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                          Vol.3, No.48  [*] July 15, 1998
                          * S P E C I A L  *  I S S U E *

            He who struggles is better than he who never attempts.
                              - Swami Vivekananda

   Various insurgents outfits in northeastern States, particularly  from
   Assam,  Manipur,  Nagaland  and  Tripura  are reportedly indulging in
   extortion of funds  from  government  departments,  public,  business
   houses and industries, the Lok Sabha was informed on Tuesday.
   Names  under which extortion is carried out in certain areas include,
   inter-alia, `department tax' which is an annual  tax  collected  from
   heads  of  government  departments,  `employee  tax' which is a fixed
   percentage of the salary of government employees, a fixed  percentage
   of all government works being executed in the State, an annual `house
   tax'  from  every household and `taxes' on shops, vehicles, video and
   cinema  halls,  contractors,  petrol   pumps   and   other   business
   establishments, Home Minister L.K.Advani said.

   Links between Tata Tea and  the  United  Liberation  Front  of  Assam
   (ULFA)  have  come  to  the  government's notice, though Tata Tea has
   denied having made any payment to ULFA, Advani said. He informed that
   Assam Police has registered cases against certain  senior  executives
   of Tata Tea and action will be taken according to law.
   There  has  been sharp reactions in political circles over Union Home
   Secretary, Mr Balmiki Prasad Singh's reported comments on  Monday  at
   the   Parliamentary  Consultative  Committee  attached  to  the  Home
   Ministry that `the  situation  in  Assam  is  worst  as  each  of  23
   districts  are  affected  by  insurgency,  ethnic  clashes  and other
   violence.' While the State Government reacted in a sober manner,  its
   alliance  partner,  the  CPI(M)  put  the blame on the Centre for the
   prevalent situation in  the  State.    Even  the  State  BJP  reacted
   adversely  to  the  comments  of  the  Union Home Secretary while the
   Congress leaders, who have been  persistently  demanding  President's
   rule in the State, was unavailable for comment.
   Chief  Minister  P.K.Mahanta  has  appealed  to  the  Prime  Minister
   A.B.Vajpayee to pay an immediate visit to the  State  to  access  and
   witness the gravity of the flood situation in the State.  In a letter
   to  the  Prime  Minister  dated 11th July, Mr Mahanta stated that the
   floods has caused extensive damages to  human  habitations,  standing
   crops,   roads,  embankments,  irrigation  sector  and  water  supply
   installations besides loss of 66 human lives including 51 deaths  due
   to landslides.
   The  Assam  Committee  of  the  Bharatiya  Janata Party (BJP) faxed a
   message to the Prime Minister on Monday to  immediately  undertake  a
   visit  to  the  flood  affected  areas  of  the State and declare the
   current floods in the State a `national calamity'. The Prime Minister
   was also requested to  immediately  release  Rs.5  billion  as  flood
   relief to the State.
   Former  Lok  Sabha  Speaker P.A.Sangma has warned the BJP against any
   move to undertake mass conversion into  Hinduism  in  the  Northeast.
   Addressing  a  press  conference  at  Imphal in Manipur on Sunday, Mr
   Sangma asked the leading partner in the ruling  coalition  to  desist
   from  interfering in religious matters and cautioned that such a move
   would deteriorate the already disturbed  law-and-order  situation  in
   the northeastern States.
   Referring to a recent report about a comprehensive plan of the BJP to
   initiate mass conversion in Christian dominated tribal States in  the
   Northeast,  Mr  Sangma  said  such  a dangerous attempt will not only
   retard the restoration of peace but also adversely affect  the  unity
   and  integrity  of  the  nation. Mr Sangma claimed that the expansion
   plan of the party in the Northeast, both politically and religiously,
   was drawn with full knowledge of Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee.
   Postal services throughout the State remained virtually paralysed for
   the sixth consecutive day on Tuesday following the countrywide strike
   by postal employees.  Post offices were lying unattended and  wore  a
   deserted look with nearly 2,500 bags of mails lying unattended at the
   Railway Mail Service (RMS).  However, in Meghdoot Bhawan, the General
   Post  Office  of  Guwahati, temporary counters were opened by private
   vendors for selling stamps to the public.    The  Speed-post  service
   which was continued during the strike was also stopped on Tuesday.
   The first bilingual Internet news magazine of the Northeast `Asom' is
