December 17, 2017
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Around 20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam, which amounts to roughly around 7% of total Assam’s population.


Guwahati : The Centre’s decision to regularise entry and stay of non-Muslim refugees from Bangladesh and Pakistan, those who have entered India due to religious persecution, has bolstered the hopes of Assam’s regional party Asom Gana Parishad (AGP) to make a comeback to the centre-stage of Assam politics. The decision has inflamed sentiments in Assam and AGP eyes reaping benefits from it just a year ahead of the next assembly polls. With illegal Bangladeshi immigration always a burning issue in Assam, the present decision of the central government is being seen by many as against the interests of Assam. Many students’ and youth organisations have hit the streets in Assam opposing the Centre’s decision. They don’t want to let any illegal Bangladeshi, be it Hindu or Muslim, stay on Assam’s soil. The Assam Accord, which was signed in 1985 and brought an end to six-year long bloody anti-foreigners agitation in the state, had categorically stated that those who have entered the state after midnight of March 24, 1971 would be branded as illegal foreigner and would be expelled out of Assam. Many in Assam see the move as a violation of the Accord. “The Central government has decided, on humanitarian considerations, to exempt Bangladeshi and Pakistani nationals belonging to minority communities who have entered into India on or before 31st December, 2014 from the relevant provisions of rules and order made under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946, in respect of their entry and stay in India without such documents or after the expiry of those documents, as the case may be,” Union home ministry press communiqué dated September 7. The Central government has accordingly issued two notifications in the Official Gazette under the Passport (Entry into India) Act, 1920 and the Foreigners Act, 1946. The Centre’s decision is also seen as a move to help the BJP get the Hindu Bengali votes in the state elections, which is due next year. Vying to have a share of the pie too, the state’s congress party, which has a history of siding with the Muslim migrants from Bangladesh, too has welcomed the decision. Hindu Bengali voters are in significant numbers in three Barak Valley districts in south Assam. The AGP, which has been fast fading out of Assam’s political scenario, has seized the development to position itself as champion of the cause of Assamese. AGP sees that if exploited properly, the Centre&rsquos decision could be turned into an advantage for the party. It wants to cash in on people’s anti-Bangladeshi sentiments, the same sentiments that had once brought it to power. The party, which was formed with the culmination of the Assam Agitation, contested its maiden assembly election in 1985 and won a massive electoral mandate, riding on anti-Bangladeshi sentiment. However, there had been a gradual decline in its support base since then due to its failure in solving the vexed illegal Bangladeshi immigration problem. It again formed government in Assam between 1996 and 2001 and thereafter electoral defeats became routine in the fate of the party. So harsh has been the fall in the electoral graph of AGP that it was relegated to fourth position in Assam Assembly in 2011. In 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party drew a complete blank. From sit in demonstrations to protest marches to hunger strikes, the party is now trying every trick in the book to impress upon the Assamese-speaking people make an electoral comeback. “We will not accept this decision at any cost. This is against the interests of Assam. This is against the Assam Accord. If we don’t oppose now, the time is not far when Assamese-speaking people will become minority in Assam,” said Atul Bora, president of AGP. To drum up support, the party has been organising protest marches and sit in demonstrations at several places in Upper Assam, which was once its stronghold. The party says there are around 20 lakh Hindu Bangladeshis in Assam, which amounts to roughly around 7% of total Assam’s population.

Assam Has Second Highest Interest in IS Activities, Police on Watch,Police hint ISIS interest in Assam raising the alarm to be alert and cautious


