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                          Vol.4, No.3 [*] January 11, 1999

             The future is not what it was. Unfortunately, the
                  past is not getting any better either.
                             - Bernard Levin

1  LIEUTENANT GENERAL VIJ TRANSFERRED                    [S:11-JAN-99]
   In a surprise move, the GOC, 4 Corps, Lt.  Gen.  N.C.  Vij has been
   transferred and posted as the managing  director  of  the  Military
   Operations and Lt.    Gen.   Sikarkar has been posted as the GOC, 4
   Corps, at Tezpur.
   This  decision  came  in the wake of speculations that Chief of the
   Army Staff, Gen.  V.P.Malik had expressed anguish at the increasing
   incidents of secret killings in the State, which is believed to  be
   the  handiwork  of  the  Army  and some surrendered ULFA activists.
   Besides, the extended term of Lt. Gen. Vij, who  had  been  holding
   two positions at a time, expired in December.
   Union  Home  Minister L.K.Advani said that Assam Governor S.K.Sinha
   had recently submitted a report on  illegal  immigration  from  the
   country's  eastern  border  and  the Centre was studying it. He was
   speaking to reporters at the Border Security Force (BSF) Academy in
   Tekanpur, Madhya Pradesh, on January 10.
   The  controversy  over  the  alleged  confessional statement of the
   arrested ULFA's central  committee  member,  Bhaskar  Baruah  alias
   Nayanjyoti  Mahanta  took a new turn with the Nagaon superintendent
   of police, Mr.S.N.Singh telling a  crowded  press  conference  that
   Bhaskar had  indeed made the statements to the police.  He read out
   the statement which was also shown to the newsmen.
   It contained the same text of the allegations that the  ULFA  chief
   Paresh  Baruah's  son  is  studying  in Canada, the Rashmi Bora was
   killed on personal vendetta, that Sanjoy  Ghose's  killing  had  no
   approval  from the outfit's central committee, which were published
   in the newspapers.  Mr Singh said, the Inspector General of Prisons
   is conducting an inquiry as to how a rebuttal of  the  confessional
   statement  by  Bhaskar  could  be issued to the press from the jail
   The  SP  also gave an account of the law-and-order situation in the
   district in 1998 and said, the police arrested 141 ULFA cadres  and
   killed 27 during the year. They seized 21 pistols, eight revolvers,
   two  carbines,  13  pipeguns, one .303 rifle, 245 live and 81 empty
   cartridges besides two grenades. Of the Rs.3,251,340 recovered from
   the extremists, only Rs.200,000 belonged to the ULFA.  Police  also
   caught 17 MULFA and MULTA extremists and killed one of them.
   The elections of the office-bearers of the All Assam Students Union
   (AASU) in its 14th convention currently begin held at  Barpeta,  it
   is  almost  clear  that  while  Prabin Boro of Nalbari is likely to
   contest with Shankar Charan Roy  of  Bongaigaon  for  the  post  of
   president,  Ranjit  Gogoi of Sibsagar is likely contestant of Amiya
   Bhuyan of Dhemaji for the post of secretary.

   The present president  and  general  secretary  of  the  union,  Mr
   Sarbananda Sonowal and Mr Samujjal Bhattacharjee respectively, will
   be  kept  as  advisors. The convention which began on January 8, is
   being participated by over 3,700 delegate from all over the State.

