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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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ISL: FC Goa draw 2-2 with NorthEast United

A dramatic injury-time equaliser by Manvir Singh enabled FC Goa to hold NorthEast United to a 2-2 draw in their Hero Indian Super League (ISL)match at the Indira Gandhi Stadium at Sarusajai here on Friday.
 
Hugo Boumous and Manvir Singh scored for the Gaurs, while Asamoah Gyan and Redeem Tlang netted for the Highlanders. Len Doungel was sent off for FC Goa.
 
Sergio Lobera made two changes to the line-up that drew 1-1 with Bengaluru FC at the Fatorda Stadium. Hugo Boumous made his first start of the season and Jackichand Singh came back into the 11 at the expense of Seimenlen Doungel and Manvir Singh. Ferran Corominas started up front, flanked by Brandon Fernandes and Jacki. Lenny Rodrigues and Ahmed Jahouh started in midfield.
 
NorthEast United made two alterations to their winning combination against Odisha FC. Wayne Vaz and Panagiotis Triadis made way for Mislav Komorski and Nikhil Kadam. Asamoah Gyan led their line, aided by Kadam, Martin Chaves and Redeem Tlang.
 
The Gaurs started at a fast pace, almost taking the lead at the start of the game. NorthEast United was able to clear their lines twice within the first minute as Coro, Boumous and Jacki combined to put the Highlander defence under early pressure.
 
In the 12th minute, Ahmed Jahouh tried his luck from a distance but was unable to make his shot count as it went wide of the post. Five minutes later, Boumous danced his way to the edge of the box, beating Komorski before letting loose with his left foot. The ball, which appeared to be on target, had Highlander custodian Subhashish Roy Chowdhury beaten before the crossbar came to his rescue.
 
Returning from injury, Boumous would not be denied as a trio in white ripped through the defence in red. Receiving the ball in midfield, Coro caressed it onto the path of Brandon. The Goan split the defence with a slider that beat the right-sided centre back and the right-back to put it on a plate for Boumous, who calmly rounded the NorthEast keeper to slot it home.
 
The midfielder almost had his second goal of the night as a Jacki cross was headed goalwards but the ball went wide. NorthEast had their big chance of the half in the 41st minute when Gyan headed a Rakesh Pradhan cross towards Nawaz’s left but the Manipuri keeper dived at full length to keep the Ghanian out. Mourtada Fall put in a last-ditch block to keep Redeem’s shot from the rebound from going in.
 
The visitors went into the half 1-0 up, courtesy Boumous’ goal. The home team equalised in the 54th minute when Gyan ran free of Fall to collect Pradhan’s pass and finish past Nawaz.
 
The Gaurs almost re-took the lead 13 minutes later as Jackichand had his low drive parried away by Subhashish, who made a double save as his right leg denied Coro on the rebound. Chaves then passed for Redeem Tlang to score the Highlanders’ second of the night.
 
Len Doungel then replaced Lenny Rodrigues in the 77th minute. Coro, on his 50th start for FC Goa almost scored from Mandar’s cross but the Spaniard’s left-footed shot hit the NorthEast post.
 
Two more substitutions were made by the Gaurs as Saviour Gama and Manvir Singh came on for Mandar Rao Dessai and Carlos Peña.
 
Substitute Doungel was then shown a straight red for a challenge in added-on time. But it was Manvir Singh who had the last word as he buried Fall’s flick-on in the 5th minute of injury time to level the scores at 2-2.
 
With this draw,  Goa now have 5 points from 3 games and are in 3rd position in the table. They  face the Islanders next on November 7 at the Mumbai Football Arena in Andheri.
 
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Fire kills four in Dibrugarh town of Assam

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Four persons, including two infants and a maid servant, died after a fire broke out and engulfed a house in Assam's Dibrugarh town in the wee hours of Saturday.
 
The police said the incident occurred at Niz Kadamoni in Dibrugarh around 1.30 am on Saturday.
 
The fire broke out at the house of one Maya Devi, the police said, adding that her son Vishal Sonar (19) and two grandsons, Sibu Sonar (5) and Sankar Sonar (3), were charred to death due to the fire.
 
The housemaid also died in the fire.
 
Although the locals said that an LPG cylinder blast was the reason behind the massive fire, the police said that an investigation is on to ascertain the cause of the blaze.
 
Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal expressed his condolences over the incident and ordered an inquiry into the matter.
 
Sonowal has also asked the Deputy Commissioner of Dibrugarh to carry out an inquiry into the incident besides announcing an ex-gratia of Rs 4 lakh to the next-of-kin of the deceased.
 
