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                        Vol.3, No.78 [*] October 30, 1998

           Blessed is he who expects no gratitude, for he shall
                          not be disappointed.
                             - W C Bennett

1  ASSAM BANDH TOTAL, PEACEFUL                             [S:30-OCT-98]
   The 24-hour Assam bandh called  by  the  All  Assam  Students'  Union
   (AASU)  appeared  to  be total except in the Barak Valley and the two
   hill district of Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills,  as  vehicular
   traffic  came  to  standstill  and  shops,  business  establishments,
   private and government offices remained closed.  Train services,  air
   traffic, works in central public sector units like the refineries etc
   however were not disturbed.  There has been no report of any untoward
   incident.  The bandh ended at 5 am on October 30.

2  RASHMI'S KILLERS SHELTERED BY AGP MAN                   [S:30-OCT-98]
   Following  the arrest of the main accused, an ULFA cadre Dharani Bora
   in the Rashmi Bora  murder  case,  and  subsequent  interrogation  by
   police has revealed that three ULFA abductors, prior to the abduction
   of  Rashmi  Bora,  had  taken  shelter in the residence of Deba Bora,
   general secretary of the Nagaon district committee of the AGP.
   In  his  interrogation,  Dharani  Bora  has  stated  that  three main
   accused, Naba Bora, Gobin Das  and  Deep  Das,  who  are  yet  to  be
   apprehended  by  the police, had instructed him to hire a Maruti van.
   He hired the van on the pretext of attending a marriage ceremony, and
   took it to Deba Bora's house where the three accused were  sheltered.
   The  three ULFA cadres then forced the driver Babul Ali to get out of
   the van and fled with the van.

   Thereafter  the  trio  donning  Army dresses abducted Rashmi from her
   residence at Raidangia, killed her at Sialmari near Nagaon  town  and
   buried her at Ouguri field.  The van was returned to the driver Babul
   Ali later.    Police  said  that besides the three main accused, five
   others --  Dharani  Bora,  Prasanna  Das,  Nitumoni  Bora,  Nabajyoti
   Saikia,  and  a Assam police commando (Black Panther) in the security
   of the SP Nagaon, who have been arrested were also  involved  in  the
   murder case.
   Meanwhile, the AGP leader Deba Bora denied the allegation by  Dharani
   Bora  that he had sheltered the ULFA cadres and said that on that day
   (June 9) he along with Food and Civil Supplies  Minister  Digen  Bora
   and former Union Minister Birendra Prasad Baishya, had gone to Tangla
   to inquire about the ethnic violence there and returned home only the
   next  day.  
   Police  is  yet  to  launch  a  search operation to recover the body.
   Dharani Bora is said to have only guessed the place of  burial  since
   he  was  not  personally  present  during  the  burial and named four
   different locations to the police.
   In  a growing exchange of verbal attacks on each other, the Asom Gana
   Parishad (AGP) asked the AASU leadership not to throw stones at other
   peoples' houses when they themselves live on glass houses.
   The  AGP  while  reacting to comments made by the AASU that the party
   should seek a fresh mandate  to  assess  its  decreasing  popularity,
   stated  that  the AASU leadership did not abide by the organization's
   constitution in election of its office-bearers according to which  it
   should hold   polls  every  year.    
   And, instead a `self-imposed' permanent leadership has cowardly  toed
   the diktats  of  the ultras.  It has no right to offer suggestions or
   send instructions for a fresh  mandate  to  a  democratically-elected
   political  party  when  the  hypocrisy  and  the  cunningness  of the
   students' body have been already exposed to the public.
   The AASU had alleged that the AGP, which was formed as a  fallout  of
   the  Assam  Accord,  failed  to implement the accord and betrayed the
   people of the State. They said that the AGP included the  demand  for
   right to self-determination in its election manifesto before the 1996
   polls to please the militant outfits.

