Bijni toll gate reopens amid call for NH31 repair

Bijni toll gate reopens amid call for NH31 repair


Assam transport minister Chandan Brahma on Thursday reopened the Bijni toll gate on National Highway 31 in lower Assam’s Chirang district.

The toll gate, under the National Highway Authorities of India (NHAI), remained closed since 2015 because of protests from various organisations, mainly the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS). Most of the KMSS leaders, including its adviser Akhil Gogoi, are behind bars for participating at the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests. A Gurgaon-based private company has been given the contract of toll collection. “The revenue from the toll gate will help maintain the highway,” said Brahma after inaugurating the toll gate.

Altogether Assam has five toll gates. With the opening of the Bijni toll gate, Assam government seems to have hinted at its cooperation to reopen the remaining four. Union road transport and highways minister Nitin Gadkari last year sought the Assam government’s help to reopen the toll gates.

Cabinet minister Chandra Mohan Patowary had recently said the toll gates would be reopened. “If toll gates are not opened, maintenance of highways is impossible,” he added.

From now on, light motor vehicles will have to pay Rs 70 for one way to ply through Bijni toll gate and Rs 105 for both ways, light commercial vehicles and minibuses will be charged Rs 115 for one way and Rs 175 for both ways. Trucks and buses will have to pay Rs 240 and Rs 360 for