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                     Vol.2, No.51 [*] November 8, 1997

            I think it good plain English, without fraud,
              To call a spade a spade, a bawed a bawed.
                           - John Taylor

   The former State Home Secretary, and currently the  Secretary,  Power
   Department,  Mr  B.V.P.Rao  has filed a Rs.10 million defamation suit
   against the Tata Tea Ltd, its managing director, Mr R.K.Krishna Kumar
   and Mr Ratan Tata, the Chairman of Tata Sons  Ltd  in  the  court  of
   Civil   Judge,   Senior  Division,  Guwahati  yesterday,  for  having
   suppressed facts about the discussions and correspondence the company
   had with him during his tenure as the State  Home  Secretary  in  the
   matter  of  company's relations with the banned ULFA and propagated a
   wholly  distorted  version  of  what  actually  transpired   in   the
   discussions   and   correspondence,   through   press   handout   and
   advertisements, thereby maligning his image.
   According  to  Mr  Rao,  the  entire  episode has been the subject of
   several news items and news analysis in the print media all over  the
   country.   All  such news items and analysis made on the basis of the
   company's version had projected him in poor light as an  officer  who
   had  failed  to  suitably react in a highly sensitive matter touching
   the security of the State.  Mr Rao pleaded before the court  that  he
   had  an impeccable reputation which he had built up through hard work
   in the last 15 years of service in the IAS.
   The court has issued summons fixing December  11  for  appearance  in
   person  or  through  pleader  and filing of written statements by the
   defendants.  Advocates Mr Ranjan Gogoi and Mr Hrishikesh Roy appeared
   in the court on behalf of Mr Rao.

   The Chief Justice of  the  Gauhati  High  Court,  M.Ramakrishnan  and
   Justice  D.Biswas  dismissed  a  petition  filed  by  the CBI praying
   exemption from personal appearance of  its  director,  Mr  R.C.Sharma
   before  the  court  on November 10, and said that the court summoning
   the director  to  explain  the  causes  of  delay  in  completion  of
   investigations  into  the  multi-crore-rupee  LOC  scam  in the State
   Veterinary department would remain.
   The court, which has been monitoring  the  case  following  a  public
   interest  litigation  had  directed the CBI to submit the last charge
   sheet of the Demow case on September 29.  But the CBI, which has been
   entrusted with the probe, could not file the charge sheet saying that
   the investigation officer, Mr P.Lal was on leave  following  a  major
   heart operation.    The  Court then fixed October 3 for submission of
   the charge sheet, but the agency sought  two  more  months  time  for
   filing the  charge  sheet.  The court was not satisfied with this and
   directed the CBI director to appear before the court on November 10.

   The  acrimony  between  the  State  Government  and  the  Sadou  Asom
   Karmachari   Parishad   (SAKP)   over   the   State   pay  commission
   recommendation  and  the  suspension  of   the   parishad's   general
   secretary,  Charan  Deka  has  reached  a  new  height, with the SAKP
   raising the demand for placing State Chief Secretary  V.S.Jafa  under
   suspension  till  he  is  cleared  by  the  court from the charges of
   corruption in the Rs.17 million TRIFED scam in view of the Delhi High
   Court rejecting Jafa's plea to quash a FIR lodged by the CBI  in  the
   1990 corruption case.
   Over   1000   government  employees  belonging  to  the  SAKP  defied
   prohibitory order to stage a rally at Dispur in Guwahati on  November
   5  demanding better pay package and in protest against the suspension
   of their general secretary.   The  employees  were  arrested  by  the
   police and taken to Basista police station.  They were later released
   around 5  pm.  As many as 62 buses carrying SAKP members from various
   parts of the State were detained by the police at various  points  on
   the outskirts of Guwahati.

   Chief  Minister  P.K.Mahanta  said  that  funds for completion of the
   Dhansiri Irrigation Project  in  Darrang  district,  the  only  major
   irrigation  scheme  in  the  State,  and  for  other  departments for
   developmental activities would be released only after  the  ULFA  and
   other militant outfits stopped extortions from Government officials.
   While  addressing  a  press conference at Mangaldai on November 6, Mr
   Mahanta  stoutly  denied  allegations  that  the  transfer   of   the
   officer-in-charge of Mangaldai police station had been done to shield
   Revenue  Minister  Dr  Zoii  Nath  Sarma  in  the case of his alleged
   involvement with the ULFA, and rejected the demand for resignation of
   Dr Sarma.
   Asked  when the works for repair of the dilapidated roads and bridges
   in Darrang district would start, Mr Mahanta said, the  Supreme  Court
   ban  on  forest  products  had  severely  crippled  the Government in
   undertaking repair of bridges.

