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Anup Chetia’s participation will legitimise peace talks


New Delhi: As speculation continues that deported ULFA general secretary Anup Chetia will join the talks between the terror group and the central government, a senior member of the pro-talks group and the organisation’s “foreign secretary”, Sashadhar Choudhury, has said this will only legitimise the peace process and not necessarily bring about any qualitative change.

“Qualitatively I do not think there is going to be any change from the current status if Chetia joins the peace talks. However, if Chetia joins then the peace process will be legitimised more than the existing one,” Choudhury, whose real name is Sailen Choudhury, told IANS.

Chetia was deported to India on Nov 11 by Bangladesh, where he was arrested in 1997. He is currently in CBI custody.

Stressing that the existing pro-talks faction of ULFA, who entered into peace negotiations with the central government in 2010 after several top leaders were arrested, has submitted its agenda and debated on the points that can be agreed on, Choudhury said that it now depends on the government if it wants to resolve the Assam problem or not.

Recently, Minister of State for Home Kiren Rijiju had said that the government is planning to soon wind up the talks. The proposed date for the next round of peace talks between ULFA’s pro-talk faction, the Centre and the Assam government is November 24 in New Delhi.

Choudhury, who along with other senior leaders of the pro-talks faction, including the organisation’s ex-chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, has been granted bail by the Guwahati High Court since 2010, said, “I do not think that the government is trying to intentionally delay the peace process but if it wants a quick solution, it needs to speed up.”

One of the reasons that are believed to have paralysed the talks is the demand for tribal status for six communities – Tai Ahom, Koch Rajbongshi, Chutiya, Moran, Muttock and the Adivasi tea garden workers who are recognised as tribals in other states. The communities together account for 20 percent of the electorate in the state and play a decisive role in more than 40 of the 126 assembly constituencies in six districts of upper Assam.

Asked if the deportation of Chetia will isolate Paresh Baruah, the “commander-in-chief” of ULFA’s military wing, Choudhury said: “I am not the right person to speak on this. We have no relationship with him, but then, it should not be considered that there is any contradiction between us in terms of ideology.”

“The only point where we differ is on having talks with the government. Nobody from this group has any contact with him. It is the Government of India who can have relations with Paresh Baruah. So it’s up to the government and Paresh Baruah’s organisation to deal with, even if any confrontation may arise,” Choudhury said.

Sounding supportive of Chetia for showing willingness towards the peace process, the 50-year-old leader stated that the government has assured a solution on the tribal status issue by December.

Speaking to a news agency, Raju Baruah, the former “deputy Commander-in-chief” of the military wing, said, “Previously, we had contacted Anup Chetia and then many more letters have been sent to us by him showing his eagerness to join the peace process. We can finalise everything only after meeting Chetia.”

Asked if Paresh Barua would be backed if the negotiations fail, Raju, whose real name is Hitesh Kalita said, “We are the central body and we keep our commitment that we will involve ourselves with with the government only through negotiations.”


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Assam Government signs a MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity

It will provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam

Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity
Assam Government has signed MoU with Google India to expand Internet Connectivity. Pixabay

Guwahati, Assam, September 8, 2017: The Assam government on Thursday signed a MoU with Google India to take Internet connectivity to the remotest part of the north-eastern state.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said the government would work to provide Internet connections to 26,000 villages and 1,500 tea garden areas in Assam under the MoU and thus increase digital literacy.

Information Technology Secretary Nitin Khare and Google India Country Head (Policy) Chetan Krishnaswami signed the Memorandum of Understanding in the presence of Sonowal.

“Technology rules the roost in the 21st century and the state government has upped the ante to use technology to carry forward the fruits of development to the remotest parts of Assam,” the Chief Minister said.

He said the ties with Google was a way forward to strongly pitch Guwahati as a natural gateway to the South-East Asian countries.

Sonowal said his government in sync with the Centre was working for the success of Startup initiative but the success of such programmes sans technology would be a distant dream.

“The MoU will be used as a launchpad to achieve the state government’s vision of women empowerment, skill development, and universal education,” he said.

The Chief Minister asked the Information Technology Department to take steps to make technology acceptable and favourable among the rural populace so as to catalyse rural development. (IANS)


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Assam Government likely to push Deadline for accepting Old Notes in Hospitals amid prevailing Currency Crisis

Assam Government plans to extend the deadline further by another week to help those undergoing treatment in government hospitals

Indian currency. Flickr

Guwahati, Nov 14, 2016: In the wake of the prevailing currency crisis, the Assam government is mulling extension of the deadline for making payments in scrapped currency notes to help those undergoing treatment at government hospitals, AssamFinance Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said on Sunday.

Although the central government has extended the deadline to accept the old currency notes in government hospitals to November 14, the state government plans to extend the deadline further by another week to help those undergoing treatment in government hospitals, Sarma said.

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“The Central government’s deadline will end tomorrow. Let’s see if the central government extends the deadline further. In case the Centre does not extend this, we might go for extending this by another week,” the Minister said.

The Minister, however, said the same cannot be extended to private hospitals, as the central government had not included the private hospitals in its earlier order. (IANS)

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BJP-led Assam Government is likely to make Majuli, India’s First River Island District

Majuli falls under the Jorhat subdivision of Assam and is intended to become the 34th district of the state

Doriya river of Majuli, Assam, India. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
  • Majuli used to be a large river island on the river Brahmaputra in Assam, India
  • It is about 20 km away from Jorhat and serves as an important tourist attraction
  • Recently, the new Assam government has decided to honour Majuli as a separate district of Assam

Assam to become the first state to grant district status to an island. Recently, after the elections, the BJP led government formed in Assam met for the first time since the victory and decided to take a landmark decision. The decision was to grant district status to Majuli, a 400 sq km big island on river Brahmaputra. Majuli falls under the Jorhat subdivision of Assam. It is intended to become the 34th district of Assam.

Majuli. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

“We have decided to elevate Majuli to a district so that people do not have to take a boat every time they need to approach the district administration,” state excise minister Parimal Suklabaidya said to The Hindustan Times, after the meeting.

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A tribal village in Majuli. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
A tribal village in Majuli. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Majuli has been a home to mostly the Mishing tribal of Assam. It has been the hub of the neo-Vaishnavite culture of Assam which had been initiated by Srimanta Sankardeva, the saint-reformer, in the 15th century. Therefore, the island boasts of harbouring a number of Vaishnavite monasteries from a long time ago. Some of them have been lost and destroyed over time. Some of the surviving ones are Dakhinpat, Garamurh, Auniati, Kamalabari and Bengenaati.

Kamalabari Satra in Majuli. Image Courtesy : Wikimedia Commons
Kamalabari Satra in Majuli. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The new government has also made the promise that they will secure jobs for the teachers who have passed the TET(Teachers’ Eligibility Test) and have not gotten employment yet.  The decision had coincided with the event of around 7000 teachers joining schools across 10 districts of Assam. They had earned their postings through the lottery, a week ago.

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We sincerely hope that the new BJP led government of Assam will succeed in fulfilling the promises that they are making.

-This report is compiled by a staff-writer at NewsGram.