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Amit Shah assures NE States against any changes in Article 371

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah has asserted that the Centre respects Article 371 which grants special provisions to the North East and will not make any changes in it.
 
Addressing the opening session of the 68th Plenary of the North Eastern Council here yesterday, Shah said that, after abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, there was some misinformation that there will be also changes to Article 371.
 
He explained the difference between Article 370 which was temporary in nature and Article 371 which is about special provisions in the North East. “I have clarified in Parliament that this is not going to happen and I am saying it again today in Assam in presence of the eight Chief Ministers,” Shah said.
 
He began his address by paying tribute to late singer and music composerBhupen Hazarika on his birth anniversary. 
 
Shah said the region is a mini-India, with the mighty Himalaya range on the one hand and beautiful landscapes like Barak, Brahmaputra and the Imphal Valley on the other.
 
The Northeast comprises around 9% of the total area of the country with a population of around 5 crore which comprises 3.78% of the total population. The region also bears strategic importance for the fact that it has an international border for around 5300 km.
 
Referring to the diverse culture of the Northeast region, Shah said there were around 270 ethnic groups and around 150 dialects in the region. All development activities and initiatives should be directed towards preserving and enriching the rich heritage of this region.
 
The identity of India was never geopolitical rather it was geo-cultural and, if this principle is accepted by all India, Northeast will be never be treated separately. The cultural and linguistic identity of the Northeast Region should be preserved and maintained, he said.
 
He announced that the North East Council will earmark 30% of its funds for focused funding of priority areas and deprived sections of society.
 
Every state will identify those villages or regions which are backward in various indicators and will work to bring those regions at par with the rest of the country. The growth story will never be complete until the entire state progresses at par with the other parts, he added.
 
The Minister said that the North Eastern Council has been the nodal agency since 1971 for planning and implementation towards the economic and social development of the North Eastern Region. In 2022, NEC will be completing 50 years while India will be completing 75 years of its independence.
 
It is the time NEC should work on preparing the road map to ascertain the progress that Northeast will achieve by 2022, he said.
 
"Today we should set the targets to ascertain the law and order situation in Northeast by 2022 and to set the targets for enriching the culture, tradition and language of the Northeast," he said.
 
He said the Northeast, as a region prior to the Independence, was the greatest contributor of GDP for the Nation. "Today we all should manifest our efforts and set targets to bring back those days.
 
"The NEC should focus on afforestation, development of organic farming, measures to revive lost languages and measures to resolve inter-state disputes between the states," he added.
 
Speaking on the Bangladesh Land Boundary Agreement, Shah said the landmark decision will enable the re-establishment of the links between Kolkata and Dhaka Ports.
 
Prior to independence, these ports served as the gateway for trade and commerce of the Northeast region. With the opening of the trade through this route, considering the huge natural resources, this region can once again become the leading contributor of GDP for the country.
 
Speaking on the recent publication of NRC in Assam, Shah expressed his satisfaction over the timely completion of the process and also added that the government will not allow a single illegal immigrant to stay back in the country.
 
Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh said the North East Council has been given its highest budgetary allotment of Rs 1476 crore for the year 2019-20.
 
The NEC Plenary meeting was attended by Governors, Chief Ministers, MPs of the Northeast and senior officers of the eight North-Eastern States and the Union Ministry of DoNER.
 
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Football: Late Oman comeback sinks India

Oman made a late comeback to defeat India 2-1 in the opening Group E match of the 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 AFC Asian Cup Joint-Qualifiers at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati on Thursday.
 
The Blue Tigers’ talismanic skipper Sunil Chhetri opened the scoring, but Oman made their comeback in the last 10 minutes, when Al-Mandhar Al Alawi struck a brace to win the match for the away side.
 
India got the early start that they were looking for, with Ashique Kuruniyan running his legs off in the attacking midfield position.
 
The Blue Tigers had their first real chance around the quarter-hour mark, when Thapa intercepted a ball in the middle of the park, played it to Chhetri, who put Udanta through. The winger jinked past an Oman defender and rattled the cross-bar.
 
Soon after, Ashique was played into the box has he took the ball away from the rushing keeper Faiyz Al Rusheidi. However, the 22-year-old was in too tight an angle to score.
 
The early pressure by the Blue Tigers soon paid dividends, as Ashique was brought down on the left flank by Abdulaziz Al Gheilani, who went into the books for the mistimed tackle.
 
