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Assam

13 killed, 15 injured as terrorists open fire near Kokrajhar in Assam

At least 13 people were killed and more than 15 others suffered injuries when a group of terrorists opened fire at a crowded weekly market near Kokrajhar town in Assam on Friday afternoon.
 
13 kiled in terror attack at Kokrajhar in Assam
At least 13 people were killed and more than 15 others suffered injuries when a group of terrorists opened fire at a crowded weekly market near Kokrajhar town in Assam this afternoon.
 
Sources said the three or four masked gunmen, wearing Army-style fatigues, struck at Balajan Tiniali near the town, about 220 km west of Guwahati, around noon, leaving at least 12 civilians dead.
 
The gunmen arrived in an autorickshaw, hurled grenades and then opened fire indiscriminately in the market before fleeing from the scene.
 
Security forces managed to shoot down one of the militants and have launched a manhunt for the remaining men, who are believed to have escaped into a nearby forest.
 
The attack has taken the security forces as well as the Assam Government and the Centre by surprise. Media reports quoted top police officials as saying that they suspected the militants were part of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland-Songbijit (NDFB-S) faction.
 
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, who was in Delhi, told journalists that both Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Narendra Modi had been in touch with him and had promised all help from the Centre to tackle the situation. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval met Mr. Sonowal to discuss the latest developments.
 
Condemning the attack, Mr. Sonowal said the state government was committed to ensuring protection of the lives and property of the people of Assam. He said the security forces would deal strictly with the situation.
 
He said the Director General of Police (DGP) of Assam and other senior officials were rushing to the scene of the incident.
 
Mr. Sonowal announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs. 5 lakh for the next-of-kin of those killed in the attack and Rs. 1 lakh each for those who suffered injuries. He also appealed to the people of Assam to maintain peace and harmony. 
 
The Chief Minister said senior Minister Hemanta Biswa Sarma had left for Kokrajhar.
 
Reports said additional columns of the Army and teams of para-military forces had been moved to the area. Police officials said an AK-56 rifle and some grenades were recovered from the scene.
 
The injured persons were rushed to nearby hospitals for treatment even as security forces cordoned off the area and launched a combing operation.
 
In Delhi, Union Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju described the incident as "unfortunate" and said it had taken place at a time when peace was returning to the state. 
 
“This incident has given us a shock and it is unfortunate so many people have lost their lives," he said, adding that the elements behind the "dastardly" attack would have to be identified.
 
This is the first major incident of violence in Assam since Mr. Sonowal assumed office as the head of the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in the stte on May 24 this year.
 
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Heavy turnout of voters in first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal, Assam

More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security on Monday.
More than 80.92 percent of the voters exercised their franchise in the first phase of polling in the elections to the legislative assembly of West Bengal and 78 percent in Assam amidst tight security today.
 
Polling was by and large peaceful in both the states, with no major untoward incident reported from anywhere, official osurces said.
 
In West Bengal, voting was held today in 18 constituencies in Phase IA of polling. They include six seats in Paschim Medinipur, nine in Purulia and three in Bankura district.
 
These constituencies have a total electorate of 40,09,171 voters, including 20,47,202 men and 19,57,453 women. There are 4500 service electors in these constituencies.
 
There were a total of 133 candidates in these constituencies, including 11 women.
 
The Election Commission had set up 4945 polling stations and made elaborate arrangements to ensure a smooth poll in these constituencies.
 
As many as 65 constituencies went to the polls in the first phase of voting in Assam. There were 566 candidates in all, including 44 women. Prominent candidates in the fray included Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi of the Congress, who is seeking a fourth conseccutive term, and Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, the chief ministerial candidate of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).
 
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Five killed as magnitude 6.7 earthquake hits Manipur, other NE states

At least five people were killed when a strong earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, hit Manipur and other North-Eastern states of India and neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan in the early hours of Monday.
 
Massive 6.7 quake strikes northeast India
 
At least five people were killed when a strong earthquake, measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale, hit Manipur and other North-Eastern states of India and neighbouring countries like Myanmar, Bangladesh and Bhutan in the early hours of today.
 
Official sources in Imphal said more than 45 people had been reported injured in the quake.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.8°N and longitude  93.5°E, occured at 0435 hours at a focal depth of 17 km.
 
According to IMD, the epicentre of the earthquake was in Tamenglong district of Manipur, about 35 km from Imphal, the state capital.
 
The tremors were also felt in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar, among other places.
 
Initial reports from Manipur spoke of damages to many buildings and houses. People in many places ran out of their homes to safety as a precautionary measure. Many people posted pictures of damaged buildings and walls with cracks on social media sites. Some government offices and a six-storeyed building in Imphal were among those affected.
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke over the telephone to Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, who is on an official visit to Assam, and asked him to oversee the situation.
 
Mr. Modi also spoke to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Nabam Tuki on the situation.
 
The Manipur Government has sought the assistance of the Army and the Assam Rifles in the rescue and relief efforts.
 
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) said Mr. Modi was continuously monitoring the situation.
 
Two teams of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have been instructed to move from Guwahati to the areas affected by the earthquake.
 
Mr. Rajnath Singh said he had spoken to Mr. Gogoi and the Manipur Chief Secretary about the situation and assured them of all possible help from the Centre.
 
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"I'm also contacting other North Eastern states to know the extent of damage caused by the earthquake," he added.
 
In New Delhi, the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) is coordinating with the State Governments concerned, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Ministry of Defence (Mod), NDRF, Ministry of Communications and other Departments and agencies for seach, rescue and relief efforts.
 
