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Assam

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.
 
IANS

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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.
 
IANS

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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.
 
IANS
 

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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.
 
IANS
 

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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. 
 
IANS
 

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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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'Village Rockstars' becomes India's official entry to Oscars 2019

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Rima Das' "Village Rockstars", an Assamese movie, has been selected as India's official entry to the Oscars 2019.
 
An all-India jury constituted by Film Federation of India (FFI) under the chairmanship of Kannada producer Rajendra Singh Babu made the announcement at a press conference here on Saturday.
 
Set in Das' own village of Chhaygaon in Assam, "Village Rockstars" is the story of "poor but amazing children" who live a fun-filled life.
 
The film, which had its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and India premiere at the Mumbai Film Festival 2018, also won the Best Feature Film Award at the 65th National Film Awards.
 
The 91st Academy Awards will be held on February 24, 2019.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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Six electrocuted in Assam

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Six people were electrocuted in Assam's Nagaon district on Friday, police said.
 
The incident took place at a fishery in Khatowal area.
 
"The victims were killed immediately as a high voltage electric wire was in the fishery which might have fallen in it the previous day. The electricity board officials however, did not disconnect the electricity, which led to the incident," a police officer said.
 
Following the incident, an angry mob vandalised the residence of an employee of the electricity board holding him responsible.
 
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has ordered a probe into the incident and asked Power Minister Tapan Kumar Gogoi to visit the place.
 
IANS
 
 
 
 

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SpiceJet to connect Hyderabad with Bangkok from October 10

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Low-cost carrier SpiceJet today said it would launch a daily direct flight from Hyderabad to Bangkok with effect from October 10.
 
From the same day, the airline will also introduce a daily direct flight from Hyderabad to Guwahati.
 
The announcement was made in the august presence of Mr. K. T. Rama Rao, Minister for Industry & Commerce, Municipal Administration & Urban Development, ITE&C, Mines, Handloom & Textiles, NRI Affairs, Government of Telangana. 
 
On the occasion, senior SpiceJet officials handed over the first ticket to Mr. Rama Rao, thereby marking the formal announcement of the launch of the new flight service.
 
Ms. Shilpa Bhatia, Chief Sales and Revenue Officer, SpiceJet said, “We are delighted to launch our new flights from Hyderabad. Bangkok has always been one of the most preferred global destinations and the domestic addition reiterates our conviction in the potential of the north-eastern regions. We believe our consistent efforts to connect the regional markets will revolutionise air travel across the country offering convenience for business and leisure travelers alike.”
 
A press release from the airline said SpiceJet is the only Indian carrier to provide direct connectivity between Hyderabad and Bangkok.
 
"The new flights will provide convenience to the airline’s customers traveling from the city, besides enabling them to travel to a host of other cities both on SpiceJet’s domestic as well as international network via multiple direct and onward connections," the release added.
 
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NIA court awards death for 2, life term to 2 others in 2014 killings

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A special court of National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Saturday awarded death sentence to two and life imprisonment to two others in the mass killings triggered by terrorist outfit National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) in 2014.
 
A statement issued by the NIA said that while two accused, Bishnu Narzary alias N Berema and Ajoy Basumutary alias B Buhumbua, have been awarded death penalty, two others, Sanju Bordoloi alias Sibigiri and Nitul Daimary alias D Naihab, have been awarded life imprisonment.
 
Although the court had convicted the four in the case on August 29, the quantum of punishment was pronounced on Saturday.
 
On December 23, 2014, NDFB militants had indiscriminately fired upon villagers of Hatijuli Shantipur village in Sonitpur district of Assam killing six persons instantly and injuring two others.
 
The Assam government had handed over the case to the NIA which registered a case on December 30 the same year under various sections and the Arms Act.
 
A chargesheet was filed against the accused on July 22, 2015.
 
IANS
 

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Minor earthquake shakes Kokrajhar region of Assam

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An earthquake of slight intensity, measuring 4.3 on the Richter scale, shook the Kokrajhar region of Assam late tonight, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.4°N and longitude 90.1°E, occurred at 2253 hours at a focal depth of 10 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
The same area was rocked by a magnitude 5.5 tremor yesterday morning.
 
