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Assam

Heat wave, deficit rain affect normal life in NE

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Normal life in the northeastern region has been affected due to heat wave in several areas and deficit pre-monsoon rains, officials said on Monday.
 
According to the India Meteorological Department (IMD), the maximum temperature in several N-E states, especially Assam, Mizoram and Tripura, since the past one week is hovering between 35 degrees Celsius and 38 degrees Celsius -- two-five degrees above the normal for this time of the season.
 
The IMD, since March 1, also recorded 36 mm deficit pre-monsoon (March to May) rainfall in the seven N-E states, excluding Sikkim. 
 
The Arunachal Pradesh meteorological sub-division recorded highest 47 mm deficient pre-monsoon rainfall, followed by Assam and Meghalaya sub-division with 33 mm and Nagaland-Manipur-Mizoram-Tripura sub-division 28 mm.
 
Sikkim and adjoining areas have recorded 152 mm pre-monsoon rainfall since March 1.
 
IMD Director Dilip Saha said in view of deep depressions over the Indian Ocean and adjoining Bay of Bengal, and subsequent cyclone 'Fani', the heat wave had continued in the mountainous northeastern region.
 
"After the end of the cyclone's affect, the wind pattern is likely to change and the heat wave is expected to subside. We expect the situation to normalise within two-three days," Saha told IANS.
 
Agricultural officials in Assam, Mizoram and Tripura said various summer crops would be affected due to the deficit pre-monsoon rainfall. "If the rain does not occur in the next few days, the damage to the summer crops would be much larger," agricultural expert Samar Mitra told IANS.
 
The deficit in rainfall also resulted in water scarcity, including supply of drinking water.
 
Tripura Drinking Water and Sanitation Department Chief Engineer Baishapayan Chakraborty said the department had been providing drinking water through tankers in the scarcity-prone areas as well as remote, isolated hamlets and tribal areas.
 
"We are setting up deep tube wells in the areas where the level of ground water has gone down, mostly in the hilly areas," Chakraborty told IANS. 
 
The Health Departments in the region have been alerted and suggested to take precautionary measures besides organising special health camps to tackle the seasonal diseases.
 
IANS
 

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Rahul targets Modi for failing on Rs 15 lakh promise

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday said that while the Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led BJP government had failed to deposit the promised Rs. 15 lakh into everyone's bank account, he had given Rs. 30,000 crore to an industrialist friend.
 
"Modiji came here in 2014 and announced that everyone will be given Rs. 15 lakh in their bank accounts. However, not a single penny got deposited in last five years. That was a lie. I am assuring that 20 percent of the countrya's extremely poor people will be given Rs. 72,000 each every year. The amount will be deposited in the account of the women of the family. This is truth, we don't lie," he said while addressing a public rally in Assam's Bokakhat area on Wednesday.
 
He also appealed to the people to ensure victory of the Congress candidate so that the attack of the RSS on the language, culture and history of Assam could be stopped.
 
Gandhi was campaigning for Congress' sitting Lok Sabha MP Gaurav Gogoi, who is contesting from the Kaliabar Lok Sabha seat for a second consecutive term.
 
"Narendra Modi has started asking questions as to from where the money will come. I am going to tell you from where the money will come. Modiji has given Rs. 30,000 crore from the Indian Air Force to Anil Ambani, we are going to get that money and distribute among the 20 percent extremely poor people of the country," he said.
 
Terming the BJP government's effort to implement the Citizenship Amendment Bill in northeast as an attack, Gandhi said that the Congress has kept its promise of opposing the Citizenship Bill. "The CAB is an attack on the culture, thought and Independence of the people here. We stood by the people of the northeast during the CAB protests and ensured that it is not passed in Rajya Sabha," said Gandhi.
 
Attacking the BJP further, Gandhi said while Modiji had assured to create 2 crore employment opportunities, the country is at present witnessing highest unemployment rate in 45 last years. "He promised Achche din ayenge but acheche din chale gaye. He (Modi) terms himself as chowkidar, but we say chowkidar chor hain," said Gandhi.
 
"Modiji imposed Gabbar Singh Tax, which is affecting the small and medium size businessmen across the country. The moment our government comes we will abolish the Gabbar Singh Tax and implement easy and minimum GST," he said.
 
Referring to Nirav Modi and Anil Ambani, Gandhi said that they had not created any job for the youth of the country but taken out poor peoples' money. "The RSS is attacking the history, culture and language of the people of the region. It must be stopped by defeating the BJP and voting for the Congress in the Lok Sabha polls," he appealed.
 
IANS
 

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BJP axes five sitting MPs in Assam

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The ruling BJP in Assam has axed five sitting MPs from contesting the forthcoming Lok Sabha polls and selected new faces instead.
 
The BJP's first list of candidates dropped three sitting MPs including Bijoya Chakravarty (Guwahati), Ramen Deka (Mangaldai) and Kamakhya Prasad Tasa (Jorhat). The party has given tickets to Queen Ojah in Guwahati, Dilip Saikia in Mangaldai and State Minister Tapan Gogoi in Jorhat.
 
The second list of the saffron party announced on Friday axed sitting Lok Sabha MP from Tezpur constituency, Ram Prasad Sarmah, and named State Minister Pallab Lochan Das to contest from the constituency.
 
Although the party is yet to name its candidate for the Nowgong Lok Sabha constituency in Central Assam, sources in the party on Saturday confirmed the name of sitting legislator from Nowgong Sadar Assembly constituency Rupak Sarmah to contest the Lok Sabha polls this time from Nowgong.
 
While the party leadership seemed to have axed Chakravarty due to her age, she is 79; Deka and Tasa were replaced due to poor performance.
 
