Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bedrock of Naga Society

State exists not only for mere life but also for the sake of good life. - Aristotle

The 16-Point Agreement of 1960 came about when the Nagas were going through the worst of times. But it was also one of the best things to have happened to the Naga people because it led to the birth of Statehood - on whose firm foundation our society is built. In a larger form of things, due to the Agreement, for the first time, the world recognised the territory of the Nagas as Nagaland.

But of late, there has been an increasing tendency to criticise the 16-point Agreement signed between the Naga People's Convention (NPC) and the Government of India that led to the creation of Nagaland State on December 1st 1963. The criticism implies that the 16-point agreement was a mistake, as the demand of the people was for complete independence from India. When carefully analysed, much of this criticism is bereft of historical facts and emanates from a section of frustrated politicians solely for the sake of narrow political and personal gains. Such groundless criticism can be safely ignored. However, what is of greater concern is that similar comments are also being made by impartial persons who have no political axe to grind and who genuinely have the interests of Nagas at heart. They too seem to believe that the 16-point agreement compromised the demand for a sovereign Naga nation. The voice of such persons deserves attention. It is, therefore, necessary that the truth should be stated and the record set straight. Let us talk on facts, not emotions. Emotions have a way of hiding the truth.

Sovereignty : Myth and reality
The fundamental assumption underlying the notion that Statehood compromised the sovereignty of Nagas, is that the Nagas were a separate independent entity from time immemorial till the British rulers conquered them. Therefore, when the British left India in 1947, the Nagas should have reverted to their independent status. Prima facie, this sounds an attractive proposition, but is it really true? Let us not be misled by words like 'time immemorial'. Did we have an independent political existence at all immediately before the British rule or even during the British days? Were we really an independent nation? A political entity or a nation has to be based on historical facts. It presupposes the existence of a definite political structure that governs a clearly demarcated area of land which is inhabited by a people who accept this arrangement and have close contacts with each other. It also demands that the political structure would be either a monarchy, a democracy, an autocracy, an oligarchy, a dictatorship or any other structure that is universally accepted by political scientists as an 'independent, self-governing and well defined political entity' or a 'nation'. Other areas in the North-East like Assam, Manipur, Tripura and the Kacharis had their territories and their kingdoms. Did we? The stark and inescapable truth is that neither did we have a definite and unified political structure and nor did we exist as a nation. We were actually a group of heterogeneous, primitive and diverse tribes living in far-flung villages that had very little in common and negligible contact with each other. Education did not exist and awareness about the world outside was totally absent. Each village was practically an entity in itself. A village does not make a nation. The main 'contact' between villages was through the savage practice of headhunting. Mutual suspicion and distrust was rife. People led an insular and isolated life. Interecine warfare was the order of the day. There was no trust or interaction between different tribes. In these circumstances, the question of a unified 'Naga nation' did not arise. No one can dispute these historical truths. There is enough documentation recorded by the British administrators, some as late as the end of the 19th century, which gives the correct picture as it existed. We cannot ignore such historical evidence and rely on emotional outbursts alone.

We continue to claim we were an independent nation till the British conquered us. Did we have a boundary for our nation? As late as the 1940's, when British rule was almost over, large parts of today's Nagaland did not even exist on their maps. Instead of showing villages the maps showed large blank white spaces with the words "Unadministered and Unsurveyed". Did we have a ruler or a Government? The writ of a village chief did not ex- tend beyond his village. Did we have a capital city where the Government sat? The British Deputy Commissioner sat in Kohima out of convenience. Was this the capital of the independent Naga nation that we claim existed before the British? Did we have a currency or a coinage like other kingdoms or nations? We lived on barter till the British introduced the rupee. Did we have armed forces to defend our nation? Did we have common laws, rules and regulations for our nation as a whole? Did we have an administrative apparatus to look after the welfare of the people? Did we have roads that linked the nation? The answer to all these are obviously in the negative. These questions cannot be ignored, especially by those who are educated and claim to be the intelligentsia of our society. Let us face the reality that existed. Let us not distort history and let us not fool ourselves any more. The plain fact is that we never existed as an independent, unified nation at any time in our history. Yes, each village existed Independently, but is that the equivalent of a Naga Nation? Even the names Naga or Angami or Ao or Sema or Chang were unknown to us. We called people of different tribes by other names. We led a primitive and brutish life in our villages, uncivilized and unlettered. The word of Christ was unknown and unheard of. Life beyond the village boundaries was unknown. Justice was rough and summary. Diseases went unchecked. Slavery was common. People lived and died without ever leaving their villages. We had no idea of the concept of a nation or independence or nationhood. Is it right to make these tall claims that we were an independent nation before the British conquered us? At least, let us be honest about our ancestry and our history. We Nagas always prefer honesty to falsehood, however painful the truth may be.

The then Naga way of life is best summed up by RB McCabe who, writing about the Nagas in the 19th century, says "Grouped in small communities of from 100 to 3,000 persons, the Nagas have remained isolated on their hill tops, only deigning to visit their immediate neighbours when a longing for the possession of their heads become too strong to be resisted".

Origin of Naga nationalism
Beginning from the early 1950s, the Naga "nationalism" gained momentum and was accelerated with the election of A.Z. Phizo as president of the NNC on Dec 11, 1950. Under Phizo's leadership, the Nagas conducted the Plebiscite of May 16, 1951 in which it is claimed 99.9% of the Nagas voted for independence. This Plebiscite emotionally integrated the various Naga tribes, and boosted the morale of the movement.

Most scholars agree that the whole Naga problem was ineptly handled by the then police and administration. The banning of the NNC in 1952 was a blunder which compelled the leaders to turn underground once and for all. The movement was given its first martyr when an officer of the Assam Police shot dead Zasibito Angami of Jotsoma village on October 18, 1952 during a public demonstration. The ban was a blunder because Delhi did not realise the popular support the NNC had at that point of time.

An opportunity to settle the problem once and for all came when the prime ministers of India and Burma visited Kohima on March 30, 1953. But the then deputy commissioner of Kohima, for reasons best known to him, did not allow the Nagas to submit a memorandum to the visiting prime ministers. The several thousand Nagas gathered at the venue to receive the VIPs turned and left the ground enmasse when they learned they were not to make themselves heard before the prime ministers. This was, indeed, a turning point in the history of the Nagas.

It is agreed that political will was lacking somewhere down the line. But more important, awareness of each other's way of life and reasoning was deplorably inadequate and thus, the impasse.

Division of the movement
The abduction, torture and killing of T Sakhrie by his own people saw the splitting of the movement into two with the majority of the Nagas finding themselves literally between the devil and the deep blue sea - on the one hand, the Indian troops harassed, tortured, raped and herded villagers into concentration camps and burned their granaries, and on the other hand, for the first and severest time in the history of Naga movement for self determination, Nagas began to hunt, torture and kill fellow Nagas which, understandably, divided the sympathy of the Naga people. The movement too, was divided and it fell into disarray. Several thousands of Nagas were killed; thousands more were tortured in the most inhuman manner; and the rest - the innocent public - suffered in the agony of having their loved ones killed and tortured - theirs was but to live in perpetual fear. They feared the Indian army, and they also feared their own people in the jungles.They neither liked the hammer nor the anvil.

And the sorry part of the whole saga of suffering was that there was nothing the world could do. Human rights awareness in these parts of the world in 1950s was almost absent and the innocents cried in silence and shed unseen tears.

The insensibility of the whole thing became simply mindboggling - but a clear conclusion dawned on the people: If the insanity was allowed to continue any longer, the very survival of the Nagas as a people would be put on the very brink of annihilation.

The people could not work their fields. They could not live their normal lives. And since agriculture was, as is, the mainstay of the Nagas, the spectre of a widespread famine loomed large on the horizons.

Hell on earth
It became obvious that we had over-estimated our strength and that the Government of India under-estimated our capabilities to fight a long-drawn out battle. At the same time, it also became painfully obvious that the public have suffered enough-too much blood had been shed and too many precious lives have been lost. Wives became widows and children became orphans; there was not a single family in all the Naga villages which had not lost a near and dear one to the atrocities of either Indian Army or the Naga undergrounds. The movement had become a nightmare for the Nagas.

The then prevailing situation in these hills was worse than the Hobbesian State of Nature where the worst in man was let loose upon their fellow beings. It was worse because fear, hatred and worst of all, suspicion was sown in the minds of the villagers for the first time. Villagers became suspicious of each other as a new group of people popularly known as intiligin (people who were under .he employ of the Military Intelligence) were recruited to spy and report on the activities of the underground as well as the villagers.

The Government of India was clear that sovereignty was not possible under any circumstances. And also sensing the mood of despondency among the people, it made clear that status quo should continue and the Naga Hi1Is would remain as a district of Assam. It seemed as if the Naga people had no future. It seemed as if the Nagas were destined to be lost in the multitude of people with alien culture, different thinking and aspirations.

Necessity of the times
It also appeared that the Naga movement initiated by Phizo had reached a dead end. And it was at this time that a few educated and patriotic persons who felt that the Naga people took stock of the then prevailing situation, and resolved that even if Independence was no possible, the land, identity and individuality of the Naga people should never be compromised with by remaining as a district of Assam.The choice was between survival and annihilation - the choice was between being submerged forever in Assam, or being recognised as a distinct entity having the freedom to exercise our traditional rights and respected as a people, or being trampled under the weight of dictatorship.
People's conventions
The generations of today cannot imagine the distress that the leaders of those days went through to take these choices. Many of these leaders were killed just because they voiced their feelings and convictions. But it is to their eternal credit that they did not take any decisions hastily or without consultations. They were, true to the spirit of the Naga ancestors, genuine democrats. They consulted and discussed all these issues in minute details with all the different tribes and even with those living outside Nagaland. Their sole intention was to ameliorate and alleviate the sufferings of the people and their efforts would be better appreciated when considered alongwith the fact that transport and communication as well as security in those days was nothing to write home about. However, the conviction that each and every group of Nagas should be thoroughly consulted before taking such a momentous decision as drawing up any agreement with the Government of India, overcome all hesitations and difficulties. Moreover, the leaders of that period took utmost care to ensure the voice and opinions of the villagers were heard, and a consensus was reached. After due deliberations, and ensuring that all the different tribes made their feelings known, the Naga People's Convention was formed and a series of meetings were held at Kohima in 1957, at Ungmna in 1958 and at Mokokchung in 1959 to seek the opinion of the people before responding to the invitation of the Government of India. It was understood from the very beginning that decisions would only be taken with the approval of the majority, and though not easy by any means to bring about a consensus opinion among the various, hitherto not too familiar tribes, a unanimous decision was worked out at long last. And after protracted negotiations with the Government of India, the 16-Point Agreement was signed in 1960 and the State of Nagaland born in 1963.

