The protest at Dadenggre on Monday. Picture by Saidul Khan

Tura, Oct. 5: A group of protesters today interrupted Tura Lok Sabha MP Purno Agitok Sangma at an election rally in Dadenggre, West Garo Hills, where he was campaigning for the upcoming Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) polls.

The protesters, led by the Garo Students’ Union’s (GSU) Rupa Marak, included members of other civil organisations. They unfurled a stinging placard and alleged that Sangma had made several promises in the past that remain unfulfilled.

The National People’s Party (NPP) leader arrived at Dadenggre public playground for today’s rally around 11.30am, accompanied by his legislator son James K. Sangma and NPP candidate for Jengjal GHADC constituency, Grahambel A. Sangma.

Around 300 protesters were present in the crowd of about 1,000 people.

Marak told The Telegraph: “We staged the protest against him because he broke the trust of the people of the Dadenggre area. We wanted to remind him that the people will not remain silent to all his (false) promises anymore.”

The GSU leader said in 2007 while inaugurating the Dadenggre Puri Higher Secondary School, Sangma had told the gathering that he would establish a college in the area. Marak also alleged that the former Lok Sabha Speaker had promised to build a “folding bridge” in Dadenggre after a major bridge collapsed in floods last year.

Marak alleged that Sangma had then said: “The folding bridge will be installed very soon at Dadenggre. It is being shipped for Dadenggre via Agia in Assam.” However, it has still not been built.

The GSU leader said Sangma spoke briefly to the protesters and said: “You should tell this to Mukul Sangma, not me.”

Marak said the crowd then confronted Sangma about his remarks and some of them shouted: “The promises were made by you and not Mukul Sangma.”

Sangma later told The Telegraph, “The protest was engineered by candidates of a rival political party. I have never made any false promises. I have done so much during my tenure as chief minister of Meghalaya. Rongram-Chibinang road via Dadenggre was sanctioned in West Garo Hills. I have done enough for the area, when people had not demanded anything. I have done things even without any memorandum from the people.”

Asked about the folding bridge, Sangma said: “I have never heard of anything like a folding bridge. It is a baseless claim by the protesters.”

Protesting is “a democratic right of the people”, Sangma said. Asked if he suspected the Congress to be behind the protest, Sangma said: “It is natural.”

By Saidul Khan


Kokrajhar, Oct. 5: A grand mass gathering of the newly floated United Peoples’ Front (UPF), representing various indigenous communities of Assam, was organised at Kajalgaon rural stadium in Chirang district today.

UPF working president Jayanta Rongpi said the UPF would contest 35 seats across the state.

Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Mohilary, who is also the president of the ruling Bodoland People’s Front (BPF) in the BTAD and chairman of the UPF, said his party would contest 16 seats under the UPF’s banner, of which he said the party’s win is confirmed in 14 seats.

Mission Tejaswee launched: Mission Tejaswee, the month-long special drive for prevention and treatment of anaemia, was launched in Chirang district at Sidli PHC.

Chirang deputy commissioner Rupak Kumar Mazumdar declared the mission open by administering iron and folic acid syrup to two children and handed over the tablets to a pregnant woman.

Altogether 38,932 children in the district in the age group of six to 60 months will be administered the syrup by accredited social health activists and 3,032 pregnant women will be administered the tablets by the auxiliary nurse midwives every Wednesday and Saturday during the monthlong drive.

D. Ramchiary, joint director of health services, Chirang, said the district health society, Chirang, has ensured availability of basic drugs at all the health institutions with provision of priority-based response to cases of adverse effects and prompt reporting of such cases.

By Our Correspondent


Guwahati, Oct. 5: State-owned Allahabad Bank will lay top priority on retail products to boost business in the Northeast, apart from branch expansion.

“Our bank will lay special impetus on retail products, both loan and deposit, for business growth in the Northeast. As it is, the bank has been performing well in retail lending such as housing loans, car loans, personal loans and trade loans,” N.K. Sahoo, executive director, Allahabad Bank, said here today.

