Mizoram chief minister Lal Thanhawla casts his vote

at a booth on Thursday. Picture by Nilotpal Bhattacharjee

Silchar, Nov. 26: The elections to Aizawl Municipal Corporation and Lai Autonomous District Council in Mizoram passed off peacefully today.

Despite a vigorous voter awareness campaign, less than half of Aizawl today turned out to vote in the elections to the 19-ward corporation. The civic polls recorded very dismal turnout of 36.04 per cent.

The elections to the autonomous district council for the Lai people recorded a turnout of 62.21 per cent till 1pm.

The counting for the civic polls began this evening, while the counting for the council elections will be held on November 28 in Lawngtlai town, district headquarters of the Lai district council.

Aizawl deputy commissioner Franklin Laltinkhuma told The Telegraph today that polling was peaceful and there was no untoward incident. There was tight security across the city and electorates were allowed to cast their votes only after showing either voter identity cards or any one of the 12 identity-proof documents recognised by the Election Commission, he added.

Laltinkhuma said proper security arrangement had been made to avert any kind of violence after the declaration of the poll results at night.

Lai district council election officer Saizikpuiisaid the polling was peaceful and there was no report of any violence. Asked about the reports of the malfunction of EVMs, he said they had received only one complaint from a polling station about the non-functioning of EVMs. “The EVM was replaced immediately,” he added.

On the total turnout, Saizikpuii said they could only give the figure after receiving reports from all the polling stations. “It would not be possible to give the exact poll percentage at this moment. Some of the polling stations are located in the far-flung areas where communication is pitiable,” he added.

The fate of 74 candidates in the district council polls and 54 candidates in the civic polls was sealed today.

Nine returning officers, 19 assistant returning officers, 211 presiding officers and 422 polling officers were on duty to conduct the municipal polls.

Minister to take oath

Former Mizoram health minister Lal Thanzara, who won the recently byelection, is likely to get a ministerial berth in the Lal Thanhawla government. He will be inducted as a member of the Mizoram Assembly on Friday.

The oath-taking ceremony will be administered by Speaker Hiphei at the Assembly conference hall at 11am.

By Nilotpal Bhattacharjee


Guwahati, Nov. 26: Gauhati High Court today upheld a notification issued by the transport department in 2014 for the withdrawal of 10-year-old share taxis (trekkers) and 15-year-old city buses and school buses from the roads of Guwahati.

A single judge bench of Justice Suman Shyam passed the order dismissing two petitions filed by All Guwahati Share Taxi Owners’ Association and one by All Assam Motor Transport Association challenging the notification issued by the Regional Transport Authority (RTA) on March 4, 2014.

Advocate Devajit Saikia and his colleague Santanu Bora appeared in the court on behalf of RTA.

The high court said all such trekkers and buses would have to go off the city roads by March 31, 2016.

The general secretary of All Guwahati Share Taxi Owners’ Association, Satyaram Talukdar, said they are thinking of moving the Supreme Court against today’s high court order.

Talukdar said there are around 1,200 trekkers currently plying on the city roads and 80 per cent of them are more than 10 years old.

“Most of the trekker owners are educated unemployed youths and they are not in the financial position to replace their 10-year-old vehicles with new ones,” he said.

By A staff reporter


Guwahati, Nov. 26: A fire broke out at the office of Star Union Dai-Ichi Life Insurance, a private insurance firm near Goswami Service petrol pump in Chandmari at 1pm today.

Fire fighters said short circuit might have caused the incident. No one was injured in the blaze.

By A staff reporter


Imphal, Nov. 26: Buoyed by the victory in the byelection to the two Assembly constituencies, the Manipur unit of the BJP started preparations in right earnest for the 2017 state Assembly elections to “dethrone” the Congress, which has been running the third consecutive term.

Thongam Biswajit Singh and Khumukcham Joykishan Singh won Thongju and Thangmeiband constituencies respectively defeating Congress candidates Bijoy Koijam in Thongju and Jyotin Waikhom in Thangmeiband.

The victory provided the BJP with an entry to the state Assembly after a gap of 15 years.

The BJP considers the win a victory against “misrule” and “corrupt practices” of the Congress government headed by Okram Ibobi Singh.

The members of BJP core committee, office-bearers and presidents of morchas reviewed the outcome of the byelection yesterday afternoon and flagged off the preparations to capture power.

“The joint meet entrusted the party president (Thounaojam Chaoba Singh) to constitute a state-level election management committee to chalk out strategies for the Assembly elections and also for the upcoming civic body elections,” general secretary M. Asnikumar Singh told The Telegraph .

He said district-level election management committees would also be set up.

“The meeting resolved to shun all differences within party and work in a united manner to ensure victory in the next elections,” he said.

