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Indian Rights Activists Demand independent Probe into Killings of Tribesmen in Assam

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Security personnel present Amiraj Basumatry (center), a suspected militant with the National Democratic Front of Bodoland, to media after his arrest in Chirang, in northeast India’s Assam state, Aug. 6, 2016, Benar News
  • Human rights activists urged the NHRC to conduct an independent probe into the killings
  • There have been at least 1,528 incidents of staged encounters in the past 20 years in Manipur alone
  • Security forces do not have the right to kill them in cold blood under the cloak of larger societal good

Guwahati, June 2, 2017: Indian human rights activists are demanding an independent probe into allegations levelled by a top paramilitary officer that government forces killed two innocent tribes men in a staged encounter in the northeast state of Assam two months ago.

In a recent letter to the Home Ministry, the inspector general of India’s Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) accused members of a joint security task force of picking up two Bodo tribesmen and killing them before labeling them as militants in insurgency-ravaged Chirang district on March 30. The slain men were identified as Lukash Narzary, 30, and Eyob Islary, 23.

In his stunning revelation, CRPF Inspector General Rajnesh Rai said that allegations made by members of his own department who had described the two men as belonging to the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB), an armed Christian separatist group fighting Indian forces for a sovereign state for its 1.2 million Bodo people, were false. Bodos are an ethnic aboriginal group, with a significant population in Assam and West Bengal.

“The CRPF’s official report present(s) a fictitious account of the joint operation by the security forces to conceal pre-planned murders of two persons in custody and present it as some brave act of professional achievement,” Rai wrote in his letter that was publicized last week, terming the killings as “one of the cruelest forms of human rights abuse.”

“Security forces do not have the right to kill them in cold blood under the cloak of larger societal good. Therefore, it is crucial to strike a balance between the individual human rights and societal interests while combating insurgency,” he added.

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‘A blot’ on security forces

Although the Assam government has launched an investigation into Rai’s allegations, human rights activists urged India’s rights watchdog, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), to conduct an independent probe into the killings.

“Fake encounters are a blot on the records of security forces. The NHRC should intervene so as to ensure that human rights are not violated,” Hasina Kharbih of Impulse, a Meghalaya-based rights group, told BenarNews.

“If the allegations are true, this is a brutal act of murder that creates terror. Everyone has the right to face trial and to be heard,” rights activist Agnes Kharshiang told Benar, adding that security forces routinely stage encounters in the militancy-torn northeast states.

Rai’s allegations have come even as the Supreme Court is hearing a set of petitions that seek to punish security officials who have allegedly killed hundreds of innocent people in fake encounters in Manipur, another state in the northeast, where more than 35 militant groups are active.

There have been at least 1,528 incidents of staged encounters in the past 20 years in Manipur alone, according to the Extra Judicial Execution Victim Families Association (EEVFAM).

“The proliferation of armed groups and presence of arms have allowed a free run for all involved in counter-insurgency operations. The chaos provides the smokescreen for encounters,” Kishala Bhattacharjee, author of “Blood on my hands: Confessions of Staged Encounters,” wrote on his blog.

The Assam government said it was conducting a magisterial probe into the allegations under guidelines issued by the NHRC.

“The government of Assam views the matter very seriously and is committed to taking appropriate action on receipt of the enquiry report,” the Times of India quoted an unnamed government spokesman as saying. (Benar News)

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7 Beautiful Places To Visit In North East India

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Places to visit in North East India.
Places to visit in North East India. Pixabay

North Eastern India, the home to the ‘Seven Sisters’ is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful regions, yet the most unexplored part of the country. From Shillong’s rainfall to Assam’s beautiful tea gardens, the region is indeed the home to exotic beauty. However, the tourism of the region has gained pace in the recent years. The picturesque views of the streams, hills and farms are breathtaking.

Here is the list of 7 beautiful places to visit in North East India:

1. Kaziranga National Park

places to visit in North East India
Kaziranga National Park. Pixabay.

Kaziranga national park in Assam is famous for its one-horned rhinoceros. It is the most famous tourist spot & one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. The place has been declared a UNESCO heritage site and attracts a lot of tourists from all over the world. Hundreds of migratory birds and around 35 species of mammals fly down every season to the national park. The incredible fauna cannot be found anywhere else in India.

2. Nathula Pass

Places to visit in North East India.
Nathula Pass. Wikimedia.

A trek on the Nathula Pass in Sikkim will give you a memory completely irreplaceable. The beautiful scenic views which you will observe through your trek journey can be found nowhere else in India & makes if one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India. A vacation to this place with your family during the summers is a must. Also the fact that a bearable temperature in the summer season will let you enjoy your trek more. A trek in the Nathula pass should right away be added to your bucket list.

3. Cherrapunji

Places to visit in North East India.
Cherrapunji. Wikimedia.

Cherrapunji in Meghalaya is the world’s wettest place. The place is known for receiving the maximum rainfall in the world. And, the weather of the place adds to its beauty. It is definitely one of the beautiful places to visit in North East India.

Also Read: 5 Inspiring Travel Stories That Will Give You Serious Wanderlust

4. Phodong Monastery

Places to visit in North East India.
Phodong Monastery. Wikimedia.