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Magnitude 5.5 earthquake jolts Kokrajhar region of Assam

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An earthquake of moderate intensity, measuring 5.5 on the Richter scale, jolted the Kokrajhar region of Assam this morning, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) said.
 
The quake, which had its epicentre at latitude 26.4°N and longitude 90.1°E, occurred at 1020 hours at a focal depth of 13 km, an IMD bulletin added.
 
Reports reaching here said the tremors were felt in other parts of Assam as well as in some parts of West Bengal and Bihar.
 
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Assam: Three dead, many missing as boat capsizes in Brahmaputra

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At least three persons, including two college-going girls, were killed and several others were missing after a boat capsized in the Brahmaputra in Assam on Wednesday.
 
The Kamrup Metro district administration confirmed that three bodies have been recovered and said that many people who were on board the machine boat were missing.
 
"The boat was on its way from Fancy Bazar Ghat in Guwahati to Madhyam Khanda in North Guwahati with around 40 passengers and 10 motorcycles on it. 
 
"However, near Aswaklanta island, the boat's engine failed. It later collided with some concrete poles underwater, which are part of a water supply project, and capsized," said a local, adding that while some passengers from the boat to swam to the shore, some others could not.
 
"We have rescued 15 people till now. Three bodies have been recovered. Our search is on to find out more survivors," said a spokesman for the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF).
 
The Brahmaputra is in spate due to monsoon rains in the upper reaches of Arunachal Pradesh.
 
Meanwhile, Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ordered an inquiry into the incident. The Additional Chief Secretary has been told to submit a report "at the earliest".
 
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GAIL awards contract for purchase of pipes for Barauni-Guwahati Natural Gas pipeline

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Public sector natural gas major GAIL (India) Limited has awarded the first contract for the purchase fo 108 km of 24-innch diameter line pipes under the Barauni-Guwahati segement of the Jagdishpur-Haldia & Bokaro-Dhamra Natural Gas Pipeline (JHBDPL) project.
 
The contract for purchase of line pipes of 108 km was awarded to  Ratnamani at a total cost of Rs 125 crore, a press release from GAIL said.
 
Line pipe procurement activities for the rest of the 600 km trunk line upto Guwahati is at an advanced stage of tender process, it said.
 
The Barauni-Guwahati pipeline section, to be executed at a capital outlay of Rs 3,300 crore, is an integral part of the prestigious 3,405 km-long JHBDPL project, popularly known as ‘Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga’, executed by GAIL.
 
It envisages to connect eastern and north-eastern India to the existing natural gas grid. This project is planned to cover eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Odisha and Assam.
 
"JHBDPL project is progressing in full swing and the first phase is scheduled for completion by December, 2018. The project will usher in industrial development in eastern part of India by supplying environmentally clean natural gas to fertilizer units, power plants, refineries, steel processing plants and other industries," the release said.
 
"It will also provide clean energy to households and transportation through the city gas distribution networks enroute the pipeline. City Gas Distribution projects have been commissioned at Varanasi, Bhubaneswar and Cuttack while project activities are under progress at other cities of eastern India," the release added.
 
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Centre delayed NRC citing law and order problem: Congress

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The Congress on Sunday said the Modi government delayed the preparation and publication of Assam's draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) by claiming in the Supreme Court that the process can spread fear of violence among the people and pose law and order problem.
 
Addressing a press conference here, Congress leader Pawan Khera said: "The 'Shah' of lies and the 'Shahenshah of jumlas' tried their best to stall the NRC. The Attorney General used the fear of violence to delay the NRC."
 
He said that the Supreme Court had come down heavily on the government for its excuses to delay the publication of the NRC in Assam. 
 
"The Supreme Court ordered on November 30, 2017, that it is 'sheer inaction' on part of the executive in dragging the matter for over three years and the absence of any justifiable cause to hold back even a partial publication, which led the court to direct the publication of the draft NRC on or before December 31, 2017," the Congress leader said.
 
He said that the Attorney General had submitted that part publication of the draft NRC could result in law and order problem in as much as a large segment of the people would understand that their names have been excluded from the draft.
 
"This makes it clear on how the Modi government made all attempts to stall the process," he said.
 
Demanding an apology from the government to the people of Assam for attempting to stall the NRC, he also sought to know its stand on the Citizenship Amendment Bill.
 
