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                         Vol.4, No.6  [*] February 5, 1999

              The point to remember is that what the government 
                       gives it must first take away.
                              - John S Coleman

1  CABINET DECISION ON PANCHAYAT POLLS                    [S:5-FEB-99]
   GUWAHATI:  The State Council of Ministers, in a meeting at Guwahati
   on February 4, took a decision to hold the panchayat  elections  as
   soon  as  the  Centre takes a decision as to whether the autonomous
   council areas be  excluded  from  the  purview  of  the  polls,  as
   demanded  by  the  autonomous  councils  on  the  ground  that they
   themselves are  local  self-governments.    The  ministers,   while
   reiterating  that  a  constitutional amendment is necessary in this
   regard,  asked  the  authorities  concerned  to  prepare  for   the
   elections immediately.
   The State Government appears to be  in  a  tight  corner  regarding
   holding of the panchayat elections, overdue by 15 months now, after
   the  Central Government's refusal to entertain the reasons cited by
   the State Government for the  delay,  and  threatened  to  withhold
   rural  development grants, amounting to several hundred millions of
   rupees, to the State.

   TEZPUR:  Mysterious death of  an  under  trial  prisoner,  Khowrang
   Narzari,  president of Rangapara local unit of Bodo Students' Union
   at Tezpur jail on February 1  created  great  sensation  in  plains
   tribe-dominated areas  of Sonitpur district.  The local unit of the
   All Bodo Students Union (ABSU) called a 12-hour bandh from 5 am  on
   February 5 in protest against the death of their leader in prison.
   The  25-year-old Bodo student leader was picked up by the Army from
   his  father-in-law's  residence  at  Kheronibasti  under  Rangapara
   police  station  on  January  24  and  handed over to the police on
   January 30.  
   The victim had sustained multiple injuries due to  alleged  torture
   during the  six days of Army custody, sources said.  The postmortem
   at the Civil Hospital in Tezpur, six hours after the death  of  the
   prisoner,  revealed  internal  injuries  in  his  head and external
   injuries on the back, hands and thighs.
   Meanwhile, the Army through a press release refuted the allegations
   that Narzari died due to `inhuman torture' by the Army as baseless.
   The  Army  said  that  Narzari  was  handed  over  to the police at
   Rangapara on January 29 in good condition  of  health  as  per  the
   `Memo  of  Arrest'  duly  signed  by  the individual and the police
   Both the medical  certificates  signed  by  the  competent  medical
   authority  of Government Hospital, Chariduar on January 29, and the
   Medical Officer at Public Health Centre, Rangapara on  January  30,
   also  certify  that the individual was medically examined and found
   fit and that there was no sign of external and internal  injury  on
   the individual, the release added.
   DIPHU:  President of All Dimasa  Students  Union  (ADSU),  Mr  S.M.
   Kemprai  has reiterated the demand for creation of a Demaraji State
   within the territories of ancient Kachari Kingdom and  those  areas
   inhabited  mainly  by  the  Dimasa  people, so as to enable them to
   avail socioeconomic and political benefits.
   Mr Kemprai further demanded for creation of a separate seat in  the
   Lok  Sabha  from  the next term for the North Cachar Hills district
   and to increase the State Assembly  representation  from  a  single
   seat to at least four seats.  He said that the Demaraji state is to
   be created through democratic struggle by incorporating the ancient
   Kachari Kingdom, the divided and annexed territories by the British
   in 1832 and in 1854 during their rule in India.
   It may be mentioned that the 7th general  conference  of  the  ADSU
   will be  held  at  Silchar  from  February  6  to 8.  The plans and
   programme on the issue of Demaraji State will be discussed with the
   Union Home Minister L.K.Advani.

   GUWAHATI: The United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) described  the
   recent  conferring  of Bharat Ratna on Assam's first chief minister
   Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi as an `insult  rather  than  an  award'
   after 48 years of his death.

   Terming  the  award  as  a  `conspiracy  of  the  government,' ULFA
   chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa in a fax message in Guwahati on  January
   31  alleged  `an  attempt  was  being  made  to  tarnish Bordoloi's
   sacrifices.' He alleged the centre's `ignoring of Bordoloi's tribal
   protection clauses in the sixth schedule of  the  constitution  was
   the cause of dissatisfaction among Assamese populace ...'

