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.

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).

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.
"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.

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.
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.
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.

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.

"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.

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.


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.

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.

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.

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.


Sitharaman reviews operational preparedness in the North-East

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman reviewed the operational preparedness of the armed forces in the North-East yesterday.
This was Ms Sitharaman’s maiden visit to the Eastern Command as Defence Minister. She was accompanied by Vice-Chief of the Army Staff Lt Gen Sarath Chand and GOC-in-C Eastern Command Lt Gen Abhay Krishna.
She was received at Tezpur Airforce Station by GOC Gajraj Corps Lt Gen AS Bedi and other senior dignitaries of the Army and the Air Force.
The visit, which is part of her familiarisation with all the formations of the Indian Army and the Indian Air Force (IAF), came close on the heels of a visit to Northern Command recently and to Sikkim on October 7.
At the outset, the Defence Minister extended her good wishes to the Air Warriors on the occasion of 85th Air Force Day anniversary as she interacted with them at the strategically important Eastern airbase of Tezpur.
She also reviewed the operational readiness of the airbase, seeing the Sukhoi fighter aircraft and other IAF assets at first-hand.
Thereafter, Ms Sitharaman visited the Gajraj Corps HQ where she was briefed by Lt Gen Bedi on the overall security situation in Assam and the Kameng Sector of Arunachal Pradesh besides the operational preparedness of the corps.
The Minister reiterated the Government’s resolve to give further impetus to development in the border areas.
She subsequently visited Solmara Military Station, Tezpur where she interacted with the officers and jawans over a cup of tea.
She appreciated the high standards of military discipline and preparedness of the army men and their excellent performance in the difficult terrain and challenging environment in which they are operating.
She also praised them for their steadfast commitment and their high morale in facing the diverse challenges thrown up by the dynamic security environment.
The Minister exhorted the troops to continue with the same zeal and sense of pride and honour showing due respect to human rights.
She expressed satisfaction at the level of preparedness of the forces and extended her greetings to the troops for a happy Diwali before her departure for Delhi.

Banwarilal Purohit appointed Governor of Tamil Nadu, Jagdish Mukhi moves to Assam

Banwarilal Purohit
Banwarilal Purohit
The President today appointed Assam Governor Banwarilal Purohit as the new Governor of Tamil Nadu.
Mr. Purohit will be suceeded as Governor of Assam by Prof. Jagdish Mukhi, who is the Lt. Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, a press communique from Rashtrapati Bhavan said.
Brig. (Dr.) B. D. Mishra (Retd.)  has been appointed as the Governor of Arunachal Pradesh while Mr. Satya Pal Malik will be the new Governor of Bihar and Mr. Ganga Prasad the Governor of Meghalaya.
The President has also appointed for Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral (Retd.) Devendra Kumar Joshi as the new Lieutenant Governor of Andaman and Nicobar Islands in place of Prof. Mukhi.
The appointments will be with effect from the dates the incumbents assume charge of their respective offices, the communique said.
Maharashtra Governor Chennamaneni Vidyasagar Rao has been discharging the functions of the Governor of Tamil Nadu, in addition to his own duties, since August 31, 2016 after Mr. K. Rosaiah completed his tenure on August 30.
Admiral Joshi, 63, had resigned as Chief of the Naval Staff on February 26, 2014, taking moral responsibility for a series of accidents and incidents which took place in the preceding few months and caused great embarassment for the Navy.
Mr. Purohit, 77, who was appointed Governor of Assam on August 17, 2016, is a former member of the Lok Sabha, having been elected from Nagpur first as a Congress candidate in 1984 and 1989 and later as a member of the BJP in 1996.
Before that, he was elected as a member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly in 1978 as served as a minister in the state government in 1982-83. 
Prof. Mukhi, 74, used to be a BJP leader in Delhi. He had served as Minister for Finance, Planning, Excise and Taxation and Higher Education in the Delhi government. He has also worked as a teacher at the Shahid Bhagat Singh College, University of Delhi. He was elected from the Janakpuri constituency to the Delhi Assembly for seven consecutive terms since 1980 but lost in the 2014 elections.
Brig. (Retd.) Mishra, 78, served during the 1962 war with China, the 1971 war that saw the liberation of Bangladesh and in the operations in Sri Lanka in 1987-88. He has also served as a Commander of the National Security Guard (NSG) and was involved in the successful rescue operation during the Indian Airline plane hijacking at Amritsar in 1993.
Mr. Malik, 64, is a former member of the Lok Sabha from Aligarh constituency in Uttar Pradesh (1989-91), while Mr. Prasad has served as a Member of the Bihar Legislative Council.