The bank’s retail lending comprises overheads such as housing and furnishing loans, vehicle finance, personal loans, trade loans and education loans. “Besides, we will look to sustain the 15 per cent year-on-year growth in CASA (current account and savings account) deposits in the region this fiscal,” Sahoo said.

The country’s oldest joint-stock bank has achieved a growth of 30 per cent in retail banking in the last quarter. As on September 2015, the total business of the bank is valued at Rs 3,599 crore.

The Calcutta-headquartered nationalised bank plans to cover uncovered territories by opening at least eight new branches across the region this fiscal, including its first branch in Mizoram.

“We propose to open eight more branches this fiscal, of which one will be opened in Aizawl and the other in Shillong. Financial inclusion, too, is in our scheme of things with 60 per cent of the branches in the region located in the semi-urban and rural areas,” Sahoo said.

“Our bank has also forayed into third-party products such as life insurance, general insurance and mutual funds. We have also taken up social security schemes such as Prime Minister Jan Dhan Yojana, Prime Minister Suraksha Bima Yojana, among others,” he said.

The bank operates in the Northeast under two zones, Guwahati and Dibrugarh. Currently, there are 90 branches under two zones.

“The Guwahati zone currently has 47 branches across 22 districts covering a part of Assam, Meghalaya and Manipur. Upper Assam and the rest of the states are under the Dibrugarh zone,” the official said.

“Our branches have sanctioned and disbursed 1,198 accounts against the target of 1,175 under Mudra loan scheme (Sishu),” he said.

By Saurav Bora


Shillong, Oct. 5: Rape accused police officer Nurul Islam was produced in the court of special judge, Protection of Children from Sexual Offences, (POCSO) here today and copies of the chargesheet submitted by Meghalaya police were provided to the accused.

Islam appeared before special judge (POCSO), A.M. Ripnar, and was later taken back to judicial custody.

Islam has been in judicial custody since September 11 after Meghalaya High Court cancelled the bail granted earlier by then special judge (POCSO), B. Mawrie (on June 24, 2015 and July 8, 2015). The high court termed the bail orders “illegal and perverse”.

“My client appeared before the special judge and the court is providing the copies of chargesheet filed against him,” Islam’s counsel, K. Sunar, told this correspondent after the hearing.

Asked if he would move a bail petition for his client, Sunar said he would first study the papers (copies of the chargesheet) submitted by Meghalaya police to the court.

On September 11, Justice T.N.K. Singh, a judge of Meghalaya High Court, while cancelling the bail application of Islam, directed the lower court to complete the trial of the case expeditiously. The high court also said the trial court may consider the bail application of the accused (Islam) if necessary, according to laws and principles laid down by the apex court regarding granting of bail.

Islam, who was a sub-inspector at Ampati police station in South West Garo Hills district, was accused of raping two girls at Ampati in March 2013.

The case is related to Ampati, and it was supposed to be taken up by a district court at Tura in West Garo Hills. However in 2014, Islam prayed to Meghalaya High Court to transfer the case from Tura to Shillong as he feared a threat to his life in the Garo hills.

The high court then passed an order asking Nurul to appear before a court of district and sessions judge in Shillong. It was on June 24 this year, that Islam surrendered before the court of the district and sessions judge here.

Meghalaya police had accused the police officer of absconding since June 2, 2013, but Islam’s family denied the allegation.

By Rining Lyngdoh


Dancers perform at Assam Rifles Junior School, Pallel, in Manipur on Monday. Telegraph picture

Imphal, Oct. 5: The Assam Rifles honoured more than 100 school teachers on World Teachers’ Day today to encourage the teaching community to motivate their students to build “sustainable societies”.

On Thursday, the Assam Rifles organised a daylong seminar – Emergent Manipur: The way ahead.

Issues like insurgency, ethnic divide and opportunities ahead were discussed to explore solutions to myriad problems and ways to take Manipur forward.