It was a combination of Brandon Fernandes and Sunil Chhetri from the resulting free-kick, as they worked-out a set-piece straight from the training ground. Brandon drilled it in hard and low for Chhetri, who lost his marker and planted the sweetest of left-footers into the bottom corner, sending the partisan crowd of 22,798 at the Indira Gandhi Athletic Stadium in Guwahati into ecstacy.
 
With a couple of minutes left for the half-time whistle, Oman captain Ahmed Al Mahaijri had the golden opportunity to put the away side level. A cross played from the right flank found Mahaijri on the other end of it, as the Oman captain went in with a powerful header. However, India custodian Gurpreet Singh Sandhu put in a strong hand to parry it away from point-blank range; Mahaijri failed to hit the target from the rebound.
 
Igor Stimac’s boys applied a much more cautious approach after the change of ends, and the equaliser nearly came from the most unlikeliest of sources – a miscued clearance by Anirudh Thapa. However, Gurpreet was on hand again, to tip it over the bar. The 27-year-old custodian bailed India out again a few minutes later, when he calmly collected a precise free-header by Abdulaziz Al Maqbali.
 
On the hour-mark, Stimac decided to add some pace to the wings, as he brought on Lallianzuala Chhangte in place of Brandon Fernandes. While Oman attempted to get the equaliser, Chhetri tried to use Chhangte’s pace as he played the youngster through on the counter. However, he scuffed his eventual shot.
 
Oman left it late, but they came back in the last 10 minutes, when Al-Mandhar Al Alawi scored two to win it for Oman. For their first goal, Al-Mandhar was played into the India box via a lofted through ball, as the attacker dinked it over Gurpreet to equalise.
 
The 24-year-old struck the winner on the last minute of regulation time, as he cut in from the left and rifled his shot into the back of the net.
 
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Amit Shah to visit Assam on September 8

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Union Home Minister Amit Shah is scheduled to visit Assam on a two-day visit from September 8, his first after the publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
 
The Home Minister is likely to attend the plenary session of the North Eastern Council (NEC) to be held on September 8 and 9. He is also scheduled to meet all the Chief Ministers of northeastern states during his visit.
 
The visit will come amid the BJP expressing its unhappiness over the way the NRC was updated, claiming that it had included names of illegal foreigners and left out names of genuine Indian citizens.
 
Although the party leaders in Assam have remained tight-lipped, it is learnt that the state BJP leadership will appeal to the Home Minister for legislative action to protect "genuine Indian citizens", whose names had been left out of from the NRC.
 
Assam BJP President Ranjit Kumar Dass had earlier stated that the party will appeal to the Central government to pass legislation or amend the Constitution to protect the interest of the genuine Indian citizens of the country.
 
IANS
 

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India slams 'incorrect' foreign media reports on NRC

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Slamming the commentaries in foreign media about the National Register of Citizens (NRC) as "incorrect", India on Sunday said that NRC is a "statutory, transparent, legal process" mandated by the Supreme Court and a "non-discriminatory process, which leaves no room for bias and injustice."
 
In a statement, the Ministry of External Affairs said the NRC application form does not ask for the religion of the applicant and it is "not an executive-driven process".
 
"The process is being monitored by the Supreme Court directly and the government is acting in accordance with the directives issued by the court," the statement by MEA spokesperson Raveesh Kumar said.
 
Giving the background, the statement said that the NRC stems from the Assam Accord of 1985 "with the promise to take care of the interests of the citizens of Assam."
 
"NRC aims to give effect to the Assam Accord signed in 1985 between the Government of India, state government of Assam, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the All Assam Gan Sangram Parishad (AAGSP)," the statement said,adding: "The apex court-mandated the government to deliver on the commitment in 2013, which led to the process of updating the National Register of Citizens in Assam in 2015."
 
It said the apex court had itself set the deadlines for all steps that have been taken so far.
 
"NRC is a fair process based on scientific methods. Inclusion in the NRC is a unique process, as it is based on 'application' rather than 'house to house enumeration.' It means that any person in Assam could have sought to be included in the list on the basis of having documentation to prove lineage from an entitled person, i.e. a person who was a resident of Assam as on March 24, 1971."
 
It described the NRC process as a "non-discriminatory process, which leaves no room for bias and injustice." 
 
"As can be seen from the application form for data entry in NRC, there was no column in the application asking for the religion of the applicant," the statement said, dismissing claims by the foreign media, especially Pakistani and western media, trying to drum up a campaign that the NRC process is targeted at Muslims.
 