Minor earthquake recorded in Nagaon region of Assam

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.0 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Nagaon region of Assam this evening.
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5°N and longitude 92.8°E, occurred at 1748 hours at a focal depth of 31 km.

Combination therapy may improve treatment of blood cancer

A group of Indian scientists has identified a new way to re-sensitise cells that become resistant to chemotherapy in some blood cancer patients.
Blood cancer or Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) occurs when a subset of blood cells start dividing in an unregulated manner ultimately resulting in bone marrow failure. A drug –Imatinib Mesylate (IM) - is used to treat this cancer. But, oncologists are seeing growing number of cases of resistance to this drug, resulting in recurrence of the cancer.
Typically, Imatinib disrupts the activity of BCR-ABL, an abnormal protein which is generated due to certain chromosome level changes. This protein promotes unregulated proliferation of blood cells. In many cases, however, cancer cells become unresponsive to the drug leading to treatment failure or recurrence. Scientists at Indian Institute of Technology, Guwahati have sought to address this problem. Results of their study have been published in journal Science Reports.
“Our investigation shows that some key factors are responsible for such resistance which is in fact mediated by neighbouring non-cancerous cells. By blocking these molecules, the resistant cancer cells can be killed,” explained Dr Bithiah Grace Jaganathan, senior researcher at IIT Guwahati.
The research team has demonstrated in laboratory cell-based studies that by a combined approach - preventing adhesion of cancer cells with neighbouring healthy cells and inhibiting certain biological pathways - resistant cells can be re-sensitized to drugs. “Such an approach will help in treating patients who have become unresponsive to themainline cancer drug,” hopes Dr Jaganathan.
The researchers feel the study could help in effective treatment management as well. The prevention of adhesion between cancer cell and healthy cells during early phase of a patient’s treatment can eliminate development of drug resistance, while treatment with certain molecules to block cancer propagating biological pathways can sensitize the resistant cells thereby ensuring complete elimination of CML and prevention of recurrence. The study provides a promising lead for further evaluation.
Apart from Dr. Jaganathan, the research team included Atul Kumar and Jina Bhattacharyya from IIT, Guwahati and Guwahati Medial College. The work was funded by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) and Department of Biotechnology (DBT).
(India Science Wire)

SpiceJet adds Dibrugarh as its 50th destination

Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today said it would launch daily direct flights on the Silchar-Guwahati-Dibrugarh route from October 3.
SpiceJet is the first airline to offer to daily direct air connectivity between Guwahati and Dibrugarh, its 50th destination.
The announcement of the new flight was made by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal at a function here today.
"With the launch of the new service, SpiceJet will put Dibrugarh on the pan India aviation map through seamless onward connections on its network. This is in perfect sync with the airline’s agenda to connect smaller cities and it further strengthens SpiceJet’s focus on North-East India. SpiceJet will be operating its Bombardier Q400 aircrafts on the said routes," a press release from the airline said.
Mr. Sonowal said,  "We thank SpiceJet and especially Mr Ajay Singh for accepting our request and providing air connectivity to the citizens of Assam and North East. I hope that this service continues unabated. I had personally requested Mr Singh to look into the gaps in air connectivity left by other operators and I am happy to share that the same was looked into with quite urgency."
Mr. Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet said, “SpiceJet remains committed to enhancing connectivity to the North East and we are extremely pleased to add Dibrugarh to our network."
"This flight has been especially started because of the Hon’ble Chief Minister of Assam Shri Sarbananda Sonowal. We will continue to work with him and with all the governments in the North East to ensure prosperity for this incredibly important part of our country," he added.
With the new flights SpiceJet will now operate a total of 26 flights in and out of North East and a total of eight flights within the region.