Covenant to end a war
This Agreement is a remarkable document and it was the first of its kind signed by the Government of India with any section of its people. Nagaland is the only State born out of an agreement. This is indeed remarkable in the days when Delhi followed an iron-hand policy as far as integration of the country was concerned. Statehood of Nagaland was the amalgamation of the aspirations of the people especially their aspirations to live in peace, normalcy and prosperity. It was a covenant without a battle to end a senseless war, and credit must go to the Naga leaders who had the rational desire and human instinct to escape from the senseless conditions of war that prevailed at that point of time. And it gave the Nagas worth and significance in the eyes of the world.

Statehood-bedrock of Naga society
Statehood also gave the Nagas a sense of unity, identity and political entity for the very first time. Tuensang and Mon areas were merged with the new State and the representatives of these areas were represented for the first time in policy-making for the development of the people. It established parliamentary democracy in our society and ensured that the destiny of the Nagas would be decided and charted by the Nagas themselves and not by someone alien to their ways of life. At the same time, recognising the need to preserve our culture, traditions and customary laws, a special provision was added to the Constitution of India. Article 371 A of the Constitution gaurantees that, unless the Legislative Assembly of Nagaland so decides, no Act of the Indian Parliament would apply to the State of Nagaland in respect of

i) religious and social Practices of the Nagas
ii) Naga customary laws and procedures
iii) administration of civil and criminal justice involving decisions according to Naga customary laws and
iv) ownership and transfer of land and its resources.

In all respects, this is no mean achievement. But it is easy to belittle these achievements today and cast unwanted and unfair aspersions on the leaders who made it possible. It is also easy to sit in the comforts of one's home, enjoy the fruits of Statehood and make unfair comments, forgetting all the trials and tribulations that went into giving the Nagas an honourable place in the Indian Union.

37 years of Statehood
It has indeed, been a long and winding road for the Nagas in the last 37 years od Statehood. But nevertheless, we have come far and we have reasons to boast of our achievements.

In 1963, the population of the State stood at 3.69 lakh out of whom barely 18% or sixty-six thousand people were literate. There was not a single college in the whole State and there were only two Government High Schools, 11 middle schools and 180 primary schools.There were only two civil hospitals and a handful of smaller hospitals and dispensaries in some few places.Basic amenities such as water and electric supply were non-existent. Black-topped roads stretched for hardly 168 kilometres and the remaining roads barely reached a few administrative headquarters. The total fund allocation for the entire Naga Hills Tuensang Area in 1963 amounted to a paltry Rs 3.88 crore with a few hundred Government servants running the affairs of the State Government.

The State Legislative Assembly has voted a budget of Rs 1,725 crore for the year 2000-2001. And this directly reflects on the amount of investment and the degree of development the people of Nagaland has made in the last three-plus decades. Houses even in the remotest areas have CGI roofings with roads leading to them. Schools, play grounds, electricity and health care facilities have been provided to one and all. Our literacy rate stands at 83% ranking among the highest in the whole country. Above all, we have our own elected legislators and about a lakh of government servants to run the government thereby enabling us to determine our own destiny.

Criminalisation of the Cause
What has happened to the movement for independence is clearly visible today. All idealism seems to have been lost and the goals for which thousands suffered and sacrificed their lives appear to have been completely forgotten. The movement has now degenerated into sheer terrorism with killing of innocents, extortion, looting, intimidation and threats becoming the order of the day. Gun culture is all pervading and the price for dissent is death. People are afraid to express their opinions, and the straight-forwardness that characterised Naga society appears to have vanished. Leaders who head the movement now do not seem to have the vision, the wisdom, the democratic credentials and the compassion that are required to lead a people and run a nation. They impose their decisions through threat. They do not command respect - they demand it from the people at gun point.

What was once a movement of the people by the people for the people, is now reduced to meaningless terrorism with the so-called national workers embarking on a spree of extortion and self-agrandisement. A movement which once had volunteers sacrificing their everything is now reduced to goondaism. This is amply shown by the fact that cadres of the different factions of the underground go around villages demanding that they should be fed and supplied with rations and money, as if the villagers owe them.

In other words, the movement initiated and nurtured by the people has gone against the same people, and those criminalising the once noble movement force themselves to believe, or suffer from delusions, that they have the sympathy of the public.The recent resolution of the village representatives from the 1068 villages at the VDB Conference speaks volumes about the attitude of the people towards violence.

Modern concept of Sovereignty
Apart from this, we also must be practical enough to realise that independence is not some magic wand that would solve all our problems at one stroke. The world has changed, and national boundaries and territorial sovereignty have little meaning today. Small, under developed and economically poor nations have no future in a world that is increasingly driven by market economy. Inter-dependence has replaced independence as the means to prosperity and economics is the real politics of today. The modern concept of sovereignty is based on economic sovereignty, and not political sovereignty as in the past. The European Union is a prime example. A number of countries have formed the Union to have a common currency and maximise their economic interests. They have abolished all trade, citizenship and commercial barriers among their respective nations. The main reason why nations should merge is that people want prosperity, a better life and rapid economic progress. They do not want to isolate themselves, nor do they want to strive in vain or live in poverty.

Naga Independence A Hypothesis
These are the trends that are dominating the global scenario today and it would be naïve and self-defeating to ignore these developments sweeping across nations the world over.

In this background, let us seriously introspect on whether Nagaland can survive as an independent nation. There are people who argue that even without a historical legacy, the Nagas must struggle for independence. Under the label of 'scholars' and 'thinkers' there are some busy-bodies who strongly advocate that Nagas are not Indians and that Nagaland is not a part of India. For the sake of academic discussion, let us for a moment agree that Nagas must struggle for sovereignty or independence. Now the question arises- how do we establish an independent Nagaland and run this nation? First and foremost, as an independent country we should be able to stand on our own legs. Are we in a position to do so? Where do we find the resources to manage the manifold and complex activities that are essential for even the smallest nation? Let us take just a few examples of what an independent, country requires:

  • Resources to run the Government, General Administration, Judiciary, Police, Civic Services etc.
  • Establishing and finding resources for a standing Army, Air Force and other Defence related expenditure.
  • Providing education, health care, power, water supply and numerous other developmental activities for the people. (Despite being a small State we have over 60 Departments presently and would need many more as an independent nation.)
  • Establishing diplomatic missions, at least with major countries, and expenditure on UNO member-ship etc.
  • Finding avenues for employment for our educated youth within the nation, since many avenues that exist at present would not be available.
  • Establishing our own Air and Rail services, Postal, Telegraph and Telephone services, Customs and Excise machinery, Banking services, Currency and Coinage, Industries etc.

The list is endless and could go on and on, but the general picture is obvious. Do we have the resources, the expertise, the professional and technical competence and the machinery to do all this? It is easy to be idealistic and be swayed by wild promises; it is difficult to face hard facts. For instance, in 1999-2000, the budget of Nagaland State was about Rs.1256 crore. Out of this, as much as Rs.1078 crore (86%) came as grants or loans from the Central Government and financial institutions and about Rs. 92 crore from GPF subscriptions of Government employees and recovery of loans. What was our own contribution? The internal revenue generated by the State was as little as Rs. 86 crore (6.8%). Again, much of this accrued as taxes from traders belonging to other parts of the country, which would not be available after independence. Obviously, all grants and loans from India would automatically cease if we became independent. What sort of an economy would we have to sustain a nation? Surely it cannot be an economy built out of extortion. If taxes are to be levied, where is the income for this?

It is clear that ours would be a bankrupt and insolvent country and the people would not be able to survive. The plain truth is that without economic strength, no nation can survive as an independent entity.

Nagas can do without that bloody sovereignty if it means pulling the society back by hundreds, if not thousands of years in terms of social evolution. Let us not march backwards but forward alongwith the rest of the world.

The Last Word
Statehood fulfilled the aspirations of the Nagas to a large extent: The identity of the Nagas had been preserved as desired by Naga leaders ever since the feeling of Naga-oneness began. A special provision in the Constitution of India guarantees the protection of the religion, culture and traditions of the Nagas as well as their land and its resources. The 16-Point Agreement was not drafted by blind persons and signed blindly. Every clause was carefully considered and finalised after extensive consultations and with the interests of the Nagas in mind. The leaders of the Naga People's Convention were genuine patriots who fervently desired a bright future for the people. They were practical and realistic and knew that dreams alone cannot provide bread and butter to the people. They were also true democrats. They did not believe in violence, killings and coercion as the means to settle problems. It would be extremely uncharitable and petty to denigrate them and what they did for the Nagas. 'They need our whole hearted gratitude. All of us need to seriously consider these issues before jumping to hasty and wrong conclusions.

We have a new millennium ahead of us. We have no choice but to look forward, evolving new ideas on how to survive and exist as a people in the next millenium. The Future is the theme, not the past. We cannot now afford to live in the myths of the past. Are we going to prepare to face the challenges of the future in order to survive, or will we live only in the dreams of the past by which we will surely perish. We also have to be in consonance with the historical processes that are emerging and are likely to govern the world society.