Union Minister of State for Railways Rajen Gohain withdrew his name from the race due to charges of rape and molestation filed against him by a woman last year. Ram Prasad Sarmah was axed after his name cropped up in the multi-crore cash-for-jobs scam in Assam where one of his daughters was also found to be involved. 
 
Ram Prasad Sarmah had allegedly bribed the Chairman of the Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) along with many others to get his daughter selected for the Assam Police Service Commission -- a major scam unearthed after the BJP-led government in Assam took over in 2016 and got over 30 selected candidates jailed for their involvement in the cash-for-job scam. His daughter is one of them.
 
Gohain lobbied hard in New Delhi to get a ticket for his wife Rita Gohain in Nowgong but to no avail as, according to sources, the party has selected Rupak Sarmah.
 
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Minor earthquake recorded in Karbi Anglong region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, was recorded in  the Karbi Anglong region of Assam in  the early  hours of today.
 
The  quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.5°N and longitude 93.4°E, occurred at 0156 hours today ata focal  depth of 30 km, a bulletin from the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
Earlier, a tremor of magnitude 4.5 shook the Myanmar-Mizoram border region yesterday evening.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 22.8°N and longitude 94.0°E, occurred at 1913 hours yesterday at a focal depth of 10 km, IMD said.
 
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Badminton: Saina Nehwal, Sourabh Verma win men and women's National titles

File photo of Saina Nehwal
File photo of Saina Nehwal
In a  tense  battle  Saina Nehwal beat P V Sindhu 21-18, 21-15 to win her fourth title at the Yonex-Sunrise 83rd Senior National Badminton Championships 2018-19 here on Saturday.
 
 In men’s section, Sourabh Verma won his third Nationals title with a 21-18, 21-13 triumph over Asian junior champion Lakshya Sen.
 
The singles winners were awarded prize money of Rs. 3.25 lakh while the runners-up got Rs. 1.7 lakh. Each of the singles semi-finalists and the quarter-finalists got richer by Rs. 62,500 and Rs. 27,500 respectively.
 
The showdown between Saina and Sindhu, a repeat of their enthralling final from the previous edition, was undoubtedly the cynosure of all eyes at the packed stadium attended by Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and BAI president Himanta Biswa Sarma among others.
 
Saina overcame an erratic start to slowly gain in confidence. After trailing 1-3, she drew level at 5-5 with husband Parupalli Kashyap egging her on. With not much to choose between the two, the hard-fought match continued to be even until 10-10. That was where Saina's brilliant movement and unwavering focus made a difference and the defending champion went up to 16-12.
 
Saina kept targeting the corners to keep Sindhu out of position and soon bagged the opening game.
 
A more aggressive approach from the tall Sindhu sent her up to 5-3 in the second game. The momentum soon swung Saina's way, who once more started restricting her opponent from playing her naturally attacking game.
 
With Sindhu's game collapsing into errors, a calm and steady Saina built a 12-9 advantage and soon extended it to 17-13 by pushing Sindhu to the backcourt and finding the opening for smashes. The persistent approach and her spectacular court coverage helped Saina wrap it up in 44 minutes.
 
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This was Saina’s fourth title after earlier triumphs in 2006, 2007 and 2017 while Sindhu had been looking to add to her 2011 and 2013 titles.
 
In men’s singles, Verma and Sen met in a repeat of their 2017 final. Even though Sen stormed out of the blocks, it was the patient Verma who once again mastered the younger player.
 
The 17-year-old made a fabulous start as he broke away from a 6-6 tie to race ahead to 11-6. Verma tried to prolong the rallies after that and took four points on the trot. After Sen smashed his way up to 15-13, his barrage of unforced errors cost him the lead and Verma's composure allowed him to go up to 18-16 and pocket the opening game.
 
Sen fought back to 4-4 from 0-3 down in the second game but once again could not do enough to make a dent in Sourabh’s confidence levels. The latter banked on his precision and control to surge to 11-7 before finishing in 44 minutes.
 
Verma thus tasted success at the Nationals for the third time following victories in 2011 and 2017. Sen had to remain content with a two-time runner-up show.
 
Having lost in the men’s doubles final with Satwiksairaj Rankireddy in the last edition, Chirag Shetty made up for it this time in partnership with Pranaav Jerry Chopra. The second seeds upset the top seeds Arjun MR and Shlok Ramchandran 21-13, 22-20 to take the men’s doubles title.
 
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Modi to visit Guwahati, Itanagar and Agartala on Saturday

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Guwahati in Assam, Itanagar in Arunachal Pradesh and Agartala in Tripura tomorrow as part of a one-day trip during which he will launch several development projects.
 
In Itanagar, he will unveil a series of development projects at IG Park in Itanagar. 
 
Among other things, he will lay the foundation stone for the construction of a greenfield airport at Hollongi. At present, the nearest airport to Itanagar is at Lilabari in Assam at a distance of 80 km.
 
The airport at Hollongi will reduce the distance by a fourth. In addition to providing better connectivity to the region, the airport will also unravel the tourism potential of the state. The airport will boost the economic growth of the region and will be strategically important to the nation. The airport will have various sustainability features like green belt along approach road to act as noise barrier, rain water harvesting, use of energy efficient equipment, and so on.
 
Modi will also lay the foundation stone of Sela Tunnel in Arunachal Pradesh. It will provide all-weather connectivity to Tawang Valley for civilians as well as security forces throughout the year. The tunnel will reduce travel time to Tawang by an hour and boost tourism and related economic activities in the region.
 
A new dedicated DD Channel, for Arunachal Pradesh, DD Arun Prabha, will be launched by the Prime Minister. It will be the 24th channel operated by Doordarshan. 
 