According to reports, the Phodong monastery in Sikkim is built in the 18th century. It situated 28 kms from Gangtok. It is known to be one of the most religious places for a sect of Buddhists. The place is a residence to around 260 monks. The place is full of positive energy. The people around the monastery are amicable and have some interesting stories in their pockets to tell you. The architecture of the monastery depicts a unique culture and beauty. These characteristics make this monastery, one of the beutiful places to visit in North East India. So grab your tickets soon!

5. Dampa Tiger Reserve

places to visit in North East India
A bird in the Dampa Tiger Reserve. Wikimedia.

Dampa Tiger Reserve in Mizoram is the largest wildlife sanctuary in Mizoram & a must visit place in north east india. The Tiger Reserve is a home to leopards, barking deer, sloth bear, langurs, Indian Python and a variety of birds. The fauna and flora of the place will leave you stunned.

6. Majuli Islands

Places to visit in North East India.
Majuli Island. Wikimedia.

A river island situated along the Brahmaputra is a home to many tribes. A variety of birds can be found on the island. The size of the island has been reduced due to river erosion by the Brahmaputra.

7. Shilloi lake

Places to visit in North East India.
Shilloi Lake. Wikimedia.

Shilloi lake, the largest natural lake in Nagaland situated in the state’s Phek district is covered by picturesque views including beautiful mountain peaks and trees. The best time to visit this lake is in the summer season. The beauty of the lake makes it one of the most beautiful places to visit in North East India.

-by Megha Acharya of NewsGram.

 Twitter: @ImMeghaacharya. 

 

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Srinagar: Restrictions on Muharram Processions to Avoid Separatist Violence

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Restrictions imposed in Srinagar ahead of Muharram protests.
Restrictions imposed in Srinagar ahead of Muharram protests. ians

Srinagar, Sep 29: Authorities imposed restrictions on Muharram processions in parts of Srinagar on Friday, to prevent any violence in the valley. Starting from the Guru Bazar locality, the Shia procession would end at the Dalgate area.

After separatist violence started in Kashmir, authorities have not allowed the procession since 1990.

Police and paramilitary, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in full riot gear were deployed in the suspected areas to put restrictions on Muharram processions.The pedestrian and vehicular movement was also suspended.

Life in other areas of Srinagar and elsewhere in the Kashmir Valley, however, remained normal. (IANS)

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Mahalaya: Beginning of “Devipaksha” in Bengali Celebration of ‘Durga Puja’

“Mahalaya” is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha” and heralds the celebration of Durga Puja

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Mahalaya morning in Kolkata. Flickr
  • Mahalaya 2017 Date: 19th september.
  • On Mahalaya, people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers; which is called ‘Torpon’
  • Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted in All India Radio
  • The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent

Sept 19, 2017: Autumn is the season of the year that sees the Hindus, all geared up to celebrate some of the biggest festivals of India. The festive spirit in the Bengalis all enthused to prepare for the greatest of the festivals, the ‘Durga Puja’.

About Mahalaya:

Mahalaya is the auspicious occasion that marks the beginning of “Devipaksha” and the ending of “Pitripaksha,” and this year it is celebrated on September 19.

Observed exactly a week before the ‘Durga Puja’, Mahalaya is the harbinger of the arrival of Goddess Durga. It is celebrated to invoke the goddess possessing supreme power! The goddess is invited to descend on earth and she is welcomed with devotional songs and holy chants of mantras. On this day, the eye is drawn in the idols of the Goddess by the artisans marking the initiation of “Devipaksha”. Mahalaya arrives and the countdown to the Durga Puja begins!

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The day of Mahalaya bears supreme significance to the Bengalis. The day is immensely important because on this day people throng to the holy river Ganges in order to pay homage to their ancestors and forefathers. Clad in white dhotis, people offer prayers and take dips in the river while praying for their demised dear ones. The ritual is popular as “Torpon”.

Mahalaya
An idol-maker in progress of drawing the eye in the idol of the Goddess. Wikipedia

As per Hindu myth, on “Devipaksha”, the Gods and the Goddesses began their preparations to celebrate “Mahamaya” or Goddess Durga, who was brought upon by the trinity- Brahma, Vishnu, and Maheshwara; to annihilate the fierce demon king named Mahishasura. The captivating story of the Goddess defeating the demon got popularized with the goddess being revered as “Durgatinashini” or the one who banishes all the evils and miseries of the world. The victory of the Goddess is celebrated as ‘Durga Puja’.

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Mahalaya remains incomplete without the magical chanting of the scriptural verses from the ‘Chandi Kavya’ that is broadcasted at dawn in All India Radio in the form of a marvelous audio montage enthralling the souls of the Bengalis. Presented with wonderful devotional music, acoustic drama, and classical songs- the program is also translated to Hindi and played for the whole pan-Indian listeners.

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Mahalaya
Birendra Krishna Bhadra (1905-1991). Wikipedia

The program is inseparable from Mahalaya and has been going on for over six decades till date. The magic is induced by the popular Birendra Krishna Bhadra whose voice makes the recitation of the “Chandi Kavya” even more magnificent! He has been a legend and the dawn of Mahalaya turns insipid without the reverberating and enchanting voice of the legendary man.

Mahalaya will keep spreading the magic and setting the vigor of the greatest festival of the Bengalis- the Durga Puja, to worship the supreme Goddess, eternally.

                 “Yaa Devi Sarbabhuteshu, Shakti Rupena Sanhsthita,

                     Namastaswai Namastaswai Namastaswai Namo Namaha.”

– by Antara Kumar of NewsGram. Twitter: @ElaanaC