   Criticizing  the Assam Government's 'offensive' against tea companies
   for allegedly funding militants, the national vice-president  of  the
   INTUC,  Mr  Gopeswar  said,  'the  Tata  Tea episode has sent a wrong
   signal to industrialist and MNCs and the Centre should  intervene  on
   security matters in Assam to protect the tea industry.'
   When  other  states  in the country were alluring industrialists, the
   Assam Government had taken 'aggressive' action against tea  planters,
   he said adding that it was an attempt to save the face of the AGP-led
   government.   'Assam government can not go for whimsical decision and
   cheap popularity at the cost of industrial health and wealth  of  the
   state', he told newsmen in Jamshedpur on November 6.
   The veteran trade unionist leader blamed the Assam government for its
   failure  to  counter  insurgency  and  the  'miserable  law and order
   situation' in the state and sought Centre's intervention  to  protect
   the interests  of  the non-Assamese.  Describing the AGP government's
   demand for shifting of head offices of industrial  houses,  operating
   in West Bengal, to Assam as 'political gimmick' and turned down Chief
   Minister  Jyoti  Basu's recent statement in favour of transfer of the
   head offices to Assam as 'hasty and unnecessary'.

   In  a  daring  case of robbery, five dacoits armed with sharp weapons
   and firearms, literally gatecrashed into the residence of a  botanist
   of  the  Forest  Department,  Dr  Ugrakanta  Saharia  at Silviculture
   quarters of the department of Indiranagar area under  Basista  police
   station in  Guwahati  at  1 am on November 3.  The dacoits dragged Dr
   Saharia out of his house and shot him dead and seriously injured  his
   wife before decamping with all valuables from the house.
   The  incident  has  shocked  citizens who are concerned at the sudden
   spurt in robberies in many parts of the city after a period of  lull.
   Dr  Saharia's  was  the second killing of a government official after
   the killing of Mr Nandeswar Nath, an  ACS  officer  by  dacoits  some
   months ago.

   A four-member CBI team has  arrived  in  Jorhat  to  probe  into  the
   kidnapping  of  AVARD-NE secretary Sanjay Ghose by ULFA militants and
   the confusion over conflicting  announcement  of  his  death  by  the
   ultras while  in  their  custody.  Sanjoy Ghose was kidnapped by ULFA
   militants on July 4 and later declared dead by the outfit  on  August
   4.   The  ULFA  claimed  that Ghose had died after a fall from a high
   cliff in Arunachal Pradesh while trying to escape from captivity.

   The  Directorate  of  Information  and Public Relations (DIPR) of the
   Assam Government has published a booklet  entitled  'Points  of  view
   towards understanding a clear and coloured vision' to hit back at the
   National  Press  who  did  not  support  the Government in its tirade
   against the Tata Tea.
   The well produced booklet is  basically  a  compilation  of  reports,
   editorials  and  columns  which  appeared  in  the local and national
   English print media on the issue which sought to point out the  sharp
   difference  of  opinion  between  the national and local media on the
   issue.  The reports that favoured the Government are printed in black
   and white pages while those not in favour appears in yellow pages.
   The black and white pages contained mostly the reports of  the  local
   media,  a  few  reports  of  The  Indian  Express,  a column by noted
   journalist Nikhil Chakravarty as well as  Government  Press  handouts
   and the  Chief  Minister's  letter  to  Ram Jethmalini.  The reports,
   editorials of the national press, particularly Calcutta based dailies
   like The Statesman and The Telegraph  hogged  the  limelight  in  the
   yellow pages.   Letters to the editors also found prominent places in
   the booklet.

   According to a delayed  report,  about  50  graduates  of  the  Assam
   Medical  College (AMC), Dibrugarh and Gauhati Medical College working
   in the UK and their families along with a few  others  from  the  USA
   celebrated  the  golden  jubilee  of the Assam Medical College with a
   three-day colourful  programme  from  August  23  to  25.     Ex-vice
   principal  of  GMC  Prof D.Sarma addressed the scientific session and
   spoke about the development of  medical  education  and  health  care
   services in  Assam.   An exhibition and a cultural function were also
Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation only.
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]