It said that "anyone excluded from the list at this stage has a right to file an appeal within 120 days of receiving a notification of exclusion to the designated Tribunal. All appeals and excluded cases will be examined by this Tribunal i.e. a judicial process. This judicial process will commence only after the appellate period is over. Thereafter, anyone still aggrieved by any decision of being excluded will have the right to approach the high court of Assam and then the Supreme Court."
 
It clarified that "exclusion from the NRC has no implication on the rights of an individual resident in Assam. Those who are not in the final list will not be detained and will continue to enjoy all the rights as before till they have exhausted all the remedies available under the law."
 
"It does not make the excluded person 'stateless'. It also does not make him or her a 'foreigner' within the legal meaning of the term. They will not be deprived of any rights or entitlements which they have enjoyed before," the statement said.
 
"The Government of India will even assist in providing directions on how to deal with such appeals. Through the District Legal Service Authorities, the government has provisioned to extend legal aid to the needy. The State of Assam has assured the provision of free legal assistance to any person excluded from the list and who is unable to afford such legal assistance. This is to enable people, especially the disadvantaged sections, to have access to the best possible legal assistance.
 
"To expedite the process of receiving applications for inclusion, the State Government is further adding 200 tribunals to the existing 100 tribunals. A further 200 more tribunals will be set up by the State of Assam by December 2019. These Tribunals will be set up at Block level for the convenience of appellants.
 
"India, as the world's largest democracy, has firmly enshrined equal rights for all and respect for the rule of law' in its Constitution. An independent judiciary and fully autonomous state institutions, working for the defence of human rights, are an integral part of our political fabric and traditions.
 
"Any decision that is taken during the process of implementation of the NRC, will be within the four corners of the Indian law and consistent with India's democratic traditions," the statement said.
 
On Saturday, over 19 lakh people in Assam were left out of the much-awaited final list of the NRC, which named 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens.
 
The Union Home Ministry said the 19,06,657 people who have been left out had not submitted their claims.
 
The citizens' registry was released online at around 10 a.m., ending six years of speculation over the mammoth exercise involving 52,000 state government officials working on it for identifying illegal foreigners living in Assam.
 
The NRC has immense significance for the people of Assam which witnessed a six-year-long movement from 1979 to 1985 seeking detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.
 
The movement finally led to the signing of the Assam Accord of 1985 by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and the leaders of the agitation belonging to the All Assam Students Union and the All Assam Gana Sangram Parishad.
 
The NRC updation process, which started in the state on orders of the Supreme Court in 2013, is being carried out by the Registrar General of India and is being monitored by the apex court.
 
On Saturday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to describe the NRC as part of "ethnic cleansing of Muslims" by India and linked it to the "illegal annexation" of Kashmir.
 
IANS
 

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Sitting, former Assam MLAs flunk NRC test

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Some prominent faces of Assam are among the 1.9 million who have also flunked the citizenship test.
 
Among them are Ananta Kumar Malo, a sitting All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) MLA from Abhayapuri South constituency, and former AIUDF legislator Ataur Rahman Mazharbhuyan who represented the Katigora constituency in the Assembly between 2006 and 2011. 
 
"I and my brother filed the same data. But while the NRC document included my brother's name, my name was excluded," said Malo and added, he would soon approach the Foreigners' Tribunal.
 
Stating that his is just an example of how people are excluded from the NRC, Malo said, "There are some problems with the system, otherwise how can they exclude my name."
 
Mazharbhuyan also expressed shock on not finding his, his two daughters' and a son's names in the NRC. "The draft NRC included my entire family, but for me, two daughters and the son. As we received summons, we went to the NRC Seva Kendra and submitted all the relevant documents," he said.
 
"We were expecting to see our names in the NRC. Who should I blame to? There is no point blaming anyone but to follow the process laid down to correct the same," he said and added, they would soon approach the Foreigners' Tribunals to rectify the mistake.
 
Authorities on Saturday published the final NRC list, which excluded 19,06,657 and included 3,11,21,004 persons in the final document. 
 
The government has, however, stated that those excluded from the list would neither be arrested not declared foreigners. The excluded people would have to approach the Foreigners' Tribunal to prove their citizenship. They can move higher courts later if not satisfied with the tribunal's verdict, it said.
 
IANS
 

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Assam: NRC final list out, leaves out over 19 lakh people

More than 19 lakh people in Assam have been left out of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was released on Saturday morning.
NRC final list out, excludes over 19 lakh people
NRC final list out, excludes over 19 lakh people
More than 19 lakh people in Assam have been left out of the final list of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), which was released on Saturday morning.
 