Published by the Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (I)

Delhi gangrape case: Singapore doctor deposes before fast-track court

New Delhi, Feb. 25 (ANI): The doctor from Singapore''s Mount Elizabeth hospital, who performed a post-mortem examination of the Delhi gangrape victim deposed before the fast-track court here on Monday.

A.P. Singh, a defence lawyer for two of the accused in gang rape case, highlighted that 31 of the 90 witnesses mentioned in the chargesheet had now been deposed before the court.

"Dr. Paul Chui of Mount Elizabeth hospital who conducted the post mortem of the victim had to depose on his report. He went through the cross examination on behalf of the defence counsel through video conferencing," said Singh while interacting with mediapersons outside the Saket District Court complex.

Singh also shared some details of the cross examination with the doctor, wherein the defence counsel raised doubts on whether the victim was brought to the hospital dead or alive.

"While commenting on the usage of rod in assaulting the victim the doctor said that it could be accidental and was unable to give a clear cause of death," said Singh.

A 23-year-old paramedical student was raped, beaten and tortured by six men on a moving bus in South Delhi area on December 16 last year.

Prosecutors alleged that the six accused, five men and one youth, attacked a trainee physiotherapist and her friend on a bus as they returned home from watching a movie at around 9 p.m.

The victim later died of internal injuries in a Singapore hospital two weeks later. (ANI)

Nagaland election: Re-poll in nine booths on Tuesday

Kohima: Re-election will be held at nine polling stations in as many assembly constituencies in Nagaland on Tuesday, Election Department said.
Re-election in the nine booths were ordered as the voting was adjourned because of disturbance by miscreants, clashes between supporters of political parties and candidates and damage of EVMs on February 23, a notification of the election department said.

Election was held in 59 constituencies for the 60-member Nagaland Assembly on February 23.

Polls to Tuensang Sadar-I was countermanded following the demise of Congress candidate P Chuba Chang on February 22 from where he was seeking re-election. Counting will be held on February 28.


Mizoram seeks Centre's help on financial situation

Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on Monday met Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in Delhi and sought his help to tide over the financial crisis being faced by the state government.
Singh expressed his desire of helping the state as far as he could to overcome the fiscal problems, an official statement said here.

State finance department officials told PTI that the government has submitted an appeal to the Union Finance Ministry to provide around Rs 500 crore so as to offset the fiscal crunch arising out of the implementation of the Sixth Central Pay Commission recommendations.

Lal Thanhawla had met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi last week and sought her support in the matter.

The Chief Minister and the Prime Minister also discussed how to broker peace with the Kuki National Organisation of Manipur, the statement said.

Lal Thanhawla on Saturday had discussed the KNO dialogue issue with Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and expressed regret that the Centre and the Manipur government did not properly respond to the peace overtures by the Kuki outfit which, he said, observed the ceasefire with earnest.


Defence PRO, 5 others remanded to police custody till March 8

Imphal: A Colonel-rank Defence PRO in Manipur and five others arrested for allegedly transporting illicit drugs estimated at over Rs 24 crore for smuggling to Myanmar were on Monday remanded to police custody till March eight.
Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thoubal, passed the order for police custody of the six, including Manipur Defence PRO Ajay Chaudhury arrested Sunday in Chandel district, following an application by investigating officer A Ghanashyam Sharma.

Cases have been filed against the six under sections 21 and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act following the seizure at Pallel in Chandel district yesterday when they were headed in a convoy for the border town of Moreh.

The police said that the six were to be produced before the court at 1:00 pm, but it was delayed because of a medical checkup at the Kakching police station.

Colonel Ajay Chaudhury was arrested along with his assistant R K Babalu, IndiGo assistant manager Ngairangbam Brojendro Singh, besides three others, Haopu Haokip, Minthang Bongel and Milan Haokip.

Among the last three, one is related to a senior state government official and another to a former minister who is now an MLA, but the police refused to identify them.

Police said the illicit drugs seized would have fetched over Rs 24 crore.

Yesterday, Chaudhury had claimed that he was unaware that the consignment contained illicit drugs and that he was allegedly cheated by the nephew of a very senior officer into accompanying him, but had not identified to whom he was referring to among those arrested. "Since, he is a friend and he is a relative of someone senior, you will never suspect him of doing anything like this.... Somehow I have been cheated in this," he had said.

The seized drugs, also called party drugs, included pseudoephedrine tablets Respifed, Omkop, Hilcold, Polyfed and Actidin.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Rahul to meet PCC chiefs, CLP leaders from Northeast today

New Delhi: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will hold talks with PCC chiefs and CLP leaders from the Northeastern states here on Monday in a bid to strengthen the party in states ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in 2014.

This is the second part of such consultations with state leaders, the earlier being held ten days back. State leaders from the Northeast had not attended those deliberations due to the Assembly polls in Nagaland, Mizoram and Meghalaya.

This is the second such consultation by Gandhi after he was appointed the vice president of the party at Congress 'Chintan Shivir' in Jaipur in January.

Rahul Gandhi had earlier held freewheeling discussions with the AICC office-bearers about the challenges confronting the party and the way ahead.

The deliberations with state leaders assume significance as Assembly elections in nine states, including Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Delhi, are scheduled this year while the Lok Sabha polls are nearly 15 months away.


Alert sounded in Tripura

Agartala: An alert was sounded in Tripura following twin blasts in Hyderabad in which 16 people lost their lives, official sources said on Sunday."Following instructions from the central government, we have alerted our security forces so that no sabotage could take place in the state," state Chief Secretary Sanjoy Kumar Panda told reporters here.

On February 22, BSF Director-General Subhash Joshi here had said high alert had been sounded along India's borders with other countries.

Tripura has 856-km-long border with Bangladesh.


India's northeast alerted after Hyderabad blasts

Agartala: A high alert has been sounded in India's northeast following the Hyderabad terror attack that killed 16 people, an official said on Sunday.

"The union home ministry has asked all northeastern states to intensify their vigil," a paramilitary official told a news agency.
He said bomb experts and dog squads had been told to scan crowded places.

Four northeastern states - Tripura, Meghalaya, Mizoram and Assam - share a 1,880-km border with Bangladesh. Mizoram, Manipur, Nagaland and Arunachal Pradesh share a 1,640-km border with Myanmar. Most of the international border is unfenced and runs through dense forests and mountainous, making it porous, vulnerable and advantageous for terrorists and others.

On Feb 21, two powerful bombs, suspected to be planted by terror groups, killed 16 people and injured 117 in Hyderabad.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

Assembly elections 2013: Meghalaya registers 88% voting, Nagaland 83%

New Delhi/Meghalaya/Nagaland: Meghalaya recorded 88 per cent polling and Nagaland 83.27 per cent in the assembly elections held on Saturday, which passed off peacefully barring a few minor incidents in Nagaland.

The counting would be held on February 28.

Meghalaya recorded a high turnout defying a bandh call by militants in some districts and came close to its last time turnout of 89.04 per cent.

Nagaland had recorded 86.19 per cent voting in the last assembly polls. In the bye-elections to six assembly constituencies which were also peaceful, Chalfilh in Mizoram recorded 78 per cent voting, Bhatpar in Uttar Pradesh 50 per cent and Moga in Punjab recorded 70.33 per cent polling, Deputy Election Commissioner Alok Shukla told reporters here.

In the bypolls to three assembly constituencies in West Bengal, Nalhati Birbhum recorded 65 per cent polling, English Bazar in Malda district 75 per cent and Rejinagar in Murshidabad district recorded 72 per cent polling.

Defying a bandh called by militants in seven districts, 88 per cent of the 15.03 lakh electorate cast their votes to elect 60 members from among 345 candidates in the election to the ninth Meghalaya Assembly today.

State's Chief Election Officer P Naik said voting was more intense in the Khasi Jaintia Hills region despite a 36-hour bandh called from 6:00 pm yesterday by the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council in seven districts.

Brisk polling was recorded in Nagaland for 59 seats of the state assembly amidst unprecendented security. Polling has been adjourned in Tuensang sadar seat following the sudden death of Congress candidate P Chuba Chang yesterday.

Enthusiasm was noticed among the electorate following calls by Nagaland Baptist Church Council and Election Commission for 'one person one vote'. The sources said polling was peaceful across the state barring some skirmishes between party workers and candidates' supporters.


75% polling in Mizoram bypoll

Aizawl: Seventy-five per cent of the electorate exercised their franchise in the Chalfilh Assembly seat in Mizoram on Saturday, a senior poll official said.Joint chief electoral officer H Lalengmawia told PTI that the final figure on the voter turnout would be available only after all polling parties, who were leaving the constituency tonight, arrived here.

Polling was peaceful, he said. Counting of votes will be held on February 28.

Seven candidates -- Dr Ngurdingliana of the ruling Congress, Lalvenhima Hmar of the Mizo National Front, Lalhmangaiha Sailo of the Mizoram People's Conference, C Lalchhandama of the Zoram Nationalist Party, C Ramkinlova of the BJP, D K Thanga of the Lok Janshakti Party and lone independent candidate R Lalrohlua -- are in the poll fray.

The bypoll was necessitated after sitting Congress legislator Chawngtinthanga passed away on September 16 last year.


Over 88 pc voting in Meghalaya, stray incidents reported

Shillong: Over 88 per cent of votes were cast on Saturday for the 60 Assembly seats in Meghalaya where polling was held in a peaceful manner, barring stray incidents.

Chief Electoral Officer P Naik told a news agency that polling was peaceful in the state except for few stray incidents, detailed reports of which were awaited.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and three ex-CMs -- state Congress chief D D Lapang, party leader S C Marak and United Democratic Party chief Donkupar Roy -- are among the high- profile candidates whose fate were sealed by 15 lakh voters. Defying the 36-hour bandh called by the Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC), people in large numbers were still queueing up beyond the stipulated time of 4 PM in several polling stations in the Garo hills, election officials said.

Reports stated that a woman candidate of BJP has sought repoll in at least four polling stations under Wahjajer constituency in West Jaintia Hills district.