He will also dedicate the 110 MW Pare Hydroelectric Plant in Arunachal Pradesh to the nation. The project, constructed by NEEPCO, will harness hydro power potential of the river Dikrong (tributary of Brahmaputra) and provide cheap hydro electric power to the North Eastern states, thereby improving power availability in the region, an official press release said.
 
Modi will also lay the foundation stone for a permanent campus of Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Jote, Arunachal Pradesh. It will cater to film students especially those from the North Eastern states. 
 
He will inaugurate the upgraded Tezu Airport in Arunachal Pradesh. The airport has been retrofitted and a new terminal constructed for making it fit for commercial operations under UDAN, the regional connectivity scheme.
 
As many as 50 health and wellness centers in Arunachal Pradesh will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister. He will also declare 100% household electrification in Arunachal Pradesh under Saubhagya Scheme.
 
From Itanagar, the Prime Minister will return to Guwahati, where he will  lay the foundation stone of the North East Gas Grid which will ensure uninterrupted availability of natural gas across the region and boost industrial growth in the region. The grid is part of Government’s plan to provide cheap and quality gas to the entire North East Region. He will lay foundation stone of City Gas Distribution Networks in Kamrup, Cacher, Hailakandi & Karimganj districts.
 
He will inaugurate Hollong Modular Gas Processing Plant in Tinsukia, Assam. The facility will deliver 15% of the total gas produced in Assam. He will also inaugurate LPG Capacity Augmentation of Mounted Storage Vessel in North Guwahati. 
 
The foundation stone of NRL Bio Refinery at Numaligarh and a 729 km gas pipeline from Barauni to Guwahati, passing through Bihar, West Bengal, Sikkim and Assam, will be laid by him on the occasion.
 
The last leg of the Prime Minister's visit will be in Agartala.  He will dedicate to the nation the Garjee - Belonia Railway Line through unveiling of plaque at Swami Vivekananda Stadium here. The line will boost Tripura as the gateway to South and Southeast Asia. He will also inaugurate the new complex of Tripura Institute of Technology at Narsingarh.
 
He will unveil the statue of Maharaja Bir Bikram Kishore Manikya Bahadur at Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport, Agartala. Maharaja Bir Bikram is widely regarded as the creator of modern Tripura. He is credited with planning of Agartala city. Unveiling of his statue is in line with the Union Government’s policy of honouring the unsung heroes of India, who have contributed greatly to nation building, the release added.
 
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Sonowal, Bodo leaders meet Rajnath Singh

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A delegation from Assam led by Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh here during the weekend to discuss issues related to safeguards for preserving the cultural and linguistic identity and heritage of the state.
 
They also discussed the implementation of Clause-6 of the Assam Accord and issues related to grant of tribal status to six communities. 
 
Several representatives of the Bodo groups including the Bodoland Territorial Council chief Hagrama Muhilary, Chandan Brahma, Minister from BPF in the State Government and Biswajit Daimary, MP also met the Union Home Minister and discussed the various outstanding demands of Bodo community, an official press release said.
 
The Union Home Minister said that,  while introducing the Citizenship Amendment Bill in the Lok Sabha on January 8, he had made it abundantly clear that the Bill was not meant for the individuals belonging to six minorities who have come from one particular country. 
 
It was also not meant for individuals living in one particular State. At the same time, it was a fact that Assam has borne the disproportionate burden of migration due to religious persecution in our neighbouring countries.   
 
Mr Rajnath Singh said he had therefore made it clear that Assam should not bear this burden alone.  It was the responsibility of the entire country and the burden should also be shared by the entire country, he added. 
 
“We are committed to helping the persons belonging to six minority communities, who have been compelled to come to India because of religious persecution in the three neighbouring countries.  Those who qualify for citizenship under the amended Citizenship Act would be free to reside and settle in any State,” he added.
 
He said the Government will also expect the recommendations of the High Powered Committee  set up to suggest measures for the implementation of the Clause 6 of the Assam Accord.   
 
The action taken by the Government to set up this High-Level Committee is a landmark step in the direction of preserving the cultural, linguistic identity of Assam. This Committee has a very broad mandate. He urged all those who have the interest of Assam and the Assamese people in their heart, to take advantage of this historic opportunity, he said.
 
The Union Home Minister said the decision to grant tribal status to six communities should also be seen in the same spirit. He assured the Bodo leaders that this decision will be implemented only after ensuring that the political and employment-related privileges and rights of the existing tribes in Assam were fully protected.  
 
The necessary modalities for this will be worked out by the State Governments in consultation with all the stakeholders, he said.
 
Mr Rajnath Singh said certain misgivings about the Citizenship Amendment Bill were being spread.  He will soon be calling a meeting of the Chief Ministers of the concerned States.  
 
They will further discuss the safeguards that need to be provided for protecting the interests of these States and protecting their cultural and linguistic identity, he added.
 
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AGP ends ties with BJP over Citizenship Bill

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The AGP on Monday quit the alliance with the BJP over the Modi government's decision to go ahead with the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 which seeks to give citizenship to non-Muslim minorities from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
 
Asom Gana Parishad President Atul Bora said this here on Monday after an AGP delegation led by him met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh. 
 
"We have made our best efforts to convince the BJP leadership about the negative impact of the Bill and the stand of the people of Assam, But the BJP has decided to go ahead with the Bill leaving us with no option but to quit the alliance," he told the media.
 
The Union Cabinet earlier cleared the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016 after a Joint Parliamentary Committee submitted its recommendations to the Lok Sabha. The Bill is likely to be debated in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
 
The snapping of the ties by the AGP, however, does not threaten the Bharatiya Janata Party-led alliance government in Assam. 
 