Some 19,06,657 people have been excluded from the final list, which names 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens.
 
The citizens' registry was released online around 10 a.m., ending six years of speculation over the exercise that identifies illegal foreigners living in the Assam.
 
The NRC has immense significance for the people of Assam as the state witnessed a six-year-long movement between 1979 and 1985 seeking detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.
 
The NRC updation process was started in the state on the orders of the Supreme Court in 2013. It is being carried out by the Registrar General of India and is being monitored by the apex court. 
 
The process of NRC update in Assam differs from the rest of the country and is governed by Rule 4A and the corresponding Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
 
"These rules have been framed as per the cut-off date of March 24 (midnight), 1971 decided as per the Assam Accord. The process of receipt of NRC application forms started at the end of May 2015 and ended on August 31, 2015. A total of 3,30,27,661 people applied for it through 68,37,660 applications," said a statement issued by the NRC authorities on Saturday.
 
"The particulars submitted by the applicants were taken up for scrutiny to determine eligibility of their inclusion in the NRC. 
 
"The NRC update is a mammoth exercise with around 52,000 state government officials working on it over a prolonged period. All decisions of inclusion and exclusion in the list are taken by these statutory officers. The entire process has been meticulously carried out in an objective and transparent manner," it said.
 
The draft NRC, which was published last year, found 2,89,83,677 persons eligible for inclusion in the list. "Thereafter, claims were received from 36,26,630 people against their exclusion," the statement said, adding that a verification was also carried out of the persons included in the Draft NRC under Clause 4(3) of the Schedule of the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.
 
"Objections were received against inclusion of 1,87,633 persons, whose names had appeared in the Complete Draft. Another Additional Draft Exclusions List, which was published on June 26, 2019, had 1,02,462 names," it said.
 
"Taking into account all the persons already included and after disposal of all the claims and objections and proceedings under Clause 4(3), it has been found that a total of 3,11,21,004 persons are eligible for inclusion in the Final NRC leaving out 19,06,657 persons, including those who did not submit their claims," said the statement.
 
The government has assured that the people left out of the Final NRC will not be detained and they can appeal against their exclusion in the Foreigners' Tribunals (FT) and subsequently move higher courts. 
 
"These people can first approach the Foreigners' Tribunals (FT) and subsequently move to higher courts if not satisfied with the FT ruling," said Kumar Sanjay Krishna, Additional Chief Secretary (Home & Political). 
 
The Assam government will establish 400 Foreigners' Tribunals in the state to deal with such appeals.
 
Krishna added that legal aid will also be made available to those excluded from the Final NRC through the District Legal Services Authorities (DLSA).
 
IANS
 

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Assam: NRC final list out, excludes over 19 lakh people

More than 19 lakh people have been left out of the final list of National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam, which was released in Guwahati on Saturday morning.
NRC final list out, excludes over 19 lakh people
NRC final list out, excludes over 19 lakh people
More than 19 lakh people have been left out of the final list of National Register of Citizens (NRC) of Assam, which was released here on Saturday morning.
 
Some 19,06,677 people have been excluded from the final list, which names 3,11,21,004 people as Indian citizens.
 
The NRC has immense significance for the people of Assam as the state witnessed a six-year-long movement from 1979 to 1985 seeking detection and deportation of illegal Bangladeshis.
 
The process of updation of NRC is being carried out by the Registrar General of India, and is being monitored by the Supreme Court.
 
The draft NRC, which was published last year, excluded names of 40,07,707 people from the document due to some discrepancies in their documents. Over 36 lakh of them applied afresh to get their names included in the final NRC.
 
The government has assured that the people left out of the final NRC will not be detained and they can appeal against their exclusion in the Foreigners' Tribunals (FT) and subsequently move higher courts. 
 
The Assam government will establish 400 Foreigners' Tribunals in the state to deal with such appeals.
 
IANS
 

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More measures coming to prop up economy: Sitharaman

Noting that consumption needs a boost, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that more measures to accelerate economic growth are in the pipeline and would be announced in the coming weeks.
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing tax officials, in Guwahati on August 29, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman addressing tax officials, in Guwahati on August 29, 2019. (Photo: IANS)
Noting that consumption needs a boost, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said on Thursday that more measures to accelerate economic growth are in the pipeline and would be announced in the coming weeks.
 
She reiterated that spending on infrastructure would be the government's priority.
 
"We can front-load some public spending by the government," the Minister said during a media briefing in Guwahati, where she is as part of her multi-city tour to interact with tax officials, trade and business. 
 