The 26 Sector Assam Rifles today honoured 175 teachers of schools, “both government and private” located in Chandel district, in recognition of their contributions in nurturing responsible citizens of the future.

The commander of the 26 Sector, Brig. Rajiv Chhibber, gave the teachers gifts and lauded their contribution in nurturing tomorrow’s generation. Chhibber said the meaning of literacy needs to be changed and the role of teachers is crucial.

The Assam Rifles’s honour to the teachers of schools in Chandel is significant because the district lacks academic infrastructure and is a militant-infested area that shares a border with Myanmar.

It is in Chandel district where militants attacked an army convoy killing 18 soldiers and injuring more than 10 in June this year, prompting the army’s elite force to move into Myanmar territory to “seek and destroy” Manipur militants.

At the seminar, general officer commanding (GOC) 3 Corps accused Myanmar of extending support to Indian militants and also urged the neighbouring country to play a role in restoring peace in Manipur. Senior officers, while addressing the teachers today, underscored their role in building sustainable societies.

“In today’s world marred with rampant violence and extremism, teachers play a pivotal role in building tolerance and resilience among the students. These virtues are instilled in classrooms in the presence of teachers,” Col Sundeep Madan of the 6 Dogra Regiment said.

He added that students thrive in supportive surroundings where the ethos of non-violence, respect and cohesion are prevalent.

While honouring the teachers, the Assam Rifles authorities reminded them how important their role is in promoting development through education and also in keeping away the students from violence. “In a society that mirrors apathy, extremism and violence, it is the contribution of teachers which turns these mirrors into windows of hope and empathy,” Col Madan said.

The students of Assam Rifles High School presented cultural programmes and an acrobatic show.

By Khelen Thokchom


Itanagar, Oct. 5: The second edition of the Ziro Butterfly Meet concluded here today.

The meet, organised by NGO Ngunu Ziro, saw participants from Nagaland, Assam and Sikkim this year. The butterfly meet made its debut last year and since then the Ziro valley has caught the imagination of butterfly enthusiasts.

Resource person of the meet, Monsoon Jyoti Gogoi, said the three most sought-after butterfly species in the world were the Kaiser-e-Hind, the Bhutan glory and the brown gorgon. “Ziro is unique because all the three valued species have been documented here,” he added.

Nawangla Bhutia, president of the Butterflies and Moths of Sikkim, expressed his desire to work closely with Ngunu Ziro to promote preservation and conservation of rare butterflies and their habitats in the Eastern Himalayas.

Wildlife biologist Samrat Sengupta shared some basic tips of photographing butterflies. The other participants included conservationist and mountaineer of Seven Look from Assam, Palash Goswami, and member of Bombay Natural History Society, Ngulljolal Khongsai. The participants photographed more than 50 different species of butterflies during the three-day meet. Varied species of butterflies start arriving in Ziro from the last week of August. But this year, they came late in October because of unfavourable weather conditions.

The NGO started the event as part of its initiative to create awareness about the rich biodiversity of the valley and the need to conserve it. Some Ngunu Ziro members will participate in the Northeast Butterfly Meet, slated to be held at Bornadi wildlife sanctuary in Assam later this month.

By Ranju Dodum


The pandal on Court Field in Jorhat. Picture by UB photos

Jorhat, Oct. 5: A group of schoolchildren in Assam will receive lessons in humanity and compassion from none other than Bollywood superstar Salman Khan during a three-day meet for the students, starting here tomorrow.

Students (Classes VIII to X) from 13 districts, who will be here during the students’ meet-cum-educational and exposure tour under the government’s Gyan Jyoti scheme, will be shown the blockbuster movie Bajrangi Bhaijaan at two special screenings in a local cinema hall.

The movie shows the bond between a speech-impaired Pakistani girl lost in India and her Hindu Indian saviour – played by Khan – who overcomes all odds to take her across the border and hands her over to her parents after a long search.