"On the one hand, the government seeks to give citizenship rights through the proposed Citizenship Amendment Bill (2016) to all those who migrated to India before December 31, 2014, and on the other it is playing politics on NRC," he said.
 
Khera also demanded the resignation of Assam Chief Minister Sarbanand Sonowal, saying that he has no right to continue as his party "shamelessly" cheated the people on the NRC issue.
 
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Second wave of floods hits Assam, 90,000 affected

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Close to 90,000 people have been affected in Assam as a second wave of floods hit the state, affecting 153 villages in six districts including Dhemaji, Lakhimpur, Darrang, Golaghat, Sivsagar and Charaideo.
 
The Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) said the floods that have hit the state since June 13 have affected 10.99 lakh people. The state has registered 41 deaths -- 38 in flooding and 3 due to landslides.
 
Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Friday reviewed the flood situation.
 
He has asked the Revenue and Disaster Management department to come up with innovative steps like constructing high-rise structure to give succour to the people who suffer from perennial floods every year.
 
From June 13 to August 3, Assam has had two waves of floods affecting 163 villages and 10.99 lakh people. 
 
Altogether 388 relief camps have been set up and 440 relief distribution centres have been opened to distribute relief items to the affected people.
 
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Rajnath reiterates Assam NRC process fair, opposition sceptical

Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday assured the Rajya Sabha that there will be no discrimination or harassment in the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and reiterated that the entire process has been fair and transparent.
 
NRC draft: No action against those left out, reiterates Rajnath
 
 
Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday assured the Rajya Sabha that there will be no discrimination or harassment in the updation of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam and reiterated that the entire process has been fair and transparent.
 
However, the opposition was not convinced with many MPs asking as to how come an overwhelming 40 lakh people - including former MLAs, defence personnel and those from prominent families - were left out. They also wanted to know the government's future course of action.
 
Responding to a Short Duration Discussion on the issue in the Rajya Sabha, which saw disruptions and adjournments for a couple of days, the Minister said the Central and Assam governments are committed to adding the names of all genuine Indians in the list in a time-bound manner.
 
He said some people with "vested interests" were trying to create an atmosphere of fear by spreading misinformation on the social media regarding the NRC in an attempt to "internationalise" the issue. This should not be done, he said.
 
"I am reiterating that it is not the final NRC. It is just a draft NRC. Adequate opportunity will be provided to everyone for making claims and raising objections. Despite this, if anybody's name remains out of the list, he can approach the Foreigners Tribunal," Singh said.
 
He also assured that there would be no coercive action against anybody in any situation, and added that the entire process was being carried out under Supreme Court's supervision. 
 
"There has been no discrimination, and there will be no discrimination," he said, pointing out that the decision to update it was taken in 2005 by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
 
After the Home Minister had made the statement, Leader of Opposition in the Upper House Ghulam Nabi Azad demanded to know as to how could so many people be left out of the National Register of Citizens (NRC) if there was no discrimination. 
 
"The Home Minister has said the process is entirely fair and objective. If that is so, how come persons like a former Indian Air Force personnel is left out? If the entire process has been fair, what is left to be done then?" Azad asked.
 
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Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek O'Brien questioned the "dichotomy" over the statements made by the Home Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) chief Amit Shah.
 
"This is classic double-speak. What is the real voice of the government -- What the Home Minister says here or what the BJP President says outside?" O'Brien said.
 
Samajwadi Party leader Javed Ali Khan, too, asked how could people like former legislators and the family of former President of India Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed be left out of the NRC in Assam.
 
Nationalist Congress Party MP Majeed Memon demanded from the Home Minister as to what would happen to those left out even after the revision of the draft list.
 
Congress MP from Assam Ripun Bora argued that the guidelines for inclusion in the NRC should be "modified and simplified" and the last date -- September 27 -- for submission of claims needs to be extended.
 
Communist Party of India-Marxist member T.K. Rangarajan too asked for extension of the deadline so that people get sufficient opportunity to get their names included.
 
Members also expressed concern at the way some people and a section of the media were labelling the 40 lakh left-out people as "infiltrators". 
 
IANS
 

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Most TMC leaders leave Silchar, Bengali groups slam TMC

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The last two members of a Trinamool Congress delegation which arrived in Silchar in Assam's Barak Valley on Thursday and were confined to the airport are likely to leave on Friday.
 