NDMA officials have spoken to the Control Rooms and Relief Commisioners of all the States in the North-East and West Bengal.
 
Communication systems are functioning, particularly those of state-owned BSNL, in the affected areas.
 
The National Crisis Management Committee headed by the Cabinet Secretary held a meeting here this morning to assess the situation and provide all necessary help from the Government of India.
 
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1 dead, 14 hurt in twin blasts on Bangalore-Guwahati Express at Chennai station

A 24-year-old woman was killed and 14 others suffered injuries in twin blasts which occurred in two coaches of the 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati tri-weekly express train minutes after it pulled into the Chennai Central station on Thursday morning.
 
Chennai train blasts: 14 injured passengers stable
A 24-year-old woman was killed and 14 others suffered injuries in twin blasts which occurred in two coaches of the 12509 Bangalore-Guwahati tri-weekly express train minutes after it pulled into the Chennai Central station here this morning.
 
Southern Railway sources said two of the injured had suffered serious grievous injuries while the others had received minor injuries.
 
Southern Railway General Manager Rakesh Mishra told reporters at the scene that the "minor intensity" blasts occurred in sleeper coaches S4 and S5 at about 7.15 am, some ten minutes after the train arrived on platform number 9.
 
Three coaches of the train -- S3, S4 and S5 -- were affected by the two explosions, the sources said.
 
The deceased passenger was identified as Ms Swati who was travelling from Bangalore to Vijayawada on her way to her home town of Guntur in Andhra Pradesh, he said. Media reports said she was an employee of Tata Consultancy Services (TCS).
 
Sources said the blasts appeared to have been caused by some devices placed under seat 70 of coach S4 and seat 30 of coach S5.
 
Mr Mishra said the train was running slightly late and had arrived at the station at 7.05 am instead of its scheduled time of 5.45 am.
 
The injured were rushed immediately to the Rajiv Gandhi Government General Hospital near the station.
 
Minister of Railways Mallikarjun Kharge has sanctioned an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh for the next-of-kin of the deceased passenger, Rs 25,000 for each of those with grievous injuries and Rs 5,000 for each of those with minor injuries.
 
Police officials, accompanied by dog squads and bomb disposal squads, rushed to the scene of the blasts immediately and platform number 9 was cordoned off.
 
The entire train was checked by the police and it later resumed its journey to Guwahati, Assam after the affected coaches were detached and replaced with new coaches.
 
Mr Mishra said the entire train was being checked and it would resume its journey to Guwahati, Assam an hour later after the two affected coaches are detached.
 
The Railways have set up a helpline at Chennai on telephone number 044-25357398 to provide information to relatives of the passengers of the affected train.
 
Operations on other platforms as well as on the nearby suburban section continued to remain normal, Mr Mishra added.
 
A team from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from Hyderabad will reach Chennai later today to probe the incident.
 
Security was intensified at Chennai Central railway station after the incidents.
 
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Among the seriously injured passengers, one was identified as Sumantho Devnath (37, Male), while the other was an unidentified male.
 
Those with minor injuries were identified as follows:
 
1. Shaiful Haque – 27 years Male
2. Anjanedu– 29 years Male
3. Vimal Kumar Das – 43 years Male
4. Shagun Kumar Rai– 23 years Male
5. Altaf Khan – 17 years Male
6. Uma – 35 years Female
7. Jitendra Mohanto Deka – 58 years Male
8. Sari – 21 years Male
9. Murali – 27 years Male
10. Bijoy Kumar – 14 years Male
11. Sudanchand Debnath – 64 years Male
12. Surendra Varma– 31 years Male
 
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At least 40 drowned, scores missing after ferry carrying 300 people sinks in Assam

Rescue teams continued to search for survivors on Tuesday after a ferry carrying about 300 passengers, capsized in the Brahmaputra river in the western Assam district of Dhubri Monday evening, killing scores of people and leaving many more missing.
Map of Dhubri district
Map of Dhubri district

Rescue teams continued to search for survivors today after a ferry carrying about 300 passengers,  capsized in the Brahmaputra river in the western Assam district of Dhubri yesterday evening, killing scores of people and leaving many more missing.

Official sources said at least 40 bodies had been fished out, but scores of people were missing and they felt the toll could be much higher. The sources also said about 60 people had managed to swim to safety.
 
Rescue efforts by personnel of the Army, the Border Security Force, the National Disaster Response Force, the state police and the district administration were hampered overnight because of the bad weather and darkness. 
 
Details about the tragedy remained sketchy because it happened in a very remote location and also because the bad weather had disrupted communication links with the area.
The ferry was filled with passengers far beyond its capacity, many of them returning from a weekly market, and they included several women and children. People of the area are known to be good swimmers, but, given the weather conditions at the time of the mishap and the strong undercurrents in the river, there are fears that not many would have survived, the officials said.
 
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The boat was said to be on its way from Dhubri town to Medertari ghat when it got caught in the storm. It was tossed around and finally broke into three parts around 5 pm, the sources said.
 
The weather had cleared considerably by this morning and more rescue teams were being rushed to the area and helicopters were being pressed into service to help them.
 
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has announced an ex-gratia assistance to the families of those who lost their lives in the tragedy.
 
An official press release said an assistance of Rs 2 lakh would be given to the next-of-kin of each of the deceased from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund. 
 
Dr Singh had earlier spoken to Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and offered all possible help to the state government in the relief operations.
 
By late this evening, official sources said the final toll could be much lower than initially estimated.
 
