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.

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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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 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.

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.

DAE to take over Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute in Goa

The Union Cabinet yesterday approved a proposal for the taking over of the Dr. B. Borooah Cancer Institute at Guwahati in Assam by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE), with the administrative control being managed by the Tata Memorial Centre.
An official press release said the decision was aimed at augmenting cancer treatment facilities in the North-East.
The Cabinet meeting also gave the green light for the creation of 166 posts in medical, paramedical and support positions, it said.
The decision comes in the wake of the increasing instances of cancer, limited cancer treatment facilities and the need for a hospital support to carry out further research in North Eastern Region.
The approximate non-recurring expenditure for the strengthening of the institute is estimated at Rs. 150 crore and annual recurring expenditure is estimated at Rs. 45- 50 crore.
The Borooah Cancer Institute was established by a voluntary organisation in 1974 with the aim and objective of the investigation, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in the North Eastern region. Assam Government took over the institute with all its assets and liabilities in 1986 and entered into a tripartite agreement with the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) and North Eastern Council for the management of the institute. The institute at present is a 209-bed hospital with an eight-bed intensive care unit (ICU).
The Chief Minister of Assam in October 2013 had proposed that DAE should take over the institute to develop it as a centre of excellence for cancer treatment, education and research for the entire North East.

Cabinet approves setting up of new AIIMS in Kamrup, Assam

The Union Cabinet today gave its approval for the establishment of a new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) at Kamrup (North Guwahati Revenue circle) in Assam.
The cost of the project is Rs. 1123 crore and it will be set up under the Pradhan Mantri Swasthya Suraksha Yojana (PMSSY), an official press release said.
The new AIIMS will be completed in a period of 48 months from the zero date (the date of the approval of the Union Government), broadly comprising a pre-construction phase of 15 months, a construction phase of 30 months and stabilisation/commissioning phase of three months.
The institution will consist of a hospital with a capacity of 750 beds, trauma centre facilities, a medical college with an intake of 100 MBBS students per year, a nursing college with an intake of 60 B.Sc. (Nursing) students per year, residential complexes and allied facilities/services, broadly on the pattern of AIIMS, New Delhi.
The hospital will have 22 Specialty/Super-Specialty Departments including 16 Operation Theaters. It will also have an AYUSH department with 30 beds for providing treatment facilities in the traditional systems of medicine.
"The establishment of the new AIIMS will serve the dual purpose of providing super speciality health care to the population. It will also help create a large pool of doctors and other health workers in this region that can be available for primary and secondary level institutions/facilities being created under National Health Mission (NHM)," the release said.
Under this scheme, AIIMS have been established in Bhubaneshwar, Bhopal, Raipur, Jodhpur, Rishikesh and Patna while work of AIIMS Rae Bareli is in progress. Also, three AIIMS in Nagpur (Maharashtra), Kalyani (West Bengal) and Mangalagiri in Guntur (Andhra Pradesh) have been sanctioned in 2015 and two AIIMS have been sanctioned at Bathinda and Gorakhpur in 2016.

CCEA clears initiation of process of disinvestment of three ITDC properties

The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) today gave the go-ahead for the initiation of the process of disinvestment of three hotels of the public sector India Tourism Development Corporation Ltd. (ITDC).
An official press release said that, in the first stage of the disinvestment process, three hotels have been taken up for disinvestment -- Hotel Lake View Ashok, Bhopal; Hotel Brahmaputra Ashok, Guwahati; and Hotel Bharatpur Ashok, Bharatpur. 
In all three cases, the hotels / properties are being given back to the concerned States.
In the case of Bhopal and Guwahati, ITDC is divesting its share of 51% in the joint venture company formed for operation of the hotels whereas in the case of Bharatpur, the unit, which was only managed by ITDC, is being returned to the State Government. 
The release said the decision on disinvestment has been made keeping in view the principle that running and managing hotels on professional lines is not the work of the Government or its entities. Further, there has been considerable development in the hospitality sector in the country in past years, with world class hotels and all leading international chains of hotels present in the country and providing services and facilities of highest standards. 
As part of the disinvestment policy, it has been decided to lease/sub-lease the hotels / properties jointly with the concerned States or return the properties to the States, after fair valuation. The States would then have the option to upgrade and operate the hotels by involving the private sector or to utilize the properties as per their requirements.
States have exercised their options accordingly, in each case going forward with the option best suited to their needs, in line with the overarching principle that it is not the business of Government to run or manage hotels. 

