood; over 7.3 lakh people hit

The current deluge has claimed 18 lives in the current wave of floods while the toll in this year’s two waves of flood rose to 23 in the state.

Assam floods

PTI
The flood situation in Assam worsened on Monday with three more persons losing their lives and over 7.3 lakh people being affected in nearly 1,600 villages due to incessant rains across the state. The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said in its flood report that two persons died under Dhemaji revenue circle in Dhemaji district. One person died in Sonai revenue circle in Cachar district during the last 24 hours, it said. With this, the current deluge has claimed 18 lives in the current wave of floods while the toll in this year’s two waves of flood rose to 23 in the state. A mother and her minor son were washed away by Sessa river which was in spate at Thakuthan on the outskirts of Dibrugarh town last night when they were going to a relief camp, district administration officials said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –> The woman Monika Das, her husband Milon Das and son Dudu were washed away by the river, but her husband was rescued by the people, while the two others remained untraced till now. ASDMA said over 7.35 lakh people had been affected in 1,597 villages across Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Sonitpur, Barpeta, Goalpara, Morigaon, Cachar, Nagaon, Lakhimpur, Jorhat, Tinsukia, Darrang, Baksa, Nalbari, Udalguri, Kamrup and Dibrugarh districts. The worst hit was Dhemaji district with over 3.4 lakh people suffering due to the flood followed by Lakhimpur with more than 70,000 people being affected, the ASDMA said. Till on Sunday, over 4.6 lakh people were hit by flood waters across 1,031 villages in 14 districts across the state. Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday directed officials to provide immediate relief to people affected by excessive rains leading to floods in the state. Reviewing the situation arising out of increasing water levels in the Brahmaputra, Barak and their tributaries in many districts, he asked the Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia to ensure that communication was not snapped due to flood and all efforts should be initiated to restore the same. Nearly 1.2 lakh hectares of cropland were under water currently, ASDMA said. Authorities have opened 168 relief camps in Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Barpeta, Cachar, Dhemaji, Tinsukia, Sonitpur, Nalbari and Dibrugarh, where more than 51,000 people have taken shelter. At present, the Brahmaputra is flowing above the danger marks at Dibrugarh town, Nematighat in Jorhat district, Tezpur in Sonitpur and Dhubri town, they said. Besides, the Burhidehing river at Khowang in Dibrugarh, the Dhansiri river at Numaligarh in Golaghat, the Jia Bharali river at NT Road crossing in Sonitpur, the Puthimari at NH Road crossing in Kamrup, the Pagladiya at NH Road crossing in Nalbari, the Beki at Road Bridge in Barpeta, the Sankosh at Golokganj in Dhubri and the Kushiyara at Karimganj town have been also flowing above the danger marks. In the last 24 hours, the flood waters have damaged at least 13 roads in Darrang, Baksa, Jorhat, Barpeta, Nalbari, Udalguri, Dhemaji, Cachar and Dibrugarh and three bridges in Baksa, Jorhat and Nalbari.ASDMA said four embankments were also breached in Baksa and Nalbari districts.

Switch hit for BJP

Unhappy with Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi’s decision to back mentor-turned-tormentor Gogoi in their four-year-long feud, Sarma had resigned as Assam’s health and education minister on July 21 last year.

Bengal, northeast speculate joint elephant census to prevent repetition

Kolkata: The central government may simultaneously launch a elephant census in West Bengal and the northeastern states in 2016 to prevent repetition and avoid errors in counting, an official said on Monday.

“We have conveyed this idea to the central government in a recent meeting and when the approval comes, the counting will occur simultaneously in north Bengal and north-east Indian states since the elephants move along the corridors between these states,” said West Bengal chief wildlife warden BR Sharma.

Representational image. APRepresentational image. AP

Representational image. AP

Sharma said this would ensure no animal is counted twice or omitted. The next census is scheduled between February and April 2016.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, in north-eastern India, the endangered species range extends from the eastern border of Nepal in north West Bengal through western Assam along the Himalaya foothills as far as the Mishmi hills in Arunachal Pradesh.

From here it extends into eastern Arunachal Pradesh, the plains of upper Assam, and the foothills of Nagaland. Further west, it extends to the Garo and Khasi hills of Meghalaya to parts of the lower Brahmaputra plains and Karbi plateau in Assam.

In Tripura, Mizoram, Manipur, and the Barak valley districts of Assam, isolated herds occur. The elephant distribution is contiguous with those of Bhutan, Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar.

There are around 9,000 elephants and 22 corridors in the north-east Indian states, said Sharma.

In addition, Sharma said a plan to establish a transboundary protected area for Royal Bengal tigers across the Indian as well as Bangladesh side of Sundarbans has also been conveyed.

IANS

Assam flood toll rises to 13, CM Tarun Gogoi makes aerial survey

The flood has affected a population of 6.16 lakh people with 1291 villages inundated.

The flood has affected a population of 6.16 lakh people with 1291 villages inundated (File Photo)

PTI
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Sunday made an aerial survey of severely flood affected districts of Kokrajhar, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Goalpara and Dhubri districts even as the death toll in the floods rose to 13.After an aerial survey of more than two hours, the Chief Minister said the state government has stepped up rescue and relief operations in the state with all ministers and officials directed to visit the affected districts to monitor relief operations. He also lauded the role of NDRF and SDRF personnel for their all out efforts in rescuing marooned people.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Chief Minister was accompanied by Chief Secretary VK Pipersenia, Assam State Disaster Management Authority chairman P K Tiwari and other senior officials, a spokesman of the Chief Minister’s Office said.The current wave of floods has affected 18 districts with the worst hit being Dhubri, Goalpara, Chirang, Kokrajhar and Bongaigaon districts and claiming 13 lives so far, an official report said here. The flood has affected a population of 6.16 lakh people with 1291 villages inundated.Altogether 260 relief camps have been opened so far with 1.79 lakh inmates taking shelter in these camps. The Chief Minister further said the Centre was yet to release a sizeable chunk of funds sought by the state government for infrastructure damages caused by floods last year and has only released Rs 380 crore so far. “We have submitted memoranda to the Central Government, including the Prime Minister and Home Minister, but have not received the funds sought by us for huge infrastructure damage caused by floods last year,” he said.

Monkeys wear clothes, women don’t: Shocking Assamese report that has women up in arms

Acting as the ‘custodian of Indian culture’, one of Assam’s leading news channels, recently ran a video report which explicitly showed women, as young as schoolgirls, wearing shorts and short skirts and compared them to monkeys who cannot keep clothes on themselves. The video, which was aired almost a month ago, is being criticised for its ‘misogynistic’ undertones, attempt at moral policing, and for filming young women without their consent.