The BJP has 61 members and the support of an Independent member in the house of 126 while its ally BPF has 13 members. While the AGP has 14 members, the Congress and AIUDF have 24 and 13 members, respectively.
 
Bora said: "We fought a long battle over the Citizenship Bill. We protested on the streets and we met different political parties and members of the JPC over the Bill. We tried our best to stop the Bill being a part of the government. However, now that the BJP has decided to go ahead with it, we have no other option but to walk out of the alliance," said Bora.
 
He said the alliance with the BJP before the 2016 Assembly polls was a demand of the time.
 
"The Congress was in power from 2001 to 2016 and we decided to oust the Congress from power by forging an alliance with the BJP. The people did not only vote for the BJP but voted for AGP and BJP combine. However, the BJP failed to keep the promises of the alliance partner. Being a regional party, we have to respect the wishes and sentiments of the people of Assam," Bora added.
 
IANS
 

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SpiceJet adds Lilabari in Assam as its tenth destination under UDAN

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet has announced the introduction of a daily direct flight on the Kolkata-Lilabari route under the Government's regional connectivity scheme, UDAN.
 
Lilabari, an unserved market located in the Lakhimpur district of Assam, was awarded to the airline under UDAN-II, a press release from the airline said.
 
The airline also announced a new direct flight connecting Kolkata with Jabalpur in Madhya Pradesh and an additional frequency on Hyderabad-Jabalpur route. 
 
All new flights and frequencies are scheduled to commence from January 15, 2019, the release said.
 
The airline will deploy its Bombardier Q400s on all these routes, it said.
 
Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales & Revenue Officer, SpiceJet, said, “SpiceJet is extremely proud to add the picturesque destination of Lilabari on its domestic network. We have always remained steadfast in enhancing connectivity to the north eastern region of India which owing to its difficult topography has always suffered from connectivity limitations. Lilabari is our first destination in Assam under the UDAN scheme and we are confident that the new flight will provide impetus to the tourism potential of the state.”
 
Located on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, Lilabari is a town renowned for its splendor and tranquility.  It is also well-known for adventure sports, including trekking, rafting and mountaineering.
 
Owing to its close proximity to Arunachal Pradesh, the Lilabari airport serves both the states of Assam and Arunachal Pradesh.
 
With the addition of the Kolkata-Lilabari-Kolkata flight, SpiceJet will operate 25 flights under UDAN on the routes of Delhi-Kishangarh-Delhi, Kolkata-Pakyong-Kolkata, Guwahati-Pakyong-Guwahati, Mumbai-Porbandar, Mumbai-Kandla-Mumbai, Hyderabad-Puducherry-Hyderabad, Jaipur-Jaisalmer-Jaipur, Delhi-Adampur-Delhi, Chennai-Hubli-Chennai, Ahmedabad-Jaisalmer-Ahmedabad, Surat-Jaisalmer-Surat and Delhi-Kanpur-Delhi.
 
SpiceJet was awarded 22 new sectors under the Government of India's UDAN II. Out of these, 19 catered to unserved markets of Kannur (Kerala), Darbhanga (Bihar), Ozar (Nashik), Pakyong (Sikkim), Kishangarh (Rajasthan), Lilabari (Assam), Thanjavur (Tamil Nadu), Bokaro(Jharkhand) and Solapur (Maharashtra) whereas three were for the underserved markets of Hubli (Karnataka).
 
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Assam: Ajmal apologises for abusing journalist, faces FIR

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A day after abusing a journalist, and threatening to "smash" his head, Lok Sabha member Moulana Badaruddin Ajmal expressed his apologies on Thursday, saying he respects media persons.
 
Ajmal, who represents Assam's Dhubri constituency, landed himself in a controversy on Wednesday over the episode.
 
Ajmal, who leads the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), faced condemnation from different sections over the incident. Several media organisations have threatened to file FIRs against him.
 
Apologising over the episode, Ajmal, who is also a perfume trader, wrote on Twitter: "Media is the fourth pillar of democracy and I have always respected media persons and everyone knows that. I have sincere regards for them. The Mankachar incident was an unintentional aberration and I sincerely apologize for that to all concerned."
 
Guwahati-based Digital Media Journalist Association of Assam (DiMJAA) has said it will file an FIR against Ajmal on Thursday.
 
Members of the media fraternity also staged a protest on Thursday at Dispur Press Club, wearing black badge.
 
The AIUDF chief got agitated on Wednesday when a journalist asked him if he will side with the party that comes to power in New Delhi.
 
He was addressing a press conference at Mankachar to honour the AIUDF leaders who won in the recently held rural polls in Assam.
 
Ajmal not only verbally abused the journalist but also asked him to get out of the venue. 
 
"I'll smash your head," he said, while snatching the boom of the journalist.
 
IANS
 

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Modi launches attack on Congress over helicopter deal

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday launched a scathing attack on the Congress, without naming anyone, saying that no one could have even thought four years back that the 'key secret player' (sabse bada raajdar) in the AgustaWestland helicopter deal would ever be in an Indian jail.
 
"No one ever thought that 'sabse bada raajdar' in the helicopter deal would be in an Indian jail. Our government did the work to bring him back to India and hand him to the law enforcers," Modi said while referring to the recent extradition of Christian Michel, the middleman of AugustaWestland helicopter deal.
 
Modi was speaking to a huge gathering near Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge in Assam, which he inaugurated on Tuesday.
 
"While we are ensuring the rights of the poor, we are also fighting against black money and those indulging in corruption," he said, adding that while the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre had distributed 1.25 crore houses under Prime Minister Awas Yojaha (PMAY), the government has also seized properties worth over Rs 5,000 crore under the Prevention of Corruption Act.
 