Naidu to review progress of urban missions in eight NE States

Union Minister of Urban Development and Housing & Urban Poverty Alleviation M.Venkaiah Naidu will review the progress of new urban missions in the eight States of North-Eastern region during a day-long stock taking here today.
Secretaries of both the urban ministries, National Mission Directors of new urban missions launched by the Central Government and senior officials conducted an official level review yesterday with State Level Mission Directors and other senior officials of States.
Chief Ministers and State Ministers of Urban Development and Municipal Affairs and Housing would join the review by Mr Naidu.
Implementation of Prime Minister’s Awas Yojana (Urban), Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation (AMRUT) and Smart City Mission, all launched on June 25, 2015 and Swachh Bharat Mission (Urban) launched on October 2, 2014 besides the continuing 10% Lump Sum Scheme for North-East and North-Eastern Region Urban Development Programme will be reviewed.
Under PMAY (Urban), Ministry of HUPA has approved construction of 99,940 affordable houses for urban poor in the eight States of N-E during the last two years as against 31,778 sanctioned during ten years between 2004-14 under JNNURM and Rajiv Awas Yojana. Of these houses sanctioned during 2004-14, only 20,991 houses were constructed.

Assam emerging as economic hub of East India and South East Asia, says Mukherjee

Inaugurating the ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ festival, President Pranab Mukherjee today said Assam is emerging as an economic hub of East India and South East Asia.
It is the gateway and most effective location to put into effect the Prime Minister's Act East policy, he said.
South East Asia is an important destination for India's investment and trade and the country will soon celebrate 25 years of its association with ASEAN, he said.
Mr Mukherjee said Assam had immense potential, being rich in natural resources and with hard working people. “What is needed is strong drive, right policies and effective implementation," he said.
Referring to the diverse and distinctive culture of Assam, the President said India's strength was its ability to manage diversity and forge unity in divergence.
“It was not just the elite but also the common people who were firmly committed to trust, mutual understanding and harmony. Indians were argumentative but never intolerant. Our traditions, including the teachings of Assam's great scholar and social reformer Shankaradev never allowed the practice of intolerance,” he added.
The President said Brahmaputra river is the lifeline of Assam and the region. It is intertwined into the economy, culture and day-to-day life of the people of the area through which it flows. He complimented the State Government for having started ‘Namami Brahmaputra’ as an annual festival to showcase Assam’s culture as well as potential.
Namami Brahmaputra, stated to be the biggest River Festival of India, is being organized across 21 districts in Assam from March 31-April 4.
The festival, being held along the Brahmaputra in its entire stretch from Sadiya to Dhubri, will serve as an ideal platform to showcase Assam’s tremendous potential as a state brimming with trade, tourism and culture opportunities.
The spectacular opening ceremony is being held at the riverfront of Bharalumukh, Guwahati, land of Kamakhya Temple, one of the most important and popular Shakti peethas in India. The event includes a soulful veneration of river Brahmaputra along with other attractions like indigenous sports, local food, exhibition of organic tea, display of handloom& handicrafts, cultural evenings, film festival, business meetings and symposium among others.
This five day event, epic in scale and grand in reality, shall bring along business, fun and festivities for all. Brahmaputra is not called ‘lifeline of Assam’ for nothing as this perennial river presents incredible business opportunities. The National Waterways, especially NW 2 and NW16 will be the drivers of economic development and prosperity. National Waterways 2 (NW-2) from Dhubri to Sadiya is a bridge to drive economic progress in Southeast Asian markets, as part of India’s ‘Act East Policy’.
These waterways will not only make Assam the centre of India-ASEAN collaboration but also attract major investments from around the world. The river is also a source of current and potential hydroelectric power generation. It will give a boost to power infrastructure in the state, he said.
He said the rivers of the world are fast becoming hotspots for travellers, and the mighty Brahmaputra happens to be one of them. 
"A river cruise on Brahmaputra is an eclectic blend of luxury, comfort and nature’s never ending delights. The extraordinary cruise experience on Brahmaputra can be further heightened by watching migratory birds, visiting temples, tribal villages, monasteries, touring breathtaking tea estates and more. Its tributaries like Manas, Jia Bharali and Kopili are ideal for white water rafting," he added.