Watch the full report here:

As the video starts playing, you hear the remixed item number ‘Kaanta Laga’ in the background and the visuals are of several young girls wearing shorts, short skirts and short dresses. Soon a voice breaks in and explains, “Even monkeys from the forests have started wearing clothes. The simians from the woods have also started washing clothes. But the need for clothes has come down in the civil society.”

As the background music fades, the voice over continues: “These are visuals from your favourite city. Now shorts have turned out to be the favourite dress for many young girls in Guwahati. That includes half pants too. As if gradually the dresses of a section of young girls have become increasingly shorter than required. For this breed fashion is perhaps expose. But they want to say that wearing clothes as per their choice is a matter of individual right. Wearing shorts give you comfort.

Not only is the report extremely biased and sexist, it stereotypes women wearing shorts as “indecent” and says that the culture of Assam has fallen due to girls who “wear such clothes”. The report has also quoted men, who are wholeheartedly agreeing with the report. “Assam has lost its earlier etiquette. People get usually angry with the men and blame them for giving a bad eye. But just now a girl passed and the dress she was wearing what should I say? The culture we had… that we should be prim and proper in public is gone now.”

Screengrab from the news report.Screengrab from the news report.

Screengrab from the news report.

A small group of women in Guwahati, although, have decided not to sit quietly after this report. Bipasa Saikia, a journalist, has registered an online petition on Change.org against the vernacular media in Assam.

“Journalism is not about journalists giving their opinions about other people. Journalism is about journalists stating facts and making the people aware of things in the society. However, since the past eight to ten years we have been noticing a trend in the Assamese media where self proclaimed journalists go out and sexually objectify women,” writes Saikia.

Saikia, who is based in Assam, told Firstpost that journalists like Hemen Rajbhonghsi (a Pratidin Time reporter), who upload news like “‘Scantily clad girls, A summer time nuisance’ do not even spare little girls of taking shots that are unimaginably indecent.”

“I want women and girls in my hometown Guwahati to be free. I lived in Delhi for about a seven years, and I was more free there than I am here. Women in Guwahati are subjected to various bullshit. There have been several incidents where girls, who were visiting bars, were dragged out and attacked. The reason given was they were ‘loose’ women.”

A senior journalist based in Guwahati added that vernacular media in the state has taken upon themselves to define the way a woman should “behave” herself in the society.

“It is worse than being repressed. It brings back scary memories of 2012 molestation case. There has been no sentencing yet in that case,” she said on condition of anonymity. The brazenness with which men conduct themselves in this society is nothing short of gross misogyny, she added.

In 2012, a mob had attacked and molested a 20-year-old girl, who was coming out of a bar in Guwahati.

The case had attracted attention across the nation on account of the insensitivity that the local media showed towards her. Instead of preventing the perpetrators from doing the heinous crime, the cameras kept rolling and the questions kept coming.

Another senior journalist, who is based in Guwahati and who did not wished to be named, said that these incidents happen on a daily basis in Guwahati.

“Every week some news channel or the other will carry a report where they shame women some way or the other. The most common are those reports which have both women and alcohol. Every week this happens, sometimes more than once. And this is the first thing you see in the morning.

“Guwahati as a city is suffering because the media here is busy highlighting things that really don’t matter. You should see the sad state of roads, drainage, floods, infrastructure here. But no! The only thing that our media is worried about is why are our women wearing shorts and why are they drinking beer?” she said.

Saikia, elaborating on the mob mentality and the cudgel of moral policing that news channels seem to have readily picked up, said, “It is sick here. You cannot go out and drink. You cannot even think of lighting a smoke on the streets. God know what they will do to you. Most of my friends are backing me up. Most women I know are outraged, but I also know that there is a section of people who agree with the reporter.”

After the Pratidin Time report went viral and social media and the channel and the reporter drew sharp criticism from netizens, Pratidin issued a rejoinder:

“It has been brought to our notice that unwarranted controversy has been created over a news item that was broadcast on ‘Pratin Time’ nearly a month and half ago by a section of the people on social media. That news item was largely based on an issue often discussed in the social and cultural space in Assam. There was no intention to hurt someone’s feelings and denigrate any individual through that news item. If the broadcast of the news item has hurt someone, ‘Pratidin Time’ apologises to everyone concerned.”

Despite several attempts, Hemen Rajbhonghsi was not available for a comment. However, he issued a statement on Facebook too:

“Thanks for being a viewer of our channel. I don’t think my work disrespects my mother and sisters. Because, they never show their legs in public. You don’t know about the male psychology. Men are visually stimulated by nature. And culture! Perhaps you don’t know Assamese culture. As a sister, I respect you. And I also know that learning never ends. So I will be happy if I will be able to learn something from you. Thanks for your comment. But shorts are not symbol of ‘sobhyo’ (the culture). Get well soon.”

The blatant disregard for the outrageous report did not go down well with activists and social media users. Kavita Krishnan, Secretary of the All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) wrote on Facebook, “Tell this Assam journalist that he can’t use channel for his voyeurism of women’s clothes and bodies and his moral comments on them. If he finds it a nuisance to see skirt clad women he can lock himself up in his own home or cover his eyes. He and the channel have no business to use the TV medium to propagate hatred against women in this fashion.”

Saikia said there should be laws in place that protect women from such baseless abuse on TV.

“I want there to be a law that clearly states the ethical guidelines of jounalism. Especially something that protects women of smaller cities in our country. If a woman in a place, like say Dhubri, is raped and a woman of say Mumbai or Delhi is raped, the results are going to be completely different,” she added.

Saikia told Firstpost that Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi has to wake up and take note of the issue. “We are planning for a protest this Sunday.”

Interestingly, the reporter of Pratidin Times ended his report with a very ironical question: “We have sent spacecraft to Mars. But at this time in Assam, the news is on dress code. Till how far is this acceptable? (sic)” We wonder.

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi votes for Indian Idol Junior contestant Nahid Afrin

Intense campaigning is on in Assam, particularly in her home town Biswanath Chariali, for Nahid’s victory in the singing reality show.
File Photo
dna Research & Archives
Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Saturday voted for Nahid Afrin, the young singing sensation from Assam, for the “Indian Idol Junior” Season II.In a statement, Gogoi said the young promising singer from Assam has been regaling the audience and viewers with her mellifluous voice and bringing laurels to the state. The Chief Minister appealed to the people of the state to vote for Nahid, who hails from Sonitpur district, to enable her to win the coveted singing reality show.Impressed by the singing of the 13-year old Visharad, a Part 2 student of classical music under the Bhatkhande Kala Kendra, the Indian Idol Junior Season 2 judges said she might get offers for playback singing by the end of this season.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Intense campaigning is on in Assam, particularly in her home town Biswanath Chariali, for Nahid’s victory in the singing reality show.