Students from rural areas are taken to Guwahati and Jorhat every year under the Gyan Jyoti Scheme launched in 2004.

They are given the option to choose the places they want to visit from a list of historical destinations, heritage sites, monuments, protected forests, renowned scientific research institutes and reputed educational institutions located in and around the two urban centres.

A series of group activities involving discussions, competitions in various categories like literature and co-curricular activities like dance, music, quiz and debate will be organised at Court Field here.

Jorhat deputy commissioner Solanki Vishal Vasant told The Telegraph today that the administration wanted to show a special movie to the students for enjoyment and also to develop positive elements of human nature for building a healthy and a progressive society.

“Among the two movies we thought of – Aamir Khan-starrer PK and Bajrangi Bhaijaan – we selected the second one as the movie is expected to provide food for thought to the young viewers on how to deal with fellow human beings irrespective of one’s religion, community, nationality or social status,” Solanki said.

Jorhat additional deputy commissioner Anjanabh Chaliha, who is orchestrating the programme, said the discussions, competitions, opening and closing ceremonies of Gyan Jyoti would be organised at Court Field here during the day as well as by night.

He said the students would also be taken for a tour of several places and institutes of eminence in the district.

By Wasim Rahman


Assam PCC president Anjan Dutta at the function in Guwahati on Monday.

Guwahati, Oct. 5: The ruling Congress in Assam today threw its gates open for around 500 students and youth leaders from different indigenous communities and dangled a development council carrot for the Brahmins as the party prepares to face a seemingly resurgent BJP in next year’s Assembly elections.

The Congress recently lost senior leader and former minister Himanta Biswa Sarma to the BJP and faces desertion by another nine MLAs who have announced their intention to join the BJP.

Assam PCC president Anjan Dutta, who welcomed the newcomers to the party, said several former leaders of AASU would join the party on October 15.

Two senior AASU leaders, Tapan Gogoi and Sankar Prasad Ray, have recently joined the BJP, inviting ridicule from various sections for having jettisoned the student organisation’s ideology.

Both the BJP and Congress are anathema to AASU and are under fire from the student organisation over the issue of allowing minorities from Bangladesh to stay in India without valid documents.

A leader of the Bodoland People’s Front (BPF), Subir Das, also joined the Congress today.

Dutta told the new members at Rajiv Bhawan here this afternoon that their joining would strengthen the party. He told them that the Congress is the only party that focused on development of the indigenous communities.

“We think about development of the indigenous communities. We have formed the development councils for these communities,” he said. The Congress government has formed 18 development councils for the welfare and development of various communities.

“Besides, we know that there are poor people among the Brahmins. That is why we are thinking of a development council for the Brahmins, too,” he said.

Dutta asserted the Congress would come to power for the fourth time. He said unlike the BJP, which Sarma has joined, the Congress was not allowing leaders of the AGP and the BJP to join the party.

“We are not looking for leaders of the AGP and the BJP because we already have enough leaders,” Dutta said.

Replying to Sarma’s criticism of the Congress at a BJP programme in chief minister Tarun Gogoi’s constituency, Titabar, yesterday, PCC vice-president Ripun Bora said it was not the Congress but faith of the people in Sarma which had “expired”.

“Himanta said that the expiry date of the Congress is over. It is not the Congress, but people’s faith in Himanta which has expired,” Bora said.

“According to Himanta the main aim of the BJP is to free Assam from immigrants. When he was in charge of Assam Accord implementation, he did not take any initiative in this regard,” Bora said.



Chief adviser of the Manch Prafulla Kumar Mahanta in Guwahati on Monday.

Picture by UB Photos

Guwahati, Oct. 5: The Asom Andolan Sangrami Manch will hold a convention here tomorrow to discuss the Centre’s notification to allow non-Muslim illegal migrants from Bangladesh and Pakistan to stay in India and to chalk out the future course of action.