Javadekar launches Param-Ishan supercomputer at IIT, Guwahati

Union Human Resource Development Minister Prakash Javadekar launched the Param-Ishan supercomputing facility at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Guwahati here yesterday.
“It is a glad moment to launch the fastest and most powerful computer in northeastern, eastern and southern regions,” he said at the launch.
“The IITs are modern temples for development and we reiterated our commitment to give a big push to research and innovations by empowering the educational institutes to transform into higher seats of learning and platforms for advanced research.  A nation’s potential for growth today is evaluated on the quality of its research and development,” he added.
Prof. Gautam Biswas, Director, IIT Guwahati said Param-Ishan had power of 250 Teraflops and 300 terra bytes capacity. It will not only augment the research initiatives in the Institute, but also help in creating an ecosystem for attracting right talents to the field of research, he said.
Param-Ishan can be used in the application areas like Computational Chemistry, Computational Fluid Dynamics, Computational Electromagnetic, Civil Engineering Structures, Nana-block Self Assemble, Optimization, and so on, an official press release said.
North East India receives heavy rainfall during monsoon, which leads to flooding and landslides. Param-Ishan can be used for weather, climate modelling and seismic data processing, it said.
Mr. Vinay Sheel Oberai, Secretary, Department of Higher Education,  Prof. Rajat Moona, Director General, C-DAC, Pune, and Prof. S.V. Rao, Head, Computer Centre, IIT, Guwahati were also present at the launch.

Regional conference on Citizen Centric Services Delivery System in Guwahati

A two-day Regional Conference on Path Breaking and High Impact Initiatives in Citizen Centric Services Delivery System opened here today.
The conference has been organised by the Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances (DARPG), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions, in collaboration with the Government of Assam.
Inaugurating the conference, DARPG Secretary C. Viswanath said the Government had taken several initiatives for better administrative reforms.
“Government is not something separate or very different. People make the Government. Our common notion is that Government is routine, repetitive and hierarchical, where there is no accountability, no transparency and also where procedures are more important than outcome.
“But our Prime Minister Narendra Modi now appeals for the Government to reform, perform and transform,” he added.
He also emphasized that recently more than 1000 archaic laws have been reformed which will be definitely one step towards reducing corruption.
Mr Pawan Kumar Borthakur, Principal Secretary, Administrative Reforms & Training Department, Assam, explained the importance of the conference in his introductory speech. The panellists will discuss digital intervention, corruption free governance and rural area connectivity issues.
Ms T. Y. Das, Additional Chief Sectary, Assam, spoke on good governance and called for steps to make the Government more accountable, transparent and citizen centric to meet the public expectation.
Delegates from eight states of North Eastern Region and four states of Eastern Region--West Bengal, Bihar, Odisha and Jharkhand--and senior officers of DARPG are participating in the conference.
The conference aims to create a common platform to share experiences in the formulation and implementation of citizen centric governance, improved public service delivery through e-Governance, transparent, accountable and citizen friendly effective administration.
Ms Smita Kumar, Joint Secretary, Department of Administrative Reforms & Public Grievances, Ms Alpana Shukla Rao, Director, DARPG, Ms Anjan Chakravarty, Director, Assam Administrative Staff College and senior officers were present on the occasion.

Earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolts Myanmar, tremors felt in eastern, NE India

An earthquake of magnitude 6.7 jolted Myanmar this afternoon and the tremors were felt in several parts of eastern and north-eastern India.
The India Meteorological Department (IMD) said the quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 21.0 N and longitude 94.4 E, near Chauk town on the Irrawaddy river, occurred at 1604 hours IST at a focal depth of 58 km.
Reports reaching here said the tremors were felt in Kolkata and other parts of West Bengal, Patna in Bihar, Guwahati in Assam and Tripura, among other places. They were also felt in Bangladesh and Thailand.
Residents of the affected areas ran out of their homes and offices as a precautionary measure.

BRICS Youth Summit, 2016 to be held in Guwahati from July 1

The three-day BRICS Youth Summit, 2016 will be held in Guwahati from July 1 with thematic debates, cultural events, site-visits and interactive sessions with local youth.
The theme for the summit is “Youth as bridge for Intra-BRICS Exchanges”, an official press release said.
The subjects to be covered by thematic debates are Skill Development and Entrepreneurship, Social Inclusion, Youth Volunteerism and Youth Participation in Governance.
The youth delegates will also call on External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj in New Delhi and meet Assam leaders and senior officials during the course of the summit.
All the BRICS nations have confirmed their participation in the summit. The Indian Youth Delegation will be led by Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Jitendra Singh.

Sonowal takes over as Assam CM as BJP forms its first government in North-East

Former Union Minister Sarbanand Sonowal was on Tuesday sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Assam at the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party's first government in the North-East.

