CURRENT AFFAIRS – June 2017

June 01

Jadhav will be alive till he exhausts clemency: Pakistan

Islamabad, June 1 (IANS): Pakistan on Thursday said alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Jadhav will remain alive till he does not exhaust the right to seek clemency.”Irrespective of ICJ’s stay, Jadhav will remain alive until he has exhausted the right to request for clemency, initially with the COAS (army chief) and later with President,” Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said.He said the Indian petition at the International Court of Justice was about Jadhav’s entitlement to consular access.”It is not about whether the ICJ can act as a Court of Appeal from Pakistani legal proceedings. That is why Barrister Khawar Qureshi informed the Court that India cannot obtain from the Court what it is seeking. He also told the Court that India is using media to create false impression about the case.”The spokesperson said India had failed despite reminders to provide information sought on January 23 by Islamabad on the basis of Jadhav’s confession of spying and fomenting terror in Pakistan.He termed the ICJ stay on Jadhav’s hanging as “nothing but usual”.The ICJ has stayed the execution of Jadhav, who has been awarded capital punishment by a Pakistani military court on charges of fomenting terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi.

 

 

Rule on cattle trade doesn’t infringe upon state laws on slaughter: Jaitley

New Delhi, June 1 (IANS): Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Thursday rejected criticism that the Centre was infringing upon states’ rights on the cattle issue, saying the order has nothing do with slaughter of cattle which is governed by respective state laws.”It (Central notification) has nothing to do with legislation or no legislation…. Is this farmers’ market meant for those involved in slaughter trade or not — this is the only effect of the notification. And whether you can slaughter or not, that is the state legislation which applies,” Jaitley told a media conference here.He was replying to a question on three Chief Ministers, including from Kerala and West Bengal, writing to the Centre opposing the order issued by the Union Environment Ministry regulating cattle trade in which animals cannot be sold for slaughter.Jaitley said there is a provision in the Constitution, Article 48 on Directive Principles, which says that certain category of animals have to be protected.”You have, during the 1950s, during Nehru’s era, state after state framing a legislation. Now there are two categories of states – ones which have prohibited slaughter, others which have not. Those laws are continuing.”This clarification which has come has nothing to do with those state legislations,” he added.Ever since the Environment Ministry came out with the notification on May 23, banning the sale of cows and buffaloes for slaughter at animal markets across India, states ruled by opposition parties and political opponents of the BJP have come out strongly against it, terming it an attempt to impose food habits on people and strike at the roots of federalism by taking away states’ powers.

 

 

 

Infiltration bids have fallen after surgical strikes: Rajnath

New Delhi, June 1 (IANS): Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Thursday said that infiltration bids by terrorists have fallen after the Army carried out surgical strikes across the LoC last year to wipe out terror launch pads.

“There has been a fall in infiltration after the surgical strikes,” Rajnath Singh said here at the 15th Border Security Force’s (BSF) investiture ceremony.The Army had conducted surgical strikes in September last year to destroy terror launch pads across the Line of Control that resulted in the killing of dozens of militants and their sympathisers.The Border Security Force, which guards the International Border, said there were 130 infiltration attempts in 2016, while there have been 27 attempts so far this year.Rajnath Singh called upon the BSF to maintain higher vigil along the border and be prepared all the time. He said strict vigil at the border will also reduce inflow of fake currency.He said the family of each killed trooper should get Rs 1 crore as compensation, and asked all the Director Generals of paramilitary forces to contact him if this is not implemented.The Home Minister asked BSF personnel not to believe everything they see on social media and avoid posting content on it.”Social media is being used to spread rumours,” the Minister said urging troopers of BSF and other Central Armed Police Forces to verify content before posting something on social media.The Home Minister also pointed out that some BSF troopers at the event were not wearing their caps.”One should be alert about their dress,” the Minister remarked.

 

Jun 02

 

Bengal not to support GST in present form: Mamata

KOLKATA, June 2 (PTI): Less than a month before the GST regime is set to kick in from July 1, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee today said her government would not support the new tax system in its present form.She said her government would write to the Union Finance Minister for necessary changes in the GST to make it suitable for all the sections of the society.”We will write a strong letter to the Union Finance Minister. We will not support the GST in its present form. In its present form, it doesn’t suit every section, especially the unorganised sector. They (Centre) have to rectify it,” she told an administrative meeting in South 24-Parganas district.Bengal Finance Minister Amit Mitra had opposed the GST rates on certain products which were likely to have a negative impact on the state’s economy and employment.”We have to continue with our fight to bring down the tax rates on certain products. Unless the rates are reduced, they will adversely impact the state’s economy and employment,” he had stated.

 

Nagas press for autonomous council in 3 Arunachal districts

NEW DELHI, June 2 (IANS): The Arunachal Pradesh government can’t brush aside the need to establish an autonomous district council in the Naga-dominated areas of Tirap, Changlang and Longding, said various bodies associated with the movement for a Patkai Autonomous Council for the three areas.They said a Patkai Autonomous Council for Tirap, Changlang and Longding (TCL) is the only solution for the region, alleging it has been ignored by the state government and the Centre for decades in terms of its socio-economic development.The proposal to form an autonomous council to develop the Naga-inhabited areas was cleared by the Cabinet in 2013 and has been pending with the Home Ministry since 2014.Various bodies associated with the movement such as Patkai Autonomous Demand District Council and the TCL Students Federation have threatened to hold an indefinite bandh in the three districts if the Centre and the state continue to pay no heed to the matter.”The successive Chief Ministers of Arunanchal Pradesh hardly have any knowledge about the people of the Patkai region which has Tirap, Changlang and Longding districts. They neither know the way of life nor do they have any basic knowledge about the topography of the region. Based on these historical reasons, people of the three districts have demanded Patkai Autonomous Council,” said a statement issued by TCL Students Federation.Earlier, the bodies had also sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on formation of the autonomous council.

 

 

OIL to appoint 2,500 educated youths of State

 

The Oil India Limited (OIL) will appoint 2,500 educated youths of the State within the next five years. This was disclosed by the Chairman and Managing Director of the OIL, Utpal Bora, during a meeting with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today.An official release said that during the meeting, Sonowal requested the OIL CMD to lay stress on generating employment and said the CSR projects of the public sector companies should be aimed at providing self-employment opportunities to the unemployed youths of the State. He said that the OIL should launch a “waste to wealth project” for a clean State. The OIL CMD requested the Government to submit a detailed proposal so that the OIL can work on it.The OIL CMD said that the company has a vision of supplying piped gas to all the major towns of the State and requested the Chief Minister to make arrangements to connect the State with the national gas grid, which now extends up to Haldia. Sonowal said that he would soon take up the issue with the Union Petroleum Minister.Sonowal also requested the OIL CMD to develop Duliajan as an Oil City. He also requested the OIL CMD that the company should take steps for beautification of the bank of the river Brahmaputra from Dibrugarh to Bogibeel bridge.

 

 

 

June 03

 

 

Turnbull warns Asian leaders of ‘coercive China’

Singapore, June 3 (IANS): Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has used a key speech on security in Singapore to warn the Asian countries against a “coercive China” and said small powers will unite against Beijing if it tries to bully neighbours.In a keynote speech at at the Shangri La security summit on Friday night, Turnbull said that while countries like Australia and Singapore might be “smaller fish”, they value their sovereignty, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Pointing to “now palpable tensions” on the Korean peninsula and in the South China Sea, Turnbull said: “Maintaining the rule of law in our region, respecting the sovereignty of nations large and small is the key to continued peace and stability.”He said China could build up trust by using its leverage to rein in rogue state North Korea. And he issued a warning against Beijing’s island-building in the South China Sea, saying the region needed “cooperation, not unilateral actions to seize territory or militarise disputed areas”.”A coercive China would find its neighbours resenting demands they cede their autonomy and strategic space, and look to counterweight Beijing’s power by bolstering alliances and partnerships, between themselves and especially with the US,” Turnbull said.On relations with the US under the Trump administration, Turnbull said: “Our alliance with the US reflects a deep alignment of interests and values but it has never been a straightjacket for Australian policy-making.”Amid rising concern over America’s unpredictable foreign policy, Turnbull said while the US withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and now from the Paris climate deal was “disappointing … we should take care not to rush to interpret an intent to engage on different terms as one not to engage at all”.

 

US quits Paris climate pact

President Donald Trump today declared that the US will withdraw from the 2015 Paris climate accord, saying the “draconian” deal unfairly punished America but benefited countries like India and China, drawing strong condemnation from across the world.“I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris,” Trump said, immediately triggering global condemnation on the move by the world’s second-biggest emitter of greenhouse gasses.“As President, I have one obligation, and that obligation is to the American people. The Paris Accord would undermine our economy, hamstring our workers, weaken our sovereignty, impose unacceptable legal risks, and put us at a permanent disadvantage to the other countries of the world,” he said from the Rose Garden at the White House.“It is time to exit the Paris Accord and time to pursue a new deal that protects the environment, our companies, our citizens, and our country,” Trump said while announcing the sweeping step that fulfils a campaign promise while acutely dampening global efforts to curb global warming.“We’re getting out,” he said. “And we will start to renegotiate and we’ll see if there’s a better deal. If we can, great. If we can’t, that’s fine.”The Paris agreement commits the US and other countries to keeping rising global temperatures “well below” 2 degree C above pre-industrial levels and “endeavour to limit” them even more, to 1.5 degree C.

 

 

Modi calls for investment in India

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today invited global businesses to invest in India, saying its market of 120 crore people provides vast opportunities from agriculture to defence, while being protected by political stability and a “vibrant” judicial system.“The sky is the limit in India. You can venture here in any area you want (to do business),” Modi told a global audience in his plenary address at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) here.This is the first time that an Indian Prime Minister is attending the SPIEF forum, which is held annually in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city and President Vladimir Putin’s hometown.Putin, who addressed the session before Modi, also spoke of Russia’s attractiveness for investors, pointing out the technological advancements of its youth.Modi said that his government’s journey toward developing India is built on investments in infrastructure, agriculture, manufacturing and services.

 

 

India committed to protecting climate: Modi

 

India is committed to protecting climate, irrespective the Paris agreement, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said here today but avoided a direct reference to the US withdrawing from the international deal.Addressing the St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) here in the presence of Russian President Vladimir Putin, he said India has traditionally been respecting nature and desisted from exploiting it.

“Paris or no Paris, our commitment to preserving the climate is for the sake of future generations,” Modi said while responding to a question about US President Donald Trump announcing withdrawal of the USA from the Climate Change deal.He said he had made the same comment in Germany three days back when “nobody’s comment had come”, an apparent reference to Trump’s announcement today.“I said it in then, I say it now,” he added.Trump earlier in the day said the US was withdrawing from the Paris climate change deal, agreed by more than 190 nations. He said it unfairly benefited countries like India and China.

 

Block terror funds: PM

Describing terrorism as a global menace, Prime Minister Narendra Modi today urged the world community to block funding, weapons and communication modes of terrorists, in an apparent reference to Pakistan’s support for Kashmiri militants.“The call of time is that we should rise above specific incidents. Terrorism is the enemy of humankind. All should come together to fight terrorism,” Modi said during a discussion at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF). He shared the stage with Russian President Vladimir Putin and the leaders of Austria and Moldova.Modi, while noting that the UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres was present in the gathering, lamented that for 40 years, a resolution is pending before the United Nations regarding definition of terrorism and of those who help terrorists.“Only lip service has been provided. There has been no discussion, nor any decision,” he said.The Prime Minister said he was glad that Putin had yesterday publicly stated that the resolution would be discussed.In an oblique reference to Pakistan, Modi said terrorists don’t manufacture weapons, but some countries supply guns to them. Similarly, terrorists don’t print currency, but some countries facilitate their financing through money laundering. Terrorists don’t own telecommunications system and social media networks, but some countries help them with that, he said.“Now we should come out of good terrorism, bad terrorism (debate); my terrorist, your terrorist (syndrome). It is an issue of humankind. That’s how we can fight terrorism,” he said.India, he said, has been a victim of cross-border terrorism for 40 years and thousands of innocent citizens have been killed but the world recognized terrorism merely as a law and order problem for many years. Only after 9/11, the world woke up to know how deep terrorists can strike and how much havoc they can wreak, he said.

 

 

june 04

 

 

 

India’s heaviest rocket with GSAT-19 all set for maiden flight

India’s heaviest rocket – Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV-Mk III) – is all set for its maiden flight into space along with a communications satellite on Monday evening as its countdown of 25 hours and 30 minutes began at 3.58 p.m. on Sunday, an official of the Indian space agency said.The rocket, weighing 640 tonnes and standing 43.43 metres tall, will blast off from the second launch pad at India’s rocket port at Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh, around 105 km from here.It will carry a 3,136-kg GSAT-19 communications satellite — the heaviest to be lifted by an Indian rocket till date — to an altitude of around 179 km above the Earth after just over 16 minutes into the flight.On June 2, the Mission Readiness Review Committee and Launch Authorisation Board had cleared the countdown for GSLV Mk-III D1/GSAT-19 mission.The rocket’s main and bigger cryogenic engine has been developed by space scientists here.The mission’s success will enable India to launch four-tonne satellites on its own rocket instead of paying huge amounts of money to foreign space agencies to execute the operation.According to Indian Space Research Organisation, GSAT-19 with a life span of 10 years is a multi-beam satellite that carries Ka and Ku band forward and return link transponders and geostationary radiation spectrometer.

EVM tampering issue stands closed: CEC

 

As many as 13 political parties had questioned the reliability of the EVMs, but when the Election Commission threw open a challenge to prove that the machines could be tampered with none turned up for the dare.The two parties – CPI(M) and NCP, which had accepted the challenge and appeared for the event held here today, also backed out at the last minute.In a post-event conference, Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi maintained that the EVMs used by the EC are “non-tamperable” and with 100 per cent use of paper trail machines in all future elections the issue of tamperability of the machines “stands closed”.With these remarks Zaidi made it clear that there would be no such challenge in future to test the reliability of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) used by the poll-conducting body.The CPI(M) said it would not like to participate in the challenge, while the NCP too decided to opt out after raising some questions regarding EC’s “failure” to provide it with some details it had sought.

 

 

India, France to work on climate change

PARIS, June 3 – India and France today vowed to work together for the successful implementation of the landmark Paris climate agreement and fight the challenge posed by terrorism, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi met newly-elected French President Emmanuel Macron here.Modi said India was committed to “go above and beyond” the Paris deal to protect climate for future generations as he termed the UN-brokered agreement a shared legacy of the world, a day after the US President walked out of the accord.Speaking after holding two hours of wide-ranging talks with Macron at the presidential Elysee Palace here, Modi said the Paris climate deal reflects “our duty towards protecting the mother Earth and our natural resources. For us, this (protection of environment) is an article of faith.”Addressing a joint press event with Macron, Modi said, “Paris climate agreement is a shared legacy of the world. It will benefit the future generations as well.” He said India is committed to the Paris accord, and “even beyond it, India will work and walk together with others to leave a gift for the future generations.”Describing the city of Paris as an important part of his political journey, Modi said India and France had worked shoulder to shoulder for this agreement.His remarks came after US President Donald Trump announced plans to withdraw from the Paris climate change deal on curbing carbon emissions, which had been agreed by more than 190 nations. Trump said the agreement unfairly benefited countries like India and China.

 

 

Member shortage hits APSC functioning
The delay on the part of the State Government in filling up the vacant posts of members of the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) has adversely affected the functioning of the Commission. Meanwhile, efforts are on to restore the image of the Commission, which was badly hit by the cash-for-job scam, in which three of its members, including the chairman, were put behind the bars. As per directive of the Chief Minister, the APSC has also started making efforts to declare the results of the interviews within the shortest possible time to avoid any misgiving.The APSC now has only three members, including the acting chairman, while according to recommendations of various committees such as the TL Baruah Committee and MP Bezbaruah Committee, ideally the Commission should have six members and the chairman so that more interview boards can be constituted for smooth conduct of the interviews. Because of shortage of members, the existing members are hard pressed to conduct the interviews and declare the results on time. But in recent times, the APSC, as per the request of the Chief Minister, has been trying to declare the results within 24 to 36 hours of the interview.Official sources told The Assam Tribune that every year, the Commission has to conduct interviews for at least 2,000 posts in different government departments and for technical posts. Two experts are sent from the government, while one of the members of the Commission acts as the chairperson of the interview board. In some cases, two members of the Commission have to act as members of the interview boards. For the interviews of the civil services examinations, at least two members of the APSC have to be on the interview boards and under the present circumstances, only one interview board can operate in any given day, which affects smooth functioning of the Commission. “If we have seven members, including the chairman, at least two boards can conduct interviews on any given day and that will expedite the process.

 

 

June 05

PLA chopper incursion being probed

NEW DELHI, June 4 – Two helicopters of the People’s Liberation Army of China hovered over Chamoli district in Uttarakhand yesterday, triggering concern in India’s security establishment about the PLA’s fourth such incursion into Indian airspace since March this year.Official sources said the choppers, which returned to the Chinese side after about five minutes, could have carried out aerial photography of Indian ground troops during what was possibly a reconnaissance mission.The Indian Air Force (IAF) is probing the incident, an IAF source said. The choppers were identified as the Zhiba series of attack helicoptersOn previous occasions, Chinese choppers had entered 4.

