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Shillong, Feb. 9: India is confident of bagging a medal in the archery team event in the summer Olympics at Rio de Janeiro this year. “Our chances are very high,” chief coach Dharmendra Tiwary told The Telegraph today at the archery venue here for the 12th South Asian Games.

The team comprises six players, three men and women. Only five or six countries are strong in the women’s archery category. The Indiawomen’s team has already qualified for Rio Olympics and 12 of them have been shortlisted in the first trial.

“We have a pool of talented archers from the Northeast, like Manash Jyoti Changmai (Assam), Laishram Bombayla Devi (Manipur), Tarundeep Rai (Sikkim), Chekrovolu Swuro (Nagaland) and others,” he said.

The Indian coach also felt if an institute/academy is set up in the region, it would further improve the standard of archery.

 
By Rining Lyngdoh

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Guwahati/Shillong, Feb. 9: The ongoing 12th South Asian Games was reduced to a 22-discipline one with the organising committee today officially announcing its decision not to hold basketball events following instructions from International Basketball Federation (FIBA) that does not recognise the Basketball Federation of India (BFI) faction affiliated to the Indian Olympic Association (IOA).

“We have decided not to hold basketball in this edition of the SAG because FIBA has instructed the participating countries not to take part in it. The FIBA does not recognise BFI which the IOA recognises and thus FIBA has asked others not to compete with the Indian team,” organising committee chief executive member (Guwahati) Injeti Srinivas said in Guwahati today.

On the reported ticket shortage issue, Srinivas said it could partially be because of low pricing of the ticket that people are buying them and not turning up which is beyond the control of the organisers. Most of the tickets were kept at Rs 10 and Rs 20.

Award: Assam chief minister Tarun Gogoi on Tuesday announced Rs 10 lakh as cash award for any player from Assam bagging agold medal in the 12th South Asian Games.

Gogoi congratulated Manash Jyoti Changmai, the compound team archery gold medal winner, saying: “Your achievement has made us really glad. Best of luck for all your future endeavours.” Gogoi also congratulated Jayanta Talukdar, recurve archery team gold medal winner.

 
By Our Bureau

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Guwahati/Shillong, Feb. 9: Sri Lankans sprinters Himasha Eashan and R.M. Rathnayaka emerged the fastest man and woman of South Asia, claiming the gold in the 100m men and women’s sprint in the 12th South Asian Games at Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati today.

Eashan dashed for a new SAG record timing of 10.28 seconds, surpassing the earlier record of 10.37 seconds by Anil Kumar of India set in 1999. Saaid Hassan of the Maldives clocked 10.41 seconds for the silver and A.L.M. Ashrafu of Sri Lanka bagged the bronze with a timing of 10.69 seconds.

In the women’s event, Rathnayaka clocked 11.71 seconds for the gold while Srabani Nanda and Dutee Chand of India bagged silver and bronze clocking 11.72 and 11.75 second respectively.

“I had to beat several odds to come here and this being my first international meet, it is very important to me. I had planned to earn points to qualify for the Rio Olympics,” Eashan said.

Rathnayaka, however, was disappointed in not being able to better her personal best of 11.58 seconds. “I had a bad start and so I could not beat my personal best. Despite that, I won because my coach A.D. Nanda taught me to overcome such situations,” she said.

K.L.A. Nimali, who earned another gold for Sri Lanka in 800m, regretted not running with India’s Arjuna awardee Tintu Lukka. “I was quite confident of winning. It would have been more challenging if I had competed against Tintu,” said Nimali. She was followed by her country’s G.T.A. Abeyrathna for silver and India’s Gomathi M. for bronze.

In high jump, Manjula Kumara of Sri Lanka regained the gold in men’s high jump leaping 2.17m. Tejaswin Shankar and Ajay Kumar of India tallied the silver and bronze leaping 2.17m and 2.08m respectively.

Manpreeth Kaur Sr bagged the gold for India in women’s shot put with a throw of 17.94m, followed by compatriot Manpreeth Kaur Jr (15.94m).

More gold medals came India’s way on the final day of archery at Jawaharlal Nehru Sports Complex first ground in Shillong today.

Deepika Kumari reasserted her position as India’s top archer with a 6-4 win over L Bombayla Devi in their women’s recurve final. Bombayla claimed the first round but lost the next two. Though she claimed the fourth 27-26, Deepika secured the gold with 28 points to 26 in the fifth. Tarundeep Rai also had to face a compatriot in men’s final, where he defeated Gurucharan Besra 6-2.