   Meanwhile,  the ULFA has `banned' the outflow of crude oil from the
   State and fresh oil exploration activities in Assam to preserve the
   oil reserves for future generation.  This was stated  by  the  ULFA
   chairman in a fax message on February 4 to the media.
   On  the  recent  oil  find at Moran in Dibrugarh district, Rajkhowa
   asserted that the State would not gain from it  as  the  crude  oil
   from there would be taken out depriving the local farmers.
   SIBSAGAR:  The ULFA activists have made  a  deliberate  attempt  to
   enter  Sibsagar  town to evade arrest in their rural hideouts after
   police launched a massive search operation in the rural areas.  The
   activists signalled their arrival in the town by shooting three  or
   four rounds into the air at the Jamuna road near Station Chariali.
   The  interior  villages  now wear an atmosphere of cremation ground
   and are deserted in the evening and the villagers are scared by the
   triple fear from the ULFA, the unidentified assassins and now,  the
   NAGAON:   Some  unidentified  surrendered  ULFA  (SULFA)  activists
   created a panicky situation on the night of January 30 by firing in
   the air in the house of Dr.P.K.Sharma, son of late Jageswar  Sarmah
   at  his  Ramkrishna  Road  residence  when  he  refused to attend a
   RANGIYA:  The president and secretary of the Deleki local  unit  of
   AASU  strongly  condemned  the  Army  action  on  common  people at
   Rangiya.  Sources said  that  some  Army  jawans  went  berserk  at
   Naokata  near  Goreswar  and  let  loose  a  reign  of  terror  and
   atrocities on the people, following the killing of  a  milkman  and
   another person by the militants on January 25.
   The Army jawans soon after the killing arrived at the market square
   of  Naokata  and  started questioning people including businessmen,
   pedestrians,  aggressively  abusing  and   assaulting   them,   and
   seriously  wounding Naren Karji, Tikendra Bani, Ramani Kumar and Dr
   Kamala Boro. 
   The  jawans  made them to lie down on the road and beaten them with
   bamboo sticks besides being kicked.  Dr Boro is stated to be  still
   under treatment.      The   people   in  the  area  approached  the
   subdivisional authorities for its  intervention  to  ensure  public
   safety from the hands of Army jawans in the locality.
   TINSUKIA:   Mr  V.Tochhwng, Commissioner, Income Tax, Shillong said
   that due  to  infrastructural  constraints  the  Permanent  Account
   Number  (PAN) card could not be introduced in the Northeast so far.
   The Government of India had introduced the PAN cards last year  and
   made  it  mandatory  for  all  to quote the number on all financial
   transactions above a certain limit.
   As the PAN job was entrusted to few selected firms on an  all-India
   basis,  Mr  Tochhawng pointed out that, due to indifferent attitude
   and reluctance on the Delhi-based  firm,  taking  up  of  Northeast
   assignments had  caused  the delay.  He said that four vendors were
   assigned locally to process PAN cards and  said  that  the  process
   would be complete by March.
8  CAPITAL COMPLEX WORK TO HSCL                           [S:2-FEB-99]
   GUWAHATI:  The  State  Government  has  selected  Hindustan  Steels
   Construction  Limited  (HSCL)  for  the Rs.810-million, first phase
   works of the construction  of  the  permanent  capital  complex  at
   Dispur.   The State Government had shortlisted nine firms, all from
   outside the State and finally selected the HSCL, which  had  quoted
   the lowest  amount  of  Rs.698.5  million.    The work is likely to
   commence from March.
   HSCL  is  a  Government  of India undertaking under the Union Steel
   Ministry with headquarters in Calcutta.  According to reports,  the
   HSCL  is  on  the  verge  of closure because it is not getting work
   orders.  With 14,000 employees in its rolls and the combined assets
   pegged at a meagre Rs.200 million, questions are being raised as to
   whether the firm would be in a position to undertake the job.    It
   is  also  alleged  that  the  selection  was  done  under political
   pressure of the BJP-led Government at the Centre.
   GUWAHATI:   ARTFED has received export orders worth Rs.3.93 million
   on handloom products made of `endi', `muga', mulberry silk,  cotton
   and   jute   from  various  countries  while  taking  part  in  the
   Heimtextile Fair '99, one of the biggest fairs in the world held at
   Frankfurt, Germany from January 13 to 16.
   Negotiations are also under way with  various  countries  including
   Italy,  Saudi  Arab, United Kingdom and Korea for export of age-old
   Assam handloom products worth Rs.12.64 million.    It  is  expected
   that  the  ARTFED  would  be  able  to  export  the products during
   Meanwhile, the British Deputy High  Commissioner  in  Calcutta,  Mr
   Simon  Sacaddan met the Assam Industries Minister Gunin Hazarika at
   Dispur on February 2  and  discussed  possible  investment  in  the
   State.   Mr  Hazarika  apprised  the Deputy High Commissioner about
   investment opportunities in the industries sector.
Compiled from newspaper and agency reports for private circulation only.
      [S=Sentinel, AT=Assam Tribune, Agencies = UNI, PTI, PIB]
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