Implantable silk mat developed to speed up bone healing

The natural process of healing bone joint injuries is slow. Now scientists at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Guwahati have developed an implantable mat that will help bone joint injuries to heal faster. The mat is made of a layer of silk fabricated onto bioglass and can be implanted at the site of injury.
A bone joint is an area where adjacent hard and rigid bones are joined to one another by cartilage tissue. Cartilage is flexible and consists of specialized cells called chondrocytes that produce a protein, collagen, which helps bone joint injuries to heal naturally.
“We isolated natural silk from silk worms and made nanofibrous mats that aid in treating bone joint defects owing to their special properties. They have a porous sponge like structure that helps chondrocyte cells to attach and grow. The cells produce more collagen at the site of bone joint injury, which helps to heal the injury faster,” explained Biman Mandal, professor at the Department of Biosciences and Bioengineering of IIT Guwahati, who led the study. The research has appeared in journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
Doctors also use autologous chondrocyte implantation in which chondrocyte cells from injured person are extracted, cultured in lab, multiplied, and then transplanted back to the site of injury. This method has high success rate but is expensive. Knee replacement surgery is another option but not affordable by many.
Researchers now plan animal trials in which silk mats will be implanted in goats and sheep to see if it helps to enhance the pace of healing injured joints and to evaluate safety. “If the results are promising, then we will go for human trials,” Mandal told India Science Wire.
Amit K Dinda, professor at the Department of Pathology of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, who is not connected to the study, commented that while the method appears to be low cost, there will be “greater clarity only after pre-clinical animal studies to test biocompatibility, toxicity, local tissue reaction at the site of implantation and process of sterilization.” All these steps are necessary to obtain regulatory approval for human use.
The study was done in collaboration with the University College London and was funded by the Department of Science and Technology-UK India Education and Research Initiative (DST-UKIERI) and Department of Biotechnology. The team included Joseph Christakiran, Philip JT Reardon, Rocktotpal Konwarh, Jonathan C Knowles, and Biman B Mandal.
(India Science Wire)

Minor earthquake shakes Sonitpur region of Assam

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Sonitpur region of Assam late last night, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.6°N and longitude 92.7°E, occurred at 2327 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.

IIM Ahmedabad showcases its FABM programme at roadshows in North-East

The Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad (IIMA) conducted  roadshows in two educational institutions of North-East India, showcasing its post-graduate program in food and agri-business management (PGP-FABM). 
The purpose of the roadshows was to educate students about the management programme, and answer any queries the students may have about it, a press release from IIMA said.
These roadshows were conducted at College of Agricultural Engineering and Post-Harvest Technology (CAEPHT) in Gangtok, Sikkim and Assam Agricultural University (AAU) in Jorhat, Assam. 
Prof. Ranjan Ghosh, a faculty member at IIMA and officials who run the day-to- day administration of this key programme represented IIMA.
The roadshow at CAEPHT, on August 14, was special as IIMA was also represented by two of its alumni – Mr. Prem Das Rai (1978 batch), a member of Parliament from Sikkim, and Mr. Tenzing Lepcha (2009 batch), an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer who is currently serving as the Superintendent of Police, East Sikkim. 
More than 200 hundred students attended the event and interacted with the faculty and staff. Both Mr. Rai and Mr. Lepcha shared their experiences with the students and answered all the questions.
Prof. Ghosh emphasized the huge role food and agri-business sector plays in nation building and economic development. He highlighted the high demand for skilled managers in this sector who can work across the agri-food value chain and ensure high profits as well as re-distribution among farmers. 
In Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Jorhat, on August 17, Prof. Ghosh emphasized that with a little bit of awareness and smart preparation the dream of making into IIM Ahmedabad was very much achievable for students of North East. 
"I was not even aware that PGP-FABM of IIMA is a niche programme dedicated to management education in the agri-food sector and that with a background in agriculture and allied sector education, we stand a good chance to make it to the programme," said Jagan Jyoti Barua, the student General Secretary of the college and a 4th year undergraduate student with an interest in a management career in the tea industry. He echoed the sentiment of many others, of the over 100 students participating in the event at AAU, who were surprised to know about PGP-FABM ranked No.1 Masters in Management in the Food and Agribusiness sector in the world (by ranking agency Eduniversal, Paris). 
After the event, when asked by the Dean of the University D.K. Borah, many students said they will now seriously consider preparing for CAT and appear for the interviews for IIMA FABM programme
Describing the event as a "huge success", the Vice-Chancellor of Assam Agricultural University (AAU), Dr. K.M. Bujarbaruah, thanked Mr. Pravin Christian (Programmes Officer, PGP-FABM) for taking the initiative to organize the event and for a visit from far-off Ahmedabad.
"Through these roadshows, IIMA once again displayed its commitment to quality management programme that is relevant to all regions of India," the release added.