The women’s bronze was taken by Karma of Bhutan, who beat Beauty Rai of Bangladesh 6-2. Nepal secured a bronze after Prem Prasad Pun beat Nipuna Senevirathne 6-0. India also swept all three gold medals on offer in the recurve team events today.

In the recurve women’s team match, India claimed gold by beating Sri Lanka in all three sets 6-0. Jayanta Talukdar, who teamed with Tarundeep and Gurucharan Besra, became the second from Assam, after Manash Jyoti Changmai, to bag a gold for India.

In the men’s category, India faced Sri Lanka once again, this time winning 5-1. Earlier, Bangladesh defeated Bhutan 6-2 to claim the bronze in the men’s recurve, but the women’s team lost to Bhutan 6-0. In the fight for gold in the recurve mixed team match, India defeated Bangladesh 6-0. Bhutan defeated Sri Lanka 5-1 to take home the bronze.

India also claimed a gold medal in the mixed doubles table tennis event where Anthony Amalraj and Manika Batra had the fight of the tournament to get past compatriots G. Sathiyan and Mouma Das. The match went the distance before Amalraj and Batra won the fifth game 12-10 for a 3-2 result.

Meanwhile, in football, the Indian women’s football team tasted their first success of the tournament with a 5-0 thrashing of Sri Lanka at Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium. A brace from Dangmei Grace and strikes from Sasmita Malik, Kamala Devi and a Sri Lankan own goal gave the Indian women an easy win and four points. India had drawn 0-0 against Maldives in their opening match, while Sri Lanka lost their opener 0-2 to Bangladesh.

Bangladesh recorded their second successive victory by handing Maldives a 2-0 defeat.

In Guwahati, it will be an all-India final in the women’s singles draw in tennis at the All-Assam Tennis Association courts at Chachal on Wednesday with Prerna Bhambri taking on Ankita Raina.

Prerna did not have to work out too much to defeat Pakistan’s Ushna Suhail 6-1, 6-2 in the first semi-final today while Ankita had a cakewalk against Sara Mansoor of Pakistan to win 6-1, 6-1.

In the men’s singles quarter-finals today, top seed Saketh Myneni posted a thumping win over D. Lal of Bangladesh 6-0, 6-1, while Pakistan’s Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi fought hard to defeat Sri Lanka’s H. Godamanna 6-4, 7-6(1) for an India-Pakistan clash in the semis tomorrow.

India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan defeated Pakistan’s Aqeel Khan 6-3, 6-3 in the other quarter-final to set up a semi-final date with S. Dissanayake of Sri Lanka who defeated Faris Ali Mohamed of Maldives 6-1,6-0.

In the mixed doubles semi-finals, Ankita Raina and D. Sharan of India defeated Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi and Ushna Suhail of Pakistan 6-1, 6-4, while the Indian pair of Sanam Singh and Prarthna Thombre defeated the Sri Lankan duo of H. Godamanna and Amritha Muttiah.

India swept the volleyball matches, defeating Sri Lanka with identical 3-0 results in both men and women’s finals at Nabin Chandra Bordoloi Indoor Stadium in Guwahati.

Hosts India maintained the lead in the tally with a total haul of 124 medals, including 78 gold, 36 silver and 10 bronze. Sri Lanka trailed in second slot with 17 gold, 37 silver and 33 bronze and Pakistan in the third place with five gold, 12 silver and 20 bronze.

 
By Our Bureau

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Shahid Parvez Bhandara

Guwahati, Feb. 9: Punjab, which was carved into two during Partition in 1947, may unite again, at least on the hockey field.

The manager of Pakistan’s hockey team, Shahid Parvez Bhandara, who is also the president of the Punjab Hockey Association, said he had reached out to his Indian counterpart to try and arrange a Punjab-versus-Punjab cross-border match.

“We have initiated talks with the Punjab Hockey Association in India and the chairman there, S. Hardip Singh Dhillon, has assured that both the Punjabs will organise transborder matches for the promotion of the sport,” Bhandara said.

“The initiative should come from the state level and then the Union governments should give their nod. And even though we are separated by borders, hockey is still the favourite sport in both the parts. The International Olympic Committee will not mingle in these affairs. This should be an effort by the two hockey loving countries only,” he said. Currently, India are ranked seventh and Pakistan are ranked 10th in the world.

Bhandara said he had also initiated steps to revive the venerable Punjab States Games, which have been suspended following bitter relations between the two countries. The annual event used to be organised in both countries on alternate years.

Pakistan beat India 2-1 yesterday. One of the reasons why that match at Maulana Md Tayebulla Hockey Stadium here was significant was that it was the first encounter between the countries after a Champion’s Trophy 2014 match where things turned a little ugly when some Pakistani players made obscene gestures after beating India 4-3. Two Pakistani players were banned for a year after the incident.