The Prime Minister said while the government has sanctioned a loan of Rs 7 lakh crore under the Mudra loan without security deposits, the government had also taken stern steps to recover defaulters' loans to the tune of Rs 3 lakh crore sanctioned by banks during the previous governments.
 
IANS
 

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Modi inaugurates Bogibeel rail-cum-road bridge -- India's longest -- over Brahmaputra

A view of the Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra in Assam, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25, 2018
A view of the Bogibeel bridge over the Brahmaputra in Assam, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on December 25, 2018
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the country's longest rail-cum-road bridge in Bogibeel over the Brahmaputra river, that connects Dhemaji and Dibrugarh in Assam, on Tuesday.
 
Later, Modi and his cavalcade took a ride on the bridge, stopping in the middle and waving at thousands of people waiting on either sides.
 
Built at an estimated cost of over Rs 5,000 crore, the bridge is expected to help over five million people living in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh and significantly enhance India's defence capability by ensuring faster movement of troops and supplies to the eastern border with China.
 
The foundation stone of the bridge was laid by the then Prime Minister of H. D. Devegowda in 1997. The construction works started only in 2002 when Atal Bihari Vajpayee was the Prime Minister.
 
The bridge, situated 17 km downstream of Dibrugarh spans the Brahmaputra river and connects the town in the south to Dhemaji to the river's north.
 
It is located just over 20 km away from the Assam-Arunachal Pradesh border and is thus expected to act as an alternative to the Kolia Bhomora Setu in Tezpur.
 
Earlier, on his arrival at the Mohanbari airport near Dibrugarh, Modi was received by Assam Governor Jagdish Mukhi and Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. He later left for Bogibeel in a helicopter.
 
The strategic 4.9 km rail-cum-road bridge, built by Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), is the first fully welded steel bridge and the longest rail-cum-road bridge in India.
 
HCC constructed the entire 4.9 km-long superstructure, a press release from the company said.
 
"Bogibeel bridge will provide connectivity to nearly five million people residing in Upper Assam and Arunachal Pradesh. The project boasts of multiple benefits such as strategic and speedier access for defence forces to the Indo-China border, seamless access for medical facilities to remote north-eastern states, and most importantly reducing by nearly 10 hours the transportation distance between NH-37 and NH-52, saving transportation cost, time and fuel," the release said.
 
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Mr. Arjun Dhawan, Director & Group Chief Executive Officer, HCC said, “HCC has time and again undertaken complex infrastructure projects that are benchmarks in India’s infrastructure journey. Bogibeel Bridge is an engineering masterpiece which has many technical firsts to its name. It is India’s first fully welded Warren truss girder type steel bridge. Not only has an incremental launching technique for superstructure erection been used for the first time in India, it is also the world’s longest incrementally launched steel bridge. HCC is proud to create such marvels for the nation.”
 
"The HCC team through its sheer determination and grit completed this project, as bridging the mighty Brahmaputra has always been a daunting task. The river is extremely difficult to bridge due to various reasons including its ferocious and unpredictable behaviour, high currents and turbulent waters, widespread erosion of the banks, short working period, high seismicity and the sheer remoteness of the area. With the width ranging from 1.2 km to 18 km, the Brahmaputra has been bridged only four times in the past; HCC holds the distinction of building two of these bridges and has now constructed the fifth," the release said.
 
The superstructure of the Bogibeel bridge has been constructed using special copper-bearing steel plates in order to reduce corrosion. Furthermore, due to excessive humidity in the area, a complex Corrosion Protection System specific to different components of the bridge has been implemented. To offer good stability to the heavy spans (1700 MT), seismic restrainers are provided. The bridge is designed to withstand earthquakes with magnitudes in excess of 7.0.
 
(With inputs from IANS)
 
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Blast in passenger train in Assam, three injured

 
3 injured in blast in train in Assam
At least three persons were injured after a blast on a moving passenger train near Harsinga in Assam on Saturday, officials said.
 
A senior railway official said the low intensity blast occured about 6.50 p.m. in the general second class coach of Kamakhya-Dekargaon Intercity Express near Harisinga, about 50 km from Rangiya. 
 
The blast ocurred between Harisinga-Tangla stations of Rangiya division of the Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR). 
 
Following the blast, a portion of the coach got affected, the official said, adding the traffic on the route was not affected as two more lines are available at the station.
 
The official said the injured included a woman and a child. He said that, due to the blast, one passenger suffered head injury, while two others received minor injuries.
 
The injured passengers were shifted to Harisingha Hospital where they were provided first aid and then discharged.
 
The official said that senior railway officials had rushed to the blast site. 
 
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Kovind presents Standards to 118 Helicopter Unit and Colours to Air Defence College

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President Ram Nath Kovind presented Standards to 118 Helicopter Unit of the Indian Air Force (IAF) and Colours to Air Defence College here on Thursday.
 
Speaking on the occasion, the President said the world looks at India differently today. It is seen as an eminent power, expected to play a prominent role in shaping the global paradigm with regards to international security, trade and commerce, and environmental protection. 
 
“India’s rise in the international order has many dimensions to it. And it draws heavily from the capabilities and valour of our Armed Forces, including our air warriors,” he added.
 
“I have just returned from a visit to Vietnam and Australia. I held discussions with the leaders of both these countries in different areas of mutual interest such as defence, international security, trade and culture. 
 
“The deliberations made one thing amply clear. That, the world looks at India differently today. India is seen as an eminent power, expected to play a prominent role in shaping the global paradigm with regards to international security, trade and commerce and environmental protection,” he said. 
 