Neolithic artefacts of Northeast are 2700 years old: Study

For the first time, the age of the artefacts of Neolithic era recovered from two important sites in northeast India has been unraveled. Indian scientists have found the age using the latest technique of optically stimulated luminescence dating.
‘It is now confirmed that the corded pottery and polished stone tools that were recovered during excavations in Daojali Hading in Dima Haso district of Assam in 1961 are 2, 700 years old and those recovered from Gawak Abri in Garo Hills of Meghalaya in 1999 are 2,300 years old," says Dr. Sukanya Sharma of Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati. She and her colleague, Pankaj Singh had conducted the study.
The study was conducted on an experimental basis with the new technique of optically simulated luminescence dating. The age of the sites was found to be well matched with the radio-carbon dates from other Neolithic sites of the region.
The excavation site at Daojali Hading occupies an important place in the archaeological history of India as the first evidence of an Eastern Asiatic Neolithic complex of double-shouldered Celts and cord-marked pottery in India was reported from there. The discovery had put Northeast India on the Neolithic map of the world for the first time. Howeve,r the precise age of the artefacts was not known.
The antiquity of the state was hypothetically stated to be of the "late Neolithic phase". Now, with the dating of the artefacts, this hypothesis has been proved and its antiquity has been established.
The dating of the Gawak Abri site in Garo Hills is also significant as Garo Hills has the highest density of prehistoric sites in North East India.
With the new finding of the age of the two sites, it is confirmed that human beings, with the capacity to make pottery and polished stone tools were present in the north east India over two thousand years ago.
The researchers have published their study in the latest issue of science journal, Current Science.
(India Science Wire)

PM speaks to Assam, Bihar CMs regarding flood situation in the two states

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today spoke to Chief Ministers Sarbananda Sonowal of Assam and Nitish Kumar of Bihar regarding the flood situation in the two states and assured them of all possible assistance from the Centre to cope with the crisis.
Later, Mr. Modi said on Twitter that the Centre was closely and constantly monitoring the situation in Assam and that all possible support was being provided to the state  for overcoming the crisis.
“Ever since Assam has witnessed flooding, the Central Government has been closely and constantly monitoring the situation. All possible support is being provided to Assam for overcoming the flood situation prevailing in parts of the state," he said.
Similarly, he said the Centre had assured all support to the Bihar government to mitigate the flood situation and that the situation was being monitored closely.
“My thoughts are with all those affected by floods in parts of Bihar. The situation is being monitored closely. Centre assures all support to Bihar government to mitigate the flood situation. Teams of NDRF are in Bihar for rescue and relief work," he added.

Minor earthquake shakes Kamrup region of Assam

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.4 on the Richter scale, shook the Kamrup region of Assam today, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.3 °N and longitude 91.7°E, occurred at 1655 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.

Minor earthquake shakes Darrang region of Assam

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Darrang region of Assam this evening, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.8 °N and longitude 92.2°E, occurred at 1754 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.