They said the capsized ferry had been brought to the river bank and, contrary to fears, no bodies were found in it.
 
They also said that divers scoured the area where the ferry was found for hours today and did not find any body.
 
The officials said the entire downstream of the river was being searched for victims. At this stage, it would appear that many more people than initially thought had managed to swim to safety, on the one hand, and that the number of people on the boat could have been lower than given out yesterday, they added.
 
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Chidambaram welcomes ULFA ceasfire; says it wil lead to peace, normalcy in Assam

The Centre on wednesday welcomed the announcement made by ULFA on Tuesday to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period to create a conducive atmosphere for the peace talks with the government.
File photo of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram
File photo of Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram
The Government of India today welcomed the announcement made by the United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) yesterday to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period to create a conducive atmosphere for the peace talks with the government and expressed confidence that it would contribute to peace and normalcy in Assam.

"It is expected that a Suspension of Operation (SoO) Agreement will be signed and ground rules for observing the agreement will be finalised in the near future. Government of India, in consultation with Government of Assam, will facilitate an early start to the talks," Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said in a statement here.

He recalled that, in February 2011, the leaders of ULFA, including its Chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa, had called on the Assam Chief Minister, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and him and expressed their desire to seek a political solution to their demands.

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"Subsequently, the government of Assam and the Government of India have been in touch with the leaders of the organisation. Government has always expressed its willingness to hold a dialogue with any militant group that will abjure violence, lay down arms and seek a solution through peaceful and democratic means.

"Government of India is confident that the announcement by ULFA will contribute to peace and normalcy in Assam," Mr Chidambaram added.

In a statement yesterday, Mr Rajkhowa had said that the ceasefire shall be with immediate effect and binding on all its cadres.

"The ULFA, with a view to explore a lasting peaceful resolution of the ongoing conflict, resolves to cease all forms of armed campaign for an indefinite period,'' he said.

''All members of the organisation are commanded hereby to scrupulously implement the decision in letter and spirit and any infringement thereof will be considered as an anti-organisational act and shall be dealt with accordingly," he said.

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The ULFA leader said he had declared the ceasefire in accordance with a decision in the 5th general council of the outfit on February 22, which had authorized him to make the announcement, whenever needed.

Mr Rajkhowa said the decision to declare the ceasefire was in keeping with the desire by all to create a conducive atmosphere for political dialogue.

Referring to the ULFA leadership’s meeting with the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and the Assam Chief Minister, among others, he said, ''In the course of such exchanges, everybody has expressed their earnest desire that an honourable, meaningful discussion should continue in a peaceful atmosphere conducive for political negotiations.''

Mr Rajkhowa is leading the ULFA faction that is engaged in formal talks with the government, though a section of the outfit, led by its elusive ‘c-in-c’ Paresh Barua, has stayed out of the peace process.

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37 killed, over 270 injured in two train accidents in UP, Assam

At least 37 people were killed and over 270 injured today when over a dozen coaches of two superfast Express trains got derailed in Uttar Pradesh and Assam.
A TV grab of Kalka mail, which derailed at Fatehpur-Kanpur (UP) on July 10, 2011. UNI PHOTO
A TV grab of Kalka mail, which derailed at Fatehpur-Kanpur (UP) on July 10, 2011. UNI PHOTO
At least 37 people were killed and over 270 injured today when over a dozen coaches of two superfast Express trains got derailed in Uttar Pradesh and Assam.

At least 37 people were killed and over 200 injured when 12 coaches of the 12311 Up Howrah-Kalka Mail derailed near Malwan railway station on the Howrah-Delhi route of the North-Central railway in Fatehpur, Uttar Pradesh.

In another mishap, at least 70 people were injured, 30 of them critically, when a suspected blast derailed four coaches and overturned four others of the Guwahati-Puri Express in lower Assam's Nalbari district this evening.

Police sources here said 37 passengers have been killed in Kalka Mail accident and the death toll could rise as many passengers were still trapped inside two derailed coaches.  However, unconfirmed report put the death toll at over 50.

More than 250 injured are undergoing treatment in different hospitals. As many as 190 of them were admitted to the district hospital here and 54 were admitted to private nursing homes in Kanpur and Fatehpur.

Four helicopters of the Indian Air Force (IAF) were deployed to help in the rescue operations. Several seriously injured passengers were rushed to hospital by army jawans.

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Passengers of the ill-fated train complained of delay in the rescue and relief efforts by the Railways.

A special train has been made available from Kanpur for the passengers of the Kalka Mail for their onward journey. Besides, food packets and water bottles have been provided to the passengers, railway officials said.

NCR spokesman Sandeep Mathur told UNI from Allahabad that the derailed coaches included two AC three-tier, one AC two-tier, two general, five sleeper, one pantry and an SLR coach.

He said 11 coaches had been totally damaged and gas cutters were being used to bring out the passengers from the derailed coaches. The train was running at a speed of 108 kms per hour when the accident occurred.

"A medical relief train with seven doctors and medical equipment has reached from Allahabad. A similar train from Kanpur has also reached the spot," Mr Mathur said.

All the derailed coaches either had overturned or climbed onto other coaches, he said.

Railway Board Chairman Vinay Mittal, along with some of the members of the Board and the Director General of Railway Protection Force (RPF), has rushed to the spot.

The Railways announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 5 lakh for the next of kin of those killed in the mishap, Rs 1 lakh for the critically injured and Rs 25,000 for those with minor injuries.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has expressed her grief over the accident and announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 1 lakh for the kin of the deceased, Rs 50,000 for the critically injured and Rs 25,000 for victims with minor injuries.