 

 

CRPF refuses to share report on ‘fake encounter’

The CRPF has refused to make public a fake encounter report, filed by one of its Inspectors General, citing exemption granted to the paramilitary force from disclosures under the RTI Act.In response to a query seeking a copy of the report on the fake encounter by a joint squad of security forces in Assam in which two persons were killed in cold blood, the CRPF cited section 24 of the RTI Act.Extra judicial killings are violation of human rights and do not come under the exemption given to some organisations from making disclosures under the RTI Act.The Act says when the information sought for pertains to human rights violations, it “shall be” provided after sanction from the Central Information Commission within 45 days.But the CRPF rather than referring the matter to the CIC, “rejected” the application.Rajnish Rai, a 1992-batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, had filed a report with the CRPF top brass chronicling how a joint team of the Army, the Assam Police, the CRPF, its jungle warfare unit CoBRA and the border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) conducted the encounter on March 29 -30 in the Simlaguri area of Chirang district and killed what they called were two insurgents of the banned group NDFB(S).Rai, in his 13-page report, alleged that information about the incident and FIR filed by the joint squad of forces present a “fictitious account” of the operation to “conceal pre-planned murders of two persons in custody and present it as some brave act of professional achievement”.

 

Terror attack in London: 7 killed

 

 

Three knife-wielding attackers in fake suicide vests unleashed a terror rampage in the British capital, ploughing a van into pedestrians on the iconic London Bridge before stabbing revellers in a nearby market, killing seven people for which Prime Minister Theresa May blamed the “evil ideology of Islamist extremism”.At least 48 people were also injured in the attack that took place last night at around 10 pm, the third to hit Britain in less than three months and just days before the general election on June 8.Three attackers drove a white van into crowds on busy London Bridge and then fled the van wielding large knives and attacked people indiscriminately at bars and restaurants in nearby Borough Market shouting “This is for Allah”, police and witnesses said.At least seven people were killed in the attack and 48 were taken to hospital, the Metropolitan police said.

 

 

Security in Bhupen Hazarika Setu stepped up

 

With China making statements warning India to be cautious in building infrastructure in Arunachal Pradesh following the formal inauguration of the Dhola-Sadiya bridge, which has been named after Bhupen Hazarika, and reports of movement of militants near both sides of the bridge, armed security personnel have been deployed to keep a close watch on the longest bridge in the country round the clock.Highly placed police sources told The Assam Tribune that the threat to the bridge cannot be overlooked as China made a strong statement immediately after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the bridge and it is now a well established fact that the militant groups of the Northeast are acting as per the instructions of some Chinese agencies. Moreover, there has been “human intelligence” that recently an operative of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) managed to sneak into the State from Nepal, which also added to the worries of the police and security forces.Sources said that one company of armed policemen has been deployed specifically to keep a close vigil on the Bhupen Hazarika Setu so that no militant can target it and operations in the areas near the bridge have also been intensified.Sources pointed out that China is apparently not happy over the construction of the bridge, which not only improved road connectivity of the area but also gave a fillip to India’s defence preparedness as it opened another route to the international border. The 9.15-km-long bridge is also designed to handle heavy tanks and perhaps that is why China made such a statement immediately after it was inaugurated

BJP resurgence in Meghalaya due to Congress’ failure: UDP222q

 

Meghalaya’s principal opposition party, the United Democratic Party (UDP), on Monday said the BJP’s resurgence in the State was mainly due to the failure of the ruling Congress party.”If the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rises in Meghalaya, it is due to the failure of Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and his party (Congress),” Leader of Opposition and UDP supremo Donkupar Roy said.”It is because of the failure of the Chief Minister and his party that their members are joining the BJP,” he said and pooh-poohed Sangma’s claim that UDP stitching a pre-poll alliance with the Hill State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) was a back-door alliance with the Bharatiya Janata Party.”I am amused by the Chief Minister’s views. We believe either in pre-poll alliance or post-poll alliance and there is nothing like back-door or front-door alliance,” he said.However, Roy made it clear that the UDP is not having any pre-poll alliance with the BJP for the Assembly elections scheduled to be held in February-March next year.”The Chief Minister is very desperate after the formation of UDP-HSPDP alliance. Why should Mukul Sangma blame regional parties for the rise of the BJP? It is the failure of the Congress party which gave rise to BJP both at the Centre and states,” the UDP chief said.

 

 

June 06

 

Jumbo rocket places GSAT-19 in orbit

 

India today scripted history as it successfully launched its most powerful and heaviest geostationary rocket carrying advanced communication satellite GSAT-19 from the spaceport here.On its maiden development flight, the 43.43-metre-tall three-stage GSLV MkIII-D1, expected to be the choice of India for taking humans into space in future, lifted off at 5.28 pm from the second launch pad at the Satish Dhawan Space Centre here, about 125 km from Chennai.Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle Mark-III (MkIII D-1) injected the 3,136-kg GSAT-19, the heaviest satellite to be launched from the country yet, into Geosynchronous Transfer Orbit about 16 minutes later.

It was a textbook launch as every stage of the three- stage GSLV MkIII with indigenous cryogenic engine, performed without any flaw after the powerful rocket blasted off at the end of 25-and-half-hour countdown, that began last evening, leaving plumes of smoke and soared into sky.

Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) scientists broke into thunderous applause as the complex mission was declared a success, brightening chances of India increasing its share in the commercial launch market.GSLV MkIII can orbit payloads or satellites weighing up to 4,000 kg into the GTO and 10,000 kg into Low Earth Orbit.A beaming ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar termed it as “a historic day” and said the GSLV MkIII D-1 has successfully demonstrated its capabilities with the injection of GSAT-19 into the desired orbit.

 

Chargesheet in Silapathar case filed
Dhemaji police has filed the chargesheet in connection with the Silapathar incident in which the local office of the All Assam Students Union (AASU) was attacked and provocative statements were made, naming all the 55 arrested persons as accused.The chargesheet was filed with the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Dhemaji on June 3. Among those who have been named in the chargesheet include Nikhil Bharat Bangali Udbastu Samannay Samiti president Subodh Biswas and his close aide Subhash Biswas.Several sections, including non-bailable sections of the Indian Penal Code like 153A, 353 and 307 and Section 3 of the Damage to Public Property Act besides Section 25 of the Arms Act have been attributed to the case.Meanwhile, following stiff opposition from special public prosecutor Bijon Kumar Mahajan, the Gauhati High Court today rejected the bail petition of Dilip Debnath, an accused in the Silapathar incident.

 

 

Lachit statue installed at Dinjan military base

 

The Indian Army of the DAO Division today installed a seven-foot-tall statue of the legendary Ahom General Lachit Borphukan at its campus in Dinjan Military Station, in Dibrugarh district, 35 km from here.The statue made of fibre, was unveiled during a special function by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal in the presence of General Officer Commanding of Spear Corps Lt General Anil Chauhan and General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Dao Division Major General Ananta Bhuyan.The programme was also attended by Dr Alak Buragohain, Vice Chancellor of Dibrugarh University and Dr Kamal Malla Bujarbarua, Vice Chancellor of Assam Agriculture University, Dibrugarh MP Rameswar Teli and Lakhimpur MP Pradan Baruah, besides MLAs from Dibrugarh and Tinsukia districts.Major General Ananta Bhuyan said the objective behind the installation of the statue was to highlight the contribution of the legend in protecting the country among the youths of the State. “The new generation must know that Bir Lachit Borphukan defeated his enemy at the battle of Saraighat using tactics despite his army being numerically less,” he said.

 

Second BJP leader in Meghalaya quits over cattle slaughter rules

TURA (Meghalaya), June 6 (IANS): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Meghalaya suffered yet another major political setback when one more senior party member quit over the Centre’s new cattle trade and slaughter rules.Bachu Marak, the district president of the BJP in North Garo Hills, alleged that BJP leaders were “attempting to impose its non-secular ideology on the indigenous people in Meghalaya”.Bachu Marak’s resignation came after Bernard Marak’s, who as the district president of the BJP in West Garo Hills, had accused that the leaders of the party were “not respecting the tradition and culture of the indigenous people”.”As a responsible leader, I cannot mislead the people and allow them (BJP) to impose the non-secular ideology on us. They cannot impose the beef ban in our state,” Marak told IANS over phone.”Beef is one of our traditional diet and no government can restrict people’s food habit. The moment they impose such restriction the ruling party would surely lose people’s confidence,” he said.State BJP President Shibun Lyngdoh, however, dismissed Marak’s claim.

 

 

 

 

June 07

 

 

Iranian Parliament, Khomeini shrine attacked

Tehran, June 7 (IANS): Armed men have opened fire at the Iranian Parliament and the shrine of Ayatollah Khomeini here on Wednesday, the Iranian media reported.At least one gunman fired shots inside Parliament, wounding a guard, the reports said.There were also reports of a shooting at the mausoleum of Ayatollah Khomeini, the founder of the modern state, the BBC reported.Meanwhile, the Islamic State has claimed responsibility for a double attack on Iran’s Parliament and the shrine to Imam Khomeini in Tehran.Both attacks were carried out by the terror group, said the IS-affiliated news agency Amaq.

 

 

Indefinite highway blockade in Mizoram

Aizawl, June 7 (IANS): Mizoram remained cut off from the rest of the country by road as NGOs and student bodies continued a road blockade on a key highway protesting against the transfer of a doctor from a hospital, officials said on Wednesday.Several hundred goods-laden trucks, passenger buses and small vehicles were stranded on both sides of Kolasib town, a police official said here.Surface links between Mizoram and the rest of India were snapped since Tuesday due to the blockade of National Highway 54.A Joint Action Committee (JAC) of local NGOs and student bodies is leading the protest.The police official quoting the agitators said the indefinite highway blockade was called following the transfer of a senior doctor from the Kolasib District Hospital without posting a substitute.Kolasib police chief C Lalzahngova said the blockade was peaceful.The 850-km NH 54 is considered the lifeline of Mizoram. It connects the State with the rest of India through Assam.

 

 

 

‘Dangal’ a film to be proud of, says top Chinese leader
Beijing, June 7 (IANS): Aamir Khan’s blockbuster “Dangal”, which has earned over Rs 1,000 crore in China, has been described by a senior Chinese leader as a “great film” and an example of “cooperation among BRICS nations”.In a meeting with a group of editors and journalists here for the BRICS Media Forum, Liu Yunshan, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo Standing Committee, said “Dangal” was one of the most “successful and influential” films shown in China in recent years.”India and its media should be proud of what the film has achieved… It is a great example of cooperation among BRICS countries,” said Liu, adding that “we media people should give greater coverage to this film”.”Dangal”, which released here as “Let’s Wrestle, Dad”, is about a determined father in a patriarchal society, training his daughters to become world class wrestlers.Aamir is one of the most popular Indian actors in China and the media here has been writing about the phenomenal success of the movie as it has struck a chord with the Chinese, also a male-dominated society.The movie has grossed more than 1.2 billion RMB, said Liu, who met select BRICS Media Forum delegates at the Great Hall of the People.That puts ‘Dangal’ — released on May 5 across around 7,000 screens in China — among the top foreign film grossers. “The Mermaid” is the highest-grossing movie (over 3 million RMB) in China, followed by likes of “Monster Hunt”, “The Fate of the Furious” and “Furious 7″.

 

 

 

Sonia may step down as Cong chief by Oct

 

Sonia Gandhi may step down from the Congress presidentship, paving the way for Rahul Gandhi’s possible elevation when the party holds its internal elections by October 15.The Congress Working Committee (CWC), the party’s highest decision-making body, today approved the schedule for internal elections under which the party has to complete the exercise by October 15.In her speech at the CWC meeting, Sonia Gandhi exhorted partymen to strengthen the organisation and complete the organisational polls with “speed and sincerity”.“We must strengthen our organisation. The ongoing organisational elections must be completed with the utmost speed and sincerity,” she said at the meeting, ahead of the CWC approving the poll schedule. Asked whether the issue of elevation of Rahul Gandhi was discussed at the meeting, senior Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad replied in the negative.“The schedule for organisational elections has been cleared by the CWC,” Azad said, adding that Rahul’s elevation was not specifically discussed. The CWC members had in the last meeting in November unanimously expressed “strong sentiment” for Rahul’s elevation for the first time and may take it further

 

 

Cabinet approves MoU with S Korea for $9 bn export credit

New Delhi, June 7 (IANS): The Cabinet on Wednesday approved the proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Export-Import Bank of India (EXIM Bank) and Export-Import Bank of South Korea (KEXIM) for export credit of $9 billion for infrastructural development in India and for the supply of goods and services as part of projects in third countries.The MoU is proposed to be signed between the two banks during the forthcoming visit of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley to Seoul, South Korea, on June 14-15 for the Annual Financial Bilateral Dialogue, an official statement said here.The decision is expected to promote the country’s international exports, and deepen political and financial ties between India and South Korea.”The export credit will be utilised through lending by EXIM Bank for promoting projects for priority sectors, including smart cities, railways, power generation and transmission etc., in India and for the supply of goods and services from India and South Korea as part of projects in third countries,” the statement said.Under the implementation strategy, the parties to the MoU will hold mutual consultations to structure the financial assistance, review the existing arrangements and related procedures.EXIM Bank will identify viable projects in India. For projects in third countries, both parties will jointly identify viable projects, the statement added

 

 

 

June 08

 

Presidential poll on July 17

Polls to elect the 15th President of India will be held on July 17 for which the nomination process will begin from June 14 with the issuance of a notification, the Election Commission announced today.The counting of votes will take place on July 20 in New Delhi where all the ballot boxes will be brought.Both the ruling NDA and the Opposition are yet to open their cards on the Presidential candidate. While the ruling alliance is likely to announce its nominee soon, the Opposition is seeking to unite all non-NDA parties under a common platform to put up a consensus candidate for the Presidential election.As per the schedule, June 28 is the last day for nominations, while a candidate can withdraw from the electoral battle till July 1. If there is no consensus between the NDA and the Opposition, the number of serious candidates in the fray will be clear by July 1 evening.Various Opposition parties have already held deliberations and decided to set up a sub-group that is likely to meet within a week to build consensus on a joint candidate.The electorate, comprising elected Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha members and members of State assemblies, is tilted in favour of the NDA, but the Opposition is also out to woo regional parties to support their candidate.

 

 

 

Iran Parliament, shrine attacked, 12 killed

 

Gunmen and suicide bombers attacked Iran’s Parliament and the shrine of its revolutionary leader today, killing at least 12 people, wounding dozens and igniting hours-long siege at the legislature that ended with four attackers dead.The Islamic State group claimed the attacks, marking the first time the Sunni extremists have taken responsibility for an assault in Shiite-majority Iran. The militants are at war with Iranian-backed forces in Syria and Iraq, and view Shiites as apostates.The attacks began mid-morning when assailants, armed with Kalashnikov rifles, stormed the Parliament building. One of the attackers later blew himself up inside, where a session had been in progress, according to a statement carried by Iran’s state TV.Deputy Interior Minister Mohammad Hossein Zolfaghari told Iran’s state TV the apparently male attackers wore women’s attire. The semi-official Tasnim news agency later reported the siege had ended with four of the attackers killed.

 

 

No move to impose beef ban: Himanta

Amid reports of unease among BJP leaders in the North-East over the beef issue, a top party leader today asserted that its State governments have no intention to impose any dietary restrictions on the people.“We are in power in Assam and people are eating beef there in day-to-day life. Where is the ban? There is no intention of the State Government to impose any restriction.“We have not done so in Arunachal Pradesh and Manipur and we are in government in both States as well,” Himanta Biswa Sarma, who is the BJP-led North-East Democratic Alliance convener, said.the NEDP is a grouping of the BJP and several regional political parties based in the NE States. Sarma, who is also a minister in the Assam Government, is a key party leader tasked with the responsibility of expanding the saffron outfit in the region.Opposition parties have attacked the BJP following the Centre’s notification to ban the sale and purchase of cattle in animal markets for slaughter.

Some BJP leaders in Meghalaya, which goes to polls next year, quit the party accusing it of trying to push a ban on the consumption of beef, which is eaten widely in the region.

Sarma claimed that the issue had no resonance among the masses and is being talked more in Delhi than these States. The notification is about regulating cattle trade which has always been there in some form, he said.

 

17 highway stretches on border to double up as airstrips

NEW DELHI, June 7 – After decades of neglect, India is building roads, including 17 highway stretches, in areas near its international borders that will double up as airstrips, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari has said.Last year, Gadkari had spoken of construction of such an airport in Rajasthan and similar projects are being planned in Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya and some other border districts.While the previous UPA Government had sanctioned construction of 73 strategic roads along the border, Gadkari is scaling it up with timely completion.The roads will double up as airstrips and traffic will be stopped when an airplane lands or takes off. The road and air connectivity will also provide better access to remote areas.The Minister also said there are plans to boost infrastructure in difficult areas, and in the North East, projects worth Rs 40,000 crore have already been initiated.

 

 

June 9

 

PM Modi meets Xi Jinping on sidelines of SCO summit in Astana

Astana, Jun 9 (PTI): Prime Minister Narendra Modi today met Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of SCO summit in Astana amid growing differences between the two countries over a host of issues, including the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and India’s NSG membership bid.