Nadda flags off relief supplies for flood-hit Assam, Manipur and Gujarat

Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare J P Nadda, who is Chairman of the Indian Red Cross Society, today flagged off relief material worth around Rs 3.15 crore to the flood affected families in Assam, Manipur and Gujarat.
Dr Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Ministry of Development of North Eastern Region, was also present on the occasion.
Speaking after flagging off the fleet of trucks, Mr Nadda stated that the government was ensuring that there was no shortage of essential items to the flood victims. “We have released the first batch of relief material worth around Rs 3.15 crore containing medicines, mosquito nets, clothes, etc., and will soon send the second batch as well.
“We will make sure that there is an adequate supply of relief material,” he added. 
The Red Cross units of Assam, Manipur and Gujarat through their volunteers have also initiated an immediate response by providing relief supplies to the affected communities from their existing stocks.
The Indian Red Cross Society national headquarters has also released relief items from its prepositioned stocks for response operation. These include mosquito nets, kitchen sets, tarpaulin pieces, towels, dhotis for men and sarees for women, cotton blankets, bed sheets and buckets.

Former Union Minister Santosh Mohan Dev passes away in Silchar

Santosh Mohan Dev
Santosh Mohan Dev
Former Union Minister and veteran Congress leader Santosh Mohan Dev, who was a heavyweight in the party and the Government in the 1980s and 1990s, passed away at a hospital in Silchar, Assam this morning.
He was 83. He is survived by his wife and four daughters, including Ms. Sushmita Dev, a Congress member of the Lok Sabha from Silchar.
"Nothing could have prepared me for this moment. I lost him at 6.06 am today. Thank you everyone for your prayers, your love for him," Ms. Dev said on microblogging site Twitter.
Born on April 1, 1934, Mr. Dev had a degree in Commerce from the Gurucharan College, Silchar and an MBA from the Welsh College of Advanced Technology and Commerce, Cardiff, United Kingdom.
Starting out in public life as the Chairman of the Municipal Board in Silchar, Mr. Dev was elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time in 1980 and was re-elected six times in the years that followed. Of his seven terms in the Lok Sabha, he represented Silchar five times and was elected from Tripura twice.
He served as Union Minister of State for Tourism and Communications from October 1986 to February 1988, Minister of State for defence from February 1988 to June 1988 and Minister of State for Home Affairs from June 1988 to December 1989.
He was Union Minister of State for Steel with  independent charge from June 1991 to May 1996 in the P V Narasimha Rao Government.
In the first term of the Manmohan Singh government, he served as Minister of State for Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises, with independent charge, from May 23, 2004 to November 17, 2005. He was elevated to Cabinet Rank and put in charge of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises from November 18, 2005.
He lost to Mr. Kabindra Purkayastha of the BJP in the 2009 elections for the 15th Lok Sabha.
Among other things, Mr. Dev was associated with sports and was Vice-President of the Assam Olympic Association and President of the Delhi Soccer Association. He was part of the Organising Committee of the 1982 Asian Games in Delhi. He was a certified and professionally qualfied football referee.
Mr. Dev was a third generation Congressman. His father was one of the first legislators in independent India and his grandfather had played an active part in the freedom struggle was was a member of the first Silchar Municipal Council in 1913.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi condoled Mr. Dev's passing away. "Saddened by the passing away of Shri Santosh Mohan Dev. He was veteran political leader who worked extensively for welfare of people," he said on Twitter.
"My thoughts are with the family and supporters of Shri Santosh Mohan Dev in this hour of grief," he added.
Congress President Sonia also condoled Mr. Dev's death and expressed her deepest condolences to his family.
She noted that, in a political career spanning five decades, Mr. Dev held numerous crucial political assignments in the Congress party and in the Government including that of a Union Cabinet Minister.
"His immense contribution to build the party in the Northeast, right from the grassroots level would always be remembered, she said. His death is an irreparable loss to the nation," she said, expressing her solidarity with his family and supporters, particularly Congress MP Sushmita Dev.

