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                          Vol.3, No.47 [*]  July 13, 1998

                  Youth is a religion from which one always
                            end up being converted.
                               - Andre Malraux

   Chief  Minister  P.K.Mahanta and four of his cabinet colleagues had a
   narrow escape on Sunday  when  the  helicopter  on  which  they  were
   travelling  towards  North  Lakhimpur  developed  a technical snag in
   midair.  Mahanta accompanied by Revenue  Minister  Zoii  Nath  Sarma,
   Flood  Control  Minister  Promode  Gogoi, Law and Veterinary Minister
   Surendra Nath Medhi  and  Rural  Development  Minister  Sahidul  Alam
   Choudhury  were  on the MI-8 Indian Air Force aircraft which took off
   the Borjhar airport in Guwahati at around 8:30 am.
   Minutes after the flight took off, it developed a technical  snag  on
   its blades  and  the  aircraft  began  to shake violently.  The pilot
   managed  to  return  to  the  airport  safely  after  the   harrowing
   experience.   Later, the Chief Minister and his team went to Lilabari
   airport in North Lakhimpur in another aircraft.  The team visited the
   flood affected areas of Lakhimpur and Dhemaji districts.
   Union Home Minister L.K.Advani has said, Rs.1.31 billion was paid  to
   the  State  Government during the 1997-98 as `full and final payment'
   of the security-related expenditure incurred by the State  Government
   during  1990-95,  while reiterating that the Centre is also committed
   to reimburse the  security-related  expenditure  in  respect  of  the
   northeastern States  with  effect  from April 1, 1995.  Replying to a
   question by Assam's MP, Dr Arun Sarma in the Rajya Sabha,  Mr  Advani
   said,  further reimbursement of security-related expenditure to Assam
   would be made after the guidelines for it are approved by the Central
   Government and funds provided in the budget.
   Bodoland  movement  groups  and  the newly formed Barak Gana Parishad
   (BGP) in Assam have decided to join  hands  for  the  fulfillment  of
   their demands for separate States, BGP president Rati Ranjan Roy said
   in New  Delhi on Sunday.  The BGP, he said, had requested the BJP-led
   Government to include the case  of  Barakland  and  Bodoland  on  its
   agenda   of  creating  separate  states  in  line  with  Uttaranchal,
   Vananchal, Chattisgarh, Delhi and Pondicherry.
   Mr Roy said he has submitted a  memorandum  to  Prime  Minister  Atal
   Behari  Vajpayee  giving  details of the struggle of the Barak valley
   people, launched in early 1960s.  On August 10, the party will  start
   a  1001-hour  blockade of national and state highways passing through
   the Barak valley as part  of  a  multipronged  plan  to  achieve  its
   objective.   He  said  about a month ago, the BGP spurned an offer by
   Assam Chief Minister to set up a  Barak  Valley  Development  Council
   (BVDC)  to  meet  the  political  aspirations  of  the  predominantly
   Bengali-speaking inhabitants  of  Cachar,  Karimganj  and  Hailakandi

   The  central  executive  committee  of  ruling  Asom  Gana   Parishad
   unanimously  approved the decision of the party leadership to suspend
   two dissident leaders, Mr Atul Bora and Mr Jatin Mali with  immediate
   effect  and  issue-show cause notices to them as to why they will not
   be expelled from the  primary  membership  of  the  party  for  their
   anti-party  activities  and  conspiracy  to  dislodge the Government.
   Earlier the party's steering committee also had unanimously  approved
   the decision to suspend the two dissident leaders.
   The  dissidence in the ruling AGP was forced to the breaking point by
   the then PWD Minister, Mr  Atul  Bora,  who  openly  declared  a  war
   against  Chief  Minister  P.K.Mahanta  after the latter undertook the
   reshuffle of his Cabinet and shifted  Mr  Bora  from  PWD  to  Forest
   Department sans  Social  Forestry  on  May  16.   Mr Bora organized a
   protest meeting at Dispur  raising  slogans  like  `Prafulla  Mahanta
   Hoshiar', `Prafulla Mahanta Murdabad' etc.  The disciplinary axe fell
   on  the  then  Elementary  and Secondary Education Minister, Mr Jatin
   Mali who was shifted to Higher Education in the reshuffle, because he
   also joined Mr Bora in running down the Chief Minister and the  party
   in public.