The elections for eight municipal councils and eight nagar panchayats covering 22 Assembly segments will be held in January and the BJP is eyeing power in majority of the bodies. At present, the BJP is in power in only one municipal council.

Next week, two national BJP leaders – Ram Madhav and Prahlad Singh Patel – are arriving in Imphal for finalising the election campaign strategies, both for the civic body as well as the Assembly elections.

“We will fight the election on the agenda of development, good governance, peace and communal harmony. The roadmap for our fight against the Congress would be finalised after the two national leaders arrive here next week,” Asnikumar Singh said.

He said the BJP plans to field candidates in all the 316 seats for councillors and 632 seats for ward members in the civic body election.

“The BJP’s aim is to end the more than 13-year-long misrule and misgovernance of the Congress. The victory in the byelection for the two Assembly constituencies is the steppingstone of our next victory. The byelection was not a simple election. It was a referendum on the Ibobi Singh government’s misdeeds,” Asnikumar Singh said.

Civic poll peaceful

The elections to Aizawl Municipal Corporation and Lai Autonomous District Council in Mizoram though peaceful, were marked by a very low turnout.

Less than half of Aizawl today turned out to vote in the elections to the 19-ward corporation. The polls recorded a 36.04 per cent turnout. The elections to the autonomo-us district council for the Lai people recorded a turnout of 62.21 per cent till 1pm.

Former Mizoram health minister Lal Thanzara, who won the recent byelection, is likely to get a ministerial berth in the Lal Thanhawla government. He will be inducted as a member of the Mizoram Assembly tomorrow.

By Khelen Thokchom


Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi visits the Assam Pavilion at the India International

Trade Fair in New Delhiā€™s Pragati Maidan on Thursday. (PTI)

Guwahati, Nov. 26: The Congress will take out a rally here tomorrow to demand removal of governor P.B. Acharya for his alleged communal role in discharging his duties.

The rally will start from Sonaram School playground at Bharalumukh and culminate in front of the Kamrup (metro) deputy commissioner’s office at Kachari here. The protesters will submit a memorandum to President Pranab Mukerjee through the deputy commissioner.

PCC president Anjan Dutta today alleged that the governor’s latest reported statement that “Hindustan is only for Hindus” and his subsequent clarification saying Indian Muslims were “free to go to Pakistan” had exposed his communal mindset. He alleged that Acharya had been making “communal” comments since taking charge.

“The acting governor is behaving like an RSS pracharak. As the chancellor of Dibrugarh University, Acharya has nominated several persons with RSS backgrounds to the university court. The sole criterion for nomination of such persons to a prestigious institution like Dibrugarh University was their association with the RSS,” Dutta told reporters here this afternoon.

He warned that if the Centre did not remove Acharya within a month, the Congress would stage protests everyday in front of Raj Bhavan.

The move comes at a time when the chorus condemning Acharya’s controversial remarks is growing louder. The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Nagaland unit of the Congress have joined Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi in demanding the governor’s immediate dismissal.

P.B. Acharya

On Monday, Gogoi had alleged that Acharya had “broken the oath of maintaining the unity and integrity of the country, which he had taken in the name of the Constitution” while BSP chief Mayawati had issued a statement in Lucknow, saying, “He should be immediately dismissed and action initiated against him.”

The Nagaland Congress has also said Acharya has no moral right to hold on to the post of governor after his alleged controversial and communal statements.

In Jorhat, the Sanmilita Nagarik Aikya Manch decided at a citizens’ meet held today to write to the President for removal of Acharya.

Mancha adviser Devabrata Sharma said they would file a case against Acharya for making statements against the Constitution.

Some local television channels have reported that the governor went on a month’s leave soon after his controversial statements came in the line of fire. Sources in the Raj Bhavan, however, expressed ignorance about the development and said the governor was currently in Bangalore for an official engagement.

Speaking at the meet, Assam Film Society general secretary Jayanta Dutta said the Constitution, which was adopted on this day in 1949, was under threat with it main principles of secularism and freedom being violated by a section of people.

The Manch decided to launch a statewide protest against the growing intolerance and condemned Dibrugarh MP Rameswar Teli’s statement, which alleged that litterateur Homen Borgohain had registered his protest by returning his Sahitya Akademi award after taking a bribe from the Congress.

One of the speakers at the meet said disharmony among communities was not new, what was new was the government’s patronage in fostering disharmony.

The meet stressed that the need of the hour was to keep communal forces from taking root in Assam – the land of Xankardeb and Azan Peer – and to oppose tooth and nail fascism in any form.

Tomorrow, the Congress will also protest against rising prices, including that of life-saving drugs, during the Narendra Modi-led government’s regime.

Dutta also claimed that a few BJP leaders, including a sitting MLA, would soon join the ruling Congress. He said the joining of Himanta Biswa Sarma and nine other Congress MLAs in the BJP was a big relief as it had ended dissidence in the Congress.