Eight persons killed, over six lakh affected by floods in Assam

Guwahati: Eight persons were killed and over six lakh people hit by the floods in Assam, where the rising Brahmaputra river and its tributaries have flooded 19 districts prompting the army to launch relief operations.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said one person died due to the flood at No 1 Kawadi village under Bijni revenue circle in Chirang district and two others in Dotoma revenue circle in Kokrajhar district.

Two persons have died in Lakhimpur and one each in Bongaigaon, Baksa and Sonitpur districts, ASDMA said in a press release on Friday.

Over 1.23 lakh people have been displaced by the flood forcing them to take shelter in 177 relief camps set up by the administration, the release said.

Incessant rains in the upper catchment areas have caused the water level of river Brahmaputra and its tributaries flowing through Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Tinsukia, Dibrugarh, Sivasagar, Nalbari, Goalpara, Morigaaon, Dhubri, Kamrup, Golaghat, Darrang, Nagaon, Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Barpeta, Jorhat, Baska and Sonitpur districts to rise alarmingly, a report from the Water Resources Department said.

Flood waters have inundated 27 anti-poaching camps inside Kaziranga National Park and damaged a bridge and a culvert at Burapahar Range, Forest Department reported.

The Red Horn Division of the army has since yesterday deployed two columns consisting of an officer, two junior commissioned officers and 35 of other ranks along with a boat assault universal type with over board motor, life jackets and other flood relief materials in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts, said a Defence spokesman.

Army swung into action as the waters of Saralbhanga river in Kokrajhar and other major tributaries of Brahmaputra in Chirang rose displacing many villagers. They rescued many of villagers from inundated areas and provided food and medical assistance to them, an Army spokesman said.

The Army in consonance with the civil administration is also geared for further operations as the flood situation worsens, he added.

Reports of damage to roads, embankments and bridges, besides erosion have also been reported from the affected districts.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi reviewed the flood situation with the Minister for Water Resources Basanta Das and senior officials here during the day and directed the revenue and disaster management department to take steps to gear up relief and rescue operations.

He also directed the department to provide food, medicine, drinking water and baby food to relief camp inmates and take special care of children and women who have taken shelter in them, a government release said.

PTI

Army called in for rescue and relief in flood-hit Assam

The Government of Assam has called in the army for rescue and relief efforts in the flood-hit areas of the state.

File Picture

The Government of Assam has called in the army for rescue and relief efforts in the flood-hit areas of the state.It is approximated that more than three lakh people have been affected by the floods. A defence ministry spokesman said two columns of the army have been deployed for the relief operations in Kokrajhar and Chirang districts.Several rivers in the state have crossed the danger mark.At least 620 villages in 13 districts of the state are flood affected, and around 85,000 people are taking shelter in temporary relief camps. People sought shelter in relief camps set by the government after several embankments in the district got inundated.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Northeast Frontier Railways suspended train services in lower Assam after flood water inundated a stretch of the track at Bijni in Chirang district.

Floods in Assam: 2 lakh people in 280 villages affected

Highest number of 1.35 lakh people have been hit by the natural calamity in Bongaigaon district alone, followed by Dhemaji where over 20,000 people have been affected, it said.

Image Courtesy: All India Radio news Twitter Page

The flood situation in Assam turned grim on Wednesday following incessant rains in the past few days which have affected nearly two lakh people in over 280 villages in the state.Almost two lakh people are affected in 282 villages across Dhemaji, Kokrajhar, Chirang, Lakhimpur, Bongaigaon, Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts, Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said in its flood report.Highest number of 1.35 lakh people have been hit by the natural calamity in Bongaigaon district alone, followed by Dhemaji where over 20,000 people have been affected, it said. More than 12,600 hectares of crop areas are under water currently, the report said. Authorities have opened 45 relief camps in Kokrajhar, Bongaigaon and Chirang, where more than 17,500 persons have taken shelter.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>At present, Brahmaputra river is flowing above the danger mark at Nematighat in Jorhat and Dibrugarh town, Jia Bharali at NT Road crossing in Sonitpur, Puthimari at NT Road crossing in Kamrup and Beki at Barpeta Road in Barpeta, ASDMA said.The flood waters have damaged at least 11 roads in Kokrajhar, Chirang and Dhemaji districts, while four embankments were breached in Chirang and Dhemaji. The death toll in this year’s flood in Assam has remained at five — two in Lakhimpur and one each in Bongaigaon, Baksa and Sonitpur.

Monsoon deficit to widen to 12%, impact kharif crop, says IMD

As per the official data, kharif crops have been sown in 890.82 lakh hectares till August 14 of the season, as against 863.61 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

Representational image

dna Research & Archives
India’s summer rainfall deficit has widened to 10% and is projected to rise to 12% by the end of monsoon season next month, raising fears of a fall in kharif output in parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Bihar and eastern UP.The rise in monsoon rains deficit was projected by the MeT office on Monday notwithstanding the possibility of heavy rainfall in the foothills of Himalayas over the next four days tht has prompted sounding of a flood alert in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and West Bengal.”The rainfall shortage is about 10% as of now. The deficit is expected to widen further to 12% by the end of the season,” Laxman Singh Rathore, Director-General of the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The MeT department has projected 16% deficiency in the remaining two months of the four-month season, that is, in August and September.There is a forecast for a huge rainfall deficiency in some pockets of the country. Even though Bihar and eastern UP would receive heavy rains in the next four days, the dry spell is expected to continue after that, Rathore said.As per IMD data, there is 48% rainfall deficiency in Marathwada in Maharasthra, 45% in north interior parts of Karnataka, 36% shortage each in eastern UP and in Rayalaseema in Andhra Pradesh, 33% in central Maharasthra and 23% in Telangana.Rathore said a Monsoon trough will bring “heavy” to “very heavy rainfall” in the foothills of Himalayas.”The rainfall will also lead to swelling of rivers Kosi, Gandak and Ghaghara, tributaries of Ganga and all tributaries of Brahmaputra.”This will possibly lead to flooding of plains in East Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Assam and sub-Himalayan parts of West Bengal,” Rathore said, after a high-level meeting convened by the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).The government had last week announced a relief package of Rs 300 crore to provide diesel and seed subsidy, among others, to farmers with a view to saving standing kharif crops in the eventuality of drought and deficit rainfall.Such measures are for helping the farmers in rainfall- deficit areas of Marathwada, Rayalseema, north-interior Karnataka and Bihar and eastern UP.Sowing for kharif crops like pulses and oilseeds has remained robust on the back of improved rains in June and some good spells in July. However, the monsoon’s performance in August-September would be crucial for this year’s kharif output.As per the official data, kharif crops have been sown in 890.82 lakh hectares till August 14 of the season, as against 863.61 lakh hectares in the year-ago period.