   A delegation of All Assam Students  Union  (AASU)  led  by  president
   Sabananda   Sonowal  and  general  secretary  Samujjal  Bhattacharyya
   submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister on Saturday,  vehemently
   protesting  reported  move  of  the  Centre  to  sale  the Bongaigaon
   Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited (BRPL) to the private sector.  In
   a  press  release,  the AASU said, it told the Chief Minister that it
   would foil all attempts to sell a  profitable  public-sector  concern
   like  the  BRPL  and  reminded him that the Government had a role and
   duty to frustrate the move on the BRPL.
   The  AASU  also  warned  the Government of severe consequences on the
   later's secret deal for sale of the Ashok Paper Mill, made  operative
   under the terms of the Assam Accord.  The students union claimed that
   the  deal  is  under way with the help of a Calcutta-based newspaper,
   records of which is by now in possession of AASU.  They demanded that
   the State Government to apprise the people of  Assam  on  the  actual
   Meanwhile,  AASU's  special  convention  to  give final shape to Axom
   Unnati Xabha, a non-political organization under it, will be held  at
   Golaghat  from  July  15  to 17 and will be sponsored by the Golaghat
   district unit of AASU at an estimated expense  of  Rs.500,000.    The
   convention  is  expected to be attended by about 1,000 delegates from
   all over the State.  Mr.H.K.Dua, editor of The Hindustan  Times  will
   be the chief guest in the open session of the convention of July 16.
   Church  leaders  in  the Northeast have warned Hindu missionaries and
   religious  fanatics  against  indulging  in  `forcible  conversions',
   saying  such acts could lead to a physical and theological war in the
   predominantly Christian region.  The church's  reaction  comes  after
   the  Vishwa  Hindu  Parishad (VHP) announced that it would soon carry
   out a `mass conversion' programme in the seven  northeastern  States.
   Both  the  VHP  and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) have accused the
   Christian missionaries of  aiding  and  abetting  insurgency  in  the
   The Christian clergy has denied the charge that  they  aid  and  abet
   terrorism  in  the  region  saying  such allegations were politically
   motivated.  `The church has all along been working for bringing peace
   in the region by trying to convince those who are in to arms to  join
   the  peace  process,'  Reverend  V.K.Nuh,  secretary  of the Nagaland
   Baptist Convention told IANS. Thirty  per  cent  of  the  30  million
   population in the northeastern States are Christians and there are an
   estimated  40,000  churches in the region. Christianity is by far the
   most widely practised faith in the Northeast.
   The  potency  pills  that  have  hit  the South Asian and Far Eastern
   markets of late could be good news not only for  men  suffering  from
   sexual  dysfunction  but for the rhinoceros in the Kaziranga National
   Park in Assam.  The pills could help save the  endangered  one-horned
   rhinos,  long poached for the aphrodisiac qualities its horn had been
   attributed with, wildlife experts in Guwahati said.  The new  variety
   of  sex pills are expected to act as a substitute and reduce the myth
   that the rhino horn has aphrodisiac values.
   At  least  600 rhinos were poached for their horns by organized gangs
   at the Kaziranga National Park in the past  two  decades.  The  horns
   then  find their way to underground markets in South Asia and the Far
   East through  Nepal  or  Bhutan.  A  kilogram  of  horn  fetches  the
   smugglers anything between Rs.1 million and Rs.1.5 million, depending
   on  the  quality.  Though  the  danger  to  the  one-horned rhino may
   considerably lessen now that the markets are flooded with alternative
   potency pills, the threat won't completely disappear as long as there
   is a belief that their horns can spice up sex.
   In  a  tragic  incident,  at least six wild elephants, including four
   calves were crushed to death by the Dimapur-Lumding  passenger  train
   in the  hill  district  of Karbi Anglong on Saturday.  The pachyderms
   died instantly when the train  coming  from  Dimapur  ran  over  them
   between Daldali  and  Dhansiri railway stations.  Rail traffic in the
   section which was disrupted for 12 hours following the  incident  was
   restored on  Sunday.    The  animals  had  ventured  out of the Karbi
   Anglong west  forest  division  reserve  forest.    Forest  officials
   immediately reached the spot and took possession of the bodies of the
   Ms Bipasha Baruah, a merit scholar  at  the  University  of  Northern
   British  Columbia,  Canada,  currently doing postgraduate research on
   Natural  Resource  Management  and  Environmental  Science  has  been
   selected by the United Nations Organization, on the basis of a global
   competition,  to work as an intern under the Natural Resources Forum,
   Department of Economics and Social Affairs at  the  UN  headquarters,
   New York.    Ms  Baruah has since taken up her prestigious assignment
   from June 1, 1998.  At present she has been entrusted with editing of
   a number of journals, reviewing books  and  conducting  seminars  and
   conferences,  all  related  to  international  management  of natural
   resources and eco-preservation.  She is the daughter of Ms Monica and
   Mr Anil Baruah of Tarun Nagar, Guwahati.
Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation only.
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]