Sarbananda Sonowal takes oath as Assam's first BJP CM
Former Union Minister Sarbanand Sonowal was today sworn in as the new Chief Minister of Assam at the head of the Bharatiya Janata Party's first government in the North-East.
Governor P. B. Acharya administered the oaths of office and secrecy to Mr. Sonowal, who was Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports in the Union Council of Ministers, and 10 of his ministerial colleagues.
Those who took oath as Ministers included Mr. Hemanta Biswas Sarma, who had switched sides from the Congress to the BJP, now in power at the Centre, ahead of the elections.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Union Ministers, BJP President Amit Shah and the Chief Ministers of states ruled by the BJP and its allies in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), attended the ceremony.
Mr. Sonowal, 53, is the 14th Chief Minister of Assam. He and Mr. Sarma had led the BJP and its two regional allies, the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) and the Bodoland People's Front (BPF) to victory in the elections held in April to the State Legislative Assembly, the results of which were announced on May 19. The coalition won 86 seats in the 126-member assembly.
Congress leader Tarun Gogoi, who ruled the state for 15 years in three consecutive terms, was amongst those present at the swearing-in ceremony.
Later, addressing the gathering after the formal ceremony was over, Mr. Modi told the people of Assam that, in Mr. Sonowal, they had a Chief Minister from the tribal community who is dedicated to serving society.
He expressed confidence that the new Government would serve the people of Assam and transform the State through development. 
Mr. Modi said the Union Government was working on the principle of cooperative federalism, and wanted to give States maximum strength to enable them to progress. 
He said democracy is about "bhaagidaari" (participation), and stressed that the Centre and the States must walk shoulder to shoulder for development. He underlined the need for comprehensive and all-round development of the nation, and especially the eastern part of the country. 

Nadda lays foundation stone for Super Specialty Block at GMC, Guwahati

The Government is focused on strengthening the primary healthcare system while at the same time providing adequate facilities to secondary and tertiary healthcare in order to reduce the out-of-pocket burden on citizens, Union Minister of Health & Family Welfare J P Nadda said today
Addressing a gathering at the foundation stone laying ceremony of a Super Specialty Block at Guwahati Medical College in Assam, he said that, under the upgradation project, Super Specialty Department of Pediatrics surgery, Haematology, Gastroenterology, Gastrointestinal (GI) surgery, Endocrinology and Burns & Plastic surgery will be set up in the existing Medical College.
This will add 190 beds, 60 ICU beds and six Operation Theatres to the institute at an approved cost of Rs 150 crore. Foundation stone of a similar project was laid at Assam Medical College, Dibrugarh on February 12.
“Tertiary care facilities will thus get a boost with all these projects coming up,” the Minister said.
Work on a new All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) project announced for Assam will soon start. The Government has also decided to upgrade District Hospitals at Nagaon, North Lakhimpur and Dubri to the status of Medical College, he added.
Funding of Rs 189 crore each will be sanctioned for these colleges. As a first installment, Rs 22 crore have been released to the state government. Moreover, since May 2014, more than Rs 1,567 crore has been released to the state under National Health Mission (NHM), he said.
Mr Nadda said the Government had already started the process to establish 10 new AIIMS in addition to six already set up by the NDA government in the previous term.
Once fully functional, more than 16,300 additional bed strength would be available in the 17 AIIMS (960 beds in each Institution), he added.
Super specialty blocks were also being set up in 70 medical colleges and 58 district hospitals upgraded to Medical Colleges. Twenty Cancer Institutes and 50 Tertiary Cancer Care Centres were being set up.
The National Cancer Institute, Jhajjar (with bed capacity of 710) and second campus of Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute, Kolkata were also to come up, he added.