Cachar Deputy Commissioner Lakshmanan S. on Friday said that while six of them had left for Kolkata, two others were still in the airport waiting for their flight to Delhi.
 
The eight-member delegation that flew into Silchar on Thursday to assess the situation after the publication of the draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) was confined to a room in Silchar airport.
 
The delegation was tipped to meet people in Silchar. They were not allowed to go outside the airport on the ground that orders prohibiting the assembly of four or more people were in force in the town.
 
The six Trinamool MPs and two MLAs from West Bengal were also supposed to visit Guwahati.
 
Meanwhile, the All Assam Bengali Yuba Chatra Parishad has condemned the TMC's stand over the NRC and accused West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee of making statements to gain political mileage.
 
"None of the Hindu Bengali in Assam is threatened for non-inclusion of their names in the NRC. This is just a draft NRC and time has been given to all genuine Indian citizens to enter their names in the final NRC," the group's chief adviser Sukumar Biswas told IANS.
 
"There is peace in Assam and no one is worried. Mamata didi did not stand with us when we required her. However, now she has sent her party members to aggravate the situation," Biswas said. He said no Hindu Bengali in Assam supported the TMC stand.
 
IANS
 

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Those left out of draft Assam NRC can vote, says EC

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The Election Commission on Wednesday made it clear that those who have been excluded from the draft National Register of Citizens in Assam can vote if they qualify under electoral laws even if the NRC is not finalized before the Lok Sabha polls next year.
 
"Why not. Suppose I am not in NRC but if I fulfil the criteria under the Representation of People Act -- that is I am a citizen of India, 18 years of age and ordinarily resident of that area -- I can be a voter," Chief Election Commission O.P. Rawat told the media.
 
He said the voter enrollment process is not connected to the NRC although the poll panel was closely coordinating in Assam to ensure that no one is left out and eligible persons are included in the electoral roll for the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
 
"Election Commission (EC) voter enrollment exercise is independent of NRC though they are working in synchronization. The final electoral roll to be published on January 4, 2019, will be used for general elections," Rawat said.
 
"The Election Commision of India with its objective of 'no voter to be left behind' has asked Chief Electoral Officer in Assam to coordinate closely with state coordinator NRC so as to ensure that all eligible persons are included in electoral roll. This way a final electoral roll will be published on January 4, 2019 to be used for general elections 2019."
 
He said it was a draft NRC and in the next one month all these 40 lakh individuals, who have not been included, will be informed about the reasons for their exclusion.
 
Rawat was speaking amid apprehensions that those who have been dropped out of the NRC list would not be eligible to vote.
 
IANS
 

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Assam Citizens Register row snowballs

The controversy over the NRC in Assam snowballed further on Tuesday with BJP President Amit Shah claiming that the NDA government had the courage to do what the Congress lacked on identifying foreigners as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned of a "bloodbath and civil war" over the BJP's "attempt to divide people".
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The controversy over the National Register of Citizens (NRC) in Assam snowballed further on Tuesday with BJP President Amit Shah claiming that the NDA government had the courage to do what the Congress lacked on identifying foreigners as West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee warned of a "bloodbath and civil war" over the BJP's "attempt to divide people".
 
The Rajya Sabha was paralysed on the issue while the Supreme Court stepped in to douse fears that there will be any coercive action on the basis of the final draft that was published on Monday that left out of more than 40 lakh people from the NRC. 
 
The issue rocked the proceedings of the Rajya Sabha with the opposition accusing the ruling party of playing divisive politics ahead of parliamentary elections.
 
Shah took on the opposition to say that the NRC was a promise made in the Assam Accord signed by late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
 
"What we have done is in accordance with the Supreme Court directions. We have shown the courage to do what you could not," he told the opposition members, adding the government was clear on carrying out the process of identifying infiltrators.
 
Shah, whose remarks accusing the opposition of trying to protect the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants disrupted the Rajya Sabha and forced an adjournment of the House for the day, later dared other parties to clear their stand on Bangladeshi infiltrators.
 
He said no Indian has been left out of the list. He said the entire process of the NRC was done under the supervision of the apex court and alleged that Congress did not "have the guts to prepare the list and send back the infiltrators".
 