Police have rounded up eight persons and arrested a BJP supporter for allegedly trying to break the EVM in one of the polling stations there.

The candidate, VN Lamare, however, alleged that polling agents from the Congress "chased her agents", besides threatening to assault them and demanded repoll from the Election Commission.

The ruling Congress is the only party contesting all the 60 seats followed by the UDP in 50 seats. The P A Sangma-led National Peoples' Party, in the opposition, is contesting in 32 seats. Election officials said an electorate of 15,03,907, including 7,59,608 women, exercised their franchise in the elections being contested by 345 candidates belonging to 15 political parties and independents, including 25 women.

Altogether 91 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed to maintain law and order in the state.
The BSF has sealed the 498 km-long border with Bangladesh and deployed additional forces to prevent any attempt of the rebels to cross over and disrupt the poll process.

In view of the bandh, the government had deployed around 100 public transport vehicles in the capital city and the East Khasi Hills district for the convenience of voters.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

Voting begins in Meghalaya

Shillong: Voting for the Meghalaya Assembly Elections began on Saturday amidst tight security, an official said.

Men and women in large numbers queued up in front of polling stations well before voting opened at 7 am in the entire state. Polling ends at 4 pm, said chief electoral officer Prashant Naik.
The outlawed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) has called for a 36-hour shutdown from 6 pm Friday to 6 am Sunday (February 24) as part of the outfit's boycott the Assembly polls.

Over 15 lakh electorate are eligible to exercise their franchise to decide the fate of 345 candidates, including 24 women and 122 independents.


Nagaland Assembly Elections: Brisk polling reported

Guwahati: Polling was in "full swing" on Saturday for the 60-member Nagaland Assembly that began on a peaceful note, an official said.

People came out in large numbers to exercise their franchise when balloting began at 7 am.

"Polling is on in full swing in almost all the polling stations of the state. All the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) are working properly and there is no reports of any incident from anywhere so far," Joint Chief Electoral Officer of Nagaland N Moa Aier told a news agency.
"It is difficult to say the exact polling percentage at this moment as we are still collecting reports from various polling stations. However, there is good turnout almost everywhere," he said.

Nagaland has a total of 1,193,438 electorate, including 589,505 women.

The election officials are using 2,600 EVMs to conduct the polls in 2,023 polling stations across the state.

A total of 188 candidates, including only two women, are in the fray to get elected to the 60-member Nagaland Assembly. Forty-nine of the 60 outgoing legislators are seeking re-election.

The ruling NPF has fielded candidates in all 60 seats while the main opposition Congress has put up candidates in 57 Assembly constituencies. One third of the 60 constituencies will witness straight fights between the NPF and Congress.

The Bharatiya Janata Party, which won two seats in 2008, has fielded 11 candidates this time. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), which has two members in the outgoing Assembly, has 15 contenders.

According to the election officials, over 26,000 security personnel including 225 companies of central paramilitary forces and the state police have been deployed across the state for smooth conduct of elections in Nagaland.


Mizoram CM meets Sonia over state's financial problems

Aizawl: Mizoram Chief Minister Lal Thanhawla on Friday met UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi at her residence and asked for her help to tide over the state's financial problems.

Thanhawla, who apprised the Congress President about political developments in the state, wanted her support to eliminate the acute financial problems being faced by Mizoram, an official statement said here. The chief minister had submitted an appeal to former Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee asking for around Rs 500 crore for payment of increased salaries to state government employees after the implementation of the Central Sixth Pay Commission recommendations.

He also appealed for Gandhi's support on the proposal for increasing the posts of IAS and IPS officers in the state, the statement added.


Delhi gang-rape: Justice Mehra Commission submits report to Home Ministry

New Delhi, Feb. 22 (ANI): The Justice Usha Mehra Commission has submitted its report on the December 16 Delhi gang-rape incident to the Home Ministry.

Justice Mehra today said main recommendation that has been said is there should be coordination between the Directorate of Transport and the police because unless they coordinate with each other it is not possible for any vehicle to be on the road.

"And secondly, without verification of the antecedents of the owner of this bus the inter-state carriage permit was granted by the Delhi transport department. Now, we have come to know that the owner was a resident of Noida, but under the rules if a person is not a resident of Delhi then inter-state carriage transport permit cannot be given," said Justice Mehra.

"We have said that once a victim makes a statement under 164 CrPC to a magistrate then it should be treated as her examination chief, and to that extent the provision of Section 231 of the CrPC should be amended and this may be incorporated as it is done in the civil procedure code where the affidavit is treated as a examination chief," she added.

Justice Mehra Commission had been set up under Commissions of Inquiry Act, 1952 to enquire into various aspects of the shocking incident of rape and brutal assault of a 23 year-old student in Delhi and to identify the lapses, if any, on the part of the police or any other authority or person that contributed to the occurrence.

The Commission was also asked to suggest measures to improve the safety and security of women, particularly in Delhi and the national capital region. 

The victim, a physiotherapy student, was brutally raped and assaulted in a moving bus on the night of December 16, 2012. She died of her injuries on December 29, 2012 in the multi-specialty Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore.

Her male friend, who was accompanying her that day, was also assaulted by the accused and both of them were thrown out of the bus. (ANI)

Six journalists injured during Islamist protest in Chittagong

Chittagong (Bangladesh), Feb.22 (ANI): At least six journalists were injured after Juma prayers here on Friday.

According to a report filed by the web site bdnews24.com, the journalists were attacked by Islamists shouting ‘anti-Shahbagh’ slogans.

Friday’s incident is an off-shoot of the ongoing fundamentalist protests against the nearly three-week-long popular demonstrations in Dhaka’s Shahbagh Square.

The attack on the journalists reportedly took place at the Andarkilla intersection of the city soon after the afternoon prayers.

The journalists were covering the event, when they were assaulted.

Photographers of Jugantor and Inqilab, cameramen of Maasranga, ATN Bangla and ATN News, and the Correspondent of Banik Barta received injuries.

The Inqilab photographer was rushed to the Chittagong Medical College and Hospital for treatment.

The Islamist protest rally, however, continued within a police barricade after the incident, the web site reported. (ANI)

Friday, February 22, 2013

188 in fray in Nagaland Assembly elections

Kohima: Nagaland goes to the polls on Saturday to elect 60 members to the 12th Assembly from among 188 candidates with an 11.93 lakh electorate.

Prominent candidates whose fate will be decided are Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio from Northern Angami II, Speaker Kiyanilie Peseyie from Western Angami, Opposition Leader Tokheho Yepthomi from Dimapur III, Congress president SI Jamir from Dimapur II and former Home Minister Imkong L Imchen from Koridang.

There are 39 Independents and two women among the contestants. Of the two women nominees, Rakhila has been fielded by the BJP from Tuensang Sadar-II and Dr Yangerla, an Independent is contesting from Mokokchung Town.

The ruling Naga People's Front is the only party contesting all the 60 seats.

The opposition Congress is contesting 57 seats, followed by NCP in 15, BJP in 11, JD-U in three, RJD in two and the United Nagaland Democratic Party in one.

Of the 2023 polling stations, 821 have been identified as sensitive and 662 as hyper sensitive.

The NPF received a jolt ahead of the election when Home Minister Imkong L Imchen was arrested on February 18 for allegedly carrying over Rs 1 crore in cash, arms and ammunition and liquor in his vehicle.

In the outgoing 11th Nagaland Assembly, the ruling NPF had 35 members and the support of six Independents, while Congress had 18 members backed by an Independent.

Altogether 255 companies of central paramilitary forces have been deployed in the state for the elections.

Counting will be held on February 28.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

JD(U) hopeful of DAN retaining power in Nagaland

Kohima: Ruling Naga People's Front ally JD(U) on Wednesday expressed hope that the Democratic Alliance of Nagaland would retain power for the third consecutive term.

After fielding three candidates -- one each in Wokha, Tuensang and Longleng districts, JD(U) national general secretary Arun Kumar Srivastava said he is hopeful of winning at least two seats and become a part in the next government.

Polling for the 60-member Nagaland Assembly will take place on February 23.
Reacting to recent haul of cash with weapons, particularly from NPF candidates, by security forces in the state, Srivastava alleged that the opposition Congress is using the Centre to influence armed insurgents to intimidate voters for forcefully support Congress candidates.

In this connection, the JD(U) leader demanded stern action against the Congress and its candidates for breaking the model code of conduct.

On its part, Congress in Nagaland brought in Union Minister Sachin Pilot at the last moment to campaign for its candidates in Dimapur town this evening.

Talking to reporters in Dimapur, Pilot avoided questions on the Naga political problem. He, however, said the talks have been positive and it can be expedited further if Nagaland is ruled by a Congress government.
He expressed the hope that the party will be able to get a clear mandate so that it can provide overall development in Nagaland and peace in the Northeast region.


Ex-Nagaland minister held with Rs 1.10 cr cash granted bail

Kohima: A court on Wednesday granted bail to former Nagaland home minister Imkong L Imchen who was arrested in Wokha district here for allegedly transporting Rs 1.10 crore in cash and arms and ammunition.

Imchen was produced before the Wokha district judicial magistrate who granted him bail on 'health ground'. Assam Rifles personnel while conducting searches on vehicles on Monday morning detained Imchen while he was on his way to his Assembly constituency Koridanga in Mokokchung district.

The Assam Rifles personnel handed him over to the district police who arrested Imchen for allegedly transporting Rs 1.10 crore in cash, arms and ammunition in his vehicle.

Meanwhile, official sources in the Chief Minister's Office here, has confirmed that the Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio yesterday accepted Imchen's resignation from the council of ministers.

Rio would now be holding additional charge of the Home portfolio till electioneering is over in the state, they said. After his arrest by the police Imchem had submitted his resignation to the Chief Minister.