Modi opens South Asian Games, outlines his vision for development of region

Declaring the 12th South Asian Games open in Guwahati on Friday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his vision for South Asia was the same as his vision for India -- Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas -- and that all countries in the region are partners in its journey towards development.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessing the inaugural ceremony of the 12th South Asian Games-2016, in Guwahati, Assam on February 5, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi witnessing the inaugural ceremony of the 12th South Asian Games-2016, in Guwahati, Assam on February 5, 2016.
Declaring the 12th South Asian Games open here today, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his vision for South Asia was the same as his vision for India -- Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas -- and that all countries in the region are partners in its journey towards development.
"We the people living in SAARC countries comprise 21 per cent of the world’s population and contribute about 9 per cent to its economy," he said in his inaugural address at the Games. 
The Games, which will continue till February 16, will be held at venues here and in Shillong, Meghalaya.
It is the biggest sporting event ever held in the North-East, with participants from all the eight SAARC member-nations: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.
In all, competition will be held in 228 events in 23 disciplines for 228 gold, 228 silver and 308 bronze medals.
Competition in 16 disciplines -- Athletics, Basketball, Volleyball, Swimming, Triathlon, Hockey, Weightlifting, Wrestling, Squash, Shooting, Kho Kho, Kabaddi, Handball, Cycling and Tennis -- will be held in Guwahati, while events in the other seven disciplines will be held in Shillong – Archery, Badminton, Boxing, Judo, Table Tennis, Taekwondo, Wushu. 
Men's Football will be played at Guwahati and Women's Football at Shillong. 
"This sports meet, for me signifies a perfect blend of 3 Ts - Talent, Teamwork and Togetherness. Among us is the best and most youthful talent from across South Asia. You are proud members of your team - it can be your team of the sport you play and a larger team of the nation you are representing. And, at the same time this meet also celebrates togetherness of all South Asian nations. Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – no matter which country we are from, we all call South Asia our home," Mr. Modi said.
"Sports has to be an essential part of an individual’s life. A good game is both healthy and refreshing. All round development of the personality is incomplete without sports. Most importantly, sports brings with it the most vital sportsman spirit. Without sports, there cannot be any sportsman spirit. This sportsman spirit will not only help you on the field but also in other aspects of your life. You will cherish whatever you learn on the sports field for your entire life. I always say - Jo Khele, woh Khile. The person who plays, shines," he said.
He hoped that the feeling of friendship, trust and understanding engendered by the Games would convert into business and tourism opportunities as well.
"Let these Games become a spring board for bringing peace and prosperity in the region through business, interaction and sporting activities. Let this be an opportunity for SAARC people to realize their potential," he said.
"On the sports field, we can forget what separates us, and we can truly connect with each other in the spirit of sportsmanship and adventure. We can celebrate our diversity, and at the same time, be united under common rules for our sports, and the shared values of honesty and fair play. 
"Let us play for peace: let us play for prosperity. Let us play with full vigour and enthusiasm so that we remember these Games even after they are over. The friendships you would form over these 12 days, and the memories you take back will last you a lifetime. I am confident that you will cherish these bonds, and become Ambassadors for peace and friendship between our nations. 
"While people play for medals and provide tough competition to each other, I urge the sports-persons and visitors here to take time from their busy schedules to visit the places of tourism attraction and wonderful wildlife sanctuaries nearby," he said.
"Let the competition be in true sports man spirit. May the best win. I declare the 12th South Asian Games open," he added.
The glittering opening ceremony was attended by a galaxy of national and international dignitaries, including Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi and Union Sports Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
A colourful march past by players of participating countries enthralled the spectators.

Modi dedicates Brahmaputra Cracker & Polymer Ltd to nation

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that rapid industrial development of the country was necessary to create employment for its youth.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking after dedicating to the nation the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited, at Dibrugarh, Assam on February 5, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi speaking after dedicating to the nation the Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited, at Dibrugarh, Assam on February 5, 2016.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi today said rapid industrial development of the country was necessary to create employment for its youth.
Speaking after dedicating to the nation the  Brahmaputra Cracker and Polymer Limited, a petrochemical complex, at Lepetkata, near Dibrugarh in Assam, he mentioned, in this context, his PRAGATI initiative, which he said was giving impetus to stalled projects.
Mr. Modi also dedicated to the nation the wax plant of Numaligarh Refineries Limited. 
Highlighting the importance of completing projects in time, Mr. Modi said this would ensure employment generation, and avoid massive cost overruns. He said rapid industrial development of the country is necessary to create employment for India's youth. 
He said the two projects were important for the value addition they would achieve for natural raw materials and for the employment opportunities they would create for the youth of Assam.
The Prime Minister reiterated that eastern India must develop for the all-round development of India. In this context, he said the Union Government was paying special attention to the North-Eastern region by boosting infrastructure and connectivity. 
Mr. Modi said the initiatives of the Union Government, including MUDRA and Start-up India, were aimed at creating fresh opportunities for the youth. 
He said employment opportunities had to be created not just in big cities but in smaller towns, too. 
He said the Union Government was working on the principle of cooperative federalism, and both the Centre and States had to work together for development. 