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State Cooperative Minister and Bahujan Samaj Party state president Swami Prasad Maurya, along with UP Chief Secretary Anoop Mishra, have reached the spot and were supervising the relief and rescue operations.

Rescue efforts had picked up with Army jawans taking full control of the operation. A 150-member team from National Disaster Response Force had also reached the scene. Railway officials said the rescue work would continue overnight. Official said the restoration of the route would take at least 48 hours.

The railway officials were yet to establish the cause of the derailment.

In the district hospital, there was a shortage of beds and many of the injured were forced to lie on the floor. Most of the deceased were yet to be identified except for one Kallo Devi (35) of Kanpur. A woman died with her infant child on her lap.

The railways have asked Commissioner Railway Safety P K Vajpayee to inquire into the accident.

Regarding the second incident, Northeast Frontier Railway sources said it occurred at Bhatkuchi, between Rangiya and Ghograpar railway stations.

The train had left Guwahati railway station at 1915 hours on its way to Puri and the accident occurred at about 2020 hours, the sources said.

Four coaches of the train derailed and fell into a paddy field, while four more overturned. All the coaches involved were those immediately behind the engine.

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The sources said preliminary findings pointed towards a blast on the tracks, though confirmation is yet to be received. Passengers of the ill-fated train as well as people of nearby villages also claimed that they had heard a loud explosion just before the accident.

The injured were being rushed to Rangiya and Guwahati, where the state government has issued orders for treatment of the victims on a priority basis. The condition of at least 30 injured was stated to be critical.

Rescue and relief teams have reached the spot and were trying to ensure that no person was trapped in the coaches as well as providing medical aid to those injured.

The main railway line through the section has been blocked following the incident and trains were being diverted via Goalpara, the sources said.

The NFR has set up following helpline numbers after the accident: 0361-2737154/2737155/2731621/622/623 and 9957554804.

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Cabinet approves doubling of New Bongaigaon-Agthori railway line

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The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on Wednesday gave its approval for construction of the New Bongaigaon-Agthori via Rangiya doubling (142.97 km) of Northeast Frontier Railway in Assam with an estimated cost of Rs. 2042.51 crore.
 
The project will be completed by 2022-23 and will be executed by Construction Organization of Northeast Frontier Railway, an official press release said.
 
The line capacity utilization of the section between New Bongaigaon and Agthori via Rangiya is more than 100%. Traffic on this section will further increase as Rangiya-Murkongselek Broad Gauge line has already been commissioned in 2015-16 and Bogibeel Bridge new line has been commissioned recently.
 
To remove the existing capacity constraints of existing network and to handle the increasing freight and passenger traffic, doubling of New Bongaigaon-Agthori via Rangiya is required. Overall operative performance of New Bongaigaon-Agthori via Rangiya will improve by the doubling and congestion of section will also reduce to the great extent, the release said.
 
The project will ease the growing through traffic into the North East region and saving due to faster mobility through the proposed double line section. This project will also generate direct employment during construction for about 34.31 lakh mandays, it said.
 
The alignment for the approved doubling from New Bongaigaon to Agthori via Rangiya (142.97 km) will traverse through Bongaigaon, Baksa, Barpeta, Nalbari and Kamrup districts of Assam.
 
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Assam flood situation grim, death toll rises to 6

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The flood situation in Assam continued to be grim with three more people dying in the last 24 hours, taking the total death toll in floods and landslides to six, even as over eight lakh people were marooned by the floods till Friday evening.
 
Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said that two more persons died due to floods in Golaghat district in the last 24 hours while one person died in a landslide in Dima Hasao district.
 
"A total of 1,556 villages in 68 revenue circles in 21 districts have been affected in the current wave of floods. The affected districts include Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Biswanath, Sonitpur, Darrang, Baksa, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Goalpara, Morigaon, Hojai, Nagaon, Golaghat, Majuli, Jorhat, Sibsagar, Dibrugarh and Tinsukia," an ASDMA official said on Friday.
 
"A total of 8,69,024 people, including women and children, have been affected by the floods," the official said.
 
He said that river Brahmaputra in Jorhat, Sonitpur, Kamrup, Goalpara and Dhubri districts was flowing above the danger level.
 
The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and the State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) have been pressed into service in the flood-affected areas for search and rescue operations.
 
"Presently, 68 relief camps are operational in the affected districts," the official said.
 
IANS
 

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Over 4 lakh marooned by Assam floods

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With flood waters inundating over 700 villages in 17 districts and affecting over 4 lakh people in the state, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Thursday reviewed the prevailing flood situation and asked Deputy Commissioners (DCs) and other officials to remain fully alert for tackling the situation.
 
Noting that people in distress must get adequate care and response, the Chief Minister asked the DCs to activate 24x7 control rooms for immediate response to the flood situation in their districts. He enquired about the status of relief camps, distribution of relief material to marooned people and measures adopted for safety and security of animals in the flood-affected districts.
 
The Chief Minister also asked the Deputy Commissioners to update their stocks of medicines in the hospitals and ensure availability of doctors. He also asked them to take steps for adequate care for animals affected by floods and arrange fodder for them.
 
Moreover, in view of the spurt of Japanese encephalitis and malaria cases, the Chief Minister directed the health department functionaries to collect blood sample of relief camp inmates to contain the diseases.
 