Maharashtra govt orders probe into Louis Berger contracts in the state

Mumbai: The Maharashtra government has ordered an inquiry into infrastructure contracts allotted to Louis Berger, the US-based construction management firm facing bribery charges to win projects in Goa and Assam.

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis. PTI

“Yes, I have ordered an inquiry,” Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis told PTI in Mumbai on Monday.

A committee headed by a senior bureaucrat will inquire into the contracts awarded to Louis Berger, he said.

Louis Berger has served as a management consultant for infrastructure projects in Mumbai, including the Mumbai Metro One rail service, Monorail, Navi Mumbai international airport project and the Santacruz Chembur-Link Road.

A full-fledged inquiry will be constituted if deviations in awarding contracts come to light, Fadnavis said.

Last month, it was reported that the firm had admitted in a US Court that it paid bribes to top Indian government officials to bag projects in Goa and Assam.

PTI

Over 5100 people killed in Assam insurgency in last 24 years

They were killed in 9382 incidents of violence by insurgents from 1991 to July 2015, Agriculture Minister Rockybul Hussain said on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in reply to a query in the Assembly.

Representational Image

File Photo
At least 5166 people, including 912 security personnel, were killed in insurgency in Assam in the last 24 years, the state government said on Monday.They were killed in 9382 incidents of violence by insurgents from 1991 to July 2015, Agriculture Minister Rockybul Hussain said on behalf of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in reply to a query in the Assembly. To control militancy and for the protection of life and property, the Unified Command structure was introduced in the state on January 21, 1997 with the police, army and paramiltary forces working together for anti-insurgency operations, he said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The measures to control militant activities in the state include setting up of fixed police pickets, increased patrolling by security forces, operation in the insurgent-active areas and involving the local people in the anti-insurgency operations, Hussain added.

Naga delegation to meet NSCN-K chief SS Khaplang: CM TR Zeliang

Naga rebel group NSCN-K had abrogated the ceasefire agreement and attacked security personnel, including a convoy of army killing 18 soldiers in Manipur in June.

TR Zeliang

File Photo
Naga peace pact is only a “formula” for a final accord, Nagaland Chief Minister TR Zeliang on Sunday asserted while seeking to allay apprehensions of other northeastern states, and said that the other members of Assembly were even ready to step down to make a new beginning. Voicing confidence that other rebels groups would also come on board after the signing of agreement between NSCN-IM and the Centre, he said a 16-member Naga delegation will visit Myanmar to meet SS Khaplang, the chief of the other Naga rebel group NSCN-K which had abrogated the ceasefire agreement and attacked security personnel, including a convoy of army killing 18 soldiers in Manipur in June. “I along with all members of the Nagaland Assembly are ready to step down, if an acceptable and honourable solution is found to the Naga people, in order to make a new beginning,” the Chief Minister, whose Naga People’s Front is an NDA ally, said. His remarks are significant as the region has a history of rebels groups joining political mainstream and even assuming power after signing of peace accords. <!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Asserting that the agreement will not affect non-Nagas and will resolve the problems of North-East, Zeliang said that he will speak to other chief ministers of the region. Chief Ministers of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh have said they will not cede an inch of their land. They have protested for being consulted before signing of the pact with NSCN-IM on Monday. “The pact signed by Centre and NSCN-IM will help bring peace to the North-East. I will speak personally to my counterparts of neighbouring states to allay their apprehensions over the agreement,” Zeliang said at a press conference here, a day after meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “Solving the Naga problem is solving the problems of the North-East. Non-Nagas of the North-East should not have any negative thinking about the pact with NSCN-IM,” he said.Zeliang said the peace pact was only a formula for a final agreement and what he understood after meeting Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh was that the Naga political problem will be resolved through sharing of power between the government of India and the Naga people. “Today we have trust and confidence in Prime Minister Modi,” Zeliang said.Highlighting the key aspects of the formula, he said Naga customary system and land holding system will be respected by the Centre based on the “unique history of Nagas” and it will be applied across the Naga inhabited areas of the Northe East, including Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh. “This Naga issue does not pertain to only Nagaland. Naga problem is covering the entire Naga contiguous region. So, respecting the traditional land holding system, customary system, it covers the entire Naga (community) wherever they are…,” he said.

Congress dares PM Narendra Modi to make Naga Peace Accord public

Holding PM Modi guilty of “obstinacy, obscurity and arrogance”, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “PM Modi has chosen to keep the elected governments of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur in complete dark with no involvement either in the process of negotiation or finalisation of terms of peace agreement.”

PM Modi

PTI
Congress launched a frontal attack on the Modi government charging it for misleading the country on Naga peace accord and blamed the Prime Minister Modi for “breaching the principles of cooperative federalism with impunity”.To put its point forward it presented the three chief ministers of Congress ruled north-eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam who also lambasted the Central government for keeping them in total dark about the developments.Holding PM Modi guilty of “obstinacy, obscurity and arrogance”, Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said, “PM Modi has chosen to keep the elected governments of Assam, Arunachal and Manipur in complete dark with no involvement either in the process of negotiation or finalisation of terms of peace agreement. What is appalling that that till date these elected governments neither have knowledge of terms of accord not have they been consulted.”<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Charging the PM with not informing the parliament the terms of accord, not holding an all-party meeting to discuss it and not even telling the contents to his own ministers and even the defence ministry, Congress dared the PM to make the terms of the Accord public. Attacking PM Modi, Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi said, “My first objection is that it violates the democratic principles and parliamentary procedure by not taking approval of the cabinet. The PM does Man ki Baat with the whole nation but does not convey Mann ki Baat even to his cabinet colleagues.”Debunking the Accord, as was also reported by the dna, Gogoi said, “How the Naga interlocutor can be the signatory of the accord. His signatures do not have any validity. The Accord is valid only if the home secretary or joint or some other high official signs it on behalf of the government of India. Questioning government’s secretive silence on features of Accord, Gogoi asked Is it indeed an accord or not or as NSCN (IM) chief Muivah said the solution has not been arrived as yet. “If that is so then what is the great achievement?” Gogoi asked.Expressing shock the way the issue has been handled, Manipur chief minister Ibobi Singh said he was told by MoS Jitender Singh that was nothing but simply a framework of agreement. “The why PM said it is an Accord. The whole of Manipur was agitated for not keeping them informed and forcing the accord on them,” said Ibobi Singh.The three chief ministers and Surjewala also charged BJP leader Nirmala Sitharaman of telling blatant lies by asserting that the chief ministers were called for a meeting in Niti Aayog to discuss the peace agreement. Putting documents on record, both Ibobi Singh and Gogoi said, neither through any written letter not orally they were told such a thing. “We refused to take part in the Niti Aayog meeting as it called to discuss Land Acquisition bill which we are boycotting. The same day all the chief ministers of northeast were called but no agenda for the meeting was communicated. We boycotted that meeting also because of complete indifference on account of PM to grant audience for full six months on the issue to discuss special status for NE states,” they said.