Suresh Prabhu flags off first passenger between Silchar-Guwahati on new broad gauge section

Union Minister of Railways Suresh Prabhu flagged off the first passenger train between Silchar and Guwahati in Assam through the newly-constructed Lumbding-Silchar broad gauge section in the state.
The project fulfils a long-cherished demand of the people of the Barak Valley in South Assam for seamless connectivity with the rest of the country. Goods trains have been running on the section since March this year.
The flag-off was done through remote control from Delhi by organizing a video conference between Rail Bhavan here and the Silchar railway station.
Union Minsters Sarbananda Sonowal and Manoj Singh attended the function at Silchar.
An official press release said the new connection would also help open up new visas in providing links to Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur.
Mr. Prabhu said the Railways were committed to improving their infrastructure in the North-Eastern region.
He said the Railways would also work for better connectivity with Bangladesh.
The 210 km Lumding-Silchar gauge conversion project was sanctioned in 1996-97 at an initial cost of Rs.648 crore. It was declared as a National Project in 2004.
The track passes through the verdant North Cachar hills almost parallel to the old metre gauge alignment criss-crossing the metre gauge alignment at many locations in the first 100 kms between Lumding and Migrendisa. Thereafter, the proposed broad gauge  alignment detours for 30 km before joining the metre gauge alignment again near Ditockchera.
Phase II of the total project consists of gauge conversion of Badarpur-Kumarghat (118 km) and finger lines Arunachal-Jiribam (50 Km), Baraigram-Dullabcherra (29 km) and Karimganj-Mahishasan including Karimganj byepass line (13.50 km). This phase will be completed by 31.03.2016 .
The current estimated cost of the entire project is around Rs. 6000 crore.

Three Additional Judges appointed in Gauhati High Court

The President has appointed Mr Nishitendu Chaudhury, Mr Lanusungkum Jamir and Mr Manash Ranjan Pathak, to be Additional Judges of the Gauhati High Court.
An official press release said the appointments would be for a period of three months with effect from tomorrow.

