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

            Get your facts first, and then you can distort them
                  as much as you please.  - Mark Twain

   The  dissident  leader in AGP Mr Atul Bora on May 24 claimed that the
   `dissident camp had selected senior party man and Education  Minister
   Mr Thaneswar Boro as the alternative leader and said that Mr Boro had
   already  given his consent to be the leader in a meeting with Mr Bora
   and his associates on the Saturday night.  Mr  Boro,  however,  could
   not be contacted as he was in a tour to Rampur along with Jatin Mali.
   Another  source,  however,  said that Mr Boro, along with Mr Hitendra
   Nath Goswami had gone to meet Mr Mahanta at his  residence,  when  he
   had expressed his full confidence on the leadership of Mr Mahanta.
   Meanwhile, Transport Minister Pradip Hazarika on May 22 resigned from
   the  Mahanta  Ministry  ostensibly  to  protest  against Mr Mahanta's
   precipitate action of forcing two senior Cabinet ministers out of the
   Ministry in the name of dissidence, while official sources  said,  Mr
   Hazarika  quit  his  post after he was left with no alternative other
   than what was obvious thing for him to do in view of the CBI formally
   charging him the sensational murder of the Upper Assam  Commissioner,
   late Parthasarathy in 1981 at Jorhat.
   (The  Sentinel  described  the  resignation  letter of Mr Hazarika as
   `longish and  winding'  while  The  Assam  Tribune  described  it  as
   `brief.' - Mozz)

   A  national convention on the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, held
    in Guwahati on Friday and Saturday, has demanded immediate withdrawal
   of the Act saying that rather than being of any help  in  controlling
   insurgency  it  had  only  indirectly helped the cause of the ultras.
   That even 40 years after the imposition of  the  Act  the  Army  have
   failed  to  control  insurgency in the Naga Hills and that the unrest
   has been spread to the whole region where the Act has  been  extended
   to,  were  the  clear  indications of the futility of the Act and the
   `colonial policy of using the  Army  against  its  own  people,'  the
   convention  observed  and affirmed that such an Act had no place in a
   democratic setup.
   The convention, organized jointly by the  AASU  and  the  North  East
   Students  Union  (NESU),  was  part  of a nationwide campaign for the
   repeal of the Act which is in force in the  northeastern  States  for
   last  40  years.  The  convention  follows  two earlier phases when a
   fact-finding team examined the pros and cons of the Act and submitted
   a  detailed  report,  and  a  workshop  was   held   on   Impact   of
   Militarization and Imposition of Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act.

   The  Assam  Government has created a new department named `Welfare of
   Minorities Department'  with  immediate  effect  to  look  after  the
   interests of  the  minority communities of the State.  The department
   will basically look after the activities of the  Directorate  of  the
   Char  Areas  Development,  Assam  Minorities  Development and Finance
   Corporation, Wakf  properties,  Implementation  of  Prime  Minister's
   15-point  programme  and  any other matter relating to the welfare of
   the minorities including addressing of grievances and  implementation
   of various schemes for the minorities.  (There are about half-a-dozen
   Minorities-related organizations under the Assam Government.  - Mozz)

   Bodies  of  two  of  the  three  traders  of  Aambagan  in   Kaliabor
   subdivision  who  had been abducted by ULFA activists on May 15, were
   recovered by police at Puranigudam, near Nagaon on the night  of  May
   21.   The  two,  Paritosh  Banik and Debabrata Banik, are believed to
   have been killed at around 10 pm on May 21.  Earlier, the  father  of
   the  two  traders, Mantu Banik had died of heart attack following the
   abduction.  The ultras had demanded a huge ransom for  their  release
   but the Banik family could give them only a meagre part of it.
   A  mediator  of the family is believed to have come to Puranigudam on
   May 21 for negotiating with the ultras.  But soon after,  police  had
   conducted  a  massive  raid  in  the  area, which is believed to have
   compelled the ultra to kill their captives.  Another source, said the
   traders might have been  killed  holding  them  responsible  for  the
   incident  in  which  some traders caught three ULFA extortionists and
   handed them over to the police after giving a beating.

   In a belated reaction to India conducting the nuclear tests, the ULFA
   chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa on May 22  said,  this  was  part  of  the
   attempt of the `Hindu communalists' BJP to keep its 12-party alliance
   Government  in  place  diverting the attention of the people from the
   internecine dissensions within the ruling alliance.  This was also an
   attempt to threaten Pakistan and China on one hand, and the  `freedom
   loving  people  and  their struggles' throughout several parts of the
   `mainland called India' for freedom  from  India  on  the  other,  Mr
   Rajkhowa said.
   In  a  statement  issued  in  Guwahati,  the  ULFA chief also made an
   outrageous allegation that by hoodwinking even the CIA to conduct the
   tests, India had again displayed to  the  world  that  it  had  scant
   regard for  democratic  values and transparency in society.  Charging
   the Government to increasingly  resorting  to  strong-arm  tactic  to
   suppress  the  `liberation  struggle of the people,' particularly the
   Northeast, Mr Rajkhowa said, India wanted to bully Pakistan and China
   and emerge as a military power to maintain its domineering character.