Underlining the importance of prompt action by the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) and State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) personnel in rescue operations, the Chief Minister asked the DCs to remain in close touch with concerned district administrations where the teams are currently being stationed. 
 
He also directed the police to carry out regular patrolling in flood-affected areas to ensure the safety and security of property of the flood-hit people.
 
Sonowal further asked the state Power Department to take all necessary measures to prevent incidents of electrocution which may occur owing to negligence of departmental officials. 
 
Besides, in case of any casualty by floods, he directed the DCs to immediately release the one-time financial assistance to the next of kin of the victim.
 
Apart from reviewing the present situation of inundation at the Kaziranga and Manas National Parks, the Chief Minister took stock of the preparedness of the Kamrup (Metro) district administration in responding to incidents of landslide in the district. 
 
In view of several such incidents in Guwahati in the past causing loss of many lives, Sonowal asked the DC and Assam State Disaster Management Authority to identify all landslide-prone areas and sensitise the local people to vacate such places to avert any mishap.
 
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SpiceJet flags off daily non-stop flight on Guwahati-Dhaka route

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today launched daily non-stop flights on the Guwahati-Dhaka-Guwahati route under the Government's International Air Connectivity Scheme (IACS). 
 
The flight is the first ever to be operated under IACS, a press release from the airline said. It said the flight also underlined the airline's commitment to enhancing connectivity in the North East region.
 
SpiceJet is the only airline to offer direct air connectivity between Guwahati and Dhaka. 
 
The flag-off ceremony at Guwahati airport was attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and other dignitaries.
 
Debojo Maharshi, Chief Marketing Officer, SpiceJet, said, “We are extremely delighted to launch our first ever direct flight under the International Air Connectivity Scheme between Guwahati and Dhaka. We believe that the tremendous success of RCS (Regional Connectivity Scheme) can be replicated in IACS as well thereby making international air travel much more affordable and convenient for Indians. Enhancing connectivity to the North-East has always been on top of our agenda and this new flight marks an important milestone in this regard.”
 
With the launch of the new flight services between Guwahati and Dhaka, SpiceJet now operates two flights under IACS besides operating a total of 43 flights connecting 24 cities under UDAN, the regional connectivity scheme.  This is the highest number of flights being operated by any Indian airline under UDAN.
 
SpiceJet is deploying its Bombardier Q400 on the Guwahati-Dhaka-Guwahati route.
 
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IAF retrieves stranded rescue team from AN-32 crash site

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Saturday evening retrieved all the 15 members of the search and rescue team engaged in the search of the AN-32 aircraft who got stranded in the crash site along the Indo-China border, said defence spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh.
 
Singh said the 15-member search and rescue team was camping at the crash site since June 12 due to bad weather and rains.
 
"All the 15 members of the team, including eight from the IAF, four from the Army and three other civilian rescuers, were retrieved today using ALH and Mi-17V5 helicopters," Singh said, adding that the effort to retrieve them was delayed due to inclement weather and rain.
 
"The weather condition improved slightly today, allowing the risky helicopter operations to be undertaken. We did that and the team was retrieved," he said.
 
All the members were fit and in good health, he added.
 
The ill-fated AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force went missing after taking off from the Jorhat air base in Assam for Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3.
 
The rescue team was air-dropped near the wreckage site of the aircraft on June 12 and subsequently retrieved the bodies and mortal remains of 13 air warriors on board the AN-32. However, the rescue team got stranded there due to bad weather.
 
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Mistaken identity lands Assam woman in detention camp for 3 years

Madhubala Mandal, a 59-year-old woman who was sent to a detention camp for illegal immigrants in 2016 in a case of mistaken identity, leaves after being released in Assam's Kokrajhar on June 26, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Madhubala Mandal, a 59-year-old woman who was sent to a detention camp for illegal immigrants in 2016 in a case of mistaken identity, leaves after being released in Assam's Kokrajhar on June 26, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
A woman from Assam's Chirang district, sent by a foreigners' tribunal to a detention camp three years back on suspicion that she was an illegal infiltrator after being mistaken for someone else of the same name, has now been freed.
 
"I am happy that I can take care of my daughter now. She is physically challenged, she needs my help always," said Madhubala Mondal, 59, after her release on Wednesday. 
 
Mondal, a widow who worked as a domestic help, had to spend three years at a detention camp in Kokrajhar district after she was declared a foreigner by a Foreigners' Tribunal in March 2016.
 
She could not even challenge the Tribunal's order due to extreme poverty and lack of knowledge. The case of her "illegal detention" came to light only recently when a local organization took up the case and moved a petition challenging the Tribunal's order.
 
During the fresh hearing, the police admitted that they took her to be Madhubala Das of the same village in Chirang.
 
"We have received an order from the Foreigners' Tribunal asking to release Madhubala Mondal. We forwarded the order to the detention camp and accordingly she was released from the detention camp on Wednesday," said a senior police official in Chirang.
 
The officer, who did not want to be identified, admitted that there was a goof-up regarding the name as there are three Madhubalas in the village. "She was Madhubala Das when she got married. But later after her husband died, she got married to one Mondal and become Madhubala Mondal," the officer said adding that the police picked up Madhubala Mondal instead of Madhubala Das and sent to detention camp.
 
Village residents, however, said that the woman named Madhubala Das, who was declared a foreigner by a Tribunal and her husband Makhan Nama Das, had died long before the Foreigners' Tribunal order was issued.
 
The Assam government is updating the National Register of Citizens of 1951. A draft NRC was published last year which excluded names of over 40 lakh people due to some discrepancies in their documents in proving their Indian citizenship.
 