Rajnath says NE must become hub of peace, progress, development

Rajnath meets CMs of North-Eastern states
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh today said it was the dream as well as resolve of the Government that the North-Eastern Region should become a hub of peace, progress and development but stressed that security was equally important.
"All of us know that development and security go hand-in-hand. They are complimentary to each other. Without development, security scenario suffers badly and without security, development cannot take place at the desired pace," he said at a meeting of Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern States in Guwahati, Assam on the issues of security and development.
"We have organized this meeting with you all with the purpose of ensuring peace and security in the region and get its dividend in the form of accelerated development. 
"I feel that in order to proceed further ahead in this direction, strong and close coordination between the Central and State governments is needed. One of the purposes of this meeting is that we mutually understand each other’s expectations better and deal with the situation in more effective way," he said.
Union Minister of State for Youth Affairs and Sports Sarbananda Sonowal,Minister of State for Development of North-Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendr Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Home Secretary L. C. Goyal also participated in the meeting.
“North-Eastern Region is very important for us. This region is incomparably rich in natural resources, rivers, mountains, scenic beauty and cultural diversity. But, in spite of all these resources and diversities, our North-Eastern Region somehow lagged behind in development. For overall development of this region, the earlier NDA government created the Department of Development of North-Eastern Region (DONER) and continued mandatory 10% of funds for of this region out of the total development budget of Government of India. Many new projects were started," he said.
"Fortunately, the successor UPA governments also continued all these efforts and upgraded the Department to Ministry. As a result, this region also started developing fast along with the rest of the country. But, still a lot more is to be done. It is the dream as well as resolve of our Government that the North-Eastern Region should be hub of peace, progress and development," he said.
Mr Singh said that, over the last few years, there had been significant improvement in the security scenario in the North-East. 
"Overall level of insurgency is at all-time low. Mizoram, Tripura, large parts of Assam and Meghalaya, and Arunachal Pradesh except its three eastern districts, are almost free of insurgency. There is a strong popular desire for peace in Nagaland and Manipur too. All this has been possible because of sustained efforts of all of you and I congratulate you all for this achievement," he told the Chief Ministers.
He also appreciated the hard work done, particularly by the Central Armed Police Forces (CAPFs), Assam Police and the Army, after the killings of Adivasis in last December in the districts of Kokhrajhar and Sonitpur in Assam. 
He said special and concerted efforts by Assam Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi deserved special mention for action against NDFB and congratulated him for his "admirable action".
Mr Singh said the peace initiatives of the Government of India with insurgent organisations were now on the right track. 
"We hope to bring them to logical conclusions soon. However, these days much of the residual insurgency in the region is by some small violent insurgent groups operating from their safe havens across the border. Incidents of kidnapping for ransom, particularly in Assam and Meghalaya, have increased to almost double. In the Garo Hill districts of Meghalaya, some new splinter groups are there whose objective is kidnapping for ransom or looting the businessmen at gunpoint," he said.
"I would like to make it absolutely clear that the Central government would not talk to such criminal elements. Such criminal activities must be dealt with firmly," he declared.
"One of the purposes of this meeting is to emphasize that now the time has come when apart from Insurgency centric security, we must think, plan and deliver on People-centric security. 
"For improving the security ecosystem in the region, I would like to request all the Hon’ble Chief Ministers to further concentrate on the following important points so that we can create a better environment of peace and security leading to faster development of the area," he said.
He told the States that they must take care of the development along with the security of people living along the International Borders where hundreds of villages exist. 
He said that, under the Border Area Development Program (BADP), for development of border areas in this region, the government had enhanced the share of the region from 30% to 40%.
"Of late, India-Myanmar border has become more active as there are reports of insurgents, weapons and drugs crossing this border. I have constituted a committee headed by Chairman, JIC, Mr. R. N. Ravi to review how to effectively manage the Indo-Myanmar border. The committee has done the review and is expected to submit its report in the next few days. The Home Ministry will soon take action on that. We also need to tighten our vigil along the Indo-Bangladesh border," he said.
Mr Singh stressed that the border population must not be ignored. "There are some 240 villages with over two lakh population within 10 km of the India-Myanmar border. This large population is without any worthwhile security cover. They are at the mercy of the insurgents. Similar situation prevails along the India-Bhutan border," he said.
He said that, while the Home Ministry is taking measures for effective management of the border, the Chief Ministers must pay attention to this crucial area of security. 
"You may consider opening and strengthening of police stations in the border areas to reinforce a sense of security among our population. It will also be crucial for successful implementation of our Act-East policy," he said.
"The people of the region have suffered the trauma of insurgency for long. Now they must reap the dividend of peace. Insurgency has adversely impacted the criminal justice system. There has been marked increase in low-visibility yet high-impact violent crimes like kidnapping for ransom and extortions in Assam and Meghalaya. It has severely undermined common man’s access to justice. In some States, ratio of prosecution of criminals in cases of serious crimes is disturbingly low, as low as 5 per cent as against all India figure of over 85 per cent. In cases of kidnapping for ransom, this data is negligible in NER. 
"You would appreciate that when the aggrieved people do not get justice from the States, not only their confidence in the system gets eroded but they also become prone to alternative course for justice which further vitiates the environment. The State police must pay greater attention to registration and investigation of crimes and pursue the cases diligently in the courts for punishing the criminals who commit heinous crimes in these states. The larger criminal justice system must deliver," he said.
Mr Singh said there was need to have Special Investigation Cells to tackle the cases of extortion and kidnapping for ransom. "It is crucial to restore the popular confidence in the Rule of law. I would urge upon the Hon’ble Chief Ministers to pay attention to it in their respective States," he said.
"We know that the North-East Region is replete with illegal firearms. Weapons are smuggled from across the border and sold in the region and even beyond. We are aware of places like Dimapur, being the centres for marketing of such smuggled weapons. Existence of illegal weapons will continue encouraging crimes and vitiating the security eco-system of the region. I would urge upon the Chief Ministers to launch sustained drives against illegal weapons and make their respective States free of such arms. 
"We also know that the youths in the insurgency today are mostly those who have been misled by vested interests. Many of them realize their mistakes and are seeking safe ways to lead normal happy life. They are welcome to the mainstream. However, those who have committed heinous crimes and acts of terror will have to face the law and meet the justice. I would like to reiterate and emphasize that we have zero-tolerance policy on insurgency," he said.
Mr Singh said there are boundary disputes between some States like the ones between Assam and Arunachal Pradesh, Assam and Nagaland, Assam and Meghalaya, Assam and Mizoram, and between Tripura and Mizoram. 
"Recently, disputes started between Angamis of Nagaland and Mao tribals of Manipur regarding Dzukou valley. Many of the disputes are legacies of the past. Unfortunately, such disputes, at times, tend to grow into serious tensions that occasionally erupt into violence and displacement of people. I would urge upon the Chief Ministers to resolve them mutually by using their good offices and ensuring that under no circumstances the disputes develop into active tensions. The Home Ministry will be happy to assist, should the Chief Ministers so decide. However, till the dispute is resolved amicably, the status quo must be maintained by both the concerned states," he said.
Mr Singh said that, in the wake of improvement in security scenario, there was a need to review deployment of security forces in the region. 
"At present the deployment is more than it was when the insurgency was at its peak. In the past few years there has been substantial strengthening of State police also. Without compromising with the security, we must plan to reduce deployment so as to make the environment easy to encourage positive thinking of outsiders about this region on this aspect," he siad.
He urged the Chief Ministers to have a realistic audit of deployment of Central Armed Police Forces in their States. "However, I assure you of our endeavour to help you in the deployment of Central Forces when actually needed," he said.
"Border guarding is one of prime concerns. I would like to urge all the Chief Ministers concerned to provide land for border fencing and expedite land acquisition on urgent basis wherever it is pending," he said.
He noted that the North-Eastern part of India is a high intensity seismic zone and is also prone to periodic devastating floods. 
"These disasters cause untold miseries to the people and immense loss of life, property and livelihood. I am happy that the States, with active assistance of the National Disaster Management Authority, Ministry of Home, have built certain capabilities to meet and manage natural disasters. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has one Battalion stationed at Guwahati for the region. We have sanctioned one more Battalion of NDRF for the North-East," he said.
He urged the Chief Ministers to maintain and always keep in readiness their State Disaster Response Force (SDRF) and upgrade their Disaster Management capabilities. 
"The Home Ministry will be happy to encourage and help strengthen their disaster response capabilities. 
"Before I conclude, I assure the people of North Eastern Region that government would take all steps to ensure that they are not discriminated against," he added.