“Though we remain firmly committed to peace, we are determined to use all our might to protect the sovereignty of our nation. Whenever an occasion demanded, our brave men and women in uniform have ensured that the nation has dealt with the security challenges forcefully and effectively," he said.
 
The 118 Helicopter Unit or “Challengers” was formed on November 22, 1971, in Chabua and was then equipped with Mi-8 aircraft. Whether flying the Mi-8 or the formidable Mi-17 helicopter today, the Unit has a remarkable operational record. 
 
It has also contributed to humanitarian assistance and relief operations during natural disasters. The motto of the Unit Aapatsu Mitram, which means-Friend in Distress, is indeed an apt one. 
 
“I am confident that Challengers will continue to excel and operate as a formidable force in the years to come,” Mr. Kovind said. 
 
The Air Defence College has achieved significant milestones in Air Defence training in the past 60 years. The college provides professional training not only to officers of Indian Air Force but also to sister services and officers from friendly countries. 
 
The flying element of the College played a vital role during the 1962, 1965 and 1971 wars. Since its establishment, the college has distinguished itself by adopting a futuristic approach towards training. 
 
The College truly lives up to its motto “Rakshanepunyasya Shikhamahe”, which means ‘ Teach to Excel in Defence’.
 
“In recognition of their outstanding performance, I am pleased to award Standards to 118 Helicopter Unit and Colours to Air Defence College. I compliment the personnel and families of the Units, past and present, for their devotion and service to the nation. The Indian Air Force is a fine force known for its prowess and professionalism,” Mr Kovind added.
 
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Two killed as ULFA triggers blast in Assam

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Two persons were killed after suspected militants belonging to the anti-talks faction of United Liberation Front of Asom (ULFA) triggered a blast in Assam's Sivsagar district on Thursday evening, police said.
 
Police said the blast took place at a hardware store belonging to one Kamal Agarwala. 
 
"While Agarwala was seriously injured in the blast, a customer who was present in the store died on the spot. Agarwala was rushed to a hospital immediately but he succumbed to his inuries," police said.
 
The police is investigating the matter and will detail "the exact nature of the blast after preliminary investigation", said Sivsagar Superintendent of Police Subodh Kumar Sonowal.
 
Locals said that Agarwala and his brother had earlier received an extortion demand from the anti-talk faction of ULFA militants.
 
The anti-talks ULFA faction had on November 1 shot at a group of Hindu Bengalis in Tinsukia district in which five persons were killed.
 
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal strongly condemned the act and said that miscreants responsible for the killing will not be spared.
 
The Chief Minister, who is in New Delhi, termed the incident as an act of cowardice. He said that the state police chief has been directed to take immediate measures to nab the culprits involved in the incident.
 
IANS
 

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Sprinter Hima Das is UNICEF-India's first youth ambassador

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The United Nations Children's Fund-India (UNICEF-India) has appointed Asian Games gold-medalist sprinter Hima Das as the country's first ever youth ambassador.
 
The name of the woman athlete from Assam was announced by the world organisation in a tweet on Wednesday evening coinciding with the Children's Day celebrated on November 14 commemorating the country's first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru's birthday.
 
"I'm honoured to be chosen as UNICEF India's Youth Ambassador, and I hope I will be able to inspire more children to follow their dreams," Das responded.
 
Hailing from Nagaon district, Das clinched a gold medal in women's 4x400 metre relay event at the 2018 Asian Games. She also won a silver in the women's 400m race.
 
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Militants gun down 5 in Assam's Tinsukia district

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At least five persons were killed in Tinsukia district of Assam when militants fired indiscriminately at a group of people on Thursday evening, police said.
 
The incident took place at a remote location called Kherbari under Dhola Police Station in the district that borders Arunachal Pradesh in eastern Assam, the police said.
 
Locals said four or five armed militants came in Army fatigue and started firing at the people who were playing Ludo in front of a "dhaba" late on Thursday evening.
 
The police suspect the hand of the anti-talks faction of ULFA militants behind the incident.
 
Tinsukia Superintendent of Police Mugdhajyoti Mahanta said that an operation has been launched in and around the district to track the militants involved in the incident.
 
Condemning the Dhola incident, Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he has spoken with Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and asked him take strict action against the culprits.
 
"Deeply anguished by civilian casualties in an attack in Upper Assam region. It is a reprehensible act of mindless violence. Spoke to Assam CM Shri @sarbanandsonwal regarding the incident and asked him to take strict possible action against the perpetrators of this heinous crime," Singh tweeted.
 
Meanwhile, Sonowal has asked state Water Resources Minister Keshav Mahanta and Minister of State for Power Topon Kumar Gogoi to rush to the incident site to take stock of the situation.
 
Sonowal also asked Assam DGP Kula Saikia and ADGP Mukesh Agarwalla to immediately visit the site to tackle the situation, according to an official statement.
 
The Chief Minister said that perpetrators of the crime would be dealt with firmly. He also directed all Deputy Commissioners and Superintendents of Police to remain alert.
 
He condoled the death of innocent people and conveyed his sympathies to the bereaved families, the statement said.
 
On October 13, the same ULFA faction had triggered a blast in Guwahati this year and claimed responsibility. Its chief Paresh Baruah had later told some TV news channels that the blast was a warning to those supporting the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016.
 
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Assam NRC: SC allows 5 more IDs for raising claims, objections

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In a relief to about 40 lakh people left out of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) for Assam, the Supreme Court on Thursday permitted five additional identity documents for filing claims and objections over non-inclusion in the final draft NRC for the state.
 
These additional identity documents are National Register of Citizens (NRC), 1951; electoral roll up to 24th March, 1971; Citizenship Certificate; Refugee Registration Certificate and certified copies of pre-1971 electoral roll, particularly, those issued from the State of Tripura; and ration card.
 