Modi arrived in the Kazakh capital yesterday on a two-day visit to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) Summit where India and Pakistan will be inducted as full members of the bloc.”PM @narendramodi meets President of China #XiJinping on margins of SCO Summit in Astana,” Gopal Baglay, the Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson, said.The meeting between the two leaders assumes significance as this would be the first this year and taking place after India boycotted the high-profile Belt and Road Forum held in Beiing last month in which 29 world leaders took part.India abstained from the summit to highlight its concerns over the USD 50 billion CPEC which is part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and passes through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK).China is vocal about its stand to block India’s admission into the 48-member Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) besides moves to list JeM leader Masood Azhar as terrorist by the UN.

 

Nepal felicitates 1st Indian who scaled Everest 6 times

The first Indian man who scaled Mount Everest for a record six times was felicitated in Nepal.Adventure Sports Tourism Society felicitated Love Raj Singh Dharmashaktu of Uttarakhand during a programme at Lalitpur district on Thursday. The mountaineer, a Padma Shri awardee, achieved the feat on May 27, the Kathmandu Post reported.Dharmashaktu, who works with Indian Border Security Force, received a felicitation letter from the Tourism Department’s officiating Director General Durga Datta Baral and the Society’s trustee Bikram Pandey.The Society also made Dharmashaktu a Tourism Ambassador of Nepal to north India.He had first scaled Mount Everest (known as Sagarmatha in Nepal) in 1998 and had received India’s prestigious Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award in 2003.

 

Petrol, diesel prices to be revised daily
Come June 16 and petrol as well as diesel prices across the country will be revised on a daily basis in sync with international rates as happens in most advanced markets.After the successful pilot in five cities, state-owned oil companies will from June 16 revise rates on a daily basis across all the 58,000 petrol pumps in the country.Petrol and diesel price will change on a daily basis by a few paisa per litre depending on movement of oil prices in international market and variation in foreign exchange rates

 

 

June 10

 

 

Call for caution in dredging Brahmaputra
State’s leading anthropologist Prof AC Bhagaboti and leading geographer Abani Bhagaboti are of the opinion that the proposal for dredging the Brahmaputra should be taken up with great caution. For, they reasoned the Brahmaputra is a very complex river system connected with a very complex biodiversity network.Prof Bhagaboti, who is also former Vice Chancellor of Rajiv Gandhi University, is of the opinion that the proposed move to dredge the Brahmaputra should not be equated with the job of cleaning a tank. The Brahmaputra is a very complex natural river system. Technology has the power, but it cannot be everything, maintained Prof Bhagaboti.Prof Abani Bhagaboti of Gauhati University maintains that a river is a network of tributaries, sub-tributaries, distributaries and the wetlands that exist within its basin. If viewed from the ecological point of view, a river system not only includes the water bodies within its basin, but also the groundwater, natural vegetation and other life forms available within the basin environment.It also involves surface structure, that is soil andother geological features and surface slopes within the basin area.A scientific understanding of a river system, therefore, calls for an integrated study of all these ecological components. Moreover, anthropogenic activities also play a significant role in the functioning of a river system.

 

 

 

 

Aadhaar mandatory for PAN, I-T returns: SC

The Supreme Court today upheld the validity of the law, making Aadhaar mandatory for allotment of Permanent Account Number and filing of Income Tax (I-T) returns, but exempted those without it for now till the larger privacy issue is decided.In effect, those who possess an Aadhaar card must link it to their PAN card and those who have enrolled and not yet got their Aadhaar card are also exempted from mandatory linkage and the penalising invalidation of their PANs if they do not link it.The apex court, while upholding the validity of a fresh provision in the I-T law making Aadhaar compulsory for allotment of PAN and filing of I-T returns, imposed a partial stay on it till its Constitution Bench decides the Right to Privacy issue connected with it.

Section 139AA of the Income Tax Act provides for mandatory quoting of Aadhaar or enrolment ID of the Aadhaar application form for filing of I-T returns and making application for allotment of PAN with effect from July 1 this year.A bench comprising Justices AK Sikri and Ashok Bhushan, which upheld the legislative competence of the Parliament in enacting the law to this effect, said there was no conflict between the impugned provision of the Income Tax Act and the Aadhaar Act.It said that a PAN card without an Aadhaar number would not be treated invalid till the Constitution Bench decides the larger issue of the Right to Privacy. The bench said that previous transactions would not be affected or nullified with a partial stay on the new law till the privacy issue linked to Aadhaar is decided.

 

 

Hung Parliament in UK

 

India and Pakistan today became full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) with Prime Minister Narendra Modi strongly pitching for coordinated efforts by the countries of the grouping to combat terrorism and enhance connectivity without impinging on sovereignty and territorial integrity.

In his address at the annual summit of the SCO in the Kazakh capital, Modi said India’s entry into the SCO family would give a new momentum to the grouping in dealing with terrorism and other pressing challenges facing the region.“Terrorism is a major threat to humanity,” Modi said, adding that there was a need for concerted efforts to defeat terrorism and radicalisation.Modi stressed on coordinated efforts to fight the menace of terrorism, including radicalisation, recruitment, training and financing of terrorists. “I have full confidence that the India-SCO cooperation will give a new direction and strength to the fight against terrorism,” Modi said.The Prime Minister also spoke on the need for enhancing connectivity in the region and said it was the key to boosting trade and investment. “We have extensive cooperation with SCO nations. We want to deepen the focus on connectivity,” he said.

 

 

July 11

Tea productivity in NE stagnating

In Northeast India, yield of tea has reached a plateau, a book by a former tea scientist of Tocklai Tea Research Institute has said, calling for concerted efforts involving a systematic approach to improve the productivity.Under the best conditions of weather, plant and soil, tea yield in the region has reached a plateau at around 4,000 kg/ha. However, the average yield for the region as a whole is less than half of this quantity, Jogot Chakravartee notes in his recently released book Tea Confidential.Chakravartee said that besides identifying the factors responsible, a comprehensive planning on every aspect of input utilisation, including manpower and financial resources is required to address the problem of the low productivity.According to him, around 45 per cent of the tea growing area is covered by plants which are above 40 years of age. These areas have high vacancies, poor bush frame and low plant population. Moreover, the rate of replantation – 0.52 per cent in Upper Assam and 0.45 per cent in North Bank, is very slow, the book notes.Replanting the old tea sections at regular intervals and rejuvenation of the potentially good old sections with proper consolidation are two major areas advocated by research organisations to Indian tea industry 40 years ago, so that it does not land up in an undesirable state in respect of yield and quality in the long run. The existing status is, however, very dismal.The book, which highlights important areas of research and development (R&D) for long term benefits, also flags the lack of proper adoption of agro-technology, particularly in the areas of pruning, tipping and frame formation of young bushes and balanced manuring as factors affecting the productivity.

Khaplang’s demise could be major blow to militancy in NE region

The death of NSCN(K) chairman SS Khaplang, who was also chairman of the United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia, an umbrella platform of militant groups of the region, will be a major blow to militancy in the region as he was like a father figure to all the active ultra outfits.Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that Khaplang was not just the chairman of the umbrella body of the militant groups of the Northeast region; all the outfits managed to stay and run their bases in Myanmar only because of the NSCN(K) leader, who enjoyed support of Naga villagers on both sides of the international border.In fact, armed cadres of other outfits, including United Liberation Front of Asom (Independent), have to obtain a “command certificate” to pass through the Naga-inhabited villages on both sides of the India-Myanmar international border.
Sources said that militant groups of Northeast started operating together after the umbrella body was formed under the chairmanship of Khaplang and after his death, it remains to be seen whether the outfits would be able to find a leader of his stature who would command respect of all the outfits.Though the ULFA(I) commander-in-chief Paresh Baruah acted as Khaplang’s deputy in the umbrella body, it is still not certain whether he could command the respect of all the constituents of the body as the ULFA(I) is not the strongest of the outfits at this moment. Moreover, most of the outfits having bases in Myanmar have, so far, been using NSCN(K)’s facilities in that country and without the presence of Khaplang, only time will tell whether such arrangement can continue smoothly.

Final solution to ULFA demands soon: Rijiju

GUWAHATI, June 10 – Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju today said most of the demands of the pro-talk faction of the ULFA are “worth considering” and a final solution is expected “very soon”.“The peace talk with the Arabinda Rajkhowa faction of the ULFA is going on very well and with confidence. We genuinely feel that maximum demands by the pro-talk Arabinda Rajkhowa faction are worth considering,” the minister told reporters here.He, however, declined to comment on details, but said “I can only say that we are giving a serious consideration to their demands for a final solution very soon.” Asked about when the solution can be expected, he said, “we cannot give any time line.Asked specifically whether the ULFA’s prime demand for sovereignty of Assam is negotiated during the talks, Rijiju said, “there is no question of sovereignty at all. If sovereignty, there cannot be any talk. The talk is within the framework of the Indian Constitution… I am not even mandated to speak anything which is beyond the Indian Constitution.”Meanwhile, a day after the death of NSCN(K) chairman SS Khaplang, Rijiju said that the Centre is ready to rehabilitate all Indian citizens in the Naga rebel group if they abjure violence.

Aadhaar-PAN linking must for ITR filing from July 1: Govt

NEW DELHI, June 10 – The Centre today made it clear that the linking of Aadhaar and Permanent Account Number (PAN) will be must for filing Income Tax Returns (ITRs) and obtaining PAN from July 1.The assertion came a day after the Supreme Court upheld the validity of an I-T Act provision making Aadhaar mandatory for allotment of PAN cards and for ITR filing, but had put a partial stay on its implementation till a Constitution Bench addressed the issue of right to privacy.The Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT), policy-making body for the I-T department, said the apex court’s order had only given a “partial relief” to those who do not have an Aadhaar or an Aadhaar enrolment ID, and the taxman, hence, “will not cancel” the PAN of such individuals.The Board said it was issuing a three-point gist of the SC order and called it the “effect of the judgement” in order to clear any doubts in the minds of taxpayers.“From July 1, 2017 onwards, every person eligible to obtain Aadhaar must quote their Aadhaar number or their Aadhaar enrolment ID number for filing of ITRs as well as for applications for PAN.“Everyone who has been allotted PAN as on the 1st day of July, 2017, and who has Aadhaar number or is eligible to obtain Aadhaar number, shall intimate his Aadhaar number… for the purpose of linking PAN with Aadhaar,” the CBDT said.

‘None facing difficulty in NE for cattle rules’

GUWAHATI, June 10 – Rubbishing reports of trouble in the Northeast following the Centre’s notification on cow slaughter, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju today said nobody was facing any difficulty in the region over the matter.
Charging the Congress and ‘pseudo secular’ groups with raising an ‘obsolete issue’, he asked media persons to visit the states like Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram and Manipur to see whether anyone was facing problems due to the notification

June 12

Indian forces prepared to defend Kameng sector

The Indian armed forces are fully prepared to defend the frontiers of the country in the Kameng sector in Arunachal Pradesh in case of any eventuality in the wake of China’s opposition to building infrastructure in the frontier state. However, lack of adequate infrastructure in the area, particularly road connectivity, is still a disadvantage.Highly placed security sources told The Assam Tribune that the Indian Army personnel and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police men are regularly patrolling the patches along the international border, which are considered vulnerable despite the rough terrain. The two battalions of the Arunachal Scouts, comprising local youths, who know the terrain well, are also helpful in keeping a close watch along the border. The Arunachal Scouts, raised in the line of the Ladakh Scouts, are of great help to the forces in patrolling the area as the men of the Scouts are well versed with the terrain and weather condition. In recent times, the number of Chinese incursions along the border in this sector has also come down and no major incident of face-off has been reported from any part.Sources pointed out that the Indian Army strength along the international border has increased considerably over the years. During the 1962 war, the Indian Army was not prepared to face the Chinese, but the situation has changed drastically now. The 4 Corps of the Army is looking after the China border in the Kameng sector and three divisions of the Army are deployed for the job. The Air Force striking power has also increased considerably as advanced landing grounds have been prepared and now India has two Sukhoi squadrons based at Tezpur and Chabua. Artillery-wise also, India is in a better position now as even Bofors guns have been placed in this part of the country.

Another scam in State excise dept

In what appears to be another multi-crore-rupee scam in the State excise department, extra neutral alcohol (ENA), used for producing distilled spirits like vodka, rum, whiskey, etc., was imported from other states using fake permits.After the scam has come to light, Excise Minister Parimal Suklabaidya has sought a report from the department, official sources told The Assam Tribune.Initial investigations suggest that the scam took place between 2009-10 and 2013-14.The sources said that the scam came to light following a probe by police in Haryana where a couple of ENA suppliers had lodged forgery cases against some buyers in Assam, located in the districts of Tinsukia, Sivasagar, etc.“The permits to import the ENA should be issued by the excise department here. The importer companies procured one permit. Later, they forged the signatures, made duplicates and with those they imported many more consignments. The suppliers are mostly based in Haryana and Punjab,” sources privy to the preliminary investigations conducted by the excise department said.A team from Haryana Police recently visited the State to verify documents, including certificates and permits produced by the importers here to the suppliers based in the north Indian state.There were signatures of senior State excise officials in the forged permits, but those officials have claimed that the signatures are fake. In fact, a deputy commissioner of excise has lodged a case with Hatigaon police here over the signature forgery issue.

SC observations on ‘bogus’ PAN cards

As many as 10.52 lakh “bogus” PAN cards of individual income tax assessees, which is around 0.4 per cent of the total such documents, cannot be termed a “minuscule” number to harm the country’s economy, the Supreme Court has said.The apex court said that it has come on record that 11.35 lakh duplicate or fraudulent permanent account numbers have been detected and out of these, 10.52 lakh cases pertain to individual assesses. It made the observations in a 157-page judgement while upholding the validity of section 139AA of the Income Tax Act making Aadhaar mandatory for allotment of PAN cards and filing of tax returns.“It was sought to be argued (by the petitioners) that persons found with duplicate/bogus PAN cards are hardly 0.4 per cent and, therefore, there was no need to have such a provision,” a bench headed by Justice AK Sikri said on Friday. “We cannot go by percentage figures. The absolute number of such cases is 10.52 lakh, which figure, by no means, can be termed as minuscule to harm the economy and create adverse effect on the nation,” the bench, also comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan, said.

Paresh Baruah heading NE militants mere speculation: DGP

The possibility of ULFA(I) chief Paresh Baruah becoming the leader of the umbrella organisation of all the militant groups of Northeast India is only a speculation, said Director General of Assam Police Mukesh Sahay.“The race has already begun among the top leaders of militant outfits of the northeastern region after the demise of NSCN(K) chairman SS Khaplang who also headed the umbrella organisation,” Sahay said during an exclusive interview with The Assam Tribune at the Police Guest House, Kohora today.ULFA(I) chief Paresh Baruah was deputy to Khaplang in the umbrella organisation of the militant outfits of the northeastern region called the United Liberation Front of Western South East Asia. It was Paresh Baruah who initiated the move to form an alliance among the insurgent groups of the region.The State police chief said even though Khango Konyak has taken over the charge of NSCN(K) only time will tell whether Konyak would be able to garner support from other militant outfits of the region to head the umbrella organisation.Sahay said Khaplang could get support from most of the militant groups, including ULFA and he was respected by local villagers on the both sides of India-Myanmar international border.“There is some kind of misunderstanding and disagreement among various leaders of different militants groups, so we will have wait and watch who will be the successor to Khaplang,” the DGP said.

Mizoram fruit, veg vendors ‘lost’ Rs 60 lakh due to blockade

Mizoram Fruits & Vegetables Suppliers Association has claimed that they lost more than Rs 60 lakh due the four-day economic blockade on the NH-54 by joint action committee of Kolasib town.According to the Association, more than ten trucks carrying highly perishable fruits and vegetables were stranded during the blockade that was lifted on Friday night.“The cost of a truckload of fruits and vegetables is around Rs 3-4 lakh. The suppliers already paid the price before the trucks reach here,” an Association leader said.The delay of trucks carrying highly perishable fruits for even a day would cause us a loss, he said.The joint action committee of Kolasib lifted the blockade at 10.30 pm on Friday, after the State Government succumbed to their demand for revocation of transfer order of a surgeon from Kolasib district hospital.More than 400 hundred vehicles, carrying essential goods and other commodities from neighbouring Assam, entered Kolasib district since Friday night.The government had issued a transfer order for surgeon Dr Zothansanga Zadeng from Kolasib to Serchhip. When the transfer protest was at its height, joint action committee of Serchhip requested the government to withdraw the transfer order for Dr Zothansanga Zadeng and transfer Dr Zochampuia instead to Serchhip. In response to Serchhip’s request, the government withdrew the transfer of Dr Zothansanga Zadeng and transferred Zochampuia instead.The road block on the 850 km long National Highway 54, connecting Assam and Mizoram, had caused hardship to the people as large number of vehicles were stranded leading to shortage of essential commodities.