“Our team is a bit handicapped now. No doubt, we have six Olympians in our team but we had an 18-member team ready for the South Asian Games. But accreditation was granted to only 15 players due to which we had to make Rehan Butt, who was not very fit, play instead of Samir Ul, who had trained for the entire year. Both the countries did not give their best,” said Bhandara about yesterday’s match.

The absence of ace players in India’s second-string team was clearly felt but skipper Mandeep Antil put up a brave front and said his team could still beat Pakistan.

“We have made a few technical mistakes and missed a few opportunities. But I assure that we will address those mistakes in our next matches,” said Antil. India face Sri Lanka tomorrow.

 
By Avishek Sengupta

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Gold medallist Md Nooh Dastgir Butt (Pakistan) with gold medal flanked by Gurdeep Singh (India) with silver and bronze medallist Saman Abeywickrama Avimedille Gedara (Sri Lanka) in the men’s 105kg weightlifting category at Bhogeswari Phukanani Indoor Stadium in Guwahati on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Shillong, Feb. 9: Bilateral cricketing ties may have snapped between India and Pakistan (except international tournaments) because of strained political ties but the Pakistani contingent participating in the 12th South Asian Games believe that “sports know no boundaries”.

Just as love has bonded Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and Pakistani cricketer Shoab Malik, the sportspersons of these countries harbour no ill-will towards each other.

In a chat with this correspondent, Amir Shahzad Butt, manager for the Pakistan wushu team and joint secretary of the Pakistan Wushu Federation, said, “We are sportspeople and we do not feel such an issue (the political problem between India and Pakistan) can come between us in the game.” Butt was shopping with his seven-member team at Khyndai Lad (Police Bazar) here last evening. The team arrived there in a vehicle along with police escort.

Asked about the simmering Indo-Pak relations, which have halted cricket matches between the two countries, the Pakistani official left it to the political heads. “If the governments and political parties have the will, there will be no problem…and for us sportspeople, we don’t have any issue,” he said.

To strengthen the ties between India and Pakistan, Butt suggested holding of maximum international events similar to these Games because he believes that sports play a vital role in paving the way to peace and harmony. “Through events such as this, we meet sportspersons and officials from various countries and share our thoughts and opinions,” he said.

The Pakistan wushu team have won three bronze medals in the women’s category. “We are satisfied with our performances though we did not get gold,” Butt said.

As the team leaves for Pakistan on Thursday, Butt and his team also hoped to visit the tourist spots. “We like this place very much, the cold weather and loving people,” he said. Butt and his team checked in at the newly built Poinisuk Hotel here.

The Pakistani contingent lauded the beauty of Shillong, its hospitality and friendly people.

The Pakistani table tennis team was happy to secure a silver medal after a gap of 12 years. “It is a great achievement for our country to get the silver medal in the South Asian Games after 12 years. We already knew we could not win the gold against India,” vice-captain of the table tennis team Ayesha Ansari told The Telegraph at the Jawaharlal Nehru Indoor Sports hall here.

 
By RINING LYNGDOH

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IIT Guwahati students with a villager in Hajo constituency

Guwahati, Feb. 9: While speaking at IIT Bombay in December last year, former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju accused IITians of being “selfish careerists” who were only interested in settling down in the US and becoming NRIs.

“Most of you IIT students have no genuine love for the country. You are utterly selfish, with no patriotism or idealism,” Katju had declared.

But a team of students from IIT Guwahati is working hard to prove Katju completely wrong.

The students are helping voters in at least 20 villages of Hajo constituency in Kamrup district to enrol their names in the electoral roll and correcting mistakes in existing voter identity cards as part of their Wake up and Vote campaign.

The campaign, launched after securing permission from the Election Commission, is part of IIT Guwahati’s annual techno-management festival, Techniche, which will be held in September this year. It assumes significance because Assam’s Assembly elections are due in April-May this year.

The IITians have been interacting with people in the villages and urging them to vote in the Assembly polls.

So far, the students have collected 200 registration forms from both new and existing voters wishing to either enlist their names on the voter list or carry out corrections in their voter identity cards. They will submit these forms to the Election Commission by tomorrow.

“There are many people who do not exercise their right to (adult) franchise. Every vote is precious and we have to elect representatives who can work for the interest of the country in a selfless manner. Through the Wake Up and Vote campaign we have so far visited 20 villages under Hajo constituency and interacted with the people there to encourage them to come out and cast their votes in the upcoming state Assembly elections. The people have also responded well and asked us questions relating to their voter ID cards,” said Sri Harsha, a third-year student and head of media relations of Techniche 2016.