   going online on July 15,  the  website  of  Assam  is  www.assam.com.
   Brought out by Azury Communications, Asom will be edited by Mr Pankaj
   Duarah.    This  online  news  will  highlight  Assam  globally  with
   authentically and credibility  every  week,  a  press  release  said.
   Contributions  highlighting  socio-political,  cultural  and economic
   aspects of Assam and Northeast and research works in various field of
   activities are welcomed.  Write-up within 300 words may  be  sent  to
   Azury Communications, Jaswanta Road, Panbazar, Guwahati 781001.
   Meanwhile,  the Society for Information Technology (SIT) successfully
   organized a programme on `Free Access  to  Internet'  in  association
   with Opus  Inc  from  July  1  to  5  in Guwahati.  The programme was
   intended to familiarize the people with the Internet and its  working
   besides increasing their awareness regarding its benefits.  Among the
   participants  were Dr Kulendu Pathak, SIT president, ASEB executives,
   doctors, engineers and students from many institutions of the city.
   The Archaeological  Survey  of  India,  an  attached  office  of  the
   Department  of  Culture,  Ministry  of Human Resource Development has
   programnmed 500 monuments  for  repairs,  chemical  preservation  and
   environmental development.   For Guwahati circle, activities taken up
   by  the  survey  during  1997-98  are  Karengghar  palace,   Rongghar
   pavilion,  Vishnudol  Joy  Sagar,  Gauri  Sagar  tank;  ruins  at Dal
   Parbatia, Badarol temple, Cacheri ruins, Panbaria  mosque  and  Idgah
   and rockcut sculptures, Unakoti, a release states.
   The  practice  of  nailing  the  roadside  trees of Guwahati has been
   posing threats to the existence of healthy  roadside  plantations  by
   the  Government  social  forestry  departments  and several voluntary
   organizations, city-based botanists said.
   The  nailing  of trees is increasing in the city areas and is chiefly
   carried  out  by  a  section  of  media  houses,  computer   training
   institutes,  palmists,  astrologers and beauty parlours, among others
   to affix signboards, banners, posters, in the process  affecting  the
   trees planted under the avenue plantation programme.  Ironically, the
   `crucifiers' also include some teachers who advertise their `tutorial
   homes' by  nailing  signboards  on  the  trees.    Although  numerous
   non-governmental  organizations  and  environmental  activists   have
   voiced their concern over various forms of environmental degradation,
   most of them have remained mute spectators to the nailing of trees.
   Ms Manjushree Pathak, advocate, Gauhati  High  Court  said  that  the
   Assam Forest Regulation Act, 1891 states `Any person who fells, cuts,
   girdles,  marks, lops, taps or injures by fire or otherwise any tree,
   shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which  may  extend  to
   six  months.'  She  also  said  that  according to Guwahati Municipal
   Corporation Act, 1971, no person in any public place  or  street  can
   affix  any  bill,  notice  or  other  documents  upon  any  building,
   monument, post, wall, fence, tree etc  without  proper  authority  or
   permission of  the  Commissioner.  She said that although legislative
   measures exists, many of these laws have remained in paper only.
   A  young  Assamese girl, Panchali Baruah, is very sick and is need of
   urgent help.  Her parents, Swaroop and Rumi  Baruah,  have  stretched
   themselves  to the limit in bringing her to England from Guwahati for
   help.  Jogen Kalita (Jogen.Kalita@kcl.ac.uk) of  England  has  helped
   coordinate the  effort to bring her to England for treatment.  If you
   can help with a small amount, please send  a  check  to  the  address
   listed below.  Any amount you can spare will be good.
   11-year-old Panchali was found to be suffering from  chronic  myeloid
   leukemia.   The  doctors attending her in the Hammersmith Hospital in
   London now suggested for  bone  marrow  transplantation  as  soon  as
   possible.  The  operation needs a huge sum of money.  In view of this
   the parents have been compelled to tap all their resources and appeal
   to the benevolent donors and individuals to meet the expenses.
   The Hammersmith Hospital has made  a  special  provision  to  open  a
   Charity fund  account  to  help  the child.  Cheques made payable to:
   `Special Trustees of Hammersmith Hospital-Paediatric Haematology Fund
   (3265)'.  can be sent to:  Cashier Office, Hammersmith  Hospital,  Du
   Cane Road London W12 OHS.
   Dr Jugal Kalita  has also volunteered to forward your cheques to the 
   Hospital. His e-mail address is: kalita@pikespeak.uccs.edu

   Full text of appeal at:  http://www.cyberspace.org/~mozz/appeal.html

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