Rahul pledges to work for progressive Meghalaya

Mawkyrwat (Meghalaya): Seeking vote for Congress, party vice-president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday pledged that he and his mother along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh would work for a "progressive" Meghalaya under a Congress-ruled government.

"Congress president, the Prime Minister and I, will work to help Meghalaya. We will support Meghalaya and we will support your voice in Delhi. We will do everything we can to make this state progress faster," Rahul told a rally here, 80 km from state capital Shillong.

Lauding Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and the state government under the Congress rule, Rahul said, "You have your government in Delhi which wants to support the growth of Meghalaya. I want both these governments to work together to bring massive developments to the state."

Hinting that the state suffers from corruption in high places, Rahul reminded how his father had said that only 15 paisa reaches the last man in the country out of one rupee spent, and said, "We need to change so that our people can benefit." Praising the unique grassroots democracy practice by indigenous tribals in the state which gives the common man his voice, Rahul said, "The west talks about democracy and over here, you have had traditional democracy for hundreds and hundreds of years."

"What is democracy? Democracy is the voice of the people. It is the voice of every person regardless of who he is whether rich or poor, and this is what you have taught to the rest of the country," he said.

Stating that the vision of the Congress is also in similar lines with the true democracy of the tribal people in Meghalaya, Rahul said, "I want to thank you for giving this gift to the country. And we for the last couple of years have been running a government in the country which also tries to listen to the voice of the people before taking decisions."

Assuring that all groups and tribes would be taken into consideration for development in the state, Rahul said, "When we want to talk about development in Meghalaya, we want to say that every single tribe, every single group has to move together forward."

According to him, the Congress believes that it is everybody's right to have access to development regardless from where they are from or who they are.

Stating that the decisions on MGNREGA, RTI, or Right to Food, all are the result of listening to the voice of the people, Rahul said, "We do this because we understand that every single person's voice is important." In Williamnagar and Nongpoh, Rahul urged the youths in the state to join his party allowing the Congress to build a better Meghalaya.

His appeal to youths was clearly a part of coordinated Congress strategy to woo all sections of the society in the battle of ballots.

Appreciating the youths of the state who are working in every nook and corner of the country today, Rahul said, "When I see the youths of the region working in Delhi and Bangalore, I feel nice. They are working there because they are capable and can compete with the best."

Urging the youths to join the party, he said, "I want you to enter into the political system."

"If we really want to change politics, then we have to bring youngsters into the political system. Youngsters who are sensitive to the views of the common man, youngsters who feel the pain of the poor person, youngsters who suffer when they see a bad road, youngsters who suffer when they see that their people do not have the medical facility they need," he said.

During their campaign meetings, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had highlighted the economic gains made by state during the past five years, while Congress president Sonia Gandhi touched on emotive local issues like illegal mining and illegal immigration at Jowai yesterday.

Rahul said even though Congress has capable leaders, it needs to produce next generation of leaders from different states to take the country forward.

"Meghalaya may be small in size compared to Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, but it is an important state. We cannot ignore any state. Every state is important, every culture is important for the India to grow," he said.

Cash flow in Nagaland: EC writes to BCAS, FIU

New Delhi: Worried over the recent spate of huge cash seizures in poll-bound Nagaland, Election Commission today asked Bureau of Civil Aviation and FIU to conduct detailed inquiries and report to it immediately.

The state goes to polls on February 23 and two big cash seizures-- one involving state home minister where more than Rs one crore was seized and the other where a Nagaland Peoples Front (NPF) candidate was held for carrying Rs one crore in a helicopter recently-- have prompted the EC to shoot off letters to both the central departments.

The EC, according to sources, is particularly wary of instances of cash being secretly flown in helicopters, reportedly without the permission of the District Election Officer (DEO) and the Air Traffic Control.

The EC, in its letter issued to the BCAS today, has asked the department to conduct an inquiry in this regard. Instances have been reported where pilots of privately hired choppers carry political candidates and they do not land but keep the helicopters six inches above the ground thereby stating that they are not landing and only flying sorties.

Local poll officials have complained to the EC in this regard as the helicopter operators allegedly are not informing them about the scheduled sorties.

These choppers and such activities are suspected to be in aid of ferrying illegal cash and the BCAS needs to intervene and report the facts to the EC, the Commission said in its letter.

These choppers are also ferrying political candidates to far-flung villages in the remote state in order to evade the EC surveillance teams.

In order to curb these, the EC asked the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) under the Finance Ministry to investigate and submit a suspicious transaction report on the operations of all banks of the state.

The EC suspects that banks are allowing huge cash withdrawals, above Rs 1 lakh, which is being illegally pumped to be used at the hustings.

The EC, sources said, has taken cognisance of media reports that more than Rs 300 crore has been withdrawn from some banks in the last one week in the state.The FIU has been asked to submit a report on the transactions of all the banks-- both public and private-- during the last one month.

Another Rs 20 lakh has been seized by the authorities since yesterday in the state, they said.

Nagaland has a 60-member Assembly.


Congress hopes all parties will cooperate for smooth functioning of Parliament

New Delhi, Feb. 20 (ANI): A day before the commencement of the Budget Session of Parliament, the Congress party on Wednesday expressed the hope that all the political parties will cooperate for smooth proceeding of the session, saying some very critical Bills needed to be cleared.

"It is a very important session and some very critical Bills are coming up, we hope that we will get cooperation from all the parties," said Congress spokesperson Sandeep Dikshit, while addressing a press conference here.

Asked about the BJP demand of an apology from Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde over his ''Hindu terror'' remark and withdrawal of the controversial comment, Dikshit said that the former has as well as the Congress has given clarification on the statement and there is no need of apology.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has threatened to stall the proceedings over Shinde''s statement, alleging the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of holding terror-training camps and promoting "Hindu terrorism" in the country.

Earlier in the day after the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said the BJP too wants the house to function properly, but it will be possible only after withdrawal of the remark and an apology from the Home Minister.

Shinde had made the controversial remark on the final day of the Congress Party''s Chintan Shivir in Jaipur. (ANI)

BJP demands withdrawal of ''Hindu terror'' remark, apology from Shinde

New Delhi, Feb. 20 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday said the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will have to withdraw his controversial ''Hindu terror'' remark and apologise, if the government wants Parliament to function smoothly during the Budget Session starting tomorrow.

Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said the BJP too wants the house to function properly, but it will be possible only after the issue of Shinde''s remark will be resolved.

"We want the house to function properly because it is the Budget Session and we too want discussion on various issues this session. But, the speaker of the Lok Sabha will have to first address the issue of Home Minister''s remarks," said Swaraj after attending the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

"We asked the speaker to first resolve the matter, because the Home Minister of this country, who is eventually the leader of the house, has alleged us of running terror cams and promoting terror in the country. If the BJP is a terrorist organisation and we are running terror cams, we have no right to seat in the house, and the home minister should take action against us like terrorists," said Swaraj.

"Shinde will have to withdraw his comment and apologise to the nation," she added.

She further stated that the BJP wants to raise the crucial issues including the recent chopper deal scam, drought situation in Maharashtra, fuel price hike, ceasefire violation and mutilation of our soldiers at LoC, and Chinese influence alongside the border areas in the session, but the speaker will have to resolve the above said matter first for smooth functioning of the house.

Shinde had made the controversial remark on the final day of the Congress Party''s Chintan Shivir in Jaipur. He had accused the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of holding terror-training camps and promoting "Hindu terrorism" in the country. (ANI)

BJP demands withdrawal of ''Hindu terror'' remark, apology from Shinde

New Delhi, Feb. 20 (ANI): The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday said the Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde will have to withdraw his controversial ''Hindu terror'' remark and apologise, if the government wants Parliament to function smoothly during the Budget Session starting tomorrow.

Leader of opposition in Lok Sabha, Sushma Swaraj said the BJP too wants the house to function properly, but it will be possible only after the issue of Shinde''s remark will be resolved.

"We want the house to function properly because it is the Budget Session and we too want discussion on various issues this session. But, the speaker of the Lok Sabha will have to first address the issue of Home Minister''s remarks," said Swaraj after attending the all-party meeting called by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar.

"We asked the speaker to first resolve the matter, because the Home Minister of this country, who is eventually the leader of the house, has alleged us of running terror cams and promoting terror in the country. If the BJP is a terrorist organisation and we are running terror cams, we have no right to seat in the house, and the home minister should take action against us like terrorists," said Swaraj.

"Shinde will have to withdraw his comment and apologise to the nation," she added.

She further stated that the BJP wants to raise the crucial issues including the recent chopper deal scam, drought situation in Maharashtra, fuel price hike, ceasefire violation and mutilation of our soldiers at LoC, and Chinese influence alongside the border areas in the session, but the speaker will have to resolve the above said matter first for smooth functioning of the house.

Shinde had made the controversial remark on the final day of the Congress Party''s Chintan Shivir in Jaipur. He had accused the BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) of holding terror-training camps and promoting "Hindu terrorism" in the country. (ANI)

Stop atrocities against Scheduled Castes and tribes, says Minister Selja

New Delhi, Feb. 20 (ANI): Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Kumari Selja on Wednesday said the government has always attached a very high priority to the effective implementation of the Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) against Schedule Castes (SCs) and Schedule Tribes (STs) Act to check atrocities against them.

Addressing a function here, she emphasized that the government is constantly taking various steps including the setting up of the exclusive special courts aiming at bringing down atrocities against the backward communities of the society.

However, the minister asserted that despite several measure and earnest efforts made, it is ironical that the offences of atrocities against members of SCs and STs continue unabated.

"In spite of overall growth in educational and economic indices, such offences continue reflecting the perpetuation of social biases and discrimination against weaker sections which is a major cause of concern and without arresting this trend, dream of an inclusive growth and society will remain a dream only," said Kumari Selja

Echoing the similar views, Minister of State for Home Affairs R. P. N. Singh said SCs and STs faced atrocities even after more than 60 years of Independence is a matter of disappointment.