   The Chairman of the Human Rights Commission Justice S.N.Bhargava  has
   expressed  concern over the fact that majority of the people of Assam
   are not aware of their rights.  Talking to The Assam Tribune, Justice
   Bhargava said that the Assam Human Rights  Commission  has  taken  up
   over 1950  cases  and about 750 odd cases have been disposed off.  He
   lamented that over 75 per cent of the cases were taken up sou moto by
   the Commission on the basis of newspaper reports and very few persons
   file complaints for redressal of their grievances.
   He said the procedure for filing complaint is very simple and  anyone
   whose  rights  were  violated  or  anyone  on  his  behalf can file a
   complaint with the Commission by filing an  application  on  a  plain
   paper.  He, however, said that despite the simple procedure, very few
   persons  come  forward to file their complaints, perhaps because they
   are not aware of their rights.  Justice  Bhargava  pointed  out  that
   though  the people of Guwahati city are facing serious drinking water
   crises, which is a violation of their rights, no one  has  filed  any
   complaint  and  the  Commission has taken up the matter on its own on
   the basis of newspaper reports.
   The Commission Chairman revealed  that  they  are  facing  a  problem
   because  of  failure of the Government to inform the Commission about
   the actions taken on the recommendations of the Commission.  He  also
   revealed  that  fund  crunch is one of the main problems of the Assam
   Human Rights  Commission  and  hoped  that  in  the  new  budget  the
   Government would increase the allocation of the Commission to improve
   its performance.   He said at the moment the Commission does not have
   essential items like vehicles, computer or even  a  tape-recorder  to
   record evidences.

   As  many  as  200 villages have been inundated in Dhemaji district by
   the rising waters of Gai  river  following  incessant  rains  in  the
   catchment  area  since  May  23.  Flood  waters washed away a railway
   bridge and two portions of the national highway  No.52  in  different
   places.  Two  other  rivers,  Kumotia  and  Jiadhal  are  also rising
   alarmingly. The floods have also damaged early (ahu) cultivation  and
   other crops in several thousand hectares of land.

   A  section of the newly-appointed higher secondary teachers at Nagaon
   alleged that they had not  been  allowed  to  join  their  respective
   institutions  by  some  people  and some high school teachers in some
   cases.  The Director of Secondary Education had appointed the subject
   teachers all over the State but some of them have not  been  able  to
   join their  services due to harassment by vested interests.  At least
   one such teacher has approached the Nagaon  Deputy  Commissioner  for
   necessary action in this regard.

   Three wheeler passenger vehicles, which have witnessed a mushroom and
   unchecked growth in  Dibrugarh  of  late,  cause  immense  noise  and
   environment pollution, as these run on antiquated diesel engines. The
   operators  of  these  vehicles  are  generally  noticed  to  be rowdy
   drivers, giving no respect to any traffic rules.
   Seeing  the  situation  going  out  of  hand,  the  police  has  been
   unsuccessfully  to  make  these  diesel  auto drivers behave and make
   their vehicles safer for road users and passengers alike.    However,
   the  operators  have  proved  themselves  to  be incorrigible, and on
   Sunday evening, the police had to crack down on the more  troublesome
   diesel auto  drivers.   Most of the operator have bought the vehicles
   after availing of PMRY (Prime Minister's Rozgar  Yojana)  loans  from

   Over  more  that sixty-years old newspapers and journals preserved in
   the office of the Bordoichilla at Bhangaghar in  Guwahati  have  been
   stolen  by  a gang of alleged hawkers (pheriwallas) dealing with sale
   and purchase of  old  newspapers  and  scrap  materials.    The  most
   valuable,   rare  collection  of  manuscripts  and  important  files,
   bulletins of Mr Siva Prasad Barooah, the editor of Bordoichilla  have
   also been taken along with several photo albums.  Mr Barooah lamented
   that  a  chapter  of his hard literary work was over and he could not
   give the Assamese readers any original work of art and literature.

   Union  Minister  of  State  for  Communications  Kabindra Purkayastha
   formally released a commemorative stamp on Lokanayak Omeo  Kumar  Das
   at a   simple   function  in  Guwahati  on  May  22.    Addressing  a
   distinguished gathering, Mr Purkayastha said that Lokanayak Das loved
   the land and people of the country dearly, and actively  participated
   in  the  freedom  struggle  and became one of the torchbearers of the
   national movement in Assam.
   Describing Lokanayak as one  of  the  great  patriots  of  Assam,  Mr
   Purkayastha  said that he created a unique landmark in the history of
   the labour welfare measures not only in India but also in entire Asia
   by setting up the tea plantation  workers'  provident  fund  for  the
   benefit of the tea plantation workers of Assam.

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