Staff Correspondent, GUWAHATI : After Jammu and Kashmir, Assam has the most interest in the extremist militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Assam police are now keeping a strict watch on internet traffic in the state. A national survey by an intelligence agency has showed the second largest volume of internet traffic related to ISIS was from Assam, after Jammu and Kashmir. The state police say it is not just casual interest. “That kind of interest is a very small percentage,” said state Director General of Police Khagen Sarma. “Hits in the internet photos of ISIS is very high in Assam”. Responding to queries on the global terror outfit’s appeal in the state, Mr Sarma, however, said there are no ISIS members in Assam so far. But the state Criminal Investigation Department and the National Technical Research Organisation were monitoring the activities of the ISIS and checking whether any cyber cells have been opened for recruitment. The NTRO is a technical intelligence agency under the National Security Adviser in the Prime Minister’s Office. According to Assam police sources, people from the urban areas in Assam are accessing more ISIS content on internet. This is unlike the national trend, in which most clicks come from rural areas. Guwahati, sources said, was among the top five Indian cities in terms of internet access to ISISI content. The growing number of people from Assam accessing ISIS material on the internet also corresponds to the growth of Islamic Jihadi network in the state, Mr Sarma said. Over the last few months, 24 Jihadi terror suspects have been arrested in the state and a massive amount of arms and explosives have been seized. “There is a design to it,” the DGP told RASHTRIYA KHABAR Guwahati “While the ethnic insurgency is at bay, fundamentalist forces might try to fill the vacuum. We have input. Thus we are keeping a strong vigil. The arrests indicate that Jihadi groups are setting up module.” Both Jamat-Ul-Mujahidden of Bangladesh (JMB) and the Harkat-Ul-Mujahideen (HUM) have opened up sleeper cells in the state, he said.The Assam police are keeping a close watch on the extremist group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria which has generated a lot of interest in the State going by the “hits in the internet photos of ISIS,” DGP Khagen Sarma said on Tuesday. On being reminded that the hits on the internet may be out of curiosity about the ISIS, he said, “That kind of interest is a very small percentage.” Recent media reports quoting the findings of a national survey by an intelligence agency showed the second largest volume of internet traffic related to ISIS was from Assam after Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Sarma, however, said while responding to queries on the global terror outfit’s threat to the state or its appeal, that he had not actually seen anybody from the ISIS in Assam so far.

Cattle smuggling to Bangladesh on the rise


By Bhupen Goswami , GUWAHATI : Cattle smuggling through the porous India-Bangladesh border in the Dhubri district is on the rise. In the latest case, a smuggler was apprehended and 21 head of cattle were seized in Bairere village from border area of the district on Monday. The market for smuggled cattle is thriving as a cow that costs over Rs 30,000 here can earn double the sum if one sells it to vendors across the border illegally. A source said the demand for calves has also shot up recently. A medium-sized calf worth Rs 25,000 can be sold at Rs 40,000 on the black market. Over 16,100 cattle have been seized in the Dhubri sector in Falakata this year. Security forces have seized large herds in Dhubri owing to the porous India-Bangladesh border in the district.Cattle smuggling to Bangladesh continues unabated with the Border Security Force (BSF) and state police seizing over 23,700 head of cattle this year alone. “This illegal trade has become so lucrative that cattle from Haryana, UP, Bihar and Chhattisgarh are brought to Assam for this purpose. Trucks loaded with cattle enter the state through the Srirampur interstate check-gate and are transported via the Puthimari-Hazirhat-Fakirganj route. The trucks are unloaded at specific points near the Assam-Bengal border in Dhubri. Agents take charge of the cattle and use lanes and bylanes to reach NH-31, avoiding the Sagolia interstate check-post,” a source said. The market for smuggled cattle is thriving as a cow that costs over Rs 30,000 here can earn double the sum if one sells it to vendors across the border illegally. A source said the demand for calves has also shot up recently. A medium-sized calf worth Rs 25,000 can be sold at Rs 40,000 on the black market. Over 16,100 cattle have been seized in the Dhubri sector, 6,700 in Cooch Behar and over 900 in Falakata this year. Security forces have seized large herds in Dhubri owing to the porous India-Bangladesh border in the district. Dhubri Police suspect that Muslim fundamentalist outfits support the illegal trade. “Last year, Assam Police arrested at least 17 people for having links with Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB). During investigation, it was found that some of the arrested linkmen possessed fake Indian currency notes. Some of them had previous history of being cattle couriers, too,” an Assam Police officer said. Usually herds of around 30 cows are tied together and pushed into the river at night. The animals swim across the border where couriers take charge of them. They identify the animals by following a special number stamped on them.

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5. Staff Reporter: B.G. Kayastha
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