Modi reviews flood situation in NE, announces assistance of over Rs. 2,000 crore

Prime Minister Narendra Modi today announced a relief package of over Rs. 2,000 crore for relief, rehabilitation, reconstruction and flood mitigation measures in the flood-affected North-Eastern states. 
The announcement came at the end of a series of high-level meetings, where the Prime Minister reviewed the flood situation and relief measures in the affected States. 
Through the course of the day, Mr. Modi held separate, detailed review meetings on the situation in the States of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur and Nagaland. The Chief Ministers of the respective States, and senior officials were present at the meetings.
A memorandum was received from the Chief Minister of Mizoram, who could not make it to the meeting in person. 
An official press release said that over Rs. 1,200 crore would be given by  the Union Government for the infrastructure sector alone. The funds will be utilized for repair, maintenance, and strengthening of roads, highways, bridges, and other damaged infrastructure. 
The release said Rs. 400 crore will be provided for improving the water holding capacity of the Brahmaputra River, which will assist in flood control. 
In the current financial year, the Union Government has approved Rs. 600 crore as central share of State Disaster Response Force (SDRF). Out of this, Rs. 345 crore has already been released, and the remaining will be released immediately, to assist the States in relief and rehabilitation work. 
The Union Government will also provide Rs. 100 crore for carrying out a study to synergize efforts towards finding time-bound long term solutions to recurrent floods in the region. 
The North-Eastern region, with eight percent of India's land area, contains one-third of the country's water resources. The Union Government will constitute a High Level Committee, with representation from Ministries of the Government of India and the States, for proper management of the region's vast water resources. 
An ex-gratia assistance of Rs. 2 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased, and Rs. 50,000 to each of those seriously injured due to the floods, has been sanctioned under the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund (PMNRF). 

Modi to review flood situation in North-Eastern States tomorrow

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Guwahati tomorrow where he will chair a series of high-level meetings to review the flood situation and the relief operations in the North-Eastern States, particularly Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur.
Chief Ministers and senior officials from these States are expected to be present at the meetings, an official press release added.

Minor earthquake shakes Darrang region of Assam

An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.0 on the Richter scale, shook the Darrang region of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.9 °N and longitude 92.3°E, occurred at 0627 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.

Inter-Ministerial Central team calls on Assam CM after assessing flood situation

A seven-member Inter-Ministerial team from theCentral Government is presently on a visit to Assam to assess the damage caused by recent floods in the state.
The team is led by the Joint Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs V. Shashank Shekhar. The team is visiting Assam following directions by Prime Minister Narendra Modi after his meeting with Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on July 18 in the national capital.
The Inter Ministerial team called on the Chief Minister here yesterday and apprised him about the findings of their visit to the flood-affected districts.
Mr Shekhar informed the Chief Minister that they personally saw the damages and the distress and migration of the flood-hit people. He mentioned that the teams were divided into two groups and visited the flood- hit Brahmaputra and Barak valley districts.
As part of their on-the-spot-assessment, the teams interacted with the affected people and respective district administrations to find out the intensity of damage caused by the flood, he informed.
Mr Sonowal said that most of the embankments which were constructed as a safeguard to rural economy and habitations had already outlived their life.
He said the team that a proposal had already been submitted to the Government of India to take up ‘Prime Minister’s Special Programme for Flood and Erosion Control’ for developing embankments of the state as road-cum-embankments stretching 5,000 km.
The Chief Minister said once the 5000 km stretch is converted into road-cum-embankments, this would help rural people in terms of connectivity and will benefit the rural economy as well as tourism. This initiative would also facilitate implementation of PMGSY to connect every village in the state. The Chief Minister also referred to the issue of resettlement of people who became homeless and landless due to flood.
Considering the gravity of the situation and the intensity of flood damage in Assam, Mr Shekhar informed the Chief Minister that the team would submit their report at the earliest to the Central Government so that fund for tackling the flood related issues could be released expeditiously.
The team visited Biswanath, Lakhimpur, Majuli, Barpeta, Cachar, Hailakandi and Karimganj districts of Assam for on-the-spot-assessment of flood damage.
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