Not complying to NSCN-IM demand to integrate Naga inhabited areas: Rajnath Singh tells Manipur CM

Rajnath Singh told O Ibobi Singh that the central government has made it clear to NSCN-IM that their main demand of integration of Naga inhabitated areas would not be met but more powers would be given to local bodies like autonomous district councils, the sources said.

Rajnath Singh

File Photo
The Centre on Saturday assured Manipur that its interests will be full protected while signing the final agreement with NSCN-IM. This was conveyed by Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh to Manipur Chief Minister O Ibobi Singh when the latter met him here.Official sources said the Home Minister also allayed fears of change of geography of Northeastern states by assuring that Chief Ministers of the region would be consulted before the final agreement with NSCN-IM was signed. Rajnath Singh told O Ibobi Singh that the central government has made it clear to NSCN-IM that their main demand of integration of Naga inhabitated areas would not be met but more powers would be given to local bodies like autonomous district councils, the sources said.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The Manipur Chief Minister, along with his counterparts in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, had protested for not having consulted the neighbouring states of Nagaland before signing the initial accord with NSCN-IM on Monday.The NSCN-IM, which had given up its original demand of sovereignty a few years ago, has been asking for integration of Naga inhabitated areas in Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. All three states are opposed to the outfit’s demand. Sources said the Home Minister explained to the Chief Minister that a framework has been laid in Monday’s agreement and the final pact will be signed only after detailed discussions in coming months.

Arrogant govt’s pact with NSCN-IM insult to other northeast states: Sonia Gandhi blasts Centre

Already locked in a bitter feud with the government over suspension of 25 of its Lok Sabha members, a combative Sonia opened another front against the Narendra Modi dispensation, charging it with being “arrogant” in not briefing Congress chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam despite their states being “directly affected” by the pact.

Sonia Gandhi

File Photo
A controversy erupted on Thursday over the recent Naga peace accord, with Congress president Sonia Gandhi taking on the Modi government for “insulting” three north eastern states whose chief ministers belonging to her party were not taken into confidence on the issue.Already locked in a bitter feud with the government over suspension of 25 of its Lok Sabha members, a combative Sonia opened another front against the Narendra Modi dispensation, charging it with being “arrogant” in not briefing Congress chief ministers of Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Assam despite their states being “directly affected” by the pact.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”This Government keeps on saying that everybody has to be taken along and that they will hold consultations with all, will take the views of all chief ministers. Then what happened? Their arrogance is now even more clear than before. And it is an insult not only to the chief ministers, but to the people of these states and to the federal structure of our country,” she said.Talking to reporters in Parliament complex, the Congress president said when she called her party’s chief ministers in the three states, she found they were “totally blank” on the issue. “Nobody has even bothered to brief them, perhaps not in detail, but in a wide sense. After all, our chief ministers are directly affected, be it Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh or Assam. So, what do I take from this? From this I take that this government is arrogant,” she said.The Modi government had on August 3 signed an accord with the largest insurgent Naga outfit NSCN(IM) after sustained negotiations that dragged on for nearly two decades, describing it as a “historic” step to end the six decade-long conflict in the state. The terms of the accord, however, are not in the public domain yet and apprehensions have been voiced about NSCN(IM)’s rival Naga outfits like NSCN (Khaplang), which had walked out of the ceasefire agreement with India, rejecting the peace pact, which could thus fail to usher in peace in the restive Nagaland and its adjoining states.NSCN (Khaplang) had ambushed an army convoy in Manipur’s Chandel district in June this year, killing 18 soldiers and prompting a surgical retaliatory strike along the Myanmar border. There are apprehensions about it mounting more such attacks to nullify the accord.Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi, who was also present, said, “It’s an insult to every single citizen in these three states and it’s an insult to the people of India the way this government does its work. Our voice is being suppressed in Parliament.” The Congress President has said that the voice of three states Manipur Assam and Arunachal is being suppressed. It’s an insult to the people of these three states that their CMs have not been advised,” Rahul said.Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi had welcomed the pact but expressed astonishment over why its contents had been “kept in the dark”.The Congress President said, “We do not know the exact content of the Nagaland accord. So, we cannot express our views yet. The Prime Minister did call some leaders including myself and said we have very good news. The Nagaland issue which is going on for 20 years is now resolved. I said congratulations to you.”

Naga Peace Accord without consulting North-East CMs shows arrogance of government: Sonia Gandhi

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday once again launched a frontal attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi questioning the Naga Accord.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi on Thursday slammed the Modi government over the Naga peace accord, accusing it of not taking chief ministers of north eastern states into confidence and said it showed its “arrogance”.Opening another front against the government, Congress leaders Sonia and Rahul Gandhi, who have been protesting against the suspension of 25 Congress MPs from Lok Sabha, charged that the voice of the three states of Manipur, Assam and Arunachal Pradesh is being “suppressed”.Talking to reporters in Parliament complex, the Congress President said when she called her party’s chief ministers in the three states, who are directly affected by the Naga accord, she found that they were “totally blank” on the issue.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>”Nobody has even bothered to brief them, perhaps not in detail, but in a wide sense. After all, our chief ministers are directly affected, be it Manipur, Arunachal Pradesh or Assam. So, what do I take from this? From this I take that this government is arrogant.”This Government keeps on saying that everybody has to be taken along and that they will hold consultations with all, will take the views of all Chief Ministers. Then what happened? Their arrogance is now even more clear than before.And it is an insult not only to the chief ministers, but to the people of these states and to the federal structure of our country,” she said.Also read: Will oppose NSCN-IM peace pact tooth and nail if it affects Assam: Tarun GogoiThe pact was signed in the presence of the Prime Minister, Home Minister Rajnath Singh and National Security Adviser Ajit Doval by the outfit’s leader T Muivah and government’s interlocutor R N Ravi at the PM’s residence in Delhi.The signing of the pact is the culmination of over 80 rounds of negotiations that spanned 16 years with first breakthrough in 1997 when ceasefire agreement was sealed.Meanwhile, agitated over the suspension of 25 of its members in Lok Sabha and bolstered by support from most opposition parties, Congress took to the streets to protest for the third day to.Earlier, leading the protest Congress President Sonia Gandhi termed the move as ‘murder of democracy’. she had said, “The way our MPs have been suspended, it is anti-democratic. It is a murder of democracy. It is government’s duty to function the parliament.”