Dutta alleged that the Modi government had been cheating the people of Assam on every issue, including granting Scheduled Tribe status to six more communities. “The issue is unlikely to be raised during the winter session of Parliament as the Centre is least interested,” he alleged.#

By A STAFF REPORTER, Additional reporting by Smita Bhattacharyya in Jorhat


Silchar, Nov. 25: Various social organisations of Assam have requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to introduce a comprehensive bill in the winter session of Parliament to grant citizenship to linguistic minorities who came from Bangladesh because of religious persecution.

Barak Upotyaka Banga Sahitya O Sanskriti Sammelan, a socio-cultural organisation, today sent a memorandum to the Prime Minister urging him to take steps to bring legislation to resolve the citizenship issue.

“As there is no clear data about the number of people migrating to Assam after March 24, 1971, there is a great hue and cry on the issue of the burden of settlement. A deliberate attempt to malign the linguistic minorities in general and Bengalis in particular is behind this move by the pressure groups,” said Gautam Prasad Dutta, general secretary of the Sammelan.

He said the complete 1951 voter lists are not available in many Assam districts. “There are many people who lost their ancestral documents owing to natural calamities. Past records are also not available with the government. Under such circumstances, those who do not have these documents are being treated as foreigners for no fault of their own,” he added.

The Centre had issued a gazette notification on September 7 stating that on humanitarian consideration it would exempt Bangladesh and Pakistan nationals from minority communities who entered India on or before December 31, 2014, in respect of their entry and stay in India without proper documents or after the expiry of relevant documents.

“The gazette notification is not enough to mitigate the ongoing harassment of the linguistic minorities. Therefore, there is an urgent need to bring a legislation to address the foreigners issue in Assam,” he said.

The All-India Bangalee Refugee Coordination Committee, All Assam Bangalee Youth Student Federation and other different organisations will organise a national convention on the foreigners issue in New Delhi on December 16. The members will also hold a demonstration in front of Jantar Mantar on December 17 demanding formulation of legislation to safeguard the rights of Bengalis who came to India from Bangladesh because of religious persecution.

Benimadhav Roy, one of the conveners of the convention, told The Telegraph today that they were not happy with the gazette notification. “We suspect the notification was issued just to hoodwink the people. The government knows well that a mere notification will not solve this issue. We will launch a mass agitation if the legislation is not passed in the upcoming Parliament session,” he added.

By Nilotpal Bhattacharjee


Shillong, Nov. 25: International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was observed here today with a renewed call to victims of abuse to break the “silence”.

Speakers at daylong seminar, organised by the women’s wing of the Unitarian Union of Northeast India, to observe the day expressed concern over the rise in crimes and violence against women.

Rica Lamar, secretary of Manbha Foundation, said Meghalaya, which is dubbed a “matrilineal state”, has seen a rise in crimes and violence against women over the years.

In fact, data from the Meghalaya police substantiate Lamar’s claims. In 2013, 343 cases of crimes against women were reported from the 11 districts of the state. Of these, 183 cases were related to rape.

While there were 255 cases of crimes against women in 2012, the corresponding figure in 2014 jumped to 480. However, D.K. Prasad, who is the officer-in-charge of the Sadar Police Station here, said these were only “reported” cases.

“Violence against women is spreading like cancer. There are various reasons for it, and there are many more unreported cases,” Prasad said.

He also made an appeal to women and to those who witness violence against women to come forward and lodge complaints before the police.

Prasad, however, admitted that the conviction rate, like in the rest of India, for crimes against women is low.

He said one of the prime reasons behind the low conviction rate is the fact that victims of such violence do not report the incidents immediately, which paves the way for crucial evidence to vanish.

Gina Phanbuh from the North East Network (NEN), while pointing out to the many sides of violence against women, said this year alone, the Network’s support centre at the Ganesh Das Hospital here has recorded 283 cases of violence against women.

An appeal was also made to create large-scale awareness at the grassroots on crimes and violence against women.

By Our Correspondent


Silchar, Nov. 25: The stage is all set for the elections to Aizawl Municipal Corporation and Lai Autonomous District Council where polling will be held from 7am to 4pm tomorrow.

In order to ensure peaceful polling, police have made elaborate security arrangements in Aizawl and in the autonomous district council for the Lai people earlier known as Pawi, living in south-eastern Mizoram.

Ballot papers will be used in the municipal polls, while electronic voting machines (EVMs) will be in place for the council polls.

There are 19 wards, of which six are reserved for women under the Aizawl Municipal Corporation.

Altogether, 1,92,382 voters, of whom 90,287 are male and 1,02,095 are female, will exercise their franchise in 211 polling stations.