The students were accompanied by booth-level officer of Hajo constituency, Golapi Das, while they interacted with the people of these villages.

“We have collected 200 registrations for voter IDs from these villages and will submit them to the Election Commission by February 10. These registrations comprise new applicants as well as voters who have applied for correction of their names and addresses on their existing voter IDs,” Harsha said.

The students are keen to reach out to voters in more constituencies if the Election Commission permits them to do so.

“We have plans to conduct our campaign in more villages in different constituencies. We are also planning to conduct two more similar campaigns in the city during which we will interact with students of different colleges and sensitise them on the importance of casting their votes. If the Election Commission extends the date of submission of registrations for voter IDs, we will be able to do so and collect more such registrations,” Harsha added.

 
By BARNALI HANDIQUE

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Feb. 9: BJP national president Amit Shah will aim at cementing the party’s ties with its new found ally, the Bodoland Peoples’ Front (BPF), during his daylong visit to the state tomorrow.

This will be Shah’s first election-year trip to Assam, which is likely to go to the hustings in April-May.

Shah will be the chief guest at the Bodoland Day celebrations to be held at Bodofa Nwgwr in Kokrajhar to commemorate 14 years of signing of the BTC Accord.

The programme has been organised by the Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) administration, which is governed by the BPF. The BTC governs the Bodoland Territorial Areas District (BTAD).

The BJP’s state election management committee convener, Himanta Biswa Sarma, today said Shah, who will arrive in Kokrajhar at 10.45am, will meet BPF leaders, including its president and BTC chief Hagrama Mohilary, before attending the function.

“During his meeting with the BPF leadership, Shah will primarily discuss electoral understanding between the two parties for the Assam Assembly polls,” Sarma said.

Shah will also meet BJP workers from the four BTAD districts of Kokrajhar, Baksa, Chirang and Udalguri in Kokrajhar town tomorrow.

Shah’s visit comes in the wake of Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressing a BPF rally in Kokrajhar on January 19.

The BJP had only last month forged an alliance with the BPF, which had severed its eight-year-old ties with the Congress in June 2014. The BPF has by and large assured the BJP of at least 12 Assembly seats, making the task easier for the BJP to achieve its target of forming the next government in Assam.

Rahul visit

Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, during his two-day visit to Assam from February 15, will address a public meeting at the same venue in Sivasagar in Upper Assam where Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed a huge rally during the 2014 parliamentary polls.

PCC president Anjan Dutta briefed newspersons here today about the itinerary of the Congress leader.

He said Rahul will reach Guwahati on Monday at 9.30am and fly to Gohpur (Sonitpur district) to interact with Congress volunteers involved in the ongoing booth micro management programme.

 
By Our Bureau

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Beneficiaries receive various goods at Samaguri in Nagaon district on Tuesday. Picture by UB Photos

Nagaon, Feb. 9: Hundreds of students from a school here blocked National Highway 37 demanding the cancellation of a government programme on their campus, which was arranged without the school’s permission.

The incident took place near Samaguri town, 30km from the Nagaon district headquarters.

According to reports, more than 400 students of Samaguri higher secondary school blocked the National Highway alleging that some of the officials of the department of rural development had organised a blanket distribution programme on the school ground while the annual sports of the higher secondary school was in progress.

Agitated students blocked the highway for half-an-hour and left only when Samaguri police and the local Congress unit reached the site and assured the students that the government programme would be cancelled.

The scheduled government programme was meant for the voters of minority-dominated Samaguri constituency in which rural development minister and Samaguri legislator Rakibul Hussain was scheduled to participate.

The school authorities, meanwhile, said the annual sports had commenced yesterday and the three-day programme, which will end tomorrow, was scheduled long back.

“The school authorities did not receive any prior information about the minister’s meeting on the school grounds today. A pandal was erected all of a sudden. When students came to participate in their sports event# this morning, they were told that there would be would no event# as a big rally would be organised for the voters,” said a student’s guardian.

“Yesterday I was busy in chief minister’s cycle distribution programme in Nagaon town,” said Samaguri higher secondary school principal Golap Bora. “This morning, when I reached the school, a student informed me about the government programme on the field. Most of our outdoor events were completed and only kabaddi was scheduled for today. As we have a separate space (behind the school) for such events, I did not feel that the government programme would harm the event. I am in the dark about why the students rushed to block the highway to protest against the meeting,”

Party leaders and government officials later made the ground free for the school’s sports event.