On Wednesday, the Assam government published a draft additional exclusion list which listed over one lakh people as ineligible for enrolment in the NRC, despite the fact that their names have appeared in the draft NRC published last year.
 
IANS

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6 bodies, 7 mortal remains found at An-32 crash site

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday said it had recovered six bodies and seven mortal remains at the site where an An-32 crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3.
 
The wreckage of the aircraft was located at a remote place on June 11 and since then efforts had been on reach the site and recover the bodies, an official said. 
 
The plane was carrying 13 IAF personnel from Assam to Arunachal Pradesh.
 
IANS

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IAF says no survivors in An-32 crash of June 3

AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
The Indian Air Force (IAF) today confirmed that there were no survivors amongst the 13 people who were on board an An-32 transport aircraft that went missing in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3.
 
"Eight members of the rescue team have reached the crash site today morning. IAF is sad to inform that there are no survivors from the crash of An32," the IAF said in a post on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
There were eight members of crew and five passengers on board the aircraft.
 
"Following air-warriors lost their life in the tragic #An32 crash - W/C GM Charles, S/L H Vinod, F/L R Thapa, F/L A Tanwar, F/L S Mohanty, F/L MK Garg, WO KK Mishra, Sgt Anoop Kumar, Cpl Sherin, LAC SK Singh, LAC Pankaj, NC(E) Putali & NC(E) Rajesh Kumar," the IAF said.
 
"IAF Pays tribute to the brave Air-warriors who lost their life during the #An32 crash on 03 Jun 2019 and stands by with the families of the victims. May their soul rest in peace," it added.
 
The aircraft had gone missing on June 2 while on a flight from Jorhat in Assam to the Mechua Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The plane, which  had taken off at 12.27 pm, lost contact with the ground staff at 1.30 pm.
 
After days of search, the IAF announced on Tuesday that one of its Mi17 helicopters had spotted the wreckage of the aircraft at Lipo, northeast of Tato, at an approximate elevation of 12,000 feet.
 
Since then, hectic efforts were made to reach the site of the crash to establish the status of those on board and to search for the black box and cockpit voice recorder of the aircraft.
 
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R. D. Mathur has been monitoring the search and rescue operations.
 
On June 8, the IAF had announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information leading to the location of the missing aircraft.
 
Mi-17 helocopters, Advanced Light Helicopters, SU-30 MKI, C130 and Army UAV were pressed into service during the search operations. The Indian Navy's Long Range Maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8I and satellites were also used.
 
Besides, teams of the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), local police and other agencies were involved in the search operations on the ground level from the day the aircraft went missing. 
 
The search and rescue efforts were intensified after the crash site was locted. Four Garud commandos of the IAF were dropped by helicopter yesterday near the site, where a camp has been established.
 
Also yesterday, a team that included Army and civil mountaineers was airlifted to a location close to the crash site, official sources said.
 
The thickly forested mountainous terrain and inclement weather had made the task of locating and reaching the crash site extremely difficult.
 
The Air Force flies sorties regularly to forward areas to carry essential items for the troops posted there.
 
NNN

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Wreckage of missing An-32 aircraft spotted in Arunachal

AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
The Indian Air Force (IAF) said on Tuesday that it has spotted the wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft which went missing in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3 with 13 people onboard.
 
"The wreckage of the missing An-32 transporter aircraft has been spotted at Lipo, northeast of Tato, at an approximate elevation of 12,000 feet by the IAF Mi17 helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told IANS.
 
"Our next effort is to get to the wreckage site to establish the status of the occupants and search for the black box and CVR of the ill-fated aircraft with tail number K-2752," Singh said.
 
On June 3, the Russian-origin An-32 trasnporter took off from Assam's Jorhat at 12.27 p.m. for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh's Shi-Yomi district bordering China. The aircraft lost contact with the ground staff at 1.30 p.m.
 
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R. D. Mathur is monitoring the search and rescue operations.
 
On June 8, the IAF announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for any information leading to the location of the missing aircraft.
 
To locate the aircraft, Mi-17 helocopters, Advanced Light Helicopters, SU-30 MKI, C130 and Army UAV were pressed into service. 
 
The Indian Navy's Long Range Maritime reconnaissance aircraft P-8I and satellites were also used.
 
Besides, teams of the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), local police and other agencies were involved in the search operations on the ground level from the day the aircraft went missing. 
 
IANS
 

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Wreckage of AN-32 spotted in Arunachal Pradesh: IAF

AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Tuesday said it had spotted the wreckage of an AN-32 aircraft which went missing with 13 people on board on June 3 in Arunachal Pradesh.
 
The IAF tweeted: "The wreckage of the missing #An32 was spotted today 16 km north of Lipo, northeast of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12,000 ft by the IAF Mi-17 helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone."
 
The transport aircraft went missing on June 3 after it took off from the Jorhat Airbase in Assam for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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IAF continues search for missing AN-32

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For the seventh day on Sunday, the Indian Air Force (IAF) continued the search for its missing AN-32 transport aircraft.
 
According to an IAF statement, poor weather in the area was hampering the operation. Helicopters and transport aircraft could carry out limited operations due to low clouds and rain in the area, but the ground teams continued the search in full force. 
 
The ground teams have made considerable headway into the search area, which has been progressively expanded based on inputs from multiple sources. Search on ground will continue through the night, the statement added.
 
On Saturday, the IAF announced a reward of Rs 5 lakh for information on the location of the missing plane.
 