Sources in the Mizoram state election commission told The Telegraph today that nine returning officers, 19 assistant returning officers, 211 presiding officers and 422 polling officers had been appointed to conduct the municipal polls.

In the autonomous district council polls, of the total 103 polling stations, four stations – Sabualtlang and Kakichhuah under Tuithumhnar constituency and Zochachhuah and Hmawngbuchhuah under Sekulh constituency – have been declared “very sensitive” because of their proximity to the India-Myanmar border.

Sources said eight polling stations – Karlui-II, Hlimzawl, Fangfarlui, Saikhawthlir, Kawnkhua, Kakichhuah, Vartekkai and Laitlang – under the district council are located in far-flung areas and the polling officials had to reach there by foot.

“All basic amenities have been made available in all the polling booths both for the election staff and voters,” said an official of the election commission.

Altogether, 74 candidates are in the fray for the district council polls, while the number candidate in municipal polls is 54.

In the last municipal polls, the Congress and Zoram Nationalist Party (ZNP) alliance won 10 wards and the Opposition Mizo National Front (MNF) and Mizoram People’s Conference (MPC) combine bagged nine wards.

The ruling Congress won 19 of 25 seats in the last autonomous district council polls in 2010.

By Nilotpal Bhattacharjee


Guwahati, Nov. 25: Tobacco addiction is a hard habit to break and although the warning labels on cigarette packs are getting larger and more graphic by the day, there seems to be no dearth of smokers. So, how does one kick the butt?

“Giving up tobacco isn’t easy and it takes time for an addict to completely shed the habit. Pharmacological treatment along with psychological counselling is necessary to help an addict leave his addiction to nicotine. But the most important aspect is will power. When an addict tries to give up tobacco, he also suffers from withdrawal symptoms that make the process tough. But with professional help and perseverance, he or she can shed the habit in about a year or two,” said S. Baruah, district nodal officer of Kamrup district tobacco control cell.

According to doctors, pharmacological treatment is usually given in the form of nicotine replacement therapy (NRT). In this therapy an addicted person is prescribed nicotine chewing gums or lozenges. Even nicotine ointments are available.

“When a person smokes, many toxic substances enter the body. But the addiction is to nicotine. Since a person is bound to suffer from withdrawal symptoms if he gives up smoking or chewing tobacco suddenly, he is given NRT. A certain dosage of nicotine chewing gums or lozenges is prescribed and this dosage is gradually decreased till the patient is completely taken off nicotine,” said Bhabani Prasad Chakravarty, a doctor and principal of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed Medical College and Hospital in Barpeta.

However, there is a need for repeated follow-up visits by the patients.

“People with addiction to tobacco do approach our tobacco cessation clinic for help. Doctors also refer outdoor patients of the pulmonary medicine (department) to our clinic,” Baruah said.

By A Staff Reporter


Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi in Bongaigaon on Wednesday. Picture by Tejesh Kumar

Bongaigaon, Nov. 25: Announcing himself as the well-wisher of the common people, chief minister Tarun Gogoi laid the foundation stones of a number of developmental projects in Bongaigaon district today.

Gogoi first went to Lengtisinga in Abhayapuri South Assembly seat and laid the foundation stones of a bridge over Aie river and an irrigation scheme. Following this, he addressed a rally at the field of Rajiv Gandhi Memorial College in Legtisinga.

In his address, the chief minister said though his state coffers were almost empty, he would continue to implement the welfare projects for the poor in the state even by taking loans from World Bank.

Criticising the BJP, Gogoi said the party only knew the interest of the rich and hence, it had failed to stick to its promises made to the people before the Lok Sabha elections.

“Modi (Prime Minister) often identifies himself as a tea seller before the people but he wears an expensive suit of Rs 15 lakh. This reflects his double standard,” Gogoi said.

The chief minister also called upon the people to come forward against the divisive politics on communal and religious lines orchestrated by the BJP.

At Salmara in North Abhayapuri Assembly seat, Gogoi laid the foundation stone of a bridge over Kujia river after unveiling a statue of Bir Chilarai along the national highway. He addressed another public rally at Salmara where he sought the support of the people to form the government at Dispur and keep away divisive and communal forces from the state.

The bridges whose foundation stones have been laid by the chief minister today are the parts of the 31.3km number 2 state highway which would start from Chapaguri in Chirang district and reach Amingaon via Salmara, Lengtisinga in Bongaigaon district and Manas in Barpeta district. The cost of the project is around Rs 100 crore.

According to the senior Congress workers of Abhayapuri North and South constituencies, the purpose of the chief minister’s programme was mainly to lift the morale of party workers and to win back the losing confidence of the people of these constituencies in favour of the party.

Bongaigaon district has three Assembly seats – Bongaigaon, Abhayapuri North and South.

By Tejesh Kumar