June 13

Alcohol meant for medicines diverted to make liquor

Skeletons continued to tumble out of the cupboard in the extra neutral alcohol (ENA) excise duty evasion scam as it emerged that the imported ENA was meant for pharmaceutical and cosmetics purposes, but was apparently diverted for manufacturing liquor.Copies of forged permits handed over to Assam Excise department by Haryana Police bore the name of two firms based in Tinsukia, one is a pharmaceutical company and another deals in cosmetics and both use ENA in their products, though in small quantities. They have licence to import the rectified alcohol (ENA) for medicinal and cosmetics purpose and not to make liquor.The firms were issued altogether 19 permits since 2009 even as the State Excise department had initiated a move way back in 2014 to cancel the licence of one of the firm’s following various irregularities. But Haryana Police has provided copies of around 59 permits used by the firms to import ENA between April, 2015 and May, 2016. Excise officials here suspect that prior to the period also, many more such consignments must have been imported with similar forged permits which bore “fake” signatures and stamps of the department.Also, most of the permits issued by the Excise department here were meant for importing ENA from Uttar Pradesh. Only a couple of them pertained to Punjab.

GST registration picking up in State

The registration of dealers under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) is picking up in the State and around 50 per cent of the potential dealers have already registered themselves under the GST, which is slightly above the national average of around 44 per cent. The State Government is planning to complete the registration process by June 15 so that the GST regime can be rolled out effectively from July 1 along with the rest of the country.Highly placed official sources told that so far more than 30,000 dealers have registered themselves under the GST and according to an estimate, the total number of dealers, who would come under the new tax system, would be around 50,000. Sources said that at present, there are around 2.50 lakh registered dealers in the State. But some did multiple registration, while some persons did not carry out any business after registering themselves.Moreover, under the GST regime, only the dealers, who have annual turnover of more than ten lakh rupees would have to register themselves and that way also, the number would come down. “As per our assessment, around 50,000 dealers of the State would come under the GST regime,” sources added.Initially, the registration process was slow as the people were not fully aware of the Aadhaar-based registration. Moreover, the people of Assam do not have Aadhaar cards. But after the Centre waived the Aadhaar card condition for registration of dealers in the State, the registration process picked up and the government is hoping to complete the process by June 15 for effective implementation of the GST from July 1.Sources admitted that at the initial level, there would be some challenges in implementing the GST like in introduction of any new system. “But we are confident that we will be able to overcome the challenges within a short time,” sources asserted. “One of the challenges would be the fact that a number of dealers in Assam have registration in West Bengal. That issue will have to be settled through discussions with the Central and West Bengal governments,” sources added.

Modi-Trump talks on June 26

In his first visit to the US after the new administration took over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will hold talks with President Donald Trump on June 26 on a range of issues, including India’s concerns over possible changes in H1B visas.Announcing the visit from June 25, the external affairs ministry today said the Modi-Trump discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement.This will be the first meeting between the two leaders, the ministry added.“Prime Minister will hold official talks with President Trump on June 26. Their discussions will provide a new direction for deeper bilateral engagement on issues of mutual interest and consolidation of multi-dimensional strategic partnership between India and the US,” the ministry said.During her annual press conference last week, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj had said Modi will raise the issue with Trump.Regional security situation including Pakistan-sponsored terrorism and other international issues are expected to figure prominently during the meeting between the two leaders.

Large number of megaliths excavated in Dima Hasao

The State Directorate of Archaeology in collaboration with the Dima Hasao District Archaeology Department has excavated a large number of megaliths from Khobak, some 110 km southwest of Haflong. The site is located on a plateau close to Khobak village inhabited by Baite people.During the excavation, megaliths of different sizes – tapered base with round top megaliths having various curves and designs, menhirs (upright stone) having curves, dolmen, stone circles, cylindrical pillar-shaped megalith tapering towards base with round table-shaped top – and a stone jar were found.Among the six varieties of megaliths, the tapered base with round top are found in large numbers, said Nabajit Deori, technical officer of the archaeology directorate, who supervised the excavation work.
Dr Deepirekha Kauli, Director, 0Archaeology and P Jamie, Cultural Officer, Dima Hasao constantly monitored the excavation work.The Khobak megalithic site is adjacent to the historic Khobak stone jar site, which was discovered by JH Hutton and JP Miles in 1932. Khobak stone jar site is one of the largest stone jar sites of the world.

June 14

Rajnath calls for precaution along Myanmar border

AIZAWL, June 13 – Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today asked the Assam Rifles personnel to take extreme precaution while guarding the porous Indo-Myanmar border so that India’s cordial relations with the neighbouring country do not get hurt.Addressing a ‘Sainik Sammelan’ at the headquarters of the 46 battalion of India’s oldest paramilitary force, the Home Minister said the country’s relations with Myanmar are friendly and hence extreme precautions have to be taken while guarding the international border.“The Assam Rifles has to make sure that this relation does not get hurt. You have to take precautions so that the warmth in our relations is maintained,” he said.Unlike a completely sealed border, guarding an open or porous boundary is a tough task and requires patience and wisdom, he said, adding, “In such a situation, the Assam Rifles is doing a great job which should be appreciated.”The Home Minister said the Assam Rifles has to play a multidimensional role while securing the border that include maintaining friendly relations with the people of the Northeast so that it can get various types of information.The Home Minister also referred to a recently launched mobile app where the paramilitary personnel can write about their grievances and seek redressal. “I have decided to check that platform personally once every month so that your problems are solved,” he said.The Home Minister said steps have been taken to provide at least Rs 1 crore to the next of kin of each of the martyred soldiers of the paramilitary forces. “We would make sure that the families of martyred soldiers get at least Rs 1 crore. A portal has also been launched to help the families of martyred soldiers,” Singh said.

Presidential poll process begins today

NEW DELHI, June 13 – The process for electing India’s 13th President will be set in motion formally tomorrow when the Election Commission issues a notification paving the way for filing of nominations for the July 17 contest in which the ruling NDA seems to have an edge.The last date for filing of nominations is June 28. Scrutiny will follow on June 29 and the last date for withdrawal is July 1. The vote count will be on July 20, four days before incumbent Pranab Mukherjee’s term ends. The new President is set to take charge the next day.The electoral college for choosing the President consists of 4,896 voters. While the Lok Sabha has 543 voters and the Rajya Sabha 233, the overwhelming majority (4,120) come from state assemblies – MLAs.The total value of votes in the election is 10,98,903 – 5,49,408 for MPs and 5,49,495 for MLAs. The value of each vote of an MP is 708 but this differs for MLAs from state to state. The value of an MLA’s vote in Uttar Pradesh is the highest (208) and the least (7) in Sikkim.The NDA is short of the halfway mark by about 18,000 votes. But it expects to gain the support of many smaller parties, besides all the factions of the feuding AIADMK which alone has a vote value of over 26,000.In 2012, Mukherjee, the nominee of the Congress-led UPA, got 7,13,763 votes while his sole rival PA Sangma, fielded by the BJP-led NDA, secured 3,15,987 – of the total vote value of 10,29,750. Mukherjee assumed office on July 25, 2012.The election will see secret ballot and political parties can’t issue a whip to MPs or MLAs.
State to lodge complaint with Centre

Unhappy at the sloppy progress of highway repair works being carried out by the National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd (NHIDCL) in Assam, the State Government is readying a status report of the works to lodge a written complaint with the Central Government.“A status report has been prepared and submitted to the Chief Minister. He will take it up with the Union Road Transport & Highways Minister,” PWD Minister Parimal Suklabaidya told The Assam Tribune today.Suklabaidya said both he and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal have held several review meetings with the NHIDCL and had been raising the issue off and on, but “their response has been not at all satisfactory.”“People are facing severe hardships as stretches in several national highways in the State are in bad shape,” the minister admitted.“Earlier, there were issues of land acquisition, but the problem is no longer there. Sometimes they (NHIDCL) blame it on the weather. But we have not seen them doing even the primary works,” the apparently annoyed minister said, adding that a written representation is likely to be sent to the Central Government in a day or two.The NHIDCL, a wholly owned company under the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, was incorporated on July 18, 2014 and became functional in January 2015 to expedite construction of national highways and other infrastructure in the northeastern region and other strategic areas.Maintenance of the national highways is the responsibility of the company, besides initiating fresh projects.Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal is learnt to have taken up the issue with Union Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari over telephone a few days back.Sonowal, who recently travelled from Dibrugarh to Kaziranga by road, had expressed his displeasure over the appalling condition of the NH-37. There have also been numerous complaints from the public regarding the poor condition of national highways in the State.

No shortfall of power in State: APDCL

There is no shortfall of power in the State these days. The Assam Power Distribution Company Ltd (APDCL) is supplying power to its consumers as per demand. However, due to some localised technical problems, power cuts have been resorted to in some areas, said sources in the APDCL here today.When pointed to the frequent power cuts resorted to by the APDCL, the sources said localised technical problems like storm-related damage to the transmission network, rising floodwater, etc., have been compelling the power utility to resort to power cuts these days.The sources said the power demand for the peak-load-hour today was projected to be around 1,400 MW and accordingly, the APDCL has managed to ensure supply of the required amount of power from the Assam Power Generation Corporation Ltd (213 MW), NEEPCO (454 MW), Palatana plant of the NEEPCO (151 MW), NHPC Loktak HE Plant (29 MW), Eastern Region (142 MW), bilateral purchase (65 MW) and purchasing from the power exchange (295 MW). A similar arrangement was also made during the off-peak-load-hour (6 am to 6 pm) to meet the power demand of around 1,000 MW, sources said.Interestingly, there was 77 MW excess power available with the APDCL during the off-peak-load-hour today.The problems faced in some areas of the city today are due to power cuts following severe waterlogging. This was done with a view to preventing any incidents of electrocution, sources said.It needs mention here that some areas of the city like parts of Chandmari, Gandhibasti, Anil Nagar and Nabin Nagar faced severe power cut today.

June 15

Security beefed up ahead of Ambubachi mela

Police and security forces are gearing up to thwart any possible attempt by militants and jehadi elements to create disturbance during the ensuing Ambubachi mela.Special Director General of Police (Law and Order) Kula Saikia told that all precautionary measures have been taken to ensure that the annual mela passes off peacefully. All the inputs that the police is receiving are being verified thoroughly and actions are being taken immediately, he said.Saikia said there is no shortage of manpower to secure the area and personnel from other parts of the State have also been brought in to ensure adequate security cover. Fixed police pickets will be deployed in the camps set up for devotees and domination of the entire Nilachal Hill right from the foothill is being carried out by the men in uniform, he said, adding, night patrolling has also been introduced in the area.The Special DG said more than 200 CCTV cameras have been installed around the Kamakhya temple and the footage are scrutinised round the clock so that any suspicious movement can be checked. Police personnel in plain clothes have also been deployed in adequate numbers to keep a watch on all those visiting Kamakhya during the festival. Women police personnel have also been deployed in the area, he added.

Centre keeping close watch on floods in North East

The Centre is keeping a close watch over the flood situation in the northeastern states and is ready to offer all necessary help.“The Home Ministry is constantly monitoring the heavy flood situations in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram and other states for necessary help,” Union Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju told reporters here.He said the Home Ministry control room is monitoring the severe landslides and floods in the northeastern states round the clock.

Opp leaders meet to chalk out strategy

Opposition leaders today met to chalk out a strategy for the upcoming presidential poll but no names were discussed in the first round of talks of a nine-party sub-group set up for the purpose, members said.As the process for the filing of nominations for the July 17 election started, 10 opposition leaders met in the Parliament chamber of the Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad.The leaders including Azad and Mallikarjun Kharge from the Congress, JD-U’s Sharad Yadav, RJD’s Lalu Prasad, CPI-M’s Sitaram Yechury and NCP’s Praful Patel. Derek O’Brien of the TMC, RS Bharathi of the DMK, Ram Gopal Yadav of the SP and Satish Chandra Misra from the BSP were also present at the 10 -member group’s meeting.Azad said leaders of 17 opposition parties had met at a lunch hosted by Congress president Sonia Gandhi last month, where it was decided a sub committee would be set up to take forward discussions on the issue.“A sub committee was formed in which leaders of nine parties were included, as there was need for a smaller committee,” he said.

June 16

BJP allies oppose cattle trade rules

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) allies in three Christian-majority states of Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya have opposed the Central Government’s new cattle trade and slaughter rules.The ruling Naga People’s Front (NPF) in Nagaland asked the Narendra Modi-led NDA government to desist from imposing restrictions on the dietary habits of the people.The NPF’s Central Executive Council also directed the Shurhozelie Liezietsu-led Nagaland government to take up the matter with the Central government so that traditional, religious or customary practices were not infringed upon by any unilateral decision of the Centre.“We have urged the (state) government to advise the Central government to desist from imposing restrictions on dietary habits and culinary preferences of the Naga people, and see to it that their social, traditional, religious or customary practices are not infringed due to any unilateral decision of the Centre,” NPF Resolution Committee Convener Sebastian Zumvu said.Four BJP members in the 60-member Nagaland Assembly are supporting the NPF government.In Mizoram, the opposition Mizo National Front (MNF), which is one of the constituents of the BJP-led North East Democratic Alliance, has also opposed the Central government notification under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animal (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules 2017.

SDRF for city-centric advance warning system

With incessant rains leading to flood and landslides in and around Guwahati, the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) moots a Guwahati-specific advance warning system to help in pre-stationing of rescue teams in vulnerable areas.The SDRF will pursue the matter with the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) so that a Guwahati-specific early warning system can be developed and resources mobilised before any damage is done.The Director General of SDRF, AP Rout, told this reporter that damage can be minimised “if we can anticipate the gravity of the situation well ahead of time and respond by way of prepositioning rescue teams in vulnerable locations, which are more or less known.”“A specific warning system should be developed for Guwahati with the help of the Weather Department as the general weather report hardly provides any pinpointed alert. Once we get such specific alerts, we can station our rescue teams before time in vulnerable areas,” Rout said, adding this would cut down the response time substantially and help in saving human lives and property.“Once it starts raining heavily, it becomes equally difficult for the rescue vehicles and personnel to reach the spot due to floods leading to massive traffic jams. The warning system would help us take necessary measures at the right time,” Rout said.

Trafficking-militancy nexus a new threat in BTAD

The nexus between human trafficking and insurgency has emerged as a new social threat in the BTAD districts of Udalguri, Baksa, Chirang and Kokrajhar, with the recent escape of three Assamese school dropouts from such a transit camp located in Bangladesh and their subsequent arrest along the India-Bangla border in Tripura sending alarm bells ringing in both the civil administration as well as the Army.Taking advantage of their poverty, a number of school dropout boys and girls have been lured by human traffickers with the promise of offering them jobs, not only in big Indian cities but also in countries like Bangladesh, Myanmar and Nepal. An uncountable number of youths go missing every year from various parts of Assam as well as the rest of the Northeast. The youths who go missing usually include school dropouts, unemployed youths and others from the poorer sections of society, who are lured by unscrupulous agents on the pretext of offering them jobs and money in big Indian cities and abroad. The agents then exploit and abuse the innocent youths and make them fall victim to organ trade, prostitution and forced recruitment in insurgent groups.Manas Jyoti Deka (22) of Purandia village under Tangla police station, Pado Deka (24) of Hatibandha village under Tangla police station and Gautam Roy (23) of the village Kaliyagaon in Chirang district had been apprehended by Tripura police on May 23 last on the India-Bangla border near Dholai in Tripura. Suspecting them of being members of KLO, Assam, they were handed over to BSF and finally to the Assam Police on May 25.

Thongchi bags Bhupen Hazarika Award

Eminent litterateur from Arunachal Pradesh, Yeshe Dorje Thongchi has been chosen for Sarhad’s Bhupen Hazarika Award 2017.The award will be conferred on Thongchi – who writes in Assamese – at a function to be held in Jammu and Kashmir in September this year. It also aims at creating a strong bond between Maharashtra and the North East.Instituted in 2012, the award seeks to honour a person from the North East who has rendered an outstanding work at national and international levels.Born on June 13, 1952 at village Jigaon of the present-day West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh, Thongchi has so far written about a dozen novels, and numerous short stories and plays – all in Assamese – a language over which he has a wonderful command. His most well-known novels include Mauna Oonth Mukhar Hriday and Sav Kata Manuh.Thongchi, whose theme is mostly about the little-known communities of Arunachal Pradesh, is said to be the first author to have actually taken their inside stories to the outside world.

June 17

Modi flags off Kerala’s first metro in Kochi

Kochi, June 17 (IANS): Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday flagged off the Kochi Metro – India’s first integrated multi-mode transport system that has reserved jobs for transgenders and will be run mostly by women.With ‘Metro Man’ E Sreedharan by his side, Modi also took a Metro ride after he cut the inaugural ribbon at the rail network’s Palarivatom station.The Prime Minister addressed a gathering of thousands of his supporters, greeting them in Malayalam and referred to Kochi as the “queen of the Arabian Sea”.”The city’s population has been rising steadily and is expected to reach 23 lakhs by 2021. Therefore, a mass rapid transport system is essential to address the increasing pressure on urban infrastructure. This will also contribute to Kochi’s economic growth,” said Modi.He said the metro project with several significant features was the first to be commissioned with a modern “Communication Based Train Control Signalling System”.”The coaches reflect the ‘Make in India’ vision. They have been built by Alstom of France, at their factory near Chennai, and have an Indian component of around 70 per cent.”Modi said another “noteworthy aspect” of the project is that nearly “1,000 women and 23 transgenders are being selected to work in the Kochi Metro Rail System”.The project is also an example of an environment friendly development as nearly 25 per cent of the entire energy requirements would be met from renewable sources, particularly solar energy.