Permitting these five identity documents, the bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman said the fear of an ineligible person getting into the NRC cannot be a ground for exclusion of genuine citizens.
 
"It is our considered view that the mere possibility of filing of forged documents or that such documents were filed in the earlier exercise cannot be a ground to exclude the same from the impending process of filing of claims and objections," the court said in its order.
 
Needless to say, the court order said, "all such documents must be subjected to a thorough process of verification and will be accepted only after due and complete satisfaction of the genuineness of the same".
 
The court said that objection of state coordinator of NRC Prateek Hajela to the five documents, specifically to the names in NRC of 1951 and names in electoral roll up to March 24, 1971 is "based entirely on a possibility of abuse which, however strong, cannot be an acceptable reason in law to exclude the documents from consideration".
 
While allowing five additional documents, the court extended the time for filing of claims and objections to December 15 from previously set November 25.
 
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The court said that digitisation of documents will be completed by January 15. Thereafter, the notices would be issued and the verification of claims and objections would commence from February 1.
 
The court also directed Hajela to undertake vigorous verification of the five documents that would be relied upon to file claims for inclusion in and objection to exclusion from the final draft NRC.
 
Justice Nariman told Hajela that the approach that it is "better to exclude a genuine person than include an ineligible is not correct", while Chief Justice Gogoi said: "We have gone through (the report) and we don't think you are right."
 
Endorsing the position, the Chief Justice said that merely because a forged document could be submitted cannot be the basis of excluding them as documents of identity proof. Even in the earlier exercise to prepare the draft NRC, a large number of documents were disputed, CJI Gogoi reminded Hajela.
 
The court on Thursday permitted the reliance on five more documents taking note of the position taken by the Assam government, the Centre and other stakeholders.
 
Earlier, the top court had permitted 10 identity documents for filing claims and objections for inclusion in or exclusion from Assam NRC.
 
Besides the Centre and Assam, the court in the last hearing on October 23 had sought response from the All Assam Students Union, All Assam Minorities Students' Union, Jamait Ulama-i-Hind, Assam Public Works, Assam Sanmilita Mahasangha, National Democratic Front of Bodoland (Progressive), Indigenous Tribal Peoples Federation and the Joint Action Committee for Bangali Refugees on Hajela's objection on permitting five identity documents.
 
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Militants gun down 5 in Assam's Tinsukia

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Five persons were killed in Tinsukia district of Assam on Thursday evening when a group of unidentified assailants opened fire at a public place, police said.
 
The assailants are believed to be members of the anti-talks faction of militant outfit ULFA, according to the police.
 
More details are awaited.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 
 

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Assam: Man commits suicide over Foreigners Tribunal notice

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A man committed suicide on Sunday in Assam's Udalguri district allegedly after a local Foreigners' Tribunal recently served a notice on him asking him to prove his Indian citizenship.
 
Police said Dipak Debnath was found hanging from a tree in the backyard of his house in Ghagra village.
 
"Preliminary investigation indicate it to be a suicide. His family told us that Debnath was depressed after receiving a notice from the Foreigners' Tribunal which termed him as a foreigner and asked him to prove his Indian citizenship," a police officer said.
 
Although the Foreigners' Tribunal served the notice to Debnath in July asking him to appear before it on July 12 to prove his Indian citizenship, Debnath received the notice only on July 29.
 
"The draft NRC was published by the Assam government on July 30 and it included the names of Debnath, his wife and two daughters. However, Debnath went to the Foreigners' Tribunal recently to respond to the notice and a Tribunal official demanded a huge bribe to settle his case," said Uttam Debnath, a nephew of the deceased.
 
"We believe he ended his life as he was not in a position to bribe the Tribunal officials. He was scared that he will be taken to detention camps and will be tortured," said Uttam.
 
The draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) published on July 30 left out the names of 40,07,707 people due to various discrepancies in the documents submitted by the people.
 
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ISL: Jamshedpur squander chances against 10-man NorthEast United

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NorthEast United climbed back to the top of the Indian Super League (ISL) after an eventful 1-1 draw against Jamshedpur FC at the India Gandhi Athletic stadium here on Thursday.
 
Bartholomew Obgeche (20th) gave the hosts early lead before Farukh Chaudhary cancelled out his strike in the 49th minute.
 
It was the Highlanders who created the first real opening in the game after Federico Gallego surged down the right flank. The Uruguayan squared the ball back for Ogbeche from the by-line but the Nigerian's rushed shot was some way off target.
 
The Nigerian would not be denied his goal minutes later after an error from Mario Arques. The Jamshedpur midfielder was dispossessed off the ball in his own box by Gallego before Ogbeche showed a brilliant first touch and then toe-poked the ball past a hapless Subrata Paul.
 
The visitors almost hit back immediately after Calvo's intended cross from the left-flank deceived Pawan Kumar before bouncing off the crossbar. At the other end, Ogbeche continued to look dangerous with his quick feet and physical prowess.
 
Ferrando's men began exerting a greater control on the ball as the half progressed but always seemed to run out of ideas in the final third.
 
Just seconds after Redeem Tlang had forced Subrata into an excellent save, the hosts shot themselves in the foot with Komorski picking up a red card at the stroke of half-time. The Croatian defender swung his elbow wildly towards Pablo Morgado's face and the referee had no hesitation in giving him the marching orders after consulting with the linesman.
 
Come the second period, Eelco Schattorie sacrificed Nikhil Kadam to bring on defender Gurwinder Singh. Cesar Ferrando, meanwhile, threw caution to the winds by taking off defender Pratik Chaudhari for Michael Soosairaj.
 