PM should make his stand clear on Naga peace accord: Tarun Gogoi

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make his stand clear that the Naga peace accord does not affect the interests of Assam.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Wednesday said Prime Minister Narendra Modi should make his stand clear that the Naga peace accord does not affect the interests of Assam.”To allay apprehension of the people, PM should make his stand clear that the Naga peace accord does not affect the interest of Assam,” he tweeted. He said union minister Prakash Javadekar gave credit to Modi for Naga peace deal within 15 months of his assuming office.”Will he also give credit to PM for depriving NE states of Special Category Status,” he tweeted.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Gogoi on Tuesday welcomed the Naga peace agreement signed on August 3 and said, “We appreciate peace in Nagaland and welcome settlement of Naga issues, but we will oppose tooth and nail any move that affects the interests of Assam.”The agreement has been reached after prolonged struggle by the Naga group and it will help in restoring peace and prosperity in Nagaland. But it is astonishing why the clauses of the agreement are kept in the dark,” he said in a statement.The Ministry of Home Affairs, he said, has even given the impression that it is in the dark about the details of the agreement.”To keep such an important document under wraps raises doubt about its veracity. It also raises doubt that the peace deal might affect the interests of Assam, Manipur and Arunachal Pradesh,” he added.

Army raids Karbi Liberation outfit in Assam; neutralises dreaded militants

Sources said that troops of the Red Horn Division of the Army launched a raid near Duni Tokbi Gaon in Karbi Anglong district of Assam during a joint operation with the Assam Police.

The Army on Wednesday said it busted a large training camp in Assam belonging to the secessionist militant outfit Karbi People’s Liberation Tiger (KPLT), a group having close links with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland-Khaplang (NSCN-K).At least three hardcore militants belonging to the outfit were killed, army sources in Delhi said.Sources said that troops of the Red Horn Division of the Army launched a raid near Duni Tokbi Gaon in Karbi Anglong district of Assam during a joint operation with the Assam Police.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The operation was carried out on a specific information about the presence militants in the area. The hiding militants opened fire on the search parties and tried to flee. However, the security forces plugged the escape routes and engaged the militants. Security forces also busted a well concealed and stocked hideout and recovered massive cache of arms, ammunition and various other warlike stores that included one AK series rifle, two pistols, six bags and various incriminating documents, said a senior officer at the Army headquarters in Delhi.Calling it a major setback for the outfit, Army said that the slain militants included an operational commander of KPLT .KPLT was formed with an objective of carving an Autonomous Karbi State (AKS) out of Assam in 2011.

Vyapam case: CBI registers FIR against 18; tight-lipped on the names of accused

A 40-member CBI contingent headed by Joint Director R P Agarwal, a 1986 batch Assam-Meghalya cadre IPS officer, is probing the Vyapam cases.

CBI registered FIR against 18 persons on Tuesday in connection with alleged illegalities committed in the Forest Guard recruitment test conducted by Vyapam in 2012.CBI is tightlipped on the names of accused in the FIR registered under IPC sections related to criminal conspiracy, cheating and forgery and under section of the MP Recognised Examination Act.A preliminary enquiry has also been registered relating to the unnatural death of Brijesh Rajput, age (25 years) resident of Rajput Veterinary College, Jabalpur (Madhya Pradesh) who had died on October 22, 2010, CBI sources said. Rajput was a suspect in one of the Vyapam cases probed by Madhya Pradesh Police.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>A 40-member CBI contingent headed by Joint Director R P Agarwal, a 1986 batch Assam-Meghalya cadre IPS officer, is probing the Vyapam cases.A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu had on July 9 transferred the probe of all Vyapam cases, including the related deaths, to CBI.

Assam horror: Mob strips naked, beheads woman for ‘witchcraft’

Three youths killed a 63-year-old woman in Assam on Monday after suspecting her to be a witch, police said. All three have been arrested. However, according to this report in The Hindustan Times, police have arrested seven people. The incident took place in Bhimajuli village near Biswanath Chariali around noon.

Biswanath superintendent of police Manabendra Rai said the three Karbi youths suspected Adivasi woman Poni Orang of being a witch.

“Anima Ronghanti, 35, who claims to be a goddess, had asked the people to gather at a local temple,” additional superintendent of police Samad Hussain told NDTV. She told them Orang was a witch and would bring bad luck to the village. Orang is an adivasi and a mother of five, NDTV report added.

Representative image. AFPRepresentative image. AFP

Representative image. AFP

“Following this, the mob rushed to Orang’s house and dragged her out, took her to a nearby stream, almost stripped her naked and beheaded her in broad daylight,” the ASP was quoted as saying.

“The trio forced Orang out of her house around noon on Monday, took her near a river and killed her. They accused her of being a witch and alleged that it was due to her presence that many people in the village were falling ill,” Rai said.

“Police went to the spot after being informed by villagers and arrested the three. They also recovered the machete used to kill her,” the official said.

Adequate police force has been deployed in the village to ensure that there was no backlash. “The situation is under control now. We have deployed forces in the village so that there is no communal backlash between the Adivasi and Karbi communities,” the police official said.

Witch-hunting is a evil practice, and superstition still exists among some communities in Assam. The government had off late said it would bring an act with more punitive actions to check the menace.

The state government is also planning a special court to conduct trial of cases related to witch-hunting, in which 82 people have died in the last five years.

A draft bill prepared by the state home department proposes punishment ranging between three years to life imprisonment for those found guilty of branding someone a witch and abetting suicide, apart from taking care of the victims.

With IANS inputs

Assam horror: Mob strips suspected ‘witch’, then beheads her

Three youths killed a 63-year-old woman in Assam on Monday after suspecting her to be a witch, police said. All three have been arrested. However, according to this report in The Hindustan Times, police have arrested seven people. The incident took place in Bhimajuli village near Biswanath Chariali around noon.