Former TMC chief in Tripura, other leaders join BJP

Agartala, June 17 (IANS): The Trinamool Congress (TMC) Tripura unit’s founder chairman and incumbent vice–president Arun Chandra Bhowmik and other leaders have joined the BJP, the BJP said on Saturday.”At a public rally in Belonia (in southern Tripura) on Friday, TMC leaders Arun Chandra Bhowmik, Arjun Sarkar and Badal Sarkar along with 720 voters of other parties joined the BJP,” BJP’s Tripura unit media-in-charge Victor Shom said in a press release.He said that local Congress leader Rajeswar Sen also joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).Bhowmik, a veteran lawyer, said only the BJP can oust the ruling Left Front from power in the State Assembly elections due in February next year.Several TMC and Congress leaders besides scores of party workers had earlier joined the BJP.State BJP president Biplab Kumar Deb, who addressed a public rally in Belonia, said his party would contest the Assembly elections alone and field candidates in all 60 Assembly seats.”We have engaged a private agency to study about the prospective candidates for next year’s elections. We would put up those people as BJP candidates who would have the maximum chance of winning. No favouritism would be done in selecting the best candidates,” Deb told reporters.The BJP has given utmost emphasis to defeat the ruling Left Front in Tripura.”To strengthen the BJP’s political base in Left-ruled Tripura, over 45 central Ministers and many central BJP leaders have visited the state during the past three years. Besides scores of BJP MPs, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Finance, Health and Family Welfare and Education Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma and several other Ministers of Assam campaigned for the party in the State (Tripura),” a BJP leader said.

New project to check flash floods in city

With recurring flash floods taking a heavy toll on the capital city, the soil conservation department has decided to collaborate with the IIT Guwahati in implementing a watershed management project in the Guwahati hills to check erosion and siltation which is leading to clogging of the drainage.The project would include both vegetative and mechanical measures, depending on the site condition. It is expected to be implemented from this year and the government hopes that its results would be felt from next year itself.“We will sign an MoU with IITG which will prepare the project report. The measures would be taken without disturbing the settlements,” Soil Conservation Director S Choudhury told .A team from the civil engineering department of IITG is likely to make a presentation before the Chief Minister, who is understood to have taken keen interest on the project. The team from IITG has studied the problem extensively and has come up with strategies to mitigate it, Choudhury said.“The project components would include jute netting (laying down jute mesh mat over the hill like a landscape fabric) in steep hill slopes. We will also plant trees in between by making holes in the mats. The mats are compostable and will eventually mix with the soil,” Choudhury said.Another component of the project would be construction of staggered blocks in some hill stretches to slow down the current of the flowing rainwater so that erosion is minimum. Retaining walls will also be another component of the project besides a campaign for promoting ecological management practices among the settlers in the hills.

Switzerland ratifies info sharing

Switzerland today ratified automatic exchange of financial account information with India and 40 other jurisdictions to facilitate immediate sharing of details about suspected black money even as it sought strict adherence to confidentiality and data security.Adopting the dispatch on introduction of the AEOI, a global convention for automatic information exchange on tax matters, the Swiss Federal Council said the implementation is planned for 2018 and the first set of data should be exchanged in 2019.The council, which is the top governing body of the European nation, will soon notify the Indian government about the exact date from which the automatic exchange would begin.As per the draft notification approved by the council in its meeting today, the decision is not subject to any referendum – which means there should be no further procedural delay in its implementation.The issue of black money has been a matter of big debate in India and Switzerland has been long perceived as one of the safest havens for the illicit wealth allegedly stashed abroad by Indians.Today’s decision follows hectic parleys between India and Switzerland for introduction of the AEOI (Automatic Exchange of Information) on tax matters under the guidance of G20, OECD and other global organisations.The council said the proposal to introduce AEOI with India and others “met with widespread approval from the interested parties who voiced their opinions in the consultations”.

NERCPAC favours separate Ministry for Act East Policy

The ongoing North East Region Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Conference (NERCPAC) has laid emphasis on creating a separate Union Ministry for proper implementation of the Act East Policy.The conference also urged the Centre for revival of Special Category State status, Backward Region Grant Fund (BRGF) and the investor-friendly North East Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy (NEIIPP) for all round development.Expressing concern over poor telecommunication service in the North East, the conference asked the authorities concerned to take urgent steps in this regard. “The tele-density in the region is still low. So, we want a hassle-free service,” the conference pointed out.The conference which was inaugurated on Thursday was attended by Speakers of Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland and Deputy Speakers of Sikkim and Tripura.Participating in the conference, Nagaland Speaker Imtiwapang Aier said that North East needs more attention from the Centre for development. Similarly, Assam Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami stressed on the need for better connectivity across the region to attract more business.Arunachal Pradesh Speaker Tenzing Norbu Thongdok observed that the ongoing power projects should be completed in right time considering the demand for power in the North East. Manipur Chief Minister’s Economic Advisor suggested opening of more trade points with the neighbouring countries in order to boost border trade.

June 18

Sangma proposes Shillong-Sohra railway link

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has asked railway officials to work out plans and design for rail connectivity between Shillong and Sohra(Cherrapunjee).Sangma, who held a review meeting with the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) officials on Thursday, said the proposed Shillong-Sohra railway link would provide new opportunities for the State and the people who would utilise the railway for high-end tourism destination and as separate facility for farmers.Sohra, known as one of the wettest places on the earth, is about 50 km from Shillong, the State capital.In 1895-96, the British Provincial Government of united Assam built the Cherra (Sohra) Companyganj State Railways and it was one of the first railway projects during that time.It was a contemporary of the Darjeeling Himalayan Railways or the “Toy Train” now listed as World Heritage.“It will be the most sought after train ride for the people who would like to visit Meghalaya again and again. This will also provide a kind of train ride for couples enjoying their honeymoon or others celebrating their anniversary in the midst of beauty and nature,” Sangma told media persons.The Meghalaya Government’s proposal for the Shillong-Sohra railway line is significant in the wake of the violent protests in Khasi-Jaintia Hills region opposing the ongoing railway project connecting Meghalaya’s Byrnihat in Ri Bhoi district with Assam’s Tetelia in Kamrup district.

2 Union Ministers to visit Tripura

Two Union Ministers – Faggan Singh Kulaste and Babul Supriyo would be visiting Tripura to join programmes to be organised to mark completion of three years of the Narendra Modi-led government.While Minister of State, PMO, Supriyo would be arriving here on June 20, Kulaste, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare is all set to arrive here on June 21 next.Supriyo will join programmes in Sepahijala and South districts of the State to mark Modi Government’s third year anniversary and Kulaste is scheduled to attend International Yoga Day programme at UK ground on June 21, said BJP State unit president Biplab Kumar Deb.Assam Finance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma is also scheduled to visit the State on June 22. “Apart from visiting some areas of the State, Sarma will also hold organisational meeting with party’s core committee as well chiefs of frontal organisations, he said on Friday night.Deb criticised Chief Minister Manik Sarkar for failing to meet the people’s aspirations. “People want to know what the Chief Minister has done for their welfare. Therefore, BJP demands the Chief Minister should publish a white paper on his performance during his long years in office”, he said.Clearing all doubts over demand for Twipraland, Deb said BJP would never accept Twipraland demand by Indigenous People’s Front of Tripura (IPFT).

City CCTV cameras lack key security features

In what has the potential to put the life and property of Guwahatians at risk, the 290 close circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed in 91 strategic locations of the capital city for its effective surveillance have been found to be lacking in key security features.This, according to sources at the Assam Police headquarters here, may well take the lid off a major scam as nearly one crore rupees have already been spent on the key security project, which was envisaged – post October 30, 2008 serial blasts – for improving artificial intelligence of security forces.Significantly, the surveillance cameras were supplied and installed by a Germany-based company which, according to sources, no longer exists.An enquiry conducted by a technical committee into the installation of CCTVs in its report has clearly suggested that the cameras were installed by a firm named ‘Levelone Communications’ sans some quintessential technical and security features, which may cost the investigating agency in crisis time or any law and order situation.The report of the technical committee, which was submitted to the police headquarters a few months back, also suggested that the firm has deliberately tried to compromise with the quality of the surveillance.“For instance, although the firm was meant to provide a server made by IBM, it did not do so. Same was the case with the UPS as the firm installed another one instead of what it had assured,” sources revealed.

June 19

Dark horse Ram Nath Kovind named NDA Presidential candidate

Springing a surprise, the BJP on Monday named Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, a Dalit and a BJP leader, as the ruling NDA’s candidate for the July 17 Presidential election.”We have decided that Ram Nath Kovind will be the NDA Presidential candidate,” Bharatiya Janata Party president Amit Shah said after a nearly two-hour meeting here of the party’s Parliamentary Board attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior leaders.He said the BJP and the National Democratic Alliance had been discussing the Presidential election for long. “The BJP also discussed the issue with all political parties and several sections of the society. After this, a long list (of candidates) was prepared which was discussed during the Parliamentary Board meeting,” Shah told the media.Kovind, 72, who emerged as the dark horse, is likely to file the nomination on June 23, he said. If elected, he will be the second Indian President after KR Narayanan to hail from the Dalit community.The earlier names which were doing the rounds for Presidency included External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan.While all NDA allies have been informed of the BJP choice, Prime Minister Modi talked to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and other leaders about the NDA choice, the BJP president said.Modi also spoke with Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar (JD-U), Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik (BJD), Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao (TRS) and Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu (TDP).

Congress accuses BJP of unilateralism on Presidential candidate

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS): Accusing the BJP of unilateralism, the Congress on Monday said opposition parties will meet on Thursday and decide their strategy regarding the Presidential polls.The Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha, Ghulam Nabi Azad, refused to go into the merits and demerits of the NDA candidate, Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind, announced by BJP president Amit Shah earlier in the day.Azad also did not say whether or not the opposition will field a candidate for the July 17 contest.”So far as the NDA nominee is concerned, the Congress has nothing to say on the merits or demerits. All the opposition parties had collectively decided on evolving a consensus on the Presidential candidate when leaders of 18 parties met recently,” Azad said.He said the opposition did not expect this “unilateral” decision by the BJP to name Kovind.”When (Home Minister) Rajnath Singh and (Information and Broadcasting Minister M) Venkaiah Naidu met (Congress president) Sonia Gandhi, we had expected some names from them for discussion. But they gave no names. We had full hope that before announcing they would discuss some names.”Yes, they did inform us but only after they had decided on the name.”He said the meetings with opposition parties was a formality.”The only thing I would like to say is that we expected that before taking the final decision on a candidate, they will come back to us and other opposition parties.”The opposition parties were given to understand that they will be taken into confidence. It is the BJP’s sweet will and we cannot help that.”Azad said all leaders in the opposition had agreed to attend the June 22 meeting to be chaired by Sonia Gandhi to take a final decision on the President’s election.

BRICS ministers seek end to terror financing

Beijing, June 19 (IANS): Without naming Pakistan or any other nation, Foreign Ministers of BRICS countries on Monday asked the countries accused of supporting terrorism to stop financing terrorists and their activities after India raised the issue at the meeting of the five-member bloc here.In a joint media note, the Foreign Ministers of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, deplored “the continued terrorist attacks, including in some BRICS countries” and condemned “terrorism in all its forms and manifestations wherever committed and by whomsoever”.The ministers reaffirmed the solidarity and resolve of the BRICS nations in the fight against terrorism and called upon the international community to establish a broad international counter-terrorism coalition and to support the UN’s coordinating role in international counter-terrorism cooperation.”They recall the responsibility of all states to prevent financing of terrorist networks and terrorist actions from their territories,” the note said.Earlier India, represented by Minister of State for External Affairs VK Singh said the five-nation bloc needed to cooperate on counter-terror measures.India has been urging the UN to put sanctions against and designate as an international terrorist Pakistan-based terrorist leader Masood Azhar, accused of masterminding several terror attacks in India, including the January 2016 strike on a military base in Punjab that killed at least seven security personnel.But the Indian move has been blocked by China that holds a veto in the UN Security Council.The Foreign Ministers also reaffirmed the need for a comprehensive reform of the UN and the Security Council to make it “more representative, effective and efficient and increase the representation of the developing countries so that it can adequately respond to global challenges”.”China and Russia reiterate the importance they attach to the status and role of Brazil, India and South Africa in international affairs and support their aspiration to play a greater role in the UN.

Wage Board: Newspapers have to implement award in full, says SC

New Delhi, June 19 (IANS): The Supreme Court has directed that the Majithia Wage Board recommendations on wages for newspaper employees have to be “implemented in toto” and managements could not cite lack of funds for avoiding payments.It also said in its judgment on Monday that there was no difference between full-time employees and contract workers as far as the implementation of the Majithia Wage Board recommendations are concerned.A two-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had on May 3 reserved its judgement in a contempt petion against newspaper groups brought by newspaper employee unions, including the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ).The court said on Monday that newspapers’ defiance of the earlier court order was not “wilful”.Earlier, counsel for many newspaper groups had argued that implementing the Wage Board’s recommendations would be beyond their paying capacity. The print media companies have said that any forced implementation would “cripple newspapers’ finances”.The newspaper unions had, however, argued that newspapers had the capacity to pay but were avoiding to do so.The Majithia panel was set up by the Congress-led UPA government in 2007 and four years later its recommendations were accepted by the Union Cabinet. The Gazette notification on this was published on November 11, 2011.In February 2014, the Supreme Court had upheld the recommendations, directing the newspaper companies to implement the recommendations.

June 20

Wage Board award has to be implemented in full, says SC

The Supreme Court has directed that the Majithia Wage Board recommendations on wages for newspaper employees have to be “implemented in toto” and managements could not cite lack of funds for avoiding payments.It also said in its judgement today that there was no difference between full-time employees and contract workers as far as the implementation of the Majithia Wage Board recommendations are concerned.A two-member bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi, had on May 3 reserved its judgement in a contempt petition against newspaper groups brought by newspaper employee unions, including the Indian Federation of Working Journalists (IFWJ).The court said that newspapers’ defiance of the earlier court order was not “wilful”.Earlier, counsel for many newspaper groups had argued that implementing the Wage Board’s recommendations would be beyond their paying capacity. The print media companies have said that any forced implementation would “cripple newspapers’ finances”.The newspaper unions had, however, argued that newspapers had the capacity to pay but were avoiding to do so.The Majithia panel was set up by the Congress-led UPA government in 2007 and four years later, its recommendations were accepted by the Union Cabinet.

CID files second chargesheet

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) today filed the second part chargesheet with the Court of Special Judge, Assam in connection with the multi-crore-rupee excise evasion case naming Bonty Gogoi, the licensee of the BG bonded warehouse, as another prime accused.In the first chargesheet, the CID had named liquor trader Rajesh Jalan as the prime accused. Bonty Gogoi, according to sources, worked as a proxy to Jalan. Both Bonty Gogoi and Jalan are currently in judicial custody.So far, three persons, including excise official Amarendra Nath, have been arrested by the investigating agency in connection with the case.The excise evasion case (54/15) of BG bonded warehouse was registered under section 120(B), 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code. The CID had questioned a number of top government officials in this connection.

Terror attack near London mosque, 1 dead

LONDON, June 19 – A man rammed a van into worshippers coming out of a mosque in north London after special Ramzan prayers today, killing one person and injuring 10 others in what British Prime Minister Theresa May described as a “sickening” terrorist attack on Muslims.The attack – the fourth terror assault to jolt Britain in four months – occurred just after midnight outside the Muslim Welfare House, which houses a mosque, on the Seven Sisters Road when some people were helping a man who had collapsed.The site of the incident is close to another mosque near the Finsbury Park on the same road.One man was pronounced dead at the scene and eight others were injured. Two others were treated for minor injuries.A 48-year-old man, the driver of the van, was detained by members of public at the scene and then arrested by police on suspicion of attempted murder.“It is a reminder that terrorism, extremism and hatred take many forms; and our determination to tackle them must be the same whoever is responsible,” May said in a statement after chairing a meeting of the government’s emergency COBRA committee.In an attempt to counter some criticism over the delay in classifying the incident as a terrorist attack, she said: “Officers were in the immediate vicinity as the attack unfolded and responded within one minute. Police declared it a terrorist incident within eight minutes.”Home Secretary Amber Rudd described the attack as an appalling incident, and said new funding for security at religious sites had recently been arranged.Metropolitan Police deputy assistant commissioner Neil Basu said the man who died was already receiving first aid from members of the public and it was not yet known if his death was caused by the attack.

Ram Nath Kovind is NDA’s nominee

India is set to get its second Dalit President as the BJP today picked Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind as the NDA nominee for the top constitutional post.The 71-year-old low profile Dalit leader, a two-term BJP Rajya Sabha member, is seen as an astute choice by the saffron party, which has been targeted by opposition parties over Dalit issues, and his election is almost a certainty as the ruling bloc with the support of some regional parties enjoys a majority in the electoral college.KR Narayanan was the country’s first Dalit President.BJP president Amit Shah made the announcement following over-two-hour-long meeting of the party’s parliamentary board, which was attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior party leaders.Seeking support from opposition parties, Shah said Modi spoke to Congress president Sonia Gandhi and former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and sought their support.Top BJP leaders also spoke to various opposition parties and also got in touch with their allies.Kovind, a lawyer, two-term Rajya Sabha MP and former president of the BJP’s ‘Dalit Morcha’, is likely to file his papers on June 23.Meanwhile, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar today expressed happiness over State Governor Ram Nath Kovind’s candidature for the President’s post, but stopped short of committing support to the NDA nominee.“In my capacity as the Bihar Chief Minister, it is a matter of happiness that our Governor has been declared as the candidate for the next President of India,” he told reporters after paying a courtesy call to Kovind at the Raj Bhavan, hours after the BJP announced his name as the NDA candidate for the presidential election.Paying his gratitude to Kovind for serving Bihar, Kumar said the former has served with distinction during his tenure as the state’s Governor.“I came to pay a courtesy call to the Governor as he is set to leave for the national capital. I am bound to pay my respect to him (Kovind) after declaration of his candidature for the post of the President India,” the chief minister said.Kumar, the JD(U) national president, however, refused to commit any support to the NDA’s presidential candidate, saying it would not be appropriate to comment on the issue.