5  PROCESSIONISTS LATHI-CHARGED, 20 HURT                 [S:10-JAN-99]
   Twenty  people,  including  15  women, were injured when the police
   lathi-charged a group of 150 processionists on January 9,  who  had
   been  demanding  the  disclosure of the whereabouts of the chief of
   Manash regional unit of ULFA with a five-day-long-sit-in strike  in
   front  of  the  Barpeta  Deputy  Commissioner's  office  here since
   January 5. The police resorted to lathi-charge when  the  agitators
   took out a procession, on the last day of their programme.
   The whereabouts of the chief of the Manash  regional  unit  of  the
   ULFA,  Nayan  Sharma  alias  Amlan  Dutta, who had been arrested by
   Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) jawans from  North  Borbari  in
   Barpeta district a month back, is still not known.
   A  high-level  meeting  of  the  officials  of  Ministry of surface
   Transport, PWD (Roads)  of  Manipur  and  Assam  with  Mr  Kabindra
   Purkayastha,  Union  Minister of State for Communications, was held
   at Silchar to discuss the `zero-point'  of  the  Silchar-Saurashtra
   super  national  highway and the proposal of the Manipur Government
   to include Imphal  in  the  highway. 
   The meeting examined the feasibility of starting the  highway  from
   Durgakhuna,  the  seat  of Assam University, 22 km from Silchar and
   inclusion of Imphal in it.  The Task Force  would  take  the  final
   decision   in   this  regard.  The  Prime  Minister  had  announced
   7000-km-long   Kashmir-Kanyakumari   and   Silchar-Saurashtra   and
   six-lane super national highway involving Rs.280 billion.
   Completion  of  these  highways,  the Minister said, would not only
   lead to rapid socioeconomic development but also  promote  national
   unity and  integrity.    These  highways,  he  added,  would  be of
   strategic importance too for the  country.    Prime  Minister  Atal
   Behari  Vajpayee  inaugurated  the  Silchar-Saurashtra  highway  at
   Bangalore on December 2, 1998.
   The Federation of Industries of North Eastern  Region  (FINER)  has
   proposed  to  set  up  an  investment  centre  for  Northeast at an
   estimated cost of Rs.50 million to attract private  investments  to
   the region.    This was informed by FINER president S.K.Jain in the
   fifth annual general meeting  of  the  federation  in  Guwahati  on
   January 9.
   It  was also disclosed in the meeting that a Technology Information
   Centre (TIC) would be established with the support of developmental
   organizations of the  region  which  will  provide  information  on
   various technologies to the local entrepreneurs.
   Although  the  reserved  forest  area  at Holongpar, the habitat of
   about seven endangered species of monkeys besides a large varieties
   of deer, leopard, snakes, squirrels etc had been declared and named
   as `Gibbon Abhayaranya' in July, 1997, the  State  Government  have
   not  taken  up  any  measures  to develop the infrastructure of the
   forest area.  
   The Jorhat Divisional Forest  office  had  sent  a  scheme  for  an
   estimated  expenditure  of  Rs.8  million to the Government for the
   development of the forest area, but the scheme has been kept in the
   cold storage by the Government for the past one-an-half years.
   Translation  of  the  sacred  book  of Vaisnavite hymns into Church
   prayers in Sibsagar into a major  controversy,  with  the  Sibsagar
   Catholic  Church publishing two booklets containing the literal but
   distorted translation of the Namghosa.
   This has angered the Xatra Mahasabha, the  apex  body  of  the  700
   Xatras  of  the  State  forcing the Church to tender apology to the
   people of the State through a press conference on January 6.
   `We regret the matter, we have simply copied some devotional  songs
   for  private  use  in chapels and churches because the local people
   understand Assamese and we want to make prayers  as  easy  for  the
   Assamese  as geets, but of course we have changed the names of Rama
   and Krishna to Jesus.  We reiterate that we have no ulterior motive
   in copying the hymns', the Father of the Church said.
   The Father revealed that some local people while translating misled
   him with the content  and  did  not  inform  that  the  hymns  were
   plagiarized  and  admitted it could have led to communal tension in
   the area.
10 MANGALDOI TO GOLAGHAT IN 36 DAYS!                     [S:11-JAN-99]
   A  bereaved  son, Dr Gakul Khandelwal could receive a telegram from
   Mangaldoi expressing condolence for the death of his  father  after
   36 days  of  its  despatch  from  Mangaldoi in Assam.  The telegram
   showed the date of despatch as December 2, 1998 and it reached  the
   addressee on  January  7, 1999.  Interestingly, the date of receipt
   of the telegram at Golaghat office was shown as January 4  and  the
   local office took three days to deliver the telegram.

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