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Rajnath Singh to chair meeting of CMs of NE States on Saturday

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh will chair a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the North-Eastern States and Sikkim at Guwahati in Assam tomorrow to discuss, among other topics, security-related issues, inlcuding counter-insurgency operations.
Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region (DoNER) Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Union Home Secretary L.C. Goyal will also participate in the meeting, an official press release said.
The release said suspension of operations agreements, effective functioning of anti-extortion cells and strengthening and equipping of State police forces of the region will also be discussed at the meeting.
The participants will also discuss effective guarding of international borders in the North-Eastern States. In addition, important development projects and flood and landslide situation in the region will also be reviewed, the release added.

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Train driver hurt as Alipur Duar-Guwahati Sifung Passenger derails in Assam

Driver, passengers injured as train derails in Assam
The driver of the 55753 Up Alipur Duar Junction-Guwahati Sifung Passenger train suffered serious injuries when five of its coaches derailed over a bridge near Salakati in Kokrajhar district of Assam this morning, official sources said.
North East Frontier Railway (NEFR) officials said some passengers had also suffered minor injuries and were given first aid. The driver was hospitalised for treatment.
The derailment blocked the bridge on the up line towards Guwahati and efforts were being made to clear it as early as possible, they said.
Meanwhile, a separate bridge on the down line is being used to maintain the flow of traffic, though with some delays, the officials said.
Senior railway officials as well as officials from the district administration and police have rushed to the spot.
The mishap ocurred around 5.15 am today between Salakati and Basugaon stations as the train began crossing the bridge. Passengers were transshipped to the nearest station, they said.

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AirAsia India announces flights from Delhi to Bangalore, Goa, Guwahati

Low-cost carrier AirAsia India today said it would launch new flights from New Delhi to Bangalore, Goa and Guwahati from May 21 this year.
To celebrate the launch of new sectors, AirAsia India is offering all-inclusive promotional fare from Rs 1700 from New Delhi to Bangalore and Goa and Rs 1500 from New Delhi to Guwahati and vice versa. 
Passengers will be able to start their booking on  from 00:30 hrs on 21-04-2015 to 26-04-2015 for the travel period from 21-05-2015 – 31-05-2016
Mittu Chandilya, CEO, AirAsia India said, “We are very excited about coming into New Delhi and setting it up as our North region hub. Our ability to provide our guests with a truly low cost and high quality mode of travel is what we truly believe in. Our entry into New Delhi market is a sign of confidence in our business model and in our performance that we can come into a highly saturated market and help expand the market by providing connectivity to the underserved."
"It would be an opportunity we would have to work hard for, but one where the passengers should be the distinct winners with more choice and lower fares. The new sectors will allow more people to experience air travel in India. We will continue to build our network throughout India through both our Northern and Southern hubs," he added.

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Five additional judges appointed to Gauhati High Court

The President has appointed Mr Manojit Bhuyan, Mr Michael Zothankhuma, Mr  Suman Shyam, Mr Paran Kumar Phukan, and Ms Rumi Kumari Phukan, to be additional judges of the Gauhati High Court.
The appointmnts, in that order of seniority, would be for a period of two years with effect from the date they assume charge of their respective offices, an official press release said here today.

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