Arunachal all-party meet opposes citizenship to Chakma-Hajongs

An all-party meeting convened here today by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Pema Khandu on the Chakma-Hajong issue unanimously resolved to exhaust all legal means to defend and protect the interests of the indigenous tribes in the State in the matter decided by the Supreme Court in respect of grant of citizenship to Chakmas and Hajongs.
The all-party meeting was held following the call from the State’s apex student body, All Arunachal Pradesh Students’ Union, which has been spearheading the movement against refugees since decades fearing that if Chakmas and Hajongs are granted citizenship and settled in the State, the indigenous tribal communities would be reduced to a minority.The meet unanimously decided to move the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to revive the Joint High Powered Committee to study the refugee issue. Further, the house unanimously supported the steps initiated by the State Government and pinned hope for a positive and lasting solution to the vexed issue, according to a press note from CMO here.Representatives from BJP, INC, PPA, Trinamool Congress, NCP and Aam Aadmi Party and AAPSU participated and shared their views on the topic in the marathon meeting that stretched to six hours.The CM was joined by his Cabinet colleagues, Advocate General, Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary (Political), Secretary (Political) and IGPs during the meeting. Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju also attended the all-party meeting.Meanwhile, the AAPSU has criticised Congress MPs Ninong Ering (Lok Sabha) and Mukut Mithi (Rajya Sabha) for skipping the meeting.

June 21

Gunfight ensues between army, militants in Nagaland

Kohima, June 21 (IANS): A gunfight broke between the Indian Army para commandos and militants in Nagaland’s Mon district bordering Myanmar in the early hours of Wednesday, a police official here said.The exchange of fire took place in Choknyu village near Tapi bridge, when suspected National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-K) and United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA-I) militants fired at the para commandos.”The gunfight lasted for an hour and suspected NSCN-K and ULFA-I militants retreated back to the jungles after intensive firing from the para commandos,” a Nagaland police official told IANS.Intelligence officials said that the militants had sneaked into Nagaland from Myanmar to create terror.The army and para-military Assam Rifles are continuing with the operation to track down the fleeing militants.A couple of weeks back, an army Major, three ULFA-I militants and a civilian were killed in a gunfight between security forces and combined NSCN-K and ULFA-I militants in the district.The NSCN-K, which abrogated the ceasefire agreement with the Indian government in April 2015, has been active in Mon and three districts of Arunachal Pradesh — Longding, Tirap and Changlang — after floating a new platform called the United Liberation Front of Western South-East Asia (ULFWSA).The combined group of north-east militants has carried out a series of attacks on security forces in the past couple of years, the worst being the death of 18 jawans in Chandel district in Manipur in June 2015.This is a first major strike by the NSCN militants belonging to the Khaplang faction since Shangnyu Shangwang Khaplang’s death on June 9 in Myanmar, where they have bases.

All States pass SGST Act, except J&K

New Delhi, June 21 (IANS): With Kerala approving the State Goods and Services Tax (SGST) Act on Wednesday, Jammu and Kashmir remains the only State yet to pass the legislation ahead of the July 1 launch of the pan-India tax regime.”All States and Union Territories, except Jammu and Kashmir, have approved the SGST Act and are ready for the smooth roll-out of Goods and Services Tax (GST) with effect from July 1,” the Finance Ministry said in a statement here.Kerala issued an ordinance on Wednesday approving the State GST Act while West Bengal had issued the relevant ordinance on June 15.”Thus, almost the entire country, including 30 States and Union Territories, is now on board and ready for the GST,” the Finance Ministry said.

I-T dept charges Lalu’s kin under Benami Act

The Income Tax Department has charged family members of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, including his wife, son and daughters, under the Benami Transactions Act in connection with its probe into land deals worth Rs 1,000 crore and tax evasion.The department has served notices of attachment of assets to Lalu’s daughter Misa Bharti and her husband Shailesh Kumar, Lalu’s wife and former Bihar Chief Minister Rabri Devi, son and Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Tejashwi Yadav and daughters Chanda and Ragini Yadav.The attachment notice, accessed by PTI, has been issued under Section 24(3) of the Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act and Lalu’s kin have been identified as “beneficiaries” of the benami assets.The department has attached immovable assets such as land, plots and buildings in Delhi and Patna which bear a “deed” value of Rs 9.32 crore but the taxman has estimated their current market value at Rs 170-180 crore.A total of nine plots in Phulwari Sharif in Patna, where a mall is reported to have been coming up, has also been attached by the department.The tax department had carried out countrywide searches in this case last month.Benami properties are those in which the real beneficiary is not the one in whose name the property has been purchased.Violation of the Act carries rigorous imprisonment of up to seven years and a hefty fine.The 1988 Act was implemented by the Union Government from November 1 last year.Tax department officials had said Prasad’s kin held some of the properties under their scanner in a “benami” way.The RJD chief, however, had sought to put up a brave face after the raids, saying he was “not scared at all” and would continue to fight against “fascist forces”.

June 22

None from NE in list for NFR jobs

At a time when various organizations and outfits in Assam and the Northeast have repeatedly called for reservation of Grade C and Grade D posts for locals in the Indian Railways, not even a single candidate from this region has been selected for filling up of vacancies for the positions of commercial inspector and commercial clerk in the Northeast Frontier Railway.A total of 51 candidates were selected for the posts after completion of a two-year training period as commercial apprentice at the Zonal Railway Training Institute, Alipurduar, followed by passing out the final written examination.A letter in possession of this newspaper shows that none of the 51 candidates are from Assam and the Northeast.The letter was written on June 16 by RN Tiwari, Assistant Personnel Officer (APO) Training, on behalf of the NF Railway General Manager.The letter contains the names of all 51 candidates who have been selected for the posts of commercial inspector and commercial clerk, after completion of the two-year training period and the written exam, and they have been directed to report to their respective divisions for further posting.The candidates had initially been selected as commercial apprentice in 2015 and sent for the two-year training.Organizations like the All Assam Students Union have termed the entire incident as discrimination against local youths from this region.

Rs 283-cr World Bank aid to State project

The Board of Executive Directors of the World Bank (International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) in its meeting held on June 15 last in Washington DC, USA approved a loan assistance of $44 million (Rs 283 crore) for the Assam State Public Finance Institutional Reforms (ASPIRe) Project.Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressed sincere gratitude towards Prime Minister Narendra Modi for supporting this ambitious project and facilitating the approval.As the name suggests, this project aims to improve the predictability and transparency in budget execution and efficiency in tax administration in Assam. While all government departments and functionaries – especially finance, taxation and excise departments – will benefit immensely due to this project, the citizens of Assam will also see transformative benefits accruing to them through efficient processes, better service delivery such as electronic payments and collections for services, transparent public procurement and enhanced tax payer services.Reduction in the share of discretionary expenditure in the last quarter of financial year, public access to key budget execution reports and procurement contracts, and reduction in cost of collection of tax revenue in taxation and excise departments are the core objectives of this project.

Constable of Forest Protection Force held for ‘poaching’

In a sensational development to the anti-poaching operation by Darrang police, police team from Dalgaon police station of the district on Tuesday night arrested one constable of the Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) for his alleged involvement in the killing of rhinos in Orang National Park.Three poachers with arms and ammunition were also arrested by the team on Monday night. Based on the statement of the arrested poachers, the police arrested constable Soleman Ali of Second AFPF deployed in the Park for last two years, the police said.The constable is a resident of Rangagara Pathar village adjacent to Orang National Park under Dalgaon police station and son of Late Abdul Rahim.The police also recovered one rifle and 28 rounds of live ammunition from the poachers. According to Darrang Superintendent of Police Sreejith Thiraviam, a police team led by officer-in-charge of Dhula police station Ranjit Hazarika conducted a raid in Hatigaon area of Guwahati city on Monday night and picked up two absconding poachers namely Nabi Hussain, son of Abdul Kalam, and Sahar Ali, son of Unus Ali, both residents of Rangagarha Pathar village under Dalgaon police station of Darrang district.Subsequently they led the police to recover one .303 rifle from the house of Sahar Ali and 28 rounds of live ammunition from the residence of one Mainul Haque of the same village. During interrogation, the three accused confessed that they had been camping in Guwahati to bring professional shooters from Nagaland for another poaching in the Orang National Park during the flood season when there is every possibility of rhino coming out of the Park, the police said.

June 23

Kovind files Presidential nomination, vows to uphold dignity of office

New Delhi, June 23 (IANS): NDA candidate Ram Nath Kovind on Friday filed his nomination here for the July 17 Presidential elections and pledged to uphold the dignity of the country’s top constitutional post.
Kovind, 71, filed the papers in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president Amit Shah and Chief Ministers of States ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies as well as parties backing him.Kovind filed three set of nomination papers. BJP leaders said another set will be filed on June 28, the last date for filing nominations in the election which will see the former Bihar Governor take on opposition candidate and former Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.A former BJP MP, Kovind told the media after filing his nomination that he has had no party affiliation since he became the Bihar Governor after Modi took power in New Delhi in 2014.”The President’s post carries a lot of dignity. My effort will be to keep the post above party politics. I promise I will try my best to uphold the dignity of this office. The Constitution is supreme and it is our duty to maintain its supremacy,” he added.Kovind said the President was the supreme commander of the armed forces. “It is our priority to secure the borders of our country.”Kovind thanked Modi, the NDA Chief Ministers and others for supporting his candidature.

India puts Cartosat, NIUSAT, 29 foreign satellites into orbit

In yet another multiple satellite launch, India on Friday successfully put into orbit its own earth observation satellite Cartosat, nano satellite NIUSAT and 29 foreign satellites from 14 countries.In the process, the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) crossed the double century mark in launching foreign satellites. India started launching foreign satellites in 1999.The rocket Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle’s (PSLV) main cargo was India’s 712 kg Cartosat-2 series satellite for earth observation with a design life of five years. This satellite is similar to the earlier Cartosat-2 series.The other satellites, weighing 243 kg in all, were from 14 countries – Austria, Belgium, Britain, Chile, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovakia, and the US – as well as one Indian nano satellite, NIUSAT.The whole mission got over in around 23 minutes.”The mission is successful. All the satellites are in the orbit,” ISRO Chairman AS Kiran Kumar said after the launch.According to Kumar, the Friday mission had many activities that needs fuel and additional margins and hence one should not look at just the total payload carried by a rocket.He said the next PSLV launch will be for putting into orbit a navigation satellite as a replacement for IRNSS-1A satellite whose three atomic clocks have failed.

NSG meet on, China says it will reject India’s entry

China on Friday said it will oppose India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) whose plenary session is underway in Bern.”As for non-NPT countries being admitted to the group, I can tell you there is no change in China’s position,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said.At the NSG plenary session in Seoul last year, China opposed India’s application to enter the 48-member NSG.The ongoing plenary will conclude on Friday. Beijing’s expected move at the session in Bern will keep New Delhi waiting for another year.The NSG, which regulates global nuclear trade, works on the principle of consensus.”I want to point out that the NSG has clear rules on expansion and Seoul plenary made clear mandates on how to deal with this issue. With these rules and mandates, we need to act as they dictate,” Geng said.”As for the criteria regarding admitting new members, this plenary meeting in Switzerland will follow mandate of Seoul plenary and uphold principle of decision upon consensus and continue to discuss various dimensions like technical, law, legal and political aspects of non-NPT countries admission to the group.”China has made clear in the past that it will not let India join the elite group as it is not a signatory to the Non-Nuclear-Proliferation Treaty. Beijing says if India could be let in, why not its “all weather” ally Pakistan.India applied for membership of the NSG in May 2016.

Sonowal reviews city flood situation

Taking a strong note of the tragic death of Dulal Malakar, who died due to flash flood-induced electrocution here this morning, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal directed the Kamrup Metro district administration to immediately release ex gratia of Rs 4 lakh under SDRF and another Rs 2.5 lakh from APDCL to the next of kin of the deceased immediately.The Chief Minister, while reviewing the flood situation of the city at the Brahmaputra State Guest House with officials of the district administration and the Power Department today, further directed to take necessary steps to appoint the victim’s wife at APDCL.Sonowal also directed concerned officials to constitute a joint team of the district administration, GMC, Assam Police, SDRF and APDCL to check and identify all vulnerable points and carry out necessary rectification immediately. The Chief Minister directed the team to submit compliance report to him within seven days.The Chief Minister also directed to constitute local level committees to handle and respond to such situations instantly. He asked the DC, Kamrup Metro, to convene meetings with civic organisations of affected areas for sensitisation of local people on preventive measures, involving NGOs.Sonowal also instructed the officials concerned to take immediate measures for pruning of old trees to avert any untoward incident in the future, stated an official release.

BJP wins Karbi Anglong council polls

The Bharatiya Janata Party has won the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council (KAAC) election convincingly, winning 14 of the 26 constituencies till the time of filing of this report.While independent candidates bagged two seats, the Congress has not been able to capture a single seat as yet.BJP candidate Amar Sing Tisso opened the account for his party winning the Singhason constituency by defeating his nearest rival Pradip Singnar (independent) by 2,409 votes. Tarendra Brahma, BJP candidate from Langhin, defeated Rajandra Basumatary (independent), bagging 13,385 votes. Basumatary got 3,823 votes.In West Karbi Anglong, D Uphing Maslai, the Education EM who failed to get a BJP ticket and later contested as an independent, won from the Armi constituency.Lunsing Teron of the BJP defeated Bidyasing Rongpi at Mahamaya. Teron got 5,969 votes while Rongpi managed to get 4,361. Kache Rongpi won from Sochengdhenta. On the other hand, Richard Tokbi who contested as an independent won the Duarbagori seat, defeating BJP’s Ratan Enti. Darsing Ronghang of the BJP, who contested from Phuloni, defeated his nearest contender, Congress candidate Sanjib Teron. Ronghang got 5,216 while Teron managed to get 4,864.The No.11 Langfer constituency also went to the BJP as Ramsing Timung defeated his nearest rival, independent candidate Phuding Terang. Timung got 12,861 votes while Terang bagged 7,177. Ritesh Enghi of the BJP defeated Congress candidate Ashok Teron by 1,370 votes.The BJP also annexed the Hamren, Chingthong, Rongkhang, Duarmla and Socheng seats, with party candidates Pradeep Rongpi, Horen Sing Bey, Prabhat Chandra Taro, Rina Terangpi and Mongal Sing Timung winning from their constituencies, respectively. Mongal Sing Timung, the sitting MAC and EM, defeated his nearest contender, Congress candidate Mohan Engti by 2,151 votes.

Sikkim CM backs Gorkhaland demand

Sikkim Chief Minister Pawan Kumar Chamling has come out in support of the demand for a separate Gorkhaland, to be carved out of hill areas in West Bengal.“The fulfilment of the constitutional demand of the people in Darjeeling, which is deeply connected with the national identity of the Indian Gorkhas, will provide a long-awaited justice to their patriotism, which has been second to none,” Chamling said in a letter written to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday and made available to the media on Thursday.“The creation of Gorkhaland will restore permanent peace and prosperity in the region. Sikkim will be hugely benefitted as its developmental tempo can thus be maintained,” the Chief Minister said.Chamling also highlighted the problems Sikkim faced due to recurring blockading of its lifeline National Highway-10 during the last 30 years of the Gorkhaland agitation.“The blockade of transportation of essential goods and the unrest causes unmanageable inconvenience. Also, the atmosphere of uncertainty along NH-10 poses great threat to lives as well.”He recalled that Sikkim Assembly had passed a resolution in 2011 seeking “a permanent solution to the pressing and longstanding problem of the people of Darjeeling hills”.Chamling’s comments come amid an indefinite strike called by Gorkha Janamukti Morcha in West Bengal hills over the Gorkhaland demand.

Sangma asks Rlys to set up facilitation centre to check influx

Sharing equal concern with the NGOs on the issue of influx, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma has asked railway authorities to have a “facilitation centre” at Mendipathar to check illegal immigrants.After independence, the Guwahati-Mendipathar (North Garo Hills) is the only railway network that connects Meghalaya with the rest of the world. Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the train from Mendipathar on November 30, 2014.Currently, a passenger train runs daily connecting Mendipathar with Guwahati through a distance of 127 km. The four-hour journey has assisted the people to travel safely and in a short time, in the otherwise violence-prone motorways of the region.In this regard, Sangma visited the railway station on Wednesday and met North Eastern Frontier Railway officials and enquired about the different provisions available at the station.He held a meeting with the Divisional Commercial Manager of NF Railway, Rangiya Division. The Chief Minister asked the railway authorities to have a facilitation centre, at the station.“The facilitation centre will serve as an alternative to Inner Line Permit whereby the authorities can verify the identity of the passengers and put a check on illegal immigration,” Sangma said.He added that creating the facility in the railway station will enable the government to have a filtering mechanism and also ensure safety of the travellers.