He asked police stations to avoid delay in registering FIR against atrocities to reduce crime and added the government is committed for the expeditious trial and early disposal of cases relating to atrocities. (ANI)

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rahul assures early solution to Naga problem

Kohima: AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi today assured of an early solution to the decades old Naga problem, which would be 'honourable and acceptable' to all sections of the people.
The UPA government at the Centre is sincere towards resolving the Naga political issue. "The UPA government will try all avenues to find a settlement to the Naga issue at the earliest so that peace can be ushered in the state for all round development," he told public rallies in Mon and Tuensang.

Lashing out at the Naga Peoples Front(NPF)-led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland(DAN) government for failing to deliver in the past 10 years of its regime, Gandhi said that enough funds had been pumped in the state for development, but nothing has been done and funds were pocketed by the people in power.

He urged the people to vote for the Congress and see the changes it brings to the people.

The future of the Naga people is bleak due to rampant corruption and bad governance by the DAN government and their present 'pathetic condition' is due to the governance of Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio, he said.

Backward districts need more development, he said and claimed that Rio had developed the backward areas "only through papers and lip-services."


Manipuri terrorist held in Delhi

New Delhi: A 30-year-old Manipuri terrorist was arrested here for committing robbery and theft, police said Thursday.
"Abbas Khan was arrested from Shakarpur area in east Delhi on a tip off from Manipur police Wednesday," said a police officer.

Khan was the self-styled fighting commander of the outlawed People's United Liberation Front. He was also found to be involved in as many as 12 cases of murder and abduction cases in Manipur.

Manipur Police were informed about his arrest, an official said.

Khan shifted base to Delhi in 2008. He lived in rented accommodations in Kotla Mubarakpur, Mahipalpur, Jamia Nagar, Ashram and Maharani Bagh, all in south and west Delhi, police said.

He was earlier arrested by Delhi Police in June 2010 for alleged involvement in vehicle theft in the city and forgery of documents of the stolen vehicles, said an officer.

He remained in Tihar Jail till March 2012. Thereafter, he was presented in a court in Manipur but he later managed to flee from there, police said. Khan's father was a worker of another banned terrorist outfit in Manipur and was killed in a shootout with security forces at Samurao in Imphal West, police said.


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Rahul Gandhi, AK Anthony to campaign in Nagaland

Kohima: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and Defence Minister AK Anthony would campaign in Nagaland for the February 23 state Assembly elections.Rahul Gandhi would arrive on February 14 and address two election rallies in Mon and Tuensang districts, NPCC General Secretary Medokul Sophie said here on Tuesday.

Anthony will arrive on February 16 to address an election rally at Pftsero in Phek district, he said.


Ex-gratia announced for victims of fire in Arunachal

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on Tuesday announced an ex-gratia of Rs 1.5 lakh to the next of kin of a woman and her two daughters who died in a fire at Daporijo in Upper Subansiri district.

The woman, who was pregnant and her two daughters, were charred to death while six others received partial burn injuries in a fire at Sigin colony in the district yesterday.
"Fires are the result of our own carelessness and therefore we need to take preventive measures for our own good, the chief minister said.

He also directed district administrations to create awareness and keeping fire fighting machinery on alert during the winter and power blackouts.


Garo rebel arrested in Shillong

Shillong: Security forces arrested a hardcore Garo rebel and his aide from an area near the Indo-Bangladesh border in Meghalaya’s South West Garo Hills district, officials said on Tuesday.

Mariours N Sangma was arrested last night from the Betasing-Binapara area, under Ampati PS, during a joint operation by commandoes of the BSF and the state police. A country-made gun and ammunition were recovered from Sangma?s possession along with a mobile phone and camouflage uniforms.

During preliminary questioning, the rebel confessed that he was involved in a number of extortion cases and activity related to the militant organisation Garo National Liberation Army.

Later, on information provided by the arrested rebel, security forces apprehended a GNLA militant hailing from Ajangre village in the district.


P Chidambaram criticises LF govt in Tripura

Kamalpur (Tripura): Union Minister for Finance P Chidambaram on tuesday criticised the Left Front government for its alleged failure to improve the standard of life despite fund flow from the centre.
"We (Centre) have dispatched adequate funds to the state. The Left Front government has completed four consecutive terms in the elections but failed to improve the standard of life in the state", he told an election rally here.

Tripura is one of the poorest states in the country where 67% of the people live below poverty line.

He assured that the Congress manifesto would be implemented in letter and spirit in the state if it is voted to power and unemployment problem would be 'properly addressed'.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Take action only if cops are drunk, rules CAT

delhi policeNEW DELHI: In the first of its kind order, the Central Administrative Tribunal has ruled that punitive action against an employee for being drunk while on duty can be taken only after proper medical examination and not merely based on “smell or unsteady gait”.
“Delhi government and Delhi Police have failed to explain why they did not carry out blood and urine tests of the applicant when he was cooperating in his medical examination. Merely by smell and unsteady gait, it cannot be conclusively established that alcohol had been consumed by the applicant.“ a bench of judges George Paracken and Shekhar Agarwal said.
The remarks came while the bench allowed an appeal filed by one constable Om Prakash against his suspension for the misconduct of “consuming alcohol while on duty’. OmPrakash was on picket duty at Mathura Road from 11pm to 5am during which an assistant commissioner of police on inspection found him “drunk”.
The doctor at the Batra hospital where he was taken for medical examination stated that he was smelling of alcohol and had a slightly unsteady gait Merely on the basis of it, he
gave a report that Om Prakash was drunk and no blood or urine test was carried out.
Om Prakash said he had only taken khaini, the smell of which was mistaken for alcohol. He said even the statement of a constable and a head constable who were on duty that he had taken only khaini was ignored in the departmental enquiry. After persuing the evidence, the bench said there was no evidence that the petitioner had consumed liquor and the statement that he had only consumed khaini had to be given credence
“The government and commissioner of police have also further failed to explain why the defence witnesses were not cross examined by them. These witnesses have stated that no alcohol was consumed by the applicant in their presence and that he had only taken Khaini.

NSCN rejects ban on movement of cadres with arms

Kohima: The Isak-Muivah and Khaplang groups of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN) have rejected the ban imposed by the Cease Fire Monitoring Group on movement of their cadres with arms and ammunitions till the February 23 election is over in the state.

Convener of the political affairs committee of NSCN (IM) alleged that the directive issued by the chairman of Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) Maj Gen (Rtd) N George "overstepped" his jurisdiction. The Convener said it also violated the ceasefire ground rules (CFGR) by the chairman, "who is supposed to enforce the CFGR without any tendency of being partial in favour of the Centre."

Maj Gen (Rtd) N George had on February 5 said that all members of the three NSCNs, including identity card holders have been banned from carrying any type of weapon between February 7 to 23 as per directives issued by the Election Commission.

The EC directive had the sanction of the Union Home Ministry, the CFMG chairman had said.

In a statement, NSCN (K) ministry of information and publicity said the decision was "not acceptable because Indian election law cannot be applied to NSCN/GPRN which is different entity."

It said that the 'Naga national movement' existed before Nagaland state came into being and would continue even if 'Nagaland state vanishes'.

The NSCN (IM) has made it clear that it would not abide by the ban stating that it was against the ceasefire agreement signed with the Centre.

The NSCN-IM has said the cardholders would carry weapons as mentioned in the ceasefire agreement, whether there was an election in the state or not.
The NSCN (IM) had entered into a ceasefire with the Government of India since 1997 while NSCN (K) had signed the pact in 2001 and thereafter the ceasefire agreements have been extended yearly.

Meanwhile, the security forces have set up mobile checkposts and were frisking passersby and checking vehicles.

This led to seizure of a huge cache of assorted arms, including foreign made guns and ammunition and arrest of cadres of the underground groups by the Assam Rifles in various districts.

On February 5, the personnel of 17 and 19 Assam Rifles seized a huge consignment of highly sophisticated weapons, made in Germany and Austria, from the possession of a suspected NSCN-IM cadre after a joint operation.


Rahul Gandhi to address poll rallies in Tripura today

Agartala: Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi will on Monday address four poll meetings in four corners of the northeastern state of Tripura for the February 14 Assembly Elections.

According to reports, Rahul would arrive at Agartala airport today and fly by a helicopter to Sonamura in Sipahijala district to address a poll rally in support of the subdivision's four candidates.

Rahul will later fly to Shantir Bazar subdivision in South Tripura to address the second election rally.

The helicopter will take him to Dharmanagar subdivisional town in North Tripura to campaign in support of the Congress candidates there.Rahul's last meeting will be held at Khayerpur, where Youth Congress activist Baptu Chakraborty is contesting against CPM strongman and four-time MLA Pabitra Kar.

"We are expecting that our campaign will get a major boost from Rahulji's meetings," PCC spokesman Ashok Sinha said.

He said Finance Minister P Chidambaram and Congress spokesman Sandeep Dikshit accompanied by a host of other leaders would also arrive here on the morning of February 12, the last day of vocal campaign, to address a central rally at Astabol ground.

Sinha indicated that the central rally would be held to make up for Sonia's absence.

"Chidambaram as the Finance Minister will openly endorse our poll manifesto at the meeting. We have made a lot of promises. His presence and endorsement of the manifesto will set all speculation and mischievous propaganda of the CPM to rest," Sinha said.

(With IANS inputs)

Two GNLA rebels arrested after gunfight

Shillong: Security forces arrested two Garo National Liberation Army rebels after a fierce gunfight in Meghalaya's West Garo Hills district, a police official said Sunday.

The exchange of fire took place at Chigitchakgre area of the district late Saturday night, when Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) commandos came under fire from the GNLA rebels hiding there. However, the outfit's area commander of West Garo Hills, Hedio, wanted by Meghalaya police for several criminal acts, escaped, taking advantage of the darkness during the gunbattle.

"The encounter lasted over an hour and two of the rebels were captured by us and their area commander retreated back to the jungle after intensive firing from security forces," Mukesh Kumar Singh, district police chief of West Garo Hills, told a news agency.