It took just four minutes for the visitors to make their man advantage count after Reagan Singh failed to clear the ball. Morgado stole the ball before delivering a delightful cross from the left to which Farukh applied a sumptuous first-time finish with his left foot, leaving Pawan Kumar no chance.
 
With the game meandering towards the 70th minute mark, Tim Cahill was finally brought on as Ferrando went for the kill. The visitors put bodies forward in numbers with balls being launched into the box constantly but the cutting edge was missing.
 
Soosairaj came closest to taking the lead for the visitors but the 10 men of NorthEast hung on dearly for a precious draw.
 
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Five killed, several injured in Assam road mishap

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At least five people, including two women, died and several others were injured when their bus fell into a water body on Saturday.
 
Police said the incident took place at a remote place called Mukalmua in Assam's Nalbari district.
 
"The bus was travelling from Guwahati to Nalbari. However, the bus driver lost control and it fell into a water body near Adabari in Mukalmua area," police said.
 
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4 injured in Assam blast, ULFA faction claims responsibility

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An explosion ripped through the bustling Pan Bazaar area here on Saturday injuring at least four people, police said.
 
The explosion took place near Sukreswar Temple in the city's Pan Bazaar area that houses the High Court building, the Deputy Commissioner's Office and other important buildings.
 
"Four persons received minor injuries in the explosion. They were rushed to the Mahendra Mohan Choudhry hospital and their condition is stated to be stable," said Guwahati Joint Commissioner of Police Diganta Barah.
 
Barah ruled out the possibility of a bomb explosion and said that the police were trying to ascertain the exact cause of the blast.
 
A Paresh Barua-led faction of the proscribed United Liberation Front of Asom has claimed responsibility for the blast.
 
"This explosion was directed against those opposing NRC update and against those organisations supporting settling of Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam. This explosion is to warn the anti-Assam forces," Barua told local TV channels. 
 
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MHA clarification to Assam on Indian citizenship status of Gorkhas living in state

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The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification to Assam Government on the citizenship status of members of the Gorkha Community living in the State as per the Foreigners Act, 1946.
 
This followed a representation from the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union to the Union Home Minister  Rajnath Singh recently as some cases of members of Gorkha community living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.
 
In a communication to the State Government, MHA listed various provisions to obviate the difficulties faced by Gorkhas in the matter of Indian citizenship. The letter dated September 24, 2018, stated that the members of the Gorkha community who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or those who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization in accordance with the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 are not  “foreigners” in terms of section 2 (a) of The Foreigners Act, 1946 as well as The Registration of Foreigners Act,1939. 
 
Therefore, such cases will not be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, it said.
 
Any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality and who has arrived in India by land or air over the Nepal border even without a passport or visa and staying in India for any length of time will not be treated as an illegal migrant if he/she is in possession of any of the identity documents, namely, the Nepalese Passport, Nepalese Citizenship Certificate, voter Identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal, limited validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India when deemed necessary.
 
For children between age group of 10-18 years, photo ID issued by the principal of the school, if accompanied by parents having valid travel documents is sufficient. No such document is required for children below the age group of 10 years, the communication added citing provisions of India-Nepal Treaty signed in 1950.
 
It added that the cases of members of Gorkha community falling within the parameters mentioned earlier should not be referred to the Foreigner Tribunals for an opinion as to whether the person is a “foreigner” within the meaning of The Foreigners Act, 1946.
 
The communication clarified that only those individuals, who have come from specified territories i.e. territories included in Bangladesh immediately before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, to the State of Assam, and are not Indian citizens, can be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.
 
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MHA clarification to Assam on Indian citizenship status of Gorkhas living in state

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The Ministry of Home Affairs has issued a clarification to Assam Government on the citizenship status of members of the Gorkha Community living in the State as per the Foreigners Act, 1946.
 
This followed a representation from the All Assam Gorkha Students’ Union to the Union Home Minister  Rajnath Singh recently as some cases of members of Gorkha community living in Assam were referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.
 
In a communication to the State Government, MHA listed various provisions to obviate the difficulties faced by Gorkhas in the matter of Indian citizenship. The letter dated September 24, 2018, stated that the members of the Gorkha community who were Indian citizens at the time of commencement of the Constitution, or those who are Indian citizens by birth, or those who have acquired Indian citizenship by registration or naturalization in accordance with the provisions of The Citizenship Act, 1955 are not  “foreigners” in terms of section 2 (a) of The Foreigners Act, 1946 as well as The Registration of Foreigners Act,1939. 
 
Therefore, such cases will not be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals, it said.
 
Any member of the Gorkha community holding Nepalese nationality and who has arrived in India by land or air over the Nepal border even without a passport or visa and staying in India for any length of time will not be treated as an illegal migrant if he/she is in possession of any of the identity documents, namely, the Nepalese Passport, Nepalese Citizenship Certificate, voter Identification card issued by the Election Commission of Nepal, limited validity photo-identity certificate issued by Nepalese Mission in India when deemed necessary.
 
For children between age group of 10-18 years, photo ID issued by the principal of the school, if accompanied by parents having valid travel documents is sufficient. No such document is required for children below the age group of 10 years, the communication added citing provisions of India-Nepal Treaty signed in 1950.
 
It added that the cases of members of Gorkha community falling within the parameters mentioned earlier should not be referred to the Foreigner Tribunals for an opinion as to whether the person is a “foreigner” within the meaning of The Foreigners Act, 1946.
 
The communication clarified that only those individuals, who have come from specified territories i.e. territories included in Bangladesh immediately before commencement of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 1985, to the State of Assam, and are not Indian citizens, can be referred to the Foreigners Tribunals.
 
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