4  ASTC WORKERS RESORT TO 72-HOUR STRIKE                  [AT:28-OCT-98]
   Over  6,000 Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) workers resorted
   to a 72-hour statewide strike from 5 am  on  October  27  in  protest
   against  the  State  Government's  alleged  apathy towards fulfilling
   their long-standing demands.  The  strike  was  called  by  the  ASTC
   Worker's  Coordination Committee in support of their 14-point charter
   of demands. The bus services of the corporation came to a standstill.
   The Chief Convenor of the Coordination Committee,  Mr  Jogin  Goswami
   said  that the strike had evoked total response throughout the State.
   He also said that in a bid to intensify the  ongoing  agitation,  the
   Committee  will  take  out  a  procession to Dispur on November 11 in
   which representatives of various political parties and central  trade
   union bodies will take part.
5  SALT PANIC AT SHILLONG                                 [AT:30-OCT-98]
   Salt  is  rarely  a priority item on the marketing list of housewives
   anywhere. But it jumped to the  top  slot  in  Shillong,  capital  of
   neighbouring  Meghalaya,  as  rumours of an acute shortage of salt in
   the city sent the public into panic buying on October 29.
   Serpentine queues could be seen in all localities from early  morning
   as  the  public  went  for  bulk purchase of the salt shooting up the
   price to as much as Rs.50 per kg in some  localities.    Unscrupulous
   traders  made  the  best  of the opportunity to hike the price almost
   hourly as the queues grew in strength.
   Against a printed price of Rs.6 to Rs.8 per kg,  the  prices  charged
   ranged from Rs.15 to Rs.25 per 1 kg pack of iodized salt.  The damage
   was  already  done by the time the government food and civil supplies
   department released a statement that there was  sufficient  stock  of
   salt in the city and the state and no reason for public to panic.
6  POLICE, ULFA BUSY WITH TREASURE HUNT                    [S:30-OCT-98]
   Both police and the ULFA members at Nagaon are  equally  serious  and
   active  to  locate  the spot where ULFA leader Mrityunjoy Mahanta and
   another member of the banned outfit, both of whom had been killed  in
   an  encounter  with  security  personnel  on  May  20, had kept Rs.20
   million buried.  According to the  Nagaon  Superintendent  of  Police
   Satyendra Narayan Singh, neither police nor ULFA know the exact spot.
   Police  came  to  know of the hidden treasure only after the death of
   Mrityunjoy and have been busy trying to locate it since then.
   Detection of a bomb planted below a culvert of the railway track near
   Nalbari  railway  station at 5:30 pm on October 29 by a police patrol
   party led to stopping of all rail traffic in that  section  till  the
   bomb disposal squad came in to diffuse the bomb.
   A team of Army and police promptly arrived at the scene to defuse the
   bomb.  To their utter dismay and much relief, the bomb disposal squad
   found  that  the  `bomb'  was  made of only husks of betel nuts, some
   pieces of wood and grass.  Some pranksters had played such a  serious
   hoax, police said.
   With a 200-year-old history, the  freedom  of  press  in  the  United
   States could not have been better. And yet, the fear of the ordeal of
   going through a libel suit haunts most US journalists and newspapers.
   Delivering  the  first  keynote  address  at  a  panel  discussion on
   journalism -- How free is  Free  Press  --  organized  by  The  Assam
   Tribune  on  its  60th  anniversary  jointly  with  The United States
   Information Service (USIS), Calcutta, Dr Catherine Mitchell, Pulitzer
   Prize winner  and  chairperson,  Department  of  Mass  Communication,
   University  of  North  Carolina,  stated  that the mechanism of libel
   suits was also a difficult hurdle to overcome  by  the  US  media  in
   being  a  truly  free press since there is no government control, and
   the congress did not have the power to frame any  law  regarding  the
   Earlier,  in  his  inaugural  remarks,  Mr D.N.Bezbaruah, editor, The
   Sentinel, stated  that  Indian  scribes  enjoy  considerable  freedom
   compared  to  many other developing nations, which he said, has to be
   regulated with accountability and responsibility.
   He added that one reason for Indian  journalists  having  exaggerated
   expectations  of  freedom  and  their  rights  was  that  the  Indian
   Constitution devoted more than 13 pages to  the  Fundamental  Rights,
   while devoting only half-a-page to Fundamental Duties of the citizen,
   and that  too  26  years  later  as  an  afterthought.   Thus a whole
   generation of Indians had grown up with the illusion that citizens of
   a free country had only rights and no responsibilities to society.
   The Government of Assam has submitted a proposal to the  Northeastern
   Council  (NEC)  to  develop  the  Assam  Flying  Club, the only pilot
   training institute in the region, into a  Northeast  Flying  Academy.
   If  the proposal is accepted by the NEC, it would be able to cater to
   the need of all the member states  and  it  would  also  improve  the
   financial position  of the club, sources said.  The Assam Flying Club
   is run by an autonomous body headed by the Assam Chief Minister, with
   government grant and fees from the students.
   The  Flying  Club,  which  remained  closed since 1993 due to various
   problems including financial strains, is heading towards an uncertain
   future.  The club, set up in June,  1958,  has  so  far  produced  60
   commercial  pilots  and  a good number of them are now working in Air
   India, Indian Airlines, Sahara Airlines and US Coast Guard.  The club
   was forced to stop training in 1993 as the  chief  flight  instructor
   and  the  chief  engineer  of  the  club  left  after  getting better
   opportunities elsewhere in the country.

   Unseasonal blossoming of a mango tree at Bhapakgaon in Kamalabari has
   surprised many a local inmate of the area.  The mango tree started to
   bloom from  September and it is still growing.  Besides, some budding
   fruits have been noticed in the tree.  There is a feeling  among  the
   local  people  that it is up to the scientists to unravel the mystery
   behind the unseasonal flowering so as to satisfy the curiosity of the

   Ms Roopa Das has graduated from Massachusetts Institute of Technology
   (MIT) with Mathematics and Computer Science and Minor in  Psychology.
   She is the first Assamese girl who graduated from MIT in USA.  She is
   the  daughter  of  Mr  Amiya  Das  and  Ms  Reeta  Das of Florida and
   granddaughter of Mr Hem Chandra Baruah and Ms Komol Kumari Baruah  of

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