Sitharaman discussed development schemes for the northeast region besides direct tax and GST.
 
Holding that the Narendra Modi government has been responsive and will come back with answers asked by the various groups, she cited the announcements made last Friday to boost economy by extending partial credit to NBFCs and measures to revive automobile sector.
 
Subsequently, the Centre has eased FDI rules in digital media and single brand retail, coal-mining and contract manufacturing. The government is expected to come with another set of measures to prop up the real estate sector.
 
IANS
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Mild earthquake recorded in Cachar area of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.5 on the Richter scale, was recorded in the Cachar region of Assam early this morning.
 
A bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 24.5°N and longitude 92.9°E, occurred at 0421 hours at a focal depth of 75 km.
 
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Govt extends time to appeal against exclusion from NRC to 120 days

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The Union Ministry of Home Affairs today said it would increase from 60 days to 120 days the time limit for filing appeals in Foreigner Tribunals (FTs) regarding exclusion from the final National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam by amending the rules in this regard.
 
At a meeting held by Union Minister for Home Affairs Amit Shah here on Monday to review the issues related to the final publication of the NRC in Assam, the decision to extend the time limit was taken as it might not be possible for all those excluded from the final NRC to file the appeal within the prescribed time of 60 days, an official press release said.
 
The Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003 are also being amended accordingly, the release said.
 
The meeting was attended by the Chief Minister of Assam, Union Home Secretary, Chief Secretary, Assam and senior officers. Extensive deliberations have been held on the issue between the Home Ministry and Assam government in recent weeks.
 
The release said that it was decided that, in order to facilitate the persons excluded from NRC, adequate arrangements would be made by the state government to provide full opportunity to appeal against their non-inclusion.
 
Every individual, whose name does not figure in the final NRC can represent his/her case in front of the appellate authority -- the FTs.  Under the provisions of Foreigners Act 1946 and Foreigners (Tribunals) Order 1964, only FTs are empowered to declare a person as a foreigner.
 
Thus, non-inclusion of a person’s name in NRC does not by itself amount to him or her being declared as a foreigner, the release said.
 
In order to facilitate the persons excluded from NRC, an adequate number of such tribunals is being established at convenient locations. It has been decided that state government would also make arrangements to provide legal aid to the needy people among those excluded from NRC.
 
In order to maintain law and order situation, central security forces are being provided as per the assessment of the state government, the release added.
 
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SC orders to secure NRC data on lines of Aadhaar data

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that data collected for publishing in the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam shall be kept as secure as the Aadhaar data.
 
The court said that there will be no re-verification of the data under NRC and at no point in time the NRC exercise will be reopened. The court also observed that only hard copies of exclusion and inclusion should be provided at district offices.
 
"Those born after December 3, 2004 won't be included in NRC if any of the parents is a doubtful voter or declared foreigner by a tribunal or is contesting the case," said the court.
 
The orders under Illegal Migrants (after the order of the Tribunal) shall be challenged before the Guwahati High Court.
 
All NRC inclusion should be published only online on August 31.
 
IANS
 

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Su-30 on training sortie crashes in Assam, pilots safe

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Two months after the tragic loss of an An-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force, an Su-30 fighter jet crashed near Assam's Tezpur on Thursday, a defence official said.
 
Defence spokesman, Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said that the aircraft was on a routine training mission from the Tezpur airbase when it crashed. "Both the pilots on board the aircraft, however, managed to eject safely and have been rescued," he added.
 
A Court of Inquiry has been ordered to ascertain cause of the accident, he said.
 
In July last year, a Su-30 had gone missing with two pilots on board while on a routine training mission from Tezpur. Its wreckage had been found three days later, close to its last known position after a massive surveillance operation.
 
Till July 2018, seven Su-30s - a frontline fighter of the IAF - had crashed in various incidents in different parts of the country ever since its induction into service in 1997.
 
Thursday's accident came over two months after an An-32 with 13 people on board, had gone missing along the Indo-China border on June 3, about 30 minutes after taking off from Assam's Jorhat for Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh.
 
The wreckage was only found on June 11 in a remote area in Arunachal Pradesh and the mortal remains of the crew and passengers recovered on June 19. 
 
IANS
 

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Pranav Rao Gandham, doubles pairs of Tanya-Janani & Lokesh-Ankit win back-to-back titles

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U-17 boys’ singles top seed Pranav Rao Gandham, U-15 boys’ doubles pair of Lokesh Reddy and Ankit Mondal and U-17 girls’ doubles pair of Janani Ananthakumar and Tanya Hemanth captured their second titles in as many weeks as the Yonex-Sunrise All India Sub Junior (U-15 & U-17) Ranking Badminton Tournament 2019 concluded here on Sunday.
 
