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                        Vol.3, No.29 [*]  May 12, 1998

                       I am sailing... We are sailing.
                               - Rod Stewart

   There is every likelihood of an initial dialogue between  the  banned
   NDFB  and  senior  Home  Minister  officials taking place in Bangkok,
   within a week `most probably May 17', official  sources  in  Guwahati
   said.   The dialogue will determine the draft agenda and an agreement
   on cease-fire for the substantive talks  to  start  on  agreed  dates
   The  dialogue  to  take  place  at the initiative of a section of the
   Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Home Ministry, is  likely  to
   be mediated  by  the  former  Assam  Governor  Debi  Das  Thakur.   A
   preliminary meeting between RAW officials and a group of unidentified
   NDFB leaders had taken place in New Delhi  on  May  6.    After  this
   meeting, RAW officials came to Udalguri in Darrang district, known to
   be  the  haven  of NDFB activities, and held further discussions with
   some NDFB leaders and the modalities for the dialogue at Bangkok were
   finalized.  The Assam Government  will  not  be  represented  at  the
   meeting in Bangkok, sources said.
   It  may  be  mentioned that during the Rajiv Gandhi's Government, the
   RAW was widely suspected of aiding  and  abetting  the  NDFB  in  its
   violent  campaign  for  a  separate  Bodoland State, the movement for
   which was launched  by  the  ABSU  during  the  first  stink  of  AGP
   Government in  Assam.   Even though the Centre had denied the hand of
   RAW behind the violence  during  the  ABSU  movement,  the  suspicion
   remained ingrained  in  the  minds of the people.  The Home Ministry,
   however, selecting the RAW to start the dialogue with the  NDFB  only
   strengthen the suspicion.
   AGP  legislator  Dilip  Saikia  Sonowal  had  told the Assam Assembly
   during the current session that the NDFB had been  talking  with  the
   Centre  and  that  a  Rs.2-billion  plan had already been prepared to
   accommodate the outfit's demand.

2  BHUTAN'S MOVE AGAINST ULTRAS			          [AT:11-MAY-98]
   In an attempt to curb the free movement of the insurgents groups, the
   Bhutan Government has started digging a trench on its soil in Samdrup
   Jongkhar, which is the most insurgency infested district  of  Bhutan.
   The  500-metre-long  six  to seven feet wide trench have already been
   completed.  A Bhutan official of Samdrup Jongkhar  said  `the  trench
   has been dug to contain militancy and to stop skirmishes among people
   residing on both sides of the border.'
   `We  have  a  plan  to make a long trench along the border to prevent
   entry of militants into the country and the plan would be given final
   shape,' the official said.    Samdrup  Jongkhar,  a  focal  point  of
   business of  the  country  is plagued by the insurgency problem.  The
   militants use the district as a safe corridor for their activities.

   The  Assam  Government  on  May 11 suspended the officer-in-charge of
   Sarthebari  police  station  in  Barpeta  district,  along  with   an
   assistant  sub-inspector and seven constables for dereliction of duty
   and negligence, when four suspected ULFA militants had  attacked  the
   police  station  on  May  9,  killing  a  constable on guard duty and
   decamped with the arms and ammunition.  Mr Bapu Ram Kalita  has  been
   posted the new officer-in-charge.

   An ULFA activist Paresh Kalita was shot dead  by  Army  personnel  at
   around  3:30  pm  on  May 9 at Belguri under Udalguri police station.
   According to police sources, a revolver, several rounds of ammunition
   and some incriminating documents were recovered by the Army from  the
   deceased. The activist, who hailed from Fasia village near Harisinga,
   had been arrested three months ago, but later, he went out of jail on
   bail.  The  body was handed over to the Mangaldoi police by the Army.
   The revolver recovered was identified to  be  of  one  Bahar  Ali,  a
   police officer of Sipajhar police station, sources added.

   The  State  Cabinet  has  approved  the move to rename the Industries
   department to widen its scope to help the  Government  in  monitoring
   the  commerce related activities and deal with the outside investors.
   It is to be renamed as Department of Industry and Commerce after  the
   formalities are  completed. 
   The Industries Minister Gunin Hazarika said that at this  moment  the
   State  Industries  department  is  dealing  with  subjects  which are
   outside its  scope  and  as  the  State  does  not  have  a  Commerce
   department,  sometimes  it was difficult to deal with issues relating
   to the Union Commerce  Ministry.    He  pointed  out  the  Industries
   department is dealing with tea industry but actually it is the job of
   the Commerce department.