The transport aircraft with 13 people on board went missing on June 3 after it took off from the Jorhat Airbase in Assam for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in the West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
 
IANS

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As search for missing IAF aircraft continues, Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa visits Jorhat

AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
As massive search operations continued unabated for the sixth day today for the Indian Air Force's An-32 went missing on June 3 with 13 people on board, Chief of the Air Staff B S Dhanoa visited Air Force Station Jorhat in Assam to assess the ongoing efforts.
 
He was given a detailed briefing about the operations and was apprised with the inputs received so far, an official press release said.
 
He also interacted with families of the officers and airmen who were onboard the aircraft.
 
The An-32 transport aircraft had taken off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm on Monday with 13 people on board for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The aircraft lost contact with the ground staff at 1.30 pm.
 
The IAF launched massive search operations soon after it was established that the aircraft had not reached its destination within the stipulated time.
 
Resources from various agencies, including ISRO. were brought into the operation to enhance the effectiveness of the search efforts. The area of search is mountainous and heavily forested with thick undergrowth. The weather in the area has been inclement with low clouds and rain during most hours. 
 
Combined with the inhospitable terrain, the weather has posed serious challenges to aerial search operations, the release said.
 
Search efforts by ground teams of Indian Army, ITBP, State Police and members of local population continued in full force today. However, aerial search could not be undertaken due to poor weather conditions prevailing throughout the day. 
 
The IAF has increased the deployment of its helicopters and transport aircraft and has expanded the search area significantly since the beginning of the operations. More and more area is being covered by airborne sensors and satellites and the imaging is being followed up by close analysis of the data for its synergistic amalgamation in the search operations, the release added.
 
NNN

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Massive search underway for missing AN-32

AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
Despite inclement weather, a massive search operation is on for an Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 transport aircraft with 13 people on board that went missing over Arunachal Pradesh two days ago.
 
On Wednesday, the IAF pressed into service a SU-30 jet fighter, C130 J, Mi17 and ALH helicopters to trace the missing Russian-origin transporter aircraft that was last seen on Monday afternoon. 
 
The searches were taking place along the thickly forested routes between Assam's Jorhat and Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh.
 
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellites -- CARTOSAT and RISAT -- were also taking images of the area.
 
Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R. D. Mathur is monitoring the search and rescue operations. He has interacted with the families of the missing IAF personnel.
 
In addition, the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police, Arunachal Police and local communities were trekking on the ground to search for the missing aircraft.
 
"The search is still on but the missing AN-32 is yet to be sighted," IAF spokesperson Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh told IANS.
 
On Monday, the AN-32 trasnporter had taken off from Assam's Jorhat at 12.27 p.m. for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh's Shi-Yomi district bordering China.
 
The aircraft lost contact with the ground staff at 1.30 p.m.
 
On Tuesday, the Indian Navy's Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i conducted an aerial survey to locate the partly upgraded AN-32 aircraft.
 
IANS
 

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No trace of IAF's missing An-32 despite massive search

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Despite a massive search operation, an Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 aircraft that went missing with 13 people on board a day earlier near the China border in Arunachal Pradesh remained untraced on Tuesday.
 
The authorities have deployed the Navy's P-8I aircraft to find traces of the missing plane that took off from Jorhat in Assam after noon on Monday on its way to Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh but lost contact with ground agencies 35 minutes later.
 
Defence Ministry spokesman and Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said the searches were being carried out by the Army, Indo-Tibetan Border Police and various government and civil agencies.
 
But there was no sign of the plane or its wreckage.
 
On Tuesday, the Navy's long-range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P-8I took off from INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu to join the search and rescue operation, Singh said. 
 
Navy officials said the P-8I is equipped with sensors for maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine operations and electronic intelligence missions. 
 
The aircraft is fully integrated with state-of-the-art sensors and highly potent anti-surface and anti-submarine weapons.
 
"The P-8I aircraft has a very powerful Synthetic Aperture Radar which shall be utilised during the SAR sweeps to locate the missing" plane, a Navy spokesman tweeted.
 
On Monday, a C-130,  an An-32 aircraft, two Mi-17 of IAF and the Army's ALH helicopters were launched to locate the missing aircraft. 
 
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has also pressed into service satellites to help the rescuers.
 
IANS
 

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Missing IAF AN-32: Search operation resumes in Arunachal

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) in association with the Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police on Tuesday resumed the search operation for the AN-32 aircraft that went missing over Arunachal Pradesh yesterday.
 
"Search and rescue (SAR) operation resumes as weather clears up on Tuesday. Two MI 17s and one ALH already deployed with the ground party of Army and ITBP," Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said, adding that more assets may be deployed if required.
 
The transporter aircraft with IAF personnel on board got airborne on Monday from Jorhat at 12.27 p.m. for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. The aircraft last contacted ground agencies at around 1 p.m. Thereafter, there has been no contact with the aircraft.
 
IAF officials said that since the aircraft did not reach the destination, overdue actions were initiated by the Indian Air Force.
 
On Monday, a C-130, an AN-32 aircraft, two Mi-17 helicopters of IAF and Indian Army ALH helicopters were launched to locate the missing aircraft. Some ground reports were received on possible location of a crash site. Helicopters were routed to the location. However, no wreckage has been sighted so far, Singh said.
 
The district administration of Shi Yomi district in Arunachal Pradesh also launched a search operation along with the villagers.
 
IANS
 

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IAF's AN-32 aircraft with 13 on board goes missing in North-East

AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
AN-32 aircraft (File photo: IANS)
An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with 13 persons on board has gone missing while on a flight from Jorhat in Assam to the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.
 