The arrested rebels were Brightwell D Arengh alias Chiga and Nathson Ch Marak. They were involved in abduction and extortion in Garo Hills.

The commandos recovered one AK-47 rifle, three magazines with 55 rounds of live ammunition, a detonator, fuse wire, remote control, communication sets, and extortion notes from the site.

Preparations are on for the Feb 23 assembly elections in Megalaya.

Many polling stations in the five districts of Garo in the western part of Meghalaya has been classified as "hyper-sensitive". Ten companies of paramilitary forces were deployed in East Garo Hills district to ensure smooth conduct of the elections, a police official said.

The GNLA, fighting for a separate Garoland in the western region of Meghalaya, has forged close operational links with other northeast-based insurgent groups like the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) and the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB).
Meghalaya, especially the Garo Hills region, is said to be a safe haven for various northeast-based militant groups, including the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (Isak-Muivah), the United Liberation Front of Asom, and a faction of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland.


Nagaland-Manipur spar over Rio's speech

Kohima: Nagaland's ruling party, the NPF on Sunday criticised the Manipur cabinet for terming the statement of its Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio against his Manipuri counterpart as "hate speech".

"The action of the Manipur cabinet is nothing but another example of how Naga rights and the Naga voice are being suppressed by the majority and the Manipur government," Naga People's Front (NPF) spokesperson Abu Metha told a news agency.
"Nagas in Manipur have always lived under decades of suppression by the majority and even their basic rights have been denied to them in all aspects," he added.

On Friday, Manipur decided to approach the Election Commission and the union home ministry seeking action against the Nagaland chief minister for the "hate speech" he made against Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh.

Manipur Education Minister Moirangthem Okendro Singh said the "hate speech" made by the Nagaland chief minister could spark communal tension and have an adverse impact on inter-state relations.


Saturday, February 9, 2013

Tripura elections: Fact at a glance

Agartala, Feb 8: Assembly elections in Tripura are slated for Feb 14. Here are some details, according to the Election Commission:

Total seats: 60
Total voters: 2.3 million (male 1.19 million, female 1.15 million)
Total candidates: 249
Total women candidates: 15
Constituency with most candidates: Karbook, Surma, Karamcharra
Political parties: BJP, CPI, CPI-M, Congress, NCP, CPI-ML
Electronic Voting Machines: 3,772

Manipur seeks action against Nagaland CM for 'hate speech'

Imphal: The Manipur cabinet has decided to approach the Election Commission to initiate action against Nagaland Chief Minister Neiphiu Rio for the "hate speech" he made against his counterpart Okram Ibobi Singh, a minister said here Saturday.

"We (Manipur cabinet) have taken serious note of the hate speech made by the Nagaland chief minister which could spark communal tension and have an adverse impact on inter-state relations," said Manipur Education Minister Moirangthem Okendro Singh.
Okendro, also spokesperson of the Manipur government, said the cabinet, which met Friday evening, has decided to approach the Election Commission of India and the union home ministry seeking against action against the Nagaland chief minister as per the election code of conduct and sections of the Indian Penal Code.

"Manipur being a multi-community society, the cabinet was of the opinion that such irresponsible and provocative public statements should be avoided in the larger public interest," he told a news agency.

Rio should be held accountable if any untoward incident breaks out in Manipur as a result of the "hate speech", Okendro said.

On Feb 6, the Nagaland chief minister, who is seeking re-election from the Northern Angami- II Assembly Constituency, referred to Ibobi as "one of the biggest enemies of Naga people and responsible for the suppression of Nagas" during his election campaign for his party Naga People's Front (NPF) in Nagaland's Zunheboto district.

The NPF leader, who is confident of making a political hat-trick against a divided opposition Congress in the Feb 23 elections to the 60-member assembly, also termed the Congress leaders in Nagaland as not genuine and only agents of outsiders and representatives of the adversaries of the Naga people.


PM defers visit to Nagaland, Tripura

Kohima/Agartala: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has deferred his visit to Nagaland and Tripura to campaign for the Congress in the assembly elections slated for February 23 and February 14 respectively.
Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) president S I Jamir told PTI that the proposed visit of the Prime Minister to Kohima has been deferred but could not confirm the date of his next visit.

Congress sources here also said that the proposed visit of All India Congress Committee (AICC) vice president Rahul Gandhi to Mon and Tuensang districts of the state on February 14 has also not been confirmed as of date.

NPCC which has been in the opposition for the last one decade is trying hard to woo the electorate by bringing in several central leaders.

AICC president Sonia Gandhi visited the state yesterday to campaign for the Congress in Mokokchung and Dimapur districts asserting that once brought to power her party would work towards settlement of the Naga political problem at the earliest.

She accused the ruling Naga People's Front (NPF) led Democratic Alliance of misgovernance and siphoning of huge amount of central funds for the development of the state.

Meanwhile, a report from Tripura also said the Prime Minister had deferred his visit scheduled for tomorrow to the state.

State Congress sources said the visit had been deferred due to the PM's other preoccupations. Assembly polls will be held in Tripura on February 14.


Nagaland elections: 189 nominations found valid af

Kohima: A total of 189 nominations for Nagaland Assembly polls have been found valid after scrutiny, while 42 nominations which include stand-by candidates and some independents have been rejected, official sources said.

Out of the 189 nominees, only two are women candidates. While Rakhila is being set up by BJP in Tuensang Sadar-II against Elam Chang of NPF and sitting MLA P Chuba Chang of Congress, Dr Yangerla is fighting as independent candidate from Mokokchung Town against sitting MLA Apok Jamir of Congress and NPF candidate Rosemtong. The political parties in fray are ruling Naga People's Front (NPF), opposition Congress, BJP, NCP, RJD, JD(U), SP, United Nagaland Democratic Party and a sizable number of independents.

Candidature of political parties have not been rejected, sources said.

The final figure of the contending candidates would be notified by tomorrow evening after the end of the withdrawal period, they said.

Polls for the sixty seats of the assembly would be held on February 23.


Assam extends cooperation to Meghalaya during poll

Shillong: Assam government on Saturday said it is lending full cooperation to neighbouring Meghalaya especially in the disputed areas along the inter-state border as the state goes to polls on February 23, officials said.

"Assam has assured its full-cooperation for free and fair conduct of the elections especially in the border areas," state Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) P Naik told reporters after the joint meeting with Assam counterpart held in the capital today.
The meeting was attended by officials of Assam and Meghalaya government including Chief Electoral Officers, principal secretaries of Home besides top police officials.

Naik said the issue pertaining to maintenance of law and order for the upcoming 2013 Assembly elections, was dwelt at length during the meeting.

"Both the states discussed about the general maintenance of law and order in the border areas," he said.

There are 138 polling stations along the one kilometer radius of the inter-state borders out of which certain polling stations are declared sensitive and hyper-sensitive.

According to Naik, there are some polling stations where polling officials will have to reach through Assam and both the states have extended their cooperation in this regard.

"We also discussed on the requirement of transportation of troops for the election," he said.


NE: Two held in minor girl's trafficking case

Itanagar: East Siang Police have arrested two persons, including the prime accused in trafficking and rape of a minor girl missing since January 26.

The arrest was made on Wednesday, a couple of days after agitating women's organizations staged demonstration in front of the local police station demanding the police to immediately nab the alleged rapist and not to release the minor?s trafficker on bail.
Pasighat police station OC D Yosung informed today that the main accused Okep Jamoh and one Senorita Tayeng have been arrested on Wednesday evening.

The 13-year-old girl, a Class-V student of Jarku village school, was found three days after she went missing on Janury 26.

She was allegedly trafficked by one Kine Mitkong (already arrested on January 30), who had forced the minor to have physical relationship with the 62-year-old Okep Jamoh, in exchange of money.

Meanwhile, the agitating women's organizations has lauded the police for arresting the prime accused in the heinous crime.


Manipur students on ''National Integration Tour'' call on MoS Home

New Delhi, Feb. 8 (ANI): A team of 25 students from remote areas of Manipur, presently on a ''National Integration Tour'' being conducted by Assam Riffles to promote harmony and awareness, called on Minister of State for Home R P N Singh here today.

Welcoming the students, Singh said that this would help them in understanding this vast country.

He also said that by such tours these children will learn how our country is moving forward with diversity. Singh hoped that these children will become ambassadors of change in the society.

The tour is aimed at enhancing and integrating the youth to the nation and promoting concept of unity in diversity. These students are also visiting other historical places in Delhi along with Dehradun, Mussourie and some other cities. (ANI)

Students from Manipur and lady teachers from J-K call on President Mukherjee

New Delhi, Feb. 8 (ANI): A group of 25 students from Manipur and 21 lady teachers form Jammu and Kashmir called on President Pranab Mukherjee at the Rashtrapati Bhavan here today.

The students from Manipur are in the national capital as part of national integration tour organized by the Assam Rifles and the teachers from Kashmir are in Delhi as part of Operation Sadbhavana organized by the Signal Corps of Indian Army.

Addressing the students from Manipur, President Mukherjee said Manipur is one of the most beautiful states of India. Its people are known for their graciousness and gentle nature. He congratulated Assam Rifles, one of the oldest security forces, for organizing the national integration tour for students.

Addressing the teachers from Kashmir Valley, President Mukherjee said Kashmir was known as the Sharda Peeth, a ''Seat of Learning'' in ancient times. Its doors were open to scholars from every corner of the world who came in pursuit of knowledge and wisdom.

He congratulated the Signal Corps of Indian Army for organizing the Sadbhavana tour and focusing especially on women teachers. (ANI)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Woman gang-raped in Delhi, attackers arrested


New Delhi, Feb 7: A 24-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped by four people, including an acquaintance, in Delhi's Swaroop Nagar, police said Thursday. All her attackers have been arrested.

The incident came to light Wednesday night when a Police Control Room (PCR) van tried to flag down a car which had tinted glasses, in the city's Burari area.