Biswanath superintendent of police Manabendra Rai said the three Karbi youths suspected Adivasi woman Poni Orang of being a witch.

“Anima Ronghanti, 35, who claims to be a goddess, had asked the people to gather at a local temple,” additional superintendent of police Samad Hussain told NDTV. She told them Orang was a witch and would bring bad luck to the village. Orang is an adivasi and a mother of five, NDTV report added.

Representative image. AFPRepresentative image. AFP

Representative image. AFP

“Following this, the mob rushed to Orang’s house and dragged her out, took her to a nearby stream, almost stripped her naked and beheaded her in broad daylight,” the ASP was quoted as saying.

“The trio forced Orang out of her house around noon on Monday, took her near a river and killed her. They accused her of being a witch and alleged that it was due to her presence that many people in the village were falling ill,” Rai said.

“Police went to the spot after being informed by villagers and arrested the three. They also recovered the machete used to kill her,” the official said.

Adequate police force has been deployed in the village to ensure that there was no backlash. “The situation is under control now. We have deployed forces in the village so that there is no communal backlash between the Adivasi and Karbi communities,” the police official said.

Witch-hunting is a evil practice, and superstition still exists among some communities in Assam. The government had off late said it would bring an act with more punitive actions to check the menace.

The state government is also planning a special court to conduct trial of cases related to witch-hunting, in which 82 people have died in the last five years.

A draft bill prepared by the state home department proposes punishment ranging between three years to life imprisonment for those found guilty of branding someone a witch and abetting suicide, apart from taking care of the victims.

With IANS inputs

Vadra deals, Louis Berger bribe case: BJP gets ready to trade punch for punch in Parliament

by Swati Deb

Punch for punch and jab for jab – the embattled BJP has decided to meet the combativeness of the Congress with more combativeness in Parliament. Apprehensive of a united opposition attack on the twin issues of Lalitgate and Vyapam, the party has decided to rake up the controversial land deals of Robert Vadra in Rajasthan and Haryana and corruption issues in Assam and Goa to put the Congress on the defensive. BJP spokespersons and vocal MPs have been asked to get the lung power ready.

BJP sources said in her meeting with party chief Amit Shah and other BJP trouble-shooters like Arun Jaitley Rajasthan’ Chief Minister Vasundhara Raje, who is under attack over her association with controversial cricket administrator Lalit Modi, submitted papers related to Vadra’s land dealings in Rajasthan.

“It has come to light rather convincingly that the Congress attack against Vasundhara was intensified after the Rajasthan government cancelled mutation of land purchased by his firm Skylight Hospitality Private Limited,” a source said. Making things worse for the Congress president’s son-in-law, the state government in January this year seized 360 hectares of land that the firm had bought in 2010.

Moreover, it has come to light that “fake land deals were made by Vadra and others in villages like Gajner, Goileri and Madh Gaon”. The state government could soon pursue “further probe” in these. “So the needle of suspicion points at two former Congress CMs – Ashok Gehlot (Rajasthan) and Digambar Kamat (Goa),” one leader said. In the ‘Louis Berger-bribe’ scam which allegedly took place in 2010 officials and ministers in Assam and Goa were bribed for water development projects in these two states. Congress’s Digambar Kamat was the chief minister and Churchill Alemao was Public Works Department minister in Goa when the bribe was allegedly paid.

AFPAFP

AFP

Similarly, Assam CM Tarun Gogoi has come under attack in Assam along with a former Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma. Louis Berger confessed to the bribery allegations and agreed to pay a fine of $17.1 million criminal fee. Two of its former executives – Richard Hirsch (61) of Philippines and James McClung (59) of the UAE pleaded guilty to the bribery charges.

The Congress sought to be dismissive about the charges. A Congress spokesman today told reporters that the party stands for a thorough probe into the allegations. “Prime Minister Narendra Modi should talk to his friend US President Barack Obama and get the details,” he said.

On the Land Bill, Parliamentary Affairs Minister M Venkaiah Naidu dismissed suggestions that it will not fructify this session saying, “there is no need to pre-judge things and I am confident that the JPC examining the Bill will make its recommendations and the suggestions of the panel will be accepted”.

BJP party strategists feel contrary to the general impression, in the long run the Congress will find itself “isolated” as the state governments have already expressed willingness to enact land acquisition laws of their own. “Our strategy vis-a-vis Land Bill will be to present Congress as anti-development and as an antagonist outfit,” one key leader said.

Other key aspects of strategies will be to reach out to regional parties. Despite indications that severa could join hands with the Congress, the BJP is confident most of them would be careful to stay away from the former.

In an elaborate plan on reaching out to regional parties like Trinamool Congress, the AIADMK and the Samajwadi Party, BJP sources said, “Congress party was humbled in Lok Sabha polls and lost a series of assembly elections in states. Our message to these regional parties at  such juncture is when the Congress is desperate to revive itself, should these parties work under the same party who had been at one time their rivals in the states”.

The BJP lawmakers and floor managers would also try to carry message that contrary to the allegations, the new Land Bill that the Modi government brought is timely and a necessary step.

Gogoi orders inquiry into allegations of bribe by American firm

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi today ordered an inquiry into allegations of bribe being paid by an American company to get jobs as consultants to Guwahati Water Supply Project.

Gogoi directed additional chief secretary Subash Das to probe into the allegations that American company Louis Berger had paid bribes to government functionaries to be appointed as consultants, a statement issued by CMO’s said in Guwahati.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTIAssam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTI

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTI

Gogoi has asked the additional chief secretary to submit the report soon and said if any prima facie evidence of bribe being given is found, the state government will refer the case to CBI.

It was reported that Louis Berger had paid bribe to government functionaries in Goa and Assam to get jobs as consultants in the implementation of water supply projects.

The concerned project in Assam is Guwahati Water Supply project which is being implemented by Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority with funds received under Japan International Cooperation Scheme.

Former minister Himanta Biswa Sarma held the Guwahati Development Department portfolio when the consultants were selected.

Alleging that corruption in the government has become rampant during Congress-rule in the state, Opposition BJP demanded a CBI probe into the scam.

Those who received bribes must be brought to book, BJP spokesperson Bijon Mahajan said.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi has also demanded a CBI probe into the alleged scam.

PTI

Assam CM Tarun Gogoi orders inquiry into allegations of bribery by Louis Berger

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi on Monday ordered an inquiry into allegations of bribe being paid by an American company to get jobs as consultants to Guwahati Water Supply Project.