Telangana boy Gandham, India’s No. 1 ranked U-17 boys’ singles shuttler, lived up to the expectations when he needed just 30 minutes to dispatch third seed Ayush Raj Gupta of UP, 21-14, 21-19. A week earlier, Gandham had beaten Shubham Patel to take the title in the ranking tournament in Imphal.
 
In the girls’ singles section in the same category, the title went to second-seeded UP girl, Mansi Singh who halted the winning run of qualifier, Riya Habbu, 21-14 21-12.
 
Much like Gandham, the girls’ doubles pair of Janani Ananthakumar and Tanya Hemanth, both hailing from Karnataka, emerged victorious for the second week in a row when the top seeds staved off a stiff resistance from Pranavi N. and Sarumathi V. to win 19-21, 21-18, 21-19.
 
While Darshan Pujari and Abhinav Thakur beat Ayush Agarwal and Daksh Gautam, 21-18, 21-16 to triumph in boys’ doubles, Mansi Singh tasted success for the second time in a span of a few hours when she and Ansh Vishal Gupta defeated second seeds Ayan Rashid of Assam and Tasnim Mir of Gujarat, 21-18, 18-21, 21-18.
 
The highly-talented Gujarat girl, Mir rebounded in the U-15 girls’ singles final to clinch the title with a commanding 21-13, 21-16 victory over third-seeded Haryana girl, Anupama Upadhyaya. Mir had lost a nail-biting final last week to Tara Shah but erased that setback to finish on the top podium in Assam.
 
Telangana boy Lokesh Reddy was superb in both singles and doubles, capturing both the crowns. In U-15 singles, the third seed beat 13th seed Raghav 25-23, 18-21, 21-14 in a marathon final. He also teamed up with West Bengal’s Ankit Mondal to upset the top seeds Gagan and Mayank Rana 21-12, 21-12 to add to their Imphal title.
 
Third seeds Andrea Sarah Kurien and Pavithra Naveen of Kerala prevailed over second seeds Gayathri Rani Jaiswal and Karnika Sree S 21-18, 21-15 in girls’ doubles. Mayank Rana and Unnati Hooda of Haryana tasted glory in mixed doubles, courtesy of a 14-21, 21-8, 21-18 victory over Shaurya Pant and Anya Chauhan.
 
Spread over 28 draws across 10 events, the Guwahati tournament had recorded one of the highest entries in recent times when it received a staggering 2518 entries from 1415 players, demonstrating the ever-rising popularity of badminton in India.
 
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NRC re-verification fear grips people in Assam

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Ahead of the much-hyped August 31 publication of the National Register of Citizens (NRC), a fear of being rendered stateless has gripped thousands of people in some districts of Assam after they received 24-hour notices from the NRC authorities for re-verification of their citizenship claim.
 
Thousands of people particularly from Goalpara, Barpeta, Chenga, Boko, Chaygaon constituencies were summoned by the NRC authorities in far off places like Golaghat, Jorhat, Sivsagar, Dhemaji and others to prove their citizenship claim. The people were served the notices on August 3 and 4 and were asked them to appear before the NRC centres on August 5, giving them very little time to travel to such far-off places over 500 km away.
 
"One bus carrying over 50 such persons from Sontoli village in Kamrup to Golaghat met with an accident at Khanapara area of the city on Sunday night injuring over 30 of them. These were all poor people and, for them, it is not possible to travel such a long distance at such short notice. However, somehow they managed to get ready but this accident happened," said Barpeta-based activist Ashraful Hussain on Monday.
 
He said that one Razia Khatun (68) died due to heatstroke in one of the NRC centres at Kaliabar subdivision in Nagaon district.
 
"Khatun a resident of Joakatdia village in Kamrup district was summoned to NRC centre at Naltoli in Kaliabar for re-verification," Hussain said.
 
Assam Pradesh Congress Committee (APCC) President Ripun Bora on Monday dashed off a letter to Union Home Minister Amit Shah urging him to stop immediately the "illegal" order for re-verification of the NRC draft list in Assam.
 
"The Supreme Court has recently rejected the petition of the Assam government and Central government for 20 per cent re-verification of the names of people in draft NRC list. But surprisingly the NRC authority hurriedly issued thousands of notices to different persons across the state fixing August 5 as the date for re-verification. This has created panic as the people have got notice just one or two days ahead of the date," Bora said in his letter to Shah and sought his intervention.
 
