M A I N   N E W S

10 killed in Assam
N-E bandh hits life

Guwahati, October 5
At least 10 persons were killed and 18 injured, some of them critically, when suspected NDFB militants indiscriminately fired upon market-goers at Bilashi Para in Dhubri district today. According to official sources, the incident took place around 7.30 pm.

The militants, numbering about seven, came on bicycles and started indiscriminate firing, which lasted for about 15 minutes.

Senior police officials have rushed to Dhubri and Kokrajhar.

The current spate of violence in the North-East has claimed at least 80 lives so far.

Amidst high security alert, a 12-hour north-east bandh called by an apex students’ group demanding withdrawal of controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Act today passed off peacefully but normal life was paralysed in five out of the seven states of the region.

The shutdown called by the North-East Students’ Organization (NESO) failed to evoke any response in Tripura and its impact was mixed in Meghalaya.

Life came to a standstill in Assam as shops and business establishments, banks and other financial institutions, schools and colleges were closed in all districts.

Attendance in government offices was thin while only government vehicles were seen on the roads.

Flights from Lokapriya Gopinath Bordoloi International Airport were rescheduled while trains left Guwahati station only after the bandh was over.

All Assam Students Union, a constituent of NESO, called the bandh in the state to protest the spurt in violence in the state as well as to press for withdrawal of the Act.

The bandh also hit normal life in Nagaland where 26 people were killed in twin blasts.

Life was also crippled in Manipur, which witnessed for more than a month violence-marred agitation for withdrawal of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act following the rape and death of a woman allegedly in the custody of Assam Rifles.

In Arunachal Pradesh, the bandh was marked by rallies and road shows by political parties on the last day of campaigning for the October 7 state Assembly polls.

In Mizoram, Mizo Students Federation, a NESO constituent, called off the bandh almost two hours ahead of schedule as it was “completely successful.”

The response was mixed in Meghalaya with life affected in capital Shillong and some districts and near normal in others.

Tripura proved to be the exception with no effect on life in the state due to the bandh. — UNI, PTI


Govt unlikely to accept US offer of FBI help
Rajeev Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 5
The United States has offered the FBI expertise to the Government of India to investigate the series of terrorist bomb blasts in Assam and Nagaland, but New Delhi is unlikely to accept the offer.

Diplomatic sources in the US Embassy here told The Tribune this evening that US Ambassador David C Mulford made this offer in writing to the state governments of Assam and Nagaland as well as the Government of India.

Sources said Mr Mulford had yesterday written separate letters to Chief Ministers of Assam and Nagaland, Mr Tarun Gogoi and Mr Neiphiu Rio, respectively. In these letters, the US Ambassador condemned the terrorist violence and offered on behalf of his government assistance, “if required”, of Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to identify the perpetrators of the recent terrible bombings.

The American Ambassador wrote a separate letter to Government of India yesterday conveying a similar offer. The American diplomat said the US Embassy had not received any response from Government of India till this evening.

There have been 17 terrorist incidents in Assam in past three days in which 35 people were killed and about one hundred injured. In Nagaland two terrorist incidents took place on October 2 in which 24 people were killed and at least 80 injured.

A top source in the Government of India declined to answer whether the American offer of FBI help in investigations would be accepted or not, saying only the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) was competent to take a decision on it.

A highly-placed source of the MHA, when asked the same question by this correspondent, quipped: “The Assam Police has been investigating the Gandhi Jayanti onwards terrorist incidents on their own and have not even asked for help from any Central agency. You can draw your own conclusions from this.”

This is probably the first time when the US has offered to New Delhi the FBI expertise to investigate terrorist incidents in which no American interests were targeted and no American was harmed.

The last time the US had made a similar offer was a couple of years ago when the American Centre in Kolkata was targetted by terrorists. The offer had generated a lot of heat and dust, particularly from the Left parties, and the then NDA government was pressured not to allow FBI sleuths to investigate the incident.

This time too it is highly unlikely that the UPA government, which has come under severe attack from its Left allies on the issues of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and Foreign Experts’ presence on the Planning Commission panels, would accept the US offer for FBI help, sources disclosed.

The matter was discussed at length at high levels by the UPA government today.Back


Manorama case: Army moves HC

New Delhi, October 5
With its probe into the rape and killing charge of Manipuri woman Manorama Devi almost hitting the dead-end, the Army has moved the Guwahati High Court to seek its intervention to allow matching of DNA samples of 33 Assam Rifles personnel to prove their complicity in the case, if any.

In the appeal in the court yesterday, the Army asked it to accord sanction to carry out the DNA sample matching following observations made that some semen stains were found on the petticoat of the slain woman.

The new move by the Army comes in the wake of the Chief Judicial Magistrate of Imphal turning down the request for DNA matching on grounds of jurisidiction.

A spokesman said here that the Army was determined to expeditiously unravel the truth in the case so that if anybody found guilty of misdemeanour or wrong procedure, were suitably punished.— PTIBack


Congress flays Advani’s remarks
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 5
The Congress today said recent incidents of violence in the North-East could be an attempt by vested interests to create fissures in the coalition government at the Centre.

Congress General Secretary Salman Khurshid told mediapersons here that situation in the North-East was serious and the government was taking steps to deal with it firmly.

“It may be an attempt to push and test the new government at the Centre with the hope that fissures can be created in the ruling coalition,” he said.

Mr Khurshid said the government had the resources, including intelligence inputs, to deal with the situation. He said Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was an MP from Assam and the “government understood its responsibility.”

Mr Khurshid took exception to senior BJP leader and former Deputy Prime Minister L K Advani’s remarks in which he accused the UPA government of making mistakes in dealing with terrorism.

He said Home Minister Shivraj Patil had gone to the North-East after talking to Mr Advani. “It (violence in North-East) is an old issue and not just four-week old. He accused the BJP of playing partisan politics in the sensitive north-eastern region.

“We do not believe in playing partisan politics in the sensitive region. We categorically deny charges that governments of Assam and Andhra Pradesh are having links with terrorists,” he said.

Refuting allegations that the UPA government had made mistakes in dealing with the threat of terrorism, he said the people who have taken to guns were to be brought back into the mainstream.

Referring to Congress President Sonia Gandhi’s tour of Maharashtra, Mr Khurshid said it had further improved the prospects of the ruling alliance which was set to “come to power with a comfortable majority.”

Mr Khurshid said that the BJP-Shiv Sena had been forced to give up “communal issues” and seek votes on matters that concern the people.Back


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