Samaguri police station’s officer-in-charge Nabin Mahanta said police was deployed at the site when people gathered in front of the school to receive the items distributed by the government programme.

“The crisis ended when the items were taken away from the ground. Officially, it was decided to distribute the items at the gaon panchayat level on a different date,” said a Congress source.

 
By Our Correspondent

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The unfinished Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project

Jorhat, Feb. 9: The NHPC is working against time to carry out maintenance and repair at the stalled Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project, but frequent problems created by pressure groups has hampered work, according to officials.

The National Green Tribunal’s eastern zone bench, Calcutta, comprising Justice Pratap Kumar Ray, judicial member, and professor P.C. Mishra, expert member, in December last year allowed removal of stone chips required for construction from the riverbank during monsoon as it might impede the Subansiri’s flow. It also allowed application of concrete in incomplete tunnels, maintenance of expensive equipment lying in the open and maintenance of the roads inside the project area.

The tribunal ruled that no new construction was to be undertaken but ordered that the project proponent “is entitled to undertake emergency maintenance work for safety and protection of the public and property”.

The directive came in thewake of an appeal by NHPC authorities and the Union ministry of environment and forests to undertake emergency repair and maintenance work at the dam for safety and protection of the public.

An official said they had four months to complete the work but roadblocks created by pressure groups, including not allowing movement of materials, beating up of drivers and even burning a truck on the mistaken assumption that the NHPC was starting construction again had hampered progress.

“According to the order, we are trying to complete as much maintenance and repair work as possible but it is being hampered with one group or the other coming to stop it,” he said. He added that once the rains start, work will have to stop and this could pose a threat to workers and the public.

In another hearing on February 4, the bench asked Aabhijeet Sharma, who filed an application for a stay order on the construction work, to file a rejoinder. The next hearing is scheduled for March 21.

The 2,000MW Lower Subansiri hydroelectric project at Gerukamukh along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border has been stalled completely by pressure groups like the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, All Assam Students Union and Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, among others, from December 2011, amid fears that seismic activity could pose a threat to people in downstream areas.

The NHPC had completed nearly 70 per cent work by December 2011 and the project was scheduled to go onstream in December 2012. However, the stalled project now faces a daily loss of Rs 10 crore.

In December 2014, Union power minister Piyush Goyal called a tripartite meet with 26 groups from Assam but nothing came of it except the forming of a new eight-member committee, which is yet to give its report on the downstream impact.

A source said the BJP-led NDA government seemed to have done a U-turn on seeing the opposition to the project and with the Assembly elections close, it did not want to upset the electorate by trying to push through something which it had initially opposed.

Despite the huge loss on the project, investing more money in downstream protection work and trying to gain the people’s support by undertaking welfare schemes, the NHPC is eyeing a projected profit of Rs 3,000 crore for 2015-16, the highest till date.

In 2013-14, profits had fallen to Rs 978.79 crore from 2,348.22 crore in 2012-13 because of the stalled Lower Subansiri project. In 2014-15, the company posted Rs 2,400 crore net profit. The profit of the company stood at Rs 1,900 crore till September 30 last year.

 
By Smita Bhattacharyya

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JP Rajkhowa
JP Rajkhowa surprise absentee in Governors Conference

Kalyan Barooah

JP Rajkhowa

NEW DELHI, Feb 9 – Arunachal Pradesh Governor JP Rajkhowa is a surprise absentee in the two-day Governors Conference being hosted by President Pranab Mukherjee and attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Highly placed sources said that the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh was advised to stay put in Itanagar as the state is currently under the Presidents Rule. He has been asked to stay back in the state and supervise the administration, sources said.

It has been learnt that Rajkhowa, who had reached Guwahati from Itanagar en route to New Delhi, has since returned to Arunachal Pradesh following the Presidents advice.

Meanwhile, the Governors Conference is schedule to have a separate discussion on the Northeast on Wednesday, disclosed DoNER Minister Dr Jitendra Singh.

Earlier, President Pranab Mukherjee in his opening remarks at the 47th Conference of Governors at Rashtrapati Bhavan here on Tuesday, said that all incumbents holding constitutional positions are to maintain sanctity of the Constitution.

Our nation has grown from strength to strength since independence. It is primarily due to our steadfast adherence to the principles enshrined in our Constitution. It is an enduring document that reflects our aspirations and the avenues to achieve them, in an inclusive manner, Mukherjee said, adding, it is incumbent on us all who hold constitutional positions to maintain the sanctity of this sacred text.

The Presidents remarks assume significance in the light of the ongoing case in the Supreme Court where the Arunachal Pradesh Governors decision to recommend Presidents Rule is under scrutiny of the apex court.