June 24

Punjab boy tops NEET

Navdeep Singh from Punjab has topped the prestigious National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test (NEET) for admission to MBBS and BDS courses, results of which were declared by CBSE today.The second and third ranks were bagged by Madhya Pradesh’s Archit Gupta and Manish Mulchandani, respectively. Archit had also topped the AIIMS entrance examination.Girls outnumbered boys in qualifying the test with a total of 3,45,313 girls clearing it against 2,66,221 boys. A total of 11,38,890 students had appeared for the exam. Of these, 6,11,539 passed the test which was held on May 7.

China says no to India’s NSG membership

China today reaffirmed that there is no change in its stance on the admission of non-NPT states into the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), marring India’s chances of entering the elite club during its crucial meeting in Bern.“As for non-NPT counties being admitted to the group, I can tell you there is no change to China’s position,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing.He was replying to a question whether there is any change in China’s stand at the plenary meeting currently taking place in the Swiss capital, Bern.“I want to point out that the NSG has clear rules on admission of new members and the Seoul plenary made clear mandates on how to deal with this issue. With these rules and mandates, we need to act as they dictate,” he said.“As for the criteria regarding admitting new members, as far as I know this plenary meeting in Switzerland will follow mandate of the Seoul plenary and uphold principle of decision upon consensus and continue to discuss various dimensions like technology, law, legal and political aspects of non-NPT countries admission the group,” he said.

PSLV-C38 puts Cartosat-2 in orbit

India today successfully put into orbit a satellite that will give a boost to its military surveillance capabilities along with 30 other tiny satellites – all but one of them foreign – from a single rocket in yet another milestone for its low-cost space programme.The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle of the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in its 40th flight (PSLV-C38) lifted off majestically from the first launch pad at Satish Dhawan Space Centre here at 9.29 am and injected the 31 satellites into orbit about 27 minutes after lift off, amid applause from scientists.Dubbed as a ‘smart eye in the sky’, the 712-kg Cartosat-2 series earth observation spacecraft launched by the 44.4-metre-tall rocket as its primary payload is an advanced remote sensing satellite that is expected to give defence surveillance a leg up. The 31 satellites together weighed 955 kg.Today’s mission was the second highest number of satellites to be launched by the ISRO using a single rocket.On February 15, the PSLV-C37 mission launched 104 satellites into orbit at one go, scripting history. Of this, 101 satellites were from foreign countries.

Kovind files nomination papers

NDA’s presidential candidate Ram Nath Kovind today filed his nomination papers, surrounded by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, 15 chief ministers and many union ministers, as the BJP put up a formidable show of strength to mark the occasion.With more than 60 per cent of voters of the electoral college, which will elect President Pranab Mukherjee’s successor, having already pledged their support to him, Kovind’s election is virtually certain. But the BJP pulled out all the stops to make the occasion count.This will be the first time that a BJP leader will occupy the Rashtrapati Bhawan – if all goes according to plan – as the party’s previous victorious presidential candidate, APJ Abdul Kalam, did not have a party background.Representatives of 28 parties were there, too, BJP sources said, but its ally Shiv Sena was absent.While Sena claimed it was not invited, BJP leaders blamed it on a “miscommunication”.Sena leaders are among the proposers of Kovind’s nomination.BJP veterans LK Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi, both of whom were seen as probables candidates for the high profile post, were also present.

June 25

Bid for coordination against militancy
R Dutta Choudhury
GUWAHATI, June 24 – With militant outfits of the Northeast joining hands, improvement of coordination among the police forces of the States of the region has become vital and as such efforts will be made in the ensuing meeting of the police heads of the region, to ensure real time sharing of information on movement of militants.Highly placed security sources told that apart from improving coordination among the police forces, other challenges faced by the police in the region would also be discussed in the meeting to be held in Guwahati on June 29 and 30.Sources said that after the militant groups of the region joined hands, it is vital for the police forces of the region to improve coordination and share information. At present, these militant groups do not have bases in Bangladesh and Bhutan, but they still have strong bases in Myanmar and it is vital that the police forces of the region have better coordination to deal with the problem.The militants sneak into India through Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland and there have been instances where the militants caused trouble in Assam and retreated to their hideouts in Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Only better sharing of intelligence among the States could deal with such problems effectively, the sources said.It may be mentioned here that during the last meeting of the heads of police chiefs of the country, the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister had a separate meeting with the heads of police forces of the Northeast and stressed the need for better coordination to effectively deal with insurgency in the region.

Modi begins 3-nation tour: Holds talks with Portugal PM

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today held talks with his Portuguese counterpart Antonio Costa and discussed ways to further intensify bilateral relations.Modi, who arrived here on the first leg of his three-nation tour, said his brief visit will further strengthen relations between India and Portugal.“Advancing bilateral engagements. PM @narendramodi & PM @antoniocostapm discuss ways to further intensify bilateral relations,” External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Gopal Baglay tweeted along with some photographs.The two sides are expected to sign some agreements. The new pacts in taxation, science, youth affairs and sports outline the expanding scope of India’s ties with Portugal, Modi said.Earlier in the day, departing from protocol, Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva received Modi at the airport. Modi is the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Portugal on a bilateral trip, Baglay said.Before leaving for Lisbon, Modi had said that during his meeting with Costa, the two leaders will build on their recent discussions and review the progress of various joint initiatives and decisions.

EC disqualifies MP minister for 3 years

The Election Commission (EC) today disqualified senior Madhya Pradesh minister Narottam Mishra for filing wrong accounts of election expenditure. An EC spokesperson confirmed that Mishra had been disqualified for three years from today. His election from the Datia Assembly constituency also stands void.Rajendra Bharti of the Congress had alleged that Mishra, a close aide of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, had not filed certain details in his election expenditure in the 2008 polls.The EC had served notice to Mishra on January 15, 2013. Mishra had moved the Madhya Pradesh High Court and the Supreme Court against the EC notice, but did not get any relief.Finally, the EC came out with its verdict today. Mishra told reporters here, “I am going to move the Madhya Pradesh High Court against the Election Commission’s order.”

PWD to use new road construction tech

Grappling to cope with shortage of construction materials, the Public Works Department (PWD) has decided to use a new technology to cut down the requirement of materials as well as build roads which are more durable and need less maintenance.
The department has zeroed in on a soil stabilizer and pavement material, which will be used in some projects of the newly sanctioned 4,000 km of PMGSY roads.
Application of the material before the commencement of the road construction will increase the strength of the roads, reduce the time of construction, make the soil water resistant and prevents damage to road foundations, a senior PWD official told , adding that it will also cut down construction and maintenance costs.
The soil stabilizer will create a strong and irreversible impermeable layer which is resistant to adverse climatic conditions, and will provide a stabilised base that will be highly resistant to formation of potholes in the future, the official said. The officials hoped that 20 per cent less construction material will be required with the application of the soil stabilizer.

June 26

Centre committed to check influx

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today assured Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal that the Centre would extend all possible help to the State in the fight against corruption and asserted that the Home Ministry is committed to deal with the problem of infiltration of foreigners, besides sealing the international border with Bangladesh to prevent further influx.Sonowal, accompanied by his media adviser Hrishikesh Goswami met the Union Home Minister at his official residence in New Delhi and discussed various issues relating to the State, including sealing of the international border, tribal issues, floods, etc.Talking over phone from New Delhi immediately after his meeting with Singh, Sonowal said that the government is committed to fulfil its promises, including the fight against corruption, dealing with the problem of infiltration of foreigners, etc. “The Union Home Minister has assured the Centre’s support on all these issues,” he said.Sonowal said that the problem of flood was one of the issues discussed and the Union Home Minister assured him that the Centre would extend all necessary help in dealing with the problem and providing relief to the affected people.The Union Home Minister praised Sonowal for the State Government’s fight against corruption and assured that the Centre would give its full backing on the issue to make Assam a corruption-free state.
Idd-ul-Fitr today
Idd-ul-Fitr will be celebrated across the State along with the rest of the country tomorrow. The Central Hilal Committee today said that Idd would be celebrated in Assam and the Northeast tomorrow as the Idd moon had been sighted.Idd-ul-Fitr, the biggest festival of the Muslims, marks the culmination of a month-long fasting during the holy month of Ramzan. Ramzan, the ninth month of the Islamic lunar calendar, is observed as a fasting period by Muslims who abstain from food and water from sunrise to sunset.Meanwhile, the State has geared up for the occasion with the mosques and Idgahs decorated for the purpose. In the city, all the mosques and Idgahs have been decked up.On the day of Idd, Muslims in large number offer prayers (namaz) in the morning at all the mosques and Idgahs. Later, people embrace one another, and gifts and greetings are exchanged. Guests from all religions and communities are also hosted at Muslim households to celebrate the festivities.

With new judges HC steps up justice delivery

In a welcome change that may give the justice delivery system some much-needed impetus, the Gauhati High Court has managed to dispose of a sizeable number of cases in the first five months of the current calendar year.The unprecedented trend reported this year has largely been attributed to the increase in the strength of the judges in the court.Compared to 5,983 cases registered between January 1 and May 31 this year, the court brought a record 6,226 cases to their logical conclusion during the same period, thus reducing the number of pending cases.As on February this year, the total number of pending cases in the Gauhati High Court was nearly 30,000.In a recent official notice, the Gauhati High Court released the figures and extended its gratitude to the members of the Bar for cooperation resulting in reduction of pendency of cases vis-à-vis their institution.“This is a positive development both from the point of view of the litigants as well as the judiciary. The decision to increase the number of judges has started reflecting. In the last six months or so, six new judges were appointed in the high court taking the total strength to 19 against the sanctioned strength of 24,” said Nabajyoti Dutta, general secretary of the Gauhati Bar Association.

Gorkhas of Arunachal rally for Gorkhaland

Gorkhas in Arunachal Pradesh brought out a rally here on Saturday in support of the ongoing movement in Darjeeling hills for the creation of a separate Gorkhaland State.Gorkha men, women and children took part in the rally amidst heavy rains carrying pro-Gorkhaland placards and shouting slogans against the West Bengal Government.The rally, which started from IG Park, culminated at Itanagar Monastery where the protesters lit candles in memory of three persons who were allegedly killed in clashes with police in Darjeeling on June 17.“We, the people of Arunachal Pradesh are not supporting the Gorkhaland movement because we want a land in Darjeeling or Kalimpong. We are doing it for our identity,” said All Arunachal Pradesh Gorkha Youth Welfare (AAPGYWA) president Shyam Ghatani.AAPGYWA chairman Chanbir Sonar said that it was high time that Prime Minister Narendra Modi fulfil his promise made to the Gorkha community.BJP’s manifesto before the 2014 Lok Sabha election had said that the party will “sympathetically examine” the demand for Gorkhaland.The rally was also supported by various unions and organisations including All Arunachal Pradesh Students Union and All Nyishi Students Union.Arunachal Pradesh has been a home to the Gorkha community for many decades. The Gorkha population in the State is said to be more than one lakh.

Manipur man keen to contest presidential poll

With the country’s presidential election scheduled to be held on July 17, a young NGO leader from Manipur has expressed his desire to fight the election to the country’s top post if he gets signatures of 100 MPs/MLAs.“MPs/MLAs are requested to support me for nomination to the presidential election,” said Dr Ibochouba Singh Konthoujam, Founder, Chairman and Managing Director & CEO of D-Cacus Education Centre Manipur in a message circulated in the social media.Forty-two year-old Dr Konthoujam needs support of 100 MPs/MLAs) as seconders & proposers for qualifying the nomination before June 28. “I’m approaching MPs/MLAs in Delhi, Karnataka, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh apart from Manipur, through my friend circle.”Observers said, a citizen of Manipur to become the President of India would be merely.

June 27

US, India tell Pakistan: Don’t let terrorists use your territory

Washington, June 27 (IANS): In a strong message to Islamabad, the US and India have told Pakistan to ensure its territory is not used for terror attacks on other countries and asked it to bring to justice terrorists blamed for attacks in Mumbai and other places in India.A joint statement issued after US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi met here late on Monday stressed that terrorism was a global scourge that must be fought and terrorist safe havens rooted out in every part of the world.The statement said India and the US will fight together “this grave challenge to humanity”.The statement specifically referred to the terror attacks in Mumbai (2008) and Pathankot (2016) that it said were perpetrated by Pakistan-based groups and said the terrorists must be expeditiously brought to justice.The two countries expressed their commitment to strengthen cooperation against terrorist threats from groups including Al Qaeda, ISIS, Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), D-Company and their affiliates.The LeT was blamed for the Mumbai mayhem of November 2008 that killed 166 Indians and foreigners including Americans. The Jaish was accused of attacking the Indian Air Force base at Pathankot in Punjab, leaving seven security personnel dead.India appreciated the US decision to designate the Pakistan-based Hizbul Mujahideen leader Syed Salahuddin as a Specially Designated Global Terrorist – just ahead of the Trump-Modi meet of Monday — “as evidence of the commitment of the US to end terror in all its forms”.In their remarks to the media after delegation level talks, both Modi and Trump spoke of their commitment to combat terrorism.Modi said battling terror and destroying terrorist hideouts would be an important part of mutual cooperation.

State all set to implement GST regime

Assam is ready to go into the Goods and Services Tax (GST) regime as majority of the dealers have already registered themselves under the new regime and the State Government has notified the GST rules. Moreover, the State will not suffer any financial loss due to implementation of the GST regime as any loss occurred during the initial stages of the new regime will be compensated by the Government of India.Highly placed official sources told that from now on, there will be no new tax proposals in the State’s budget apart from VAT on a few items as under the GST regime, there will be uniform tax structure all over the country. However, petroleum products and alcohol have been excluded from the purview of the GST and the States will have the power to impose VAT on it. If the States need to increase tax on any other item, they have to approach the GST Council for approval.On the preparations of the State Government to move into the new regime, sources said that majority of the dealers have already registered themselves under the GST and training of the tax officials is complete. The process of training up the drawing and disbursing officers of all the departments is going on and the process is likely to be completed by the end of this month for smooth transition to the GST regime from July 1.Sources said that there is possibility of minimal decrease in tax collection in the initial period of going into a new system as was the case when the Value Added Tax (VAT) system was introduced. But the State will not suffer any financial loss as the Centre has agreed to compensate for such loss for a period of five years.The Centre has worked out a formula for compensating the states, which will suffer initial loss due to introduction of the GST. As per the formula, the Centre has taken 2015-16 as the base year and would compensate the states, which do not attain 14 per cent annual tax collection growth. If Assam attains 14 per cent growth after the introduction of the GST, it would not get any additional fund, but if the growth rate is less than 14 per cent, the balance amount will be paid by the Centre.

Surgical strikes prove India can defend itself: Modi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said India has succeeded in telling the world about the need to uproot the menace of terrorism and the surgical strikes conducted across the LoC prove that the country can defend itself when needed.“When India talked of terrorism 20 years back, many in the world said it was a law and order problem and didn’t understand it. Now terrorists have explained terrorism to them so we don’t have to,” Modi said at a community reception at the Ritz Carlton in Tysons Corner, Virginia.He said India has succeeded in telling the world about the need to uproot the menace of terrorism.“When India conducted surgical strikes the world experienced our power and realised that India practices restrain but can show power when needed,” the Prime Minister said as he highlighted the achievements of his government in the last three years.India conducted surgical strikes on terror pads across the LoC on September 29 last year after the Uri attack.Modi said India has been a victim of terrorism, but “the world did not and cannot stop us. We have succeeded in conveying to the world the deleterious effects of terrorism on India.”In an apparent dig at China, Modi said that India believed in following the world order.India, he said, does not believe in achieving its goals by not following the global rules.

Chinese troops transgress Sikkim sector

In another transgression, Chinese troops entered India in the Sikkim sector and jostled with Indian army personnel guarding the Sino-Indian frontier, besides destroying two bunker.The face-off has been going on in Doka La general area in Sikkim for the past ten days and the Chinese troops have also stopped the batch of pilgrims that was proceeding for Kailash Mansovar yatra, official sources said today.The Indian troops had to struggle hard to stop the Chinese personnel from advancing further into Indian territory. They formed a human wall along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) to stop the PLA personnel, some of whom also videographed and click pictures of the incident.The bunkers has been destroyed in Lalten area of the Doka La area.A flag meeting was also held between senior army officers of both the sides on June 20, but the tension still continues.It is not the first time that such a transgression has happened at the Doka La, a place at the Sikkim-Bhutan-Tibet trijunction.The Chinese forces had in November 2008 destroyed some makeshift Indian army bunkers at the same place.

