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                        Vol.3, No.86 [*] November 27, 1998

             Love your neighbours, but don't pull down the fence.
                             - Chinese Proverb

   Tension prevails in the entire area of Maligaon in Guwahati over  the
   killing  of  an  innocent  Northeast  Frontier  Railway employee, one
   Biswajit Devnath by a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawan of  a
   police  patrol  party  at  Gotanagar area of the city on the night of
   November 25, as  several  hundred  protestors  gheraoed  the  Railway
   headquarters demanding justice.
   According to  reports,  Biswajit  (32)  who  worked  in  the  Railway
   canteen,  was  talking  to a friend in the area, when a police patrol
   party in a mini bus, stopped near him and  started  questioning  him.
   After  sometime, a CRPF jawan, who was reported to be drunk, fired at
   him seriously injuring him. He died at MMC Hospital later at night.
   Police  claim that Biswajit started to run when he was asked to stop.
   The police party was on a search mission on a tip-off that a group of
   extremists were moving around in the area in a Maruti van.
   Meanwhile, one ULFA militant, Prashanta Barbaruah (23), died  on  the
   spot  and another Bidyadhar Baruah alias Tapan Changmai (24) severely
   injured in an encounter with the Army at Saman  Pathar,  15  km  from
   Ledo in Tinsukia district on November 24.

   The  Gauhati  High Court on November 25, quashing the constitution of
   an interim Mising Autonomous Council (MAS), directed the takeover  of
   the Council by the Deputy Commissioner, Dhemaji.
   The  Court  passed  this order on an application by Mr Rajib Pegu and
   two others who alleged that Assam Government had resorted to adhocism
   by constituting an interim council without making any efforts to hold
   election for the Council.
   The petitioners said that in an earlier court judgement on March  10,
   1998,  the  High  Court  had  ordered the Government to hold election
   within  eight  months  and  also  restrained  the   Government   from
   constituting adhoc interim council.

   Bodo  intellectuals  recently  set  up  the  `World   Bodo   National
   Conference  Durbar' to unite the tribals spread in different parts of
   the globe in pursuance of their demand for a  separate  State  within
   the Indian Union.
   The  Durbar,  set up at New York earlier this month, urged the Indian
   Government to introduce a constitution amendment bill in  the  Winter
   Session  of  the Parliament to carve out a separate Bodoland State on
   the lines of Uttaranchal, Vananchal and Chhattisgarh.
   The meeting, attended by Bodo representatives from India, the US,  UK
   and  Canada,  decided  to  unite  the  tribals  settled  in different

   The  Army strongly refuted reports appearing in the press that it had
   links with the BLT, a Bodo militant outfit,  and  that  it  had  been
   training its  cadres in the use of firearms etc.  Terming the reports
   as baseless, an Army release said, in the last  one  week  alone  the
   Army  had  caught  five BLT militants out of 15 militants, and killed
   three of its cadres in encounters, which proved that the Army has `no
   favourites among the militants.'
   Meanwhile, confirming a relationship that has always been  suspected,
   the  banned  United  National  Liberation Front (UNLF) of Manipur has
   officially  acknowledge  its  close  association  with   the   United
   Liberation Front  of  Asom  (ULFA).  The acknowledgment from the UNLF
   came in its annual statement on the occasion  of  the  outfit's  34th
   anniversary celebrated in Manipur on November 24.

5  THREAT TO DIKRONG RAILWAY BRIDGE                        [S:26-NOV-98]
   The district police in Lakhimpur are worried over the security of the
   railway  bridge  over Dikrong river near Banderdeva, 35 km from North
   Lakhimpur, following threat issued by the ULFA militants  to  village
   defence party (VDP) personnel guarding the bridge.
   Police sources said since the railway bridge is the only link left to
   bring in essential commodities to the  flood-affected  Lakhimpur  and
   Dhemaji  districts,  in case of breach following ultras attack, it is
   the common people who would be hit the worst.

   Terror reins supreme in the greater Kakapathar area near  Doom  Dooma
   following  an  outbreak  of an unknown disease which claimed at least
   four lives, and conditions of more than 12 persons are  critical  and
   they have  been  admitted  to Tinsukia civil hospital.  People of the
   area alleged that the Health Department has not taken adequate  steps
   to control the disease.
   While, in Guwahati, based on a petition filed by  the  Assam  Pradesh
   Congress  Committee  (APCC) spokesman Mr Ripun Bora against the State
   Government  holding  solely  responsible  for  the  deaths   due   to
   starvation  and  gastroenteritis in the flood-affected districts, the
   Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) issued notice to the Directorate
   of  Health  Services  (DHS)  and  the  deputy  commissioners  of  the
   concerned districts and registered a case against them.  The AHRC has
   asked  the  DHS and the deputy commissioners to send their replies by
   December 28.

   Expressing surprise over the fact that the cultural heritage of Assam
   was yet to  be  known  in  the  West,  the  Senior  Director,  Museum
   Rietberg,  Zurich, Switzerland, Dr Eberhard Fischer emphasized on the
   need for more exposure of the State's  heritage  outside  --  at  the
   right level, right moment and through the right media.
   Addressing    the    inaugural    function    of    the    Indo-Swiss
   seminar-cum-exhibition  on  `Assam Heritage' at Assam State Museum in
   Guwahati,  Dr  Fischer  while  appreciating  the  `manifold  artistic
   traditions   reflected   in   the  images  of  Vaishnavite  and  Ahom
   monuments,'  laid  stress  on  exhibition  and  tourism  which  could
   generate interest in the region.
   Stressing the need to create valleys or complexes around the heritage
   sites, in which high-quality works of art like potteries  and  others
   could  be  kept,  he  said  tourism  in  Assam could be known for its
   heritage sites rather than being known only for rhinos.
   `Since heritage and history are co-travellers, it has  no  boundaries
   at all.  It can traverse the frontiers to create a man-to-man rapport
   and  the  fellow-feeling for the greater good of society as a whole',
   he said, and added that the whole region is a treasure-house of human
   resources and historical wealth having becoming on  its  culture  and

   The  rich bio-diversity of the Northeast considered a hot spot on the
   globe, is under threat from several factors.    Habitat  destruction,
   population  growth,  lack  of proper preservation policy and cultural
   changes  are  some  of  the  key  factors  responsible  for   gradual
   degradation of bio-diversity in the region.
   According   to   a  document  published  by  Centre  for  Environment
   Education,  Northeastern  Regional  Cell   (CEE-NE),   breakdown   in
   traditional  conservation ethics amongst the local population is fast
   becoming a major threat to bio-diversity in the region.
   It  cited the example of `sacred groves' in Meghalaya which have been
   protected for ages are now  fast  disappearing.  Sacred  groves  have
   a  great significance because they conserve some important species of
   flora and fauna that have been lost in the  surrounding  area.  
   These groves also serve as refuge for animals and plants  which  have
   been   displaced   elsewhere  and,  therefore,  are  gene  banks  for
   ecosystems.  Some sacred groves may be classified as `relic  forests'
   representing the oldest ecosystem of that area.
   Unfortunately, not all sacred groves in the region are well-protected
   today  due to gradual erosion of traditional beliefs relating to such
   groves in general.  As a result, the  age-old  religious  taboos  and
   beliefs,  central  to  the  conservation  of  sacred  groves, are now
   considered to be merely superstitions.

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