Gogoi directed Additional Chief Secretary Subash Das to probe into the allegations that American company Louis Berger had paid bribes to government functionaries to be appointed as consultants, a statement issued by CMO’s said in Guwahati.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTI

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi. PTI

Gogoi has asked the additional chief secretary to submit the report soon and said if any prima facie evidence of bribe being given is found, the state government will refer the case to CBI.

It was reported that Louis Berger had paid bribe to government functionaries in Goa and Assam to get jobs as consultants in the implementation of water supply projects.

The concerned project in Assam is Guwahati Water Supply project which is being implemented by Guwahati Metropolitan Development Authority with funds received under Japan International Cooperation Scheme.

Former Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma held the Guwahati Development Department portfolio when the consultants were selected.

Alleging that corruption in the government has become rampant during Congress-rule in the state, Opposition BJP demanded a CBI probe into the scam.

Those who received bribes must be brought to book, BJP spokesperson Bijon Mahajan said.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi has also demanded a CBI probe into the alleged scam.

PTI

CRPF jawan guns down officer, student in Assam; injures four

Nalbari, Assam: A CRPF jawan today allegedly opened indiscriminate fire at his colleagues when they were out on an operational task in the district, leaving his colleague and a Class IX student dead.

Ten others were injured in the firing that took place when the CRPF jawans were on duty at an agitation spot on the National Highway 31.

An injured CRPF jawan being brought to Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) for treatment after clashes between CRPF and protestors in Guwahati on Friday. PTIAn injured CRPF jawan being brought to Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) for treatment after clashes between CRPF and protestors in Guwahati on Friday. PTI

An injured CRPF jawan being brought to Gauhati Medical College Hospital (GMCH) for treatment after clashes between CRPF and protestors in Guwahati on Friday. PTI

A large number of people under the banner of the Tihu Sub-Division Demand Committee were blocking the NH-31 at Tihu.

“While on duty, a CRPF jawan suddenly started firing indiscriminately, mainly on his colleagues. Two persons were killed on the spot and several others were injured,” Nalbari deputy commissioner Om Prakash told reporters at Nalbari.

The havildar, identified as Amal Kumar Das, allegedly killed a CRPF assistant sub-inspector DR Bordoloi and Himangshu Tamuli, an agitator studying in Class IX, he said.

“Four more CRPF personnel and one agitator sustained bullet injuries and were treated at the Shahid Mukunda Kalita Civil Hospital. Later, they were shifted to the Gauhati Medical College and Hospital in A critical condition,” Prakash said.

The injured CRPF personnel were Janardan Mahal (33), Dayaram Boro (41), Diganta Kumar Baniya (34) and Nirmal Das (40), while the agitator has been identified as Brajen Baishya (21).

Besides, five more agitators were injured during the commotion on the spot and they were being treated at a local hospital at Tihu, the DC said.

“We are yet to get the details, but it appears that the CRPF jawan was mentally disturbed. It was not a firing on protesters,” Prakash said.

The DC praised the additional deputy commissioner Mrigesh Barua, who was on the spot to talk to agitators demanding creation of Tihu sub-division, for showing courage and snatching the rifle of the CRPF jawan.

“Barua’s courage have saved a few more lives. He snatched the rifle from the CRPF jawan and pulled him down to the ground,” Prakash said.

Senior officials of the paramilitary and local police have reached the spot even as CRPF has ordered a Court of Inquiry into the fratricidal incident.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi termed the incident as “unfortunate” and said this showed the level of frustration among the personnel of Central forces.

“Such incidents are happening more frequently these days. This is alarming. I request the Central government to do everything possible to improve the working and living condition of the jawans,” the chief minister said.

Gogoi said it was “not a fight with demonstrators, but firing by a CRPF jawan on his colleagues”.

PTI

Green clearance to country’s biggest proposed hydro project challenged in NGT

The environmental clearance (EC) to the country’s biggest proposed hydroelectric project (HEP), the 2880MW Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Arunachal Pradesh has been challenged in the Kolkata bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT). The petition, filed on Thursday, states that there has been no application of mind while appraising the project. It has expressed concern that the project would cause “irreversible environmental damage and destroy one of the last refuge of pristine biodiversity of one of the mega biodiversity hotspot of the world and immense downstream impacts on livelihood and wildlife in Assam”.

The environmental clearance (EC) to the country’s biggest proposed hydroelectric project (HEP), the 2880MW Dibang Multipurpose Project (DMP) in Arunachal Pradesh has been challenged in the Kolkata bench of National Green Tribunal (NGT). The petition, filed on Thursday, states that there has been no application of mind while appraising the project. It has expressed concern that the project would cause “irreversible environmental damage and destroy one of the last refuge of pristine biodiversity of one of the mega biodiversity hotspot of the world and immense downstream impacts on livelihood and wildlife in Assam”.<!– Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>The DMP will see construction of a mammoth 278-metre tall concrete gravity dam and it will submerge a vast forest area of 4,577.84 hectares or 45.77 sq km, of which major chunks are community forests. The forest land to be diverted is also a major habitat of endangered species such as tiger, leopard, snow leopard, Himalayan Black Bear, Slow Loris, Himalayan Black bear, Leopard cat and Fishing Cat.Quashing the project’s environmental clearance, declaring the Dibang-Dihang Biosphere Reserve as a ‘No-Go Zone’ for massive HEP’s are the key prayers of the petition. In addition, it has also asked the Tribunal to commission a detailed basin based cumulative impact assessments of HEP’s in the entire Dibang valley through an interdisciplinary expert group for scientific evaluation of sites.The petition highlights two major contradictions and anomalies in the process of granting environmental clearance for the project. Firstly, the petition claims that the MoEFCC granted clearance without following the due process. It says that ignoring an earlier NGT order, no downstream impact and cumulative impact assessment was carried out. Secondly, the petition stresses that the Forest Advisory Committee (FAC) twice rejected recommending the project for clearance. But, after the FAC was reconstituted, the project was recommended for forest clearance even though there was no major change made to the proposal.Even the public hearing process, the petition says, has not been taken into account while giving the clearance. Before clearing the project, no public hearing was carried out in the downstream areas of Assam while in Arunachal Pradesh, the Idu Mishmi tribes have strongly opposed the project.The petition has also drawn attention to the seismic vulnerabilities of the region and to the issue of ecological flow of Dibang River. The DMP site lies close to an active Fault Line in the Mishmi Thrust of the Mayudia Group in Eastern Arunachal Pradesh. It has a witnessed seismic activities, including the Great Assam earthquake of 8.6 magnitude in 1950. The Environment Impact Assessment of the project makes only cursory remarks on the natural and reservoir induced seismic threats, the petition added.