ASTC plans smart ticketing

The Assam State Transport Corporation (ASTC) is looking at technological solutions to check revenue leakage and has invited bids from private players to install a smart ticketing system and put in place an e-vigilance mechanism.As part of the smart ticketing system, the state-run transport service will issue smart cards to its regular customers, and categorize them depending on the membership fee.“We are planning to install smart ticketing machines which will have GPS and other facilities and will be connected to bank gateways. People will be able to use any kind of swipe cards to purchase the tickets. They can also use the cards to be issued by the corporation through which they will get some rebate,” ASTC managing director Anand Prakash Tiwari.Under this new initiative, passengers will get both SMS and print tickets. The ASTC cards will also have prepaid recharge options. For e-vigilance, the transport body is exploring the options of RFID (radio frequency identification) or analogue camera-based systems.“The systems will be installed in the buses and will be connected to the ticketing system and a central server. They will be able to count the passes which have been tagged. The count will be based on a unique identification number,” Tiwari said.When asked about the poor internet connectivity in the region, the MD said, “We will have clearly defined terms in the contract that the systems will have to have provisions to take inputs offline and update the server once it gets connected to the network.”Around ten to twelve companies have shown interest to tie up with the corporation in the initiative. The deal will be finalized by July-end after the firms make their presentations. The ASTC is likely to give around 120 days to the selected firm to implement the project.“There will be a revenue sharing model. We will give a period to the company to cover their investment and another to get some profit. The third stage will be AMC (annual maintenance contract),” Tiwari said.

June 28

Modi, Trump vow to fight terror

In a stern message to Pakistan, India and the US today asked the country to ensure that its soil is not used for cross-border terror with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and President Donald Trump vowing to boost their fight against terror groups like ISIS, JeM, LeT and D-Company.As the two leaders held their maiden meeting at the White House and displayed a lot of chemistry, the two countries also called on Pakistan to “expeditiously” bring to justice the perpetrators of the Mumbai, Pathankot attacks and other cross-border terrorist assaults by Pakistan-based groups.Modi and Trump vowed to strengthen efforts to fight terrorism and eliminate safe havens for terrorists.“Eliminating terrorism is among the top-most priorities for us,” Modi told reporters in his joint press statement with Trump at the White House Rose Garden.A joint statement issued after their meeting said the two sides “called on Pakistan to ensure that its territory is not used to launch terror attacks on other countries.”
Ahead of the meeting, the US State Department had set the tone for the summit by declaring Syed Salahuddin, chief of Kashmiri militant group Hizbul Mujahideen, as a ‘global terrorist’.The State Department’s action sent out a strong message against the terrorism emanating from Pakistan which is hurting India.

Indrajit Baruah passes away

Indrajit Baruah, a leading ideologue of the Assam agitation as well as an architect of the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), breathed his last at a city hospital around 1 am today following a cardiac arrest. He was 81.A prominent civil engineer by profession, Baruah did his B Tech with Honours in Civil Engineering from the IIT Kharagpur in 1958. He was involved with the entire exercise of setting up the Gauhati Refinery right from its site selection up to commissioning. He was sent on deputation from the State PWD to the Refinery.Then for a brief period, he served the Assam Government Construction Corporation and in 1975, he joined the Coca Cola company. When the Coca Cola company withdrew its operations from India following the installation of the Janata Party Government in 1977, Baruah joined the Designers’ Guild, a firm he remained associated with till his death as a consulting engineer.Baruah was the man who challenged imposition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the State in 1981 when the oil blockade movement was at its peak during the Assam agitation. It was following his petition in the Gauhati High Court that the application of the Act was stayed.He leaves behind his wife, a son and a host of relatives.His last rites were performed at the Nabagraha cremation ground this afternoon.

Excise reforms plug revenue leakages

Assam lost substantial amount of revenue for years because of abnormal delay on the part of the State Government in notifying the rules of Excise reforms. However, on the positive side, Assam’s revenue collection has shot up by more than 21 per cent in the past one year because of the Excise reforms and other efforts made to plug the leakages in revenue collection.Highly placed official sources told that the State’s revenue collection went up by around 21.5 per cent in the past one year and the Excise reforms were one of the main reasons while efforts were made to plug the leakages in revenue collection in other departments, particularly in Transport department. The increase in revenue collection was highest in the past one year as normally the collection goes up by nine to eleven per cent in a year and that is why the Centre has decided that if the revenue collection of the State does not increase by 14 per cent in a year after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the balance amount would be compensated.Sources said that the Excise reforms were long overdue. The State Government passed the Bills in the Assembly for carrying out the reforms way back in 2001 and the rules for it were also prepared. But due to unknown reasons, the rules were not notified and that is why the reforms did not take place on the ground, resulting in huge loss of revenue for the State. However, immediately after coming to power, the present government notified the Excise reform rules and some new reforms were also brought, which resulted in substantial increase in revenue collection.Sources revealed that at least 18 bonded warehouses were functioning all along the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border areas. Majority of the owners of the warehouses showed on paper that they were selling liquor in Arunachal Pradesh. But in reality, they were selling liquor in Assam and in the process, the State was losing substantial amount of revenue. But this practice has stopped after the new reforms were put into place and in fact, most of those warehouses have already been closed down. The government is expecting that the Excise revenue collection in the State would go up further in the days to come.
China protests Indian troops ‘crossing boundary’

China today lodged a protest with India over the alleged “crossing of boundary” by its troops in the Sikkim section and demanded their immediate withdrawal, as Beijing warned that future visits of Indian pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar will depend on the resolution of the standoff.“Our position to uphold our territorial sovereignty is unwavering. We hope the Indian side can work with China in the same direction and immediately withdraw the personnel who have overstepped and trespassed into Chinese border,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.“We have lodged solemn representations in Beijing and New Delhi to elaborate on our solemn position,” he said.About the fate of the pilgrims headed to Kailash and Mansarovar, who had returned to Gangtok after denial of permission by China to enter Tibet, Lu said their visit was called off because of security reasons. He also linked future visits of pilgrims to India “withdrawing the troops” from the area.“As to Indian pilgrims’ journey through Nathu La pass at Sikkim section, I think the Indian side is very clear about this. For a long time the Chinese government has made enormous efforts to provide the necessary convenience to those Indian pilgrims,” Lu said.“But recently the Indian border personnel trespassed Chinese border to obstruct our construction, we have taken necessary actions. Out of security consideration we have to put off the pilgrimage by the Indian pilgrims through the Chinese pass,” he said.“On the upcoming actions, we have to depend on what the Indian side will do. They have to take action to improve the security situation,” Lu said.Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang last night said, “China urges India to immediately withdraw its border guards that have crossed the boundary and have a thorough investigation of this matter.”

June 29

Correct your errors, China tells India

Amid a stand-off in the Sikkim sector of the border, China today warned India that future visits of its pilgrims to Kailash Mansarovar through the Nathu La pass will depend on whether it will “correct its errors”.Beijing also termed the construction of a road in the Sikkim sector of the Sino-Indian border as “legitimate”, asserting that it was being built on Chinese territory that neither belongs to India nor Bhutan and no other country had the right to interfere.“Donglang is part of China’s territory. This is indisputable. The Donglang area belonged to China since ancient times and it doesn’t belong to Bhutan,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told the media here.“India wants to raise an issue with this part. I should say it doesn’t belong to Bhutan, nor it belongs to India. So we have complete legal basis for this. Chinese construction of the road project is legitimate and normal action on its territory. No other country has the right to interfere,” he said while replying to a question.Lu defended China’s decision to shut the Nathu La pass in Sikkim for Indian pilgrims, saying that China had agreed to open the route as the boundary there has been delineated with the consent of both the countries.“For a long time in the interest of India-China relations, China provided great conveniences to the Indian pilgrims. Based on the consensus between the two countries’ leaders, and on the fact that the Sikkim sector boundary is delineated and recognised by two countries, the Chinese side in 2015 opened the Nathu La pass for Indian pilgrims,” he said.For two years it worked well and in fact, this year also, the Chinese authorities had prepared for the reception of Indian pilgrims and informed the Indian side about it, Lu said.“Now the suspension of the same is an emergency response to the situation there. I want to stress that the resumption of pilgrims pass requires necessary atmosphere and conditions. So the liability of the same totally lies with the Indian side and when it will be reopened depends on when or whether the Indian side will correct its errors,” he said.China also hinted that India was objecting to its efforts to build the road in Donglang area of the Sikkim sector on behalf of Bhutan which does not have any diplomatic ties with Beijing. Taking a dig at India, Lu said Bhutan is a universally recognised sovereign country.“Hope countries can respect the sovereignty of the country. The China-Bhutan boundary is not delineated, no third party should interfere in this matter and make irresponsible remarks or actions,” he said.“If any third party, out of hidden agenda, interferes it is disrespect of the sovereignty of Bhutan. We don’t want to see this as Bhutan is a country entitled to sovereignty by the international community,” Lu saidDonglang is located in a tri-junction close to the strategic area called Chicken’s Neck.

Biometric devices to detect foreigners

The Assam Police is expected to introduce nearly 30 hand-held biometric devices aimed at capturing photo and finger print of suspected illegal foreigners by the end of this year even as nearly 41,000 declared foreigners of post-1971 stream continue to evade arrest.The instant finger print registration and identity verification system is being introduced for Border Police as a measure to put a check on the vanishing act of the illegal migrants and also to enable the border staff to match the identity of any suspected foreigner if he or she is caught at a later stage.The process of creating an exclusive database is expected to start by the end of this year with the Mumbai-based firm Zebra Company being assigned to execute the project.Director General of Assam Police Border Organization RM Singh, when asked, said that after capturing the picture and finger prints of suspected Bangladeshi nationals by the biometric device, the data would be sent and stored in a central server maintained at the head office of the Assam Police Border Organisation here.Explaining the significance of the project, Singh said once the picture and finger prints are stored digitally, it would be easier to track down the illegal migrants evading arrest.“Some software issues are being sorted out and once they are taken care of, the project will be ready for use,” sources pointed out, adding that almost every district will have at least one such facility at their disposal.Source at the Assam Police headquarters here also said that once the central database is created, photographs and fingerprints of the suspected or declared foreigners could be shared with various law-enforcing agencies at the click of the mouse.Till date, the law enforcers could apprehend only around 1,100 illegal Bangladeshis who had entered the State after 1971.

Recommendations of pay panel okayed

The Union Cabinet today approved recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission (CPC) related to allowances, with 34 modifications – in a decision that will benefit 34 lakh civilian employees and 14 lakh defence personnel.The decision, taken at the meeting of cabinet presided over by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will result in additional financial implication of Rs 30,748.23 crore per annum to the government.Briefing reporters after the cabinet meeting, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said that house rent allowance (HRA) will be paid at 24 per cent, 16 per cent and eight per cent for X, Y, Z cities respectively.He said HRA will not be less than Rs 5,400, Rs 3,600 and Rs 1,800 for X, Y, Z cities calculated at 30, 20 and 10 per cent of minimum pay of Rs 18,000.“The CPC recommended revision of HRA when DA reaches 50 per cent and 100 per cent. The government decided to revise rates when DA crosses 25 per cent and 50 per cent respectively,” he said.HRA is admissible to Central Government employees depending upon classification of the city/town where they are posted. Cities and towns are classified ‘X’, ‘Y’ and ‘Z’ based on their population.Jaitley said that fixed medical allowance for pensioners has been increased from Rs 500 to Rs 1,000 per month. The constant attendance allowance on 100 per cent disablement has been increased from Rs 4,500 per month to Rs 6,750 per month.The minister said the government has increased rate of nursing allowance from Rs 4,800 to Rs 7,200 per month.Operation Theatre allowance has increased from Rs 360 per month and Rs 540 per month. The hospital patient care allowance has been increased from Rs 2,070-Rs 2,100 to Rs 4,100-Rs 5,300 per month.

DGP calls for synergy among NE police forces

There is an urgent need for improving synergy between the police forces of the states of the North East while keeping the sanctity of the inter-state boundaries intact not only to deal with militancy but also to prevent other crimes. This was the view expressed by the Director General of Assam Police, Mukesh Sahay.On the eve of the two-day conference of the heads of the police forces of the states of the region, which begins here tomorrow, the DGP said that as the militants and criminals do not respect the inter-state boundaries and trans-border crimes have become a common feature, there is need for better coordination between the police forces of the states of the region. He said that the coordination between the police forces has improved a lot over the years, but there is still scope for improvement and the two-day conference would try to evolve strategies to deal with crimes, which are affecting all the states.Sahay pointed out that several states of the region are facing the problem of militancy and the active militant groups of the region have already joined hands. There have been movement of militants from one state to another and under the circumstances, the police forces of the states must have better coordination to deal with the situation. He pointed out that among the states of the North East, Sikkim is totally free from militancy, while, Assam and Manipur are badly affected, while, militants have started moving through Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland. Under the present situation, only better synergy among the police forces can check the inter-state movement of militants.Giving stress on “real time sharing of intelligence”, Sahay pointed out that any intelligence input is almost invalid if that does not reach the right person at the right time. He revealed that the heads of the intelligence wings of all the states of the region would also attend the conference so that a mechanism can be evolved for ensuring real time sharing of intelligence to prevent inter-state movement of the militants and other criminals.

June 30

Indrani lodges complaint against jail officials

Sheena Bora murder case accused Indrani Mukerjea today filed a complaint with police alleging that she was beaten up by Byculla Prison officials even as her medical examination found that she had “received some injuries.”The 44-year-old former media executive, booked for rioting in the women’s prison along with other inmates, was yesterday given permission by a special CBI court to lodge her complaint with the city police after undergoing a medical examination in a hospital here.Following the court’s direction, Indrani went to the Nagpada police station at around 12.30 am and submitted a written application, a senior police officer said.In her complaint, she also alleged that she was hurt when the prison officials cane-charged the inmates after they gathered to vent their anger at the death of a fellow-inmate, the officer said.Indrani was among nearly 200 inmates of the Byculla Jail booked by Nagpada police for rioting and other offences after they staged a protest over the death of a convict, Manju Govind Shette (45).

Sonowal lays stress on modern technology

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal today urged the heads of the police forces of all the North Eastern States to work as ‘Team North East’ for effective synergy in dealing with common law and order issues.Sonowal while inaugurating the two-day 24th Conference of Director Generals of Police, Inspector Generals of Police and heads of Central police organizations of North Eastern States being organized by the Intelligence Bureau held here, stressed on the concept of smart policing.“As we all know that the insurgent groups are using technology to create trouble and therefore special stress has to be laid on the use of modern technology to counter such evil designs effectively,” the Chief Minister asserted.“Our prime duty is to instill a sense of security among the common people and protect them from all possible threats,” he said.Earlier, Director General of Assam Police Mukesh Sahay too put his weight behind formation of an umbrella police set up comprising forces of all the North Eastern States, besides setting up a common cyber forensic laboratory at Guwahati.Sahay while addressing the gathering also vouched for the concept of North East Police and went on to stress on technology-driven synergy among the law enforcing agencies of the region.

Israel upbeat over Modi visit

Israel is going all out to make Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the country, the first ever by an Indian premier, a memorable one with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu in a rare gesture planning to accompany “his friend” to major events.Netanyahu would be present at the Ben-Gurion airport along with the protocol team on July 4 to welcome Modi where national anthems of both the countries would be played during a ceremony.Indian-origin Israeli singer Liora Itzhak, who learnt Indian classical music in Mumbai and Pune as a teenager and later also sang songs for Bollywood movies, has been chosen to sing both the national anthems.The Israeli premier would be hosting Modi the same evening over dinner at his official residence where they will have their first one to one interaction.The two leaders would be meeting on July 5 again over a working session following which the Israeli premier would host Modi for lunch.Netanyahu, in a rare show of warmth, would also take Modi personally to the Israel museum in Jerusalem to show some of the rare exhibits related to the Indian-Jewish heritage. The museum has a replica of the Jewish synagogue in Cochin on display.On top of all this, Netanyahu would also be accompanying “his friend” during his much-awaited address to the Indian community at the Exhibition Grounds in Tel Aviv on July 5 in the evening.No other foreign leader seems to have been extended such a warm welcome by an Israeli Prime Minister in the past few decades.

NE govts should create scope for investment: US envoy

US Consul General in Kolkata Craig L Hall today said that sectors like agriculture, tourism, infrastructure, power, etc, in Assam and other north-eastern states provided ample scope for investment and it was for the governments in the region to create the required atmosphere for prospective US investors.Hall added that the region’s proximity with the South Asian nations was another big plus that could open up exciting vistas if some thought was given to it.“The North-east’s strategic location accruing from its proximity to several South Asian countries is replete with possibilities. It can well emerge as the gateway to South Asia if the governments can get their act together. The US can also do its bit here, as it wants to extend its influence to South East Asia through the North-east,”.The US envoy felt that connectivity in terms of road, rail and air in the North-east was not up to the level of rest of India and said that it warranted government intervention. “I understand that connectivity is a key issue here, and the governments need to address it,” he said.Asserting that US-India ties had been on an upswing for quite some time and the recent Modi-Trump meeting gave it a further impetus, especially in matters of security and fight against terror, Hall said that education and economic ties, too, had been the focal points in Indo-US bilateral cooperation.“Educational and economic ties have been central to Indo-US relations for decades. This is born out by the huge presence of Indian students across our educational campuses. The number of Indian students in the US has seen a record rise to 1,66,000 as of now. It is an increase of 33,000 over last year’s, with a growth rate of 25 per cent,” he said.On the issue of H1b visa restrictions and curb on outsourcing by US firms to India, Hall said that there was only a national debate on visa restrictions and nothing concrete had come out as yet. “In any case the debate is whether the US can allow more Indians in work than what we are already having; so there is no question of any job cut,” he pointed out.