Chief adviser of the Manch and former chief minister Prafulla Kumar Mahanta today said that the notification issued by the Narendra Modi government had violated the Assam Accord, which stipulates that illegal migrants who had entered Assam after the midnight of March 24, 1971, shall be detected and deported.

Mahanta said that they were vehemently opposing the notification as it had created a roadblock in the implementation of the Assam Accord.

He said the notification is an attempt to divide the society on the basis of religion.

Mahanta was the president of the All Assam Students’ Union (AASU) and one of the signatories of the Assam Accord, which was signed on the intervening night of August 14 and 15, 1985, to end the six-year-long Assam Agitation.

After the Centre issued the contentious notification on September 7 this year, protests broke out in Assam with various organisations claiming that it violates the Assam Accord.

According to the notification issued by the Union home ministry, the central government has decided, on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities in those countries who have entered India on or before December 31, 2014, from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920, and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be.

A number of Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities in those countries were compelled to seek refuge in India due to religious persecution or fear of religious persecution, the notification said.

Chief convener of the manch and former AGP MP Kumar Dipak Das said that every organisation and individual, who were associated with the Assam Agitation, have been invited to the daylong convention, which will begin at District Library auditorium here at 10am tomorrow.

Resolutions will be adopted at the end of the convention.

Das said the latest notification by the Centre “is an insult to the 855 martyrs of the Assam Agitation”.

Last month, the members of the manch had staged a sit-in at Jantar Mantar in Delhi to protest against the notification.



Guwahati, Oct. 5: The Assam Board of Wakfs today alleged powerful politicians, land mafia and businessmen were involved in a “massive scam” amounting to crores of rupees, leading to encroachment and misuse of over 15,800 bighas of Wakf property across the state.

The board, constituted to look after the movable and immovable Wakf properties and utilise the returns from them for welfare of the poor, today demanded that chief minister Tarun Gogoi immediately order a high-level inquiry to unearth the scam as promised by the latter during a meeting with the board members last month.

“The House committee constituted by the Assam Assembly had found that many Wakf properties have been illegally occupied or are being misused across the state. The committee had in March therefore recommended a survey of the properties and steps to free illegal occupants. There has been no survey of such properties since 1957 and a proper survey would disclose the illegal occupants. Of the 15,805 bighas of land, we have over 24 bighas of land in Fancy Bazar, which is the Northeast’s biggest trade centre and they are worth crores. There is a huge scam involving the property and a powerful racket of politicians, land mafia and businessmen are illegally occupying them. We demand a thorough inquiry into the entire scam to help us get back the properties, returns of which can be used for welfare of the poor and the needy,” Nekibur Zaman, chairman of the board and advocate, said here today.

Zaman, who was elected the board’s chairman last year, said the board’s annual collection of revenue from its properties increased from mere Rs 74,022 in 2006-07 to Rs 15.06 lakh in 2014-15 but its original collection of revenue should exceed Rs 7,000 crore every year.

“As our properties are illegally occupied, we are denied revenue. Many illegal occupants come to me with bribe offers to silent me. Only the state government can take strong action to recover the Wakf properties. We have thousands of bighas of land but the situation has come to such an unfortunate state that we don’t have a plot of land to construct our office. We have provided Rs 1.4 lakh as financial support to poor and meritorious students in the past one year and Rs 22,000 to the poor and ill. But without a proper office it is not possible to extend our activities,” he said.

“Most of the land in Fancy Bazar and other prime areas in Guwahati have been under the unauthorised occupation of some businessmen and individuals because of lack of effective monitoring mechanism. Without a proper survey of the properties, it is not possible for the board to monitor them,” Zaman said.

“Wakf board in other states have established good educational institutions, hospitals and hostels for the poor and needy whereas our properties have either been illegally occupied or are being misused,” Zaman said.

The House committee had said if the Wakf properties are managed properly, it would bring hundreds of crores of rupees that can be used for welfare purposes.

“The committee had submitted its report to the Assembly Speaker in March this year but its recommendations have not been implemented by the state government yet,” he said.