Noting that those not in the draft NRC were suspected foreigners, he said: "They will have the opportunity to prove their citizenship." 
 
Shah accused Banerjee of indulging in "vote bank politics".
 
In the Rajya Sabha, opposition leaders asked the government to address the NRC issue on humanitarian basis.
 
The House took up a discussion on NRC suspending the Question Hour. 
 
Keeping up her attack on the BJP, Banerjee, who addressed a conclave of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, accused the BJP of trying to divide the people for the sake of votes.
 
"Only to win the election, only to win the battle, people cannot be victimised. Now they say these people cannot vote also. If they don't vote, if their list doesn't exist, don't you think they will lose their identity," Banerjee said. There were also people from Bihar, Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu whose names were not in the NRC, she added. 
 
"The situation cannot be tolerated. There will be a civil war, bloodbath in the country," she warned.
 
The Chief Minister alleged that the exercise was being carried out with a political motive. 
 
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In Guwahati, former Assam Chief Minsters Prafulla Kumar Mahanta and Tarun Gogoi slammed Banerjee.
 
Mahanta said the complete draft NRC was not against the Bengalis and Muslims. "Mamata Banerjee is trying to use the issue for political gains, which is not justified." 
 
Gogoi advised Banerjee to rather concentrate on West Bengal politics, saying "there is no question of harassment of genuine Indian citizens in the name of NRC updation".
 
In Lucknow, BSP supremo Mayawati slammed the Modi government over the NRC. 
 
Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said the final draft of NRC cannot be the basis for any coercive action by any authority. 
 
"What has been published is a complete draft NRC. It can't be the basis for any action by any authority," said a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal pointed to the serious human problem.
 
The court was informed by the Attorney General that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) giving the modalities for dealing with the claims and procedures will be prepared by the concerned ministry by August 15.
 
Fixing August 16 as next date of hearing, the bench observed that the SOP must be fair.
 
The draft NRC would be open for inspection till August 7. Thereafter, from August 8, training of officials to deal with the claims and objection would commence.
 
The filing of the claims and the objections would commence from August 30 and will last till September 28.
 
IANS
 

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Rajya Sabha adjourned till 12 noon on Assam NRC issue

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The Rajya Sabha was on Tuesday adjourned for an hour, till 12 noon, minutes after it met.
 
As soon as the House convened, Trinamool Congress leader Derek O'Brien raised the issue of National Register of Citizens of India (NRC) of Assam that excludes over 40 lakh names.
 
The issue had led to repeated adjournments on Monday, too.
 
Chairman M. Venkaiah Naidu said that Home Minister Rajnath Singh would give a statement on the issue in the upper House.
 
However, as the members persisted, Naidu adjourned the House till 12 noon.
 
Earlier, before the proceedings commenced, members of Trinamool Congress, Samajwadi Party, Rashtriya Janata Dal, Telugu Desam Party, Aam Aadmi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Janata Dal-Secular among others staged protests in front of the Gandhi statue in Parliament House premises against the Assam NRC.
 
IANS
 
 

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Draft NRC created massive insecurity in Assam: Rahul

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Congress President Rahul Gandhi on Monday said the "tardy" release of Assam's draft National Register of Citizens (NRC) that excluded more than 40 lakh applicants has created a "massive insecurity" in the state.
 
"There are reports pouring in from all corners of Assam, of Indian citizens finding their names missing in the draft NRC, creating massive insecurity in the state," Gandhi said in a Facebook post.
 
Noting the NRC was initiated by the previous UPA government under Manmohan Singh to fulfil the commitment made in the Assam Accord of 1985, he said: "However, the manner in which this exercise has been undertaken by the BJP governments at the Centre and in Assam leaves much to be desired....
 
"Clearly, after spending close to Rs 1,200 crore, the execution of this critical and highly sensitive exercise has been tardy. The government must move swiftly to resolve this crisis." 
 
Further, Gandhi appealed to all Congress party workers to maintain peace and help those against whom "injustice" is done in the draft NRC irrespective of their religion, caste, gender, linguistic group or political affiliation.
 
After the release of draft NRC, the Central government has urged people not to panic as "ample opportunity" will be given to the applicants if they file claims and objections between August 30 and September 28 before the final list is prepared. 
 
The process to finalise the list will be done by December 31, 2018.
 
IANS
 

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