   The  Christian  community  in  Guwahati  on  May 11 expressed serious
   concern at the allegations and provocative  statements  made  by  the
   Rashtriya  Swayamsevak  Sangha  (RSS)  published in various local and
   national newspapers.  A press release said the RSS  had  ignored  the
   contributions  made  by  the missionaries and the Christian Church in
   the fields of  education,  health  care,  literature,  socio-economic
   development in the region for more than a century.
   The  community  representing  various  Church  bodies  which  met  at
   Guwahati  asserted  while  involvement  of  individuals  in   various
   antisocial  activities  cannot  be denied, the Church as an organized
   group would never encourage and  support  underground  militants  and
   anti-national activities  in Northeast India.  On the other hand, the
   RSS taking advantage of the present  political  situation  is  making
   every  effort to destabilize the region and making the Christians and
   Christian missionaries a scapegoat and in the  process:    formenting
   communal forces in the region, the release said.

   The  Guwahati  city  police,  in collaboration with the `Anti-piracy'
   unit of the Indian Music Industry, busted a massive racket in pirated
   audio cassettes from the Basista area of Guwahati on  May  11.    The
   kingpin  behind  the racket, one Dharmendra Rawat alias Vijay Saksena
   had set up full-fledged `studios', complete with costly  gadgets  and
   equipments in several localities.  Police recovered 17 such machines.
   Several  `pirates'  were  also arrested from the Fancy Bazaar area on
   May 10.  The joint raid started at 6 am and completed at around 10:30
   The  kingpin also owns a big audio cassette shop at Lakhtokia area of
   the city.  Original cassettes of reputed companies  like  HMV,  Tips,
   Venus etc,  were  pirated.   The blank cassettes used come from Delhi
   while the `inlay cards' were made in Mumbai.  There was no  way  that
   one  could  suspect the pirated cassettes as being not original going
   by the `finish' of the piracy, police said.

   The Shillong Socio-Cultural Assamese Students' Association (SSASA) on
   May  10  launched  a  census  of  the people of Assam residing in and
   around Shillong city.  A brief training was held in  the  Assam  Club
   for the  purpose.  According to the general secretary, Mr Biju Phukan
   of the Association, the census  will  also  gather  information  like
   educational qualification, occupation, period of residence etc.

   Kanchan  Barua,  the  author of the famous Assamese novel `Asimat jar
   heral seema', is no more.  Kanchan  Barua,  the  pen-name  of  Bhuban
   Mohan Barua, one of the most prolific Assamese writers, also authored
   more  than twenty other novels, besides numerous other short stories.
   He died at his Laban residence in Shillong on May 10.  He was 85.  He
   was a bachelor and leaves behind two brothers and  two  sisters.  
   A literary pensioner of the Government of Assam, Mr Barua also served
   as a member of the Film Finance Board of Assam  Government.    He  is
   also known  as  a painter and artist.  He also directed a good number
   of plays.  Mr Barua will also be  remembered  for  his  architectural
   design of the Shivadhanu at the Laban Namghar.

   Banabhatta,  the  court  poet  of emperor Harshabardhana, hailed from
   Assam, not  from  Maharashtra,  according  to  a  book  by  Professor
   Manabendra  Bhattacharjee. In his just published Bengali book, `Uttar
   Purva Bharoter Longai Obobahika Abong  Banabhatta:  Prachin  Itihaser
   Bishmoy  (The Longai Basin of Northeast India and Banabhatta: Wonders
   of Ancient History), claimed this unique discovery about this  famous
   Sanskrit  writer  of  the  seventh  century,  presenting  a series of
   detailed studies supported by stone inscriptions.
   The fact was amply reflected in Banabhatta's  famous  Sanskrit  novel
   Kadambari,  which  the  Professor  claimed  to  be  the  biography of
   Banabhat's own, depicted natural environment, social  ethos  and  the
   names  and nature of characters prevailing in the Longai basin during
   that period.  According to the book the vast area of this region  was
   under  the  sea  and remains of prehistoric humans were also found in
   the North Cachar hill areas of Assam.
   Prof Bhattacharjee claimed that in the west of ancient  Longai  basin
   was  the  Gangetic gulf which was separated from the remaining Indian
   mainland.  According to  ancient  Greek  sources,  this  area  called
   trans-Gangetic  consisted of a special indigenous society and culture
   and was different from Aryan culture.

Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation only.
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]