The car sped away seeing the PCR van. But a message was flashed to other PCR vans and the accused were nabbed.

"The car was chased, overtaken and all the accused - identified as Mohammed Shakil alias Ali, 23, Mohammed Irshad, 30, Mohammed Abid, 21, and Lajpatrai Sachdeva, 38 - were arrested around 2.53 a.m. Thursday," Deputy Commissioner of Police Sindhu Pillai said.

The victim was then rescued, Pillai added.

The woman told police that first she was gang-raped in Swaroop Nagar and later was assaulted again in the moving car.

"The victim, who knows Shakil, had gone to meet him in Swaroop Nagar Wednesday night. The accused was present with his three other friends, who took her to a nearby Uttarakhand Colony and gang-raped her," said Pillai.

"After committing the crime, the accused bundled the victim into a car and were heading towards Burari," he added.

"The medical report of the victim confirmed rape. A case against the accused has been registered," the official said.

The victim hails from 24-Parganas district in West Bengal and stays with her brother-in-law in Sector-16 of the capital's Rohini area.

PM, Sonia, Rahul Gandhi to campaign in Meghalaya

Shillong: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Congress President Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi will campaign in Meghalaya later this month for the February 23 assembly elections in the state.
Meghalaya Pradesh Congress president D D Lapang said today that the Prime Minister would arrive on February 15 and address an election rally in the state capital.

Sonia Gandhi would arrive here on February 19 to address a public rally at Jowai in the East Jaintia Hills district and in Tura in West Garo Hills district, considered a stronghold of former Lok Sabha Speaker P A Sangma.

Rahul Gandhi would address a rally at Khliehriat in East Jaintia Hills district and Nongpoh in Ri-Bhoi district the following day, Lapang said.

Union Ministers P Chidambaram, A K Anthony and Sushil Kumar Shinde would also campaign here besides a host of Congress MPs, a statement from Congress Bhavan said.

Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi would campaign for two days in the Garo Hills beginning February 14.

Security has been strenghtened in the areas to be visited by th VVIPs, police sources said.


Congress will work towards resolving vexed Naga issue: Sonia

Dimapur: Congress on Thursday said it would work towards resolving the contentious Naga political issue at the earliest.

"It was the Congress-led UPA government that took the bold decision to invite NSCN-IM leaders for talks which was going on for a year now to ensure that peace was achieved," Congress president Sonia Gandhi said while formally launching the party campaign here for the February 23 Assembly elections in Nagaland.

She said if Congress is voted to power in the state, it would work towards finding a solution to the vexed political problem of the Nagas as early as possible.

"The Congress has always been committed to preserve the Naga identity and developing the Naga way of life," Gandhi, dressed in a colourful Naga mekhela (skirt) and shawl, told the rally here.
She said this was a historic opportunity for the Naga people as the Congress was committed to take the peace process forward and do the utmost to ensure that peace returned to Nagaland in a manner which was honourable and acceptable to all the sections of the people.

Gandhi said the experience of people of the state in the last 10 years under the ruling Naga People's Front-led Democratic Alliance is bad as it neglected and wasted opportunities.

"I believe Nagaland is ready for a change... A change for the better and a change for the good. Now is the time to bring Nagaland back to the path of true development, true growth and harmony," Gandhi said.

She said roads were in terrible shape, unemployment had increased, young people were frustrated while corruption had become institutionalised at all levels of governance in the state.

"Huge public funds being granted by the Congress-led UPA government at the Centre under Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for agriculture, education, infrastructure, health service, water supply and electricity have been siphoned off by the NPF government," Gandhi alleged.

"Is it not true that the NPF-led DAN resorted to random and massive back door appointment in various departments after thousands of employees retired under the new retirement act?" she asked and alleged that Rs 89 crore granted by the Centre for development of tourism infrastructure in the state was misused. "The result is nowhere as it has gone to the pockets of those in power," Gandhi said.

She also questioned the utilisation of Rs 72 crore for development of the Sovima Cricket Stadium and Rs 233 crore provided for rural electrification and said that these were just a few examples about the corruption of the NPF-led DAN government.

"They (NPF) have been misusing the generous grants from the central government," she said.


Thursday, February 7, 2013

Arunachal secular to the core: Muslim cleric

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh's secular character is evident from the fact that no communal riot was reported from this state, a senior Muslim cleric said today.New Delhi-based chief Imam of the All India Imam Organisation Umer Ahmed Ilyasi said that education is the indicator of development and sports and it has contributed to the picturesque state earning global recognition.

Calling the state as 'mini India', he said that people from all parts of the country have been living here in absolute harmony.

Terming Ilyasi's visit to the most strategically located state of India as historic, Lok Sabha member Takam Sanjoy said, "We may be tribals with unique cultures and traditions, but are staunch patriots and secular, and have made the state a 'mini India'.

Sonia Gandhi to visit Nagaland today

Kohima: Congress President Sonia Gandhi will visit Nagaland on Thursday to campaign for the February 23 Assembly Elections in the state.She will address two public meetings at Mokokchung and Dimapur districts respectively tomorrow, Nagaland Pradesh Congress Committee (NPCC) General Secretary (Admn) Medokul Sophie told reporters.

As part of the campaigning, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and AICC vice president Rahul Gandhi will also address public rallies in Kohima, Mon and Tuensang districts tentatively on February 9 and 14, he said.

Other central leaders, including Sushil Kumar Shinde and AK Anthony, are also likely to address rallies in the state in the coming days, he said.

The Congress has been in opposition in Nagaland since 2003.

Meanwhile, Naga Students' Federation (NSF), the apex students body in the state, said in a memorandum Wednesday that it looks forward for humanely answer for the interest of the Nagas and not in the interest of any political parties.

Cross-examination of key eyewitness in Delhi gangrape case begins

New Delhi, Feb. 6 (ANI): Defence lawyers in the Delhi gangrape case on Wednesday began cross- examination of the key eyewitness and co-victim of the incident at the fast-track court in the Saket Court Complex here.

The cross-examination came after the male friend of the deceased victim, who is the chief prosecution witness, had on Tuesday identified the bus on which the gruesome crime took place on December 16, and also the five accused.

"During the cross-examination, we highlight those points, which the police have not revealed. We bring it to the fore, whatever the police hide, and that is our defence. The star witness, who is also the complainant in the case, mentioned and admitted to certain things during his interviews and we will see what he says over here," said A. P. Singh, a defence lawyer.

"The court has been adjourned till tomorrow, so that we can respond to the application. After the reply, there will be an argument, then the prosecution will provide evidences," he added.

The sixth accused in the case is being tried separately as a juvenile.

The 23-year-old medical student died in a Singapore hospital on December 29 from massive internal injuries she sustained during the gangrape and torture on December 16 in South Delhi area. (ANI)

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Jumbos pose threat to 190 polling booths in Meghalaya

Shillong: Election officials in Meghalaya face an elephantine problem to ensure that voting for the Feb 23 polls is not disrupted by marauding pachyderms.

Election authorities are marking several booths as ‘sensitive’ not from law and order point of view, but because they are vulnerable to possible attacks from elephants in the light of previous experiences.
Election officials today said a scenario like a herd of wild elephants moving dangerously near an election booth, chasing away election officials and destroying electronic voting machines is very much in the realm of possibility.

Chief Electoral Officer P Naik said forest guards would keep a watch during the elections in elephant-inhabited areas in certain pockets of Garo hills and districts of West Khasi Hills and Ri-Bhoi, bordering forests of Assam. As of now, 194 booths, mostly in Garo hills region close to Indo-Angola border, have been identified as ‘sensitive’ with reference to frequent tusker attacks, he said.

"Forest guards along with trained elephants of forest and wildlife department and their trainers will be at hand to drive away wild elephants and they will be helped by local tribesmen with drums and cymbals," Principal Chief Conservator of Forests V K Natalya said.

While there was no recent attack on people in the sensitive areas identified, forest officials said encroachment of the animal territory by human settlements resulted in conflicting situation in which wild pachyderms come in contact with humans. Meanwhile, poll officials said, 1272 polling stations have been declared either Hyper Sensitive (HS) or Sensitive by Election Commission while only 1213 are declared normal of the total 2485 polling stations in the state, this time from the law and order point of view.

While 547 polling stations have been declared Hyper Sensitive due to militancy, 512 polling Hyper Sensitive was due to history of ethnic group clashes and others in such areas, they said. A total of 213 Polling stations have been declared Sensitive due to clashes over personal matters and others situations, poll officials said.


'NPF has politically cheated people of Nagaland'

Kohima: Former Nagaland Chief Minister and Congress leader S C Jamir has said that the Naga People?s Front (NPF) led government has 'politically cheated' the people and asserted that the Congress is the only party which could bring an early solution to the vexed Naga problem.

The veteran politician and five times Chief Minister of Nagaland, Jamir, who was also the Governor of Goa and Maharashtra and presently member of the Central Working Committee (CWC) AICC, campaigned for the Congress candidates in Dimapur district yesterday and lambasted the Neiphiu Rio led NPF government.

Stating that the NPF during the state Assembly elections in 2003 had assured to bring settlement to the Indo-Naga issue within 3 months after coming to power, he pointed that during their 10 years of rule despite having several rounds of talks with the Centre, the NPF could not achieve anything.

"They (NPF) have politically cheated the Naga people," he said, adding that they don't understand the seriousness and complexity of the Naga issue.
The Centre has no confidence on the NPF led Democratic Alliance of Nagaland (DAN) government as they have cheated the Naga people and themselves, he said.

"If we (Nagas) have to resolve the long standing Naga political issue we have two ways? front door and back door," he said. Congress alone can go through the front door and explain to the Government of India what really are the problems faced by the Nagas today.

"We have wasted 10 years and if Congress comes back to power, we will work towards bringing an early solution to the Naga problem, which is the biggest aspiration of the people," he said.

Maintaining that Naga people require a party which can deliver goods to the people, he said Congress is only party which can do so.