The 13 persons on board include eight members of the air crew and five passengers, a press release from the IAF said.
 
The aircraft got airborne from Jorhat at 1227 hours today and last contacted ground agencies at around 1300 hours.
 
"Thereafter, there was no contact with the aircraft. Since the aircraft did not reach the destination, overdue actions were initiated by Indian Air Force," the release said.
 
A C-130, an AN-32 aircraft, two Mi-17 helicopters of the IAF and Indian Army advanced light helicopters (ALHs) were launched to locate the missing aircraft. 
 
"Some ground reports were received on possible location of a crash site. Helicopters were routed to the location, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far. IAF is coordinating with Indian Army as well as various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. 
 
"The search operations from air and by ground parties of Indian Army are planned to continue through the night," the release added.
 
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh has been in touch with IAF officials and is monitoring the situation.
 
"Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria, regarding the missing IAF An-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours," he said on micro-blogging site Twitter.
 
"He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board," he added.
 
The Air Force flies sorties regularly to forward areas to carry essential items for the troops posted there.
 
NNN
 

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IAF's AN-32 plane with 13 people on board goes missing

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An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) with 13 people on board went missing on Monday after taking off from Jorhat in Assam.
 
According to informed sources, the aircraft got airborne on Monday from Jorhat at 12.25 p.m. for the Menchuka Advance Landing Ground and lost contact with ground control at 1 p.m.
 
The plane had eight members of crew and five passengers. 
 
The IAF has employed all resources to locate the aircraft, the sources added.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Boxing: Mary Kom, Shiva Thapa, Amit Panghal fight their way to gold in India Open

Indian boxer Mary Kom celebrates her win and gold medal at the 2nd India Open on May 24, 2019 at Guwahati.
Indian boxer Mary Kom celebrates her win and gold medal at the 2nd India Open on May 24, 2019 at Guwahati.
Six-time world champion Mary Kom was crowned the 51kg champion while Amit Panghal (52kg) won his third gold medal of the year and Shiva Thapa finished on top in 60kg at the second edition of the India Open International Boxing Tournament at the  Bordoloi Indoor Stadium here on Friday. 
 
Fresh from winning her eighth medal at the Asian Championships, Sarita Devi added the India Open 60kg gold to her resume and Neeraj carried on her giant-killing form to stun Asian Championships bronze medallist Manisha Moun in 57kg. 
 
Mary displayed her experience to blow away the challenge of Vanlal Duati in a facile 5-0 win. This was the London Olympic bronze medalist’s second gold from the India Open to add to the 48kg gold she won last year in New Delhi.
 
Panghal smartly evaded the taller Sachin Siwach’s attacks in the first round to begin with a defensive approach. It was towards the end of the second round that the Asian Games gold medallist found his rhythm and started choosing the right moments to land his blows over the former world youth champion. Amit dominated the third round to make his way to the yellow metal following gold medals from the Strandja Cup and Asian Championships in 2019.
 
“Sachin's very tall. I think he's the tallest boxer I faced till date. I fought with some tall boxers in the Asian Championship but Sachin is taller than them,” said Panghal after his win. “My strategy was to either get close to him or stay away from his range. By staying away, it also helped me to assess his technique and then get close to attack from close range,” he added.
 
Much to the delight of the crowd, Shiva Thapa grabbed the 60kg gold in a revenge bout against 2018 champion Manish Kaushik a year after losing to him in the semi-finals. The Guwahati boy, who won a bronze at the continental event this year, was fierce and aggressive and did not put a foot wrong in the 5-0 demolition.
 
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Sarita Devi endured a tough fight from Simranjit Kaur to edge the World Championships bronze medalist for a 3-2 win. This was the former world champion’s first gold medal in any competition in three years following her victory at the South Asian Games in 2016 in Shillong. The veteran pugilist dedicated the prized medal to her mother whom she lost to cancer last year.
 
A day after knocking out World Championships silver medalist Sonia, Neeraj continued her sublime form to notch up a commanding 5-0 victory over Manisha, who had changed category from 54kg to 57kg.
 
Asian Championships bronze medalist Ashish showed his prowess in 69kg to soar to a 4-1 win over compatriot Duryodhan Singh Negi. Local girl Jamuna Boro delivered a flurry of punches that earned her a perfect 5-0 win over Y. Sandhyarani. World Championships bronze medalist Lovlina Borgohain did not share the same fortunes despite vociferous cheers of support from the crowd. The 69kg exponent missed out on the gold in a tight contest where she ended up 2-3 to Italy’s Assunta Canfora.
 
There was no stopping Deepak in 49kg. Oozing confidence with every punch, the Asian Championships silver medalist knocked out Govind Kumar Sahani 5-0. Kavinder Singh Bisht had to settle for the silver in a 2-3 result in a hard-fought contest with 2015 Asian champion Chatchai Decha Butdee. This is Bisht’s second consecutive silver this year after the Asian Championships last month.
 
In 64kg, Rohit Tokas suffered a knee twist in the first round and was forced to forfeit his bout to 2010 Commonwealth Games bronze medallist Colin Louis Richarno of Mauritius. Tokas, who secured the India Open bronze a year before, had to be content with the silver.
 
Ashish Kumar’s hopes of adding the 75kg gold were dashed as he had to give a walkover to Philippines’s Eumir Felix Delos Santos due to a cut that he sustained on his forehead in the semi-finals.
 
NNN

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