Several social organisations have also condemned the sudden move of the NRC authorities and said innocent poor people have been subjected to suffering in the name of re-verification.
 
"How can the issue of re-verification even occur when the Supreme Court has rejected the petitions of the state and Central government seeking re-verification? We demand an explanation from the NRC authorities in this regard," said Hiren Gohain, a scholar and chairman of Forum against Citizenship (Amendment) Bill 2016.
 
IANS
 

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Assam floods death toll rises to 75, over 3.4 million still affected

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At least six persons died in flood-related incidents in Assam in the last 24 hours, taking the death toll to 75 even as 34,82,170 people continued to be affected by the deluge in 20 districts of the state till Wednesday evening.
 
Officials of the Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said that 2,933 villages in 20 districts remained inundated by the floods.
 
Officials said that although there was a slight improvement in the flood situation in the last two days, incessant rainfall has led to swelling of the rivers particularly in the western Assam districts inundating more villages.
 
A total of 2,933 villages in Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Udalguri, Darrang, Baksa, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, South Salmara, Goalpara, Kamrup, Kamrup (M), Morigaon, Nagaon, Golaghat, Jorhat and Cachar are still under water, the ASDMA officials said.
 
"There are a total of 826 relief camps operational in the districts of Baksa, Nalbari, Barpeta, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, Goalpara, Kamrup, Morigaon, Nagaon, Golaghat and Jorhat districts with 2,00,525 inmates and 107 Relief Distribution Centres," they said.
 
The Central Water Commission (CWC) said that the Brahmaputra river is flowing above the danger level at Neamatighat (Jorhat) and Dhubri while the Jia Bharali river is flowing above the danger mark at Sonitpur. Similarly the Puthimari river is flowing above the danger level in Kamrup while the Manas and Beki rivers are also flowing above the danger level followed by the Gaurang at Kokrajhar and Sonkosh river flowing above the danger mark at Golakganj.
 
Meanwhile, panic has gripped western Assam districts following reports that a power company in Bhutan has decided to release excess water from a hydropower dam located in the neighbouring country on Thursday.
 
The development took place after the Druk Green Power Corporation Limited of Bhutan issued a notice that it would open the gates of the dam to release over 1,200 cubic metres per second of excess water.
 
The release of this water is likely to affect Kokrajhar, Barpeta, Bongaigaon, Chirang, Baksa and parts of Kamrup district in Assam.
 
The release of excess water from hydropower dams in Bhutan had wreaked havoc in Assam in the past, inundating hundreds of villages and killing many people.
 
IANS
 

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67 persons, 187 animals dead in Assam floods

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The human toll in Assam floods rose to 67 on Monday, while Forest Department officials said that a total of 187 animals including 15 one-horned rhinos, an elephant and over 100 deer have died.
 
The death toll rose to 67 after the death of two more persons in the last 24 hours, the Assam State Disaster Management Authority said on Monday even as the flood situation is improving gradually across the state.
 
As on Monday, 33,55,837 people are still affected by the flood in over 2,000 villages in the Dhemaji, Biswanath, Darrang, Barpeta, Nalbari, Chirang, Bongaigaon, Kokrajhar, Dhubri, South Salmara, Kamrup (Metro), Kamrup, Morigaon, Nagaon, Jorhat, Golaghat and Cachar districts.
 
The current wave of floods have submerged almost 90 per cent of the Kaziranga National Park, forcing the wild animals to stray out to take shelter on higher ground while floodwaters have also submerged the anti-poaching camps over the last one week.
 
The park authorities have, however, said that the flood situation is improving gradually as the water level have been showing a receding trend. "The floodwater level is showing a falling trend and we have recorded that the water level had fallen by 162 cm till Monday morning," an official said, adding that Forest Department staff have been working hard along with villagers to protect the distressed wild animals.
 
As many as 16 animals - 15 hog deer and a sambar - were killed by speeding vehicles on National Highway 37 while 15 rhinos and an elephant died of drowning. "A total of 13 wild boar, 12 sambar, 6 hog deer, two water buffaloes and three porcupines have also died due to drowning," he said adding that the forest officials and local villagers have also rescued 53 hog deer, some of which were later released in the wild again.
 
Meanwhile, the ASDMA officials said on Monday that over 1,14,179 hectares of agricultural land, including land with standing crops, continued to be affected by floods and close to 97,000 people are living in 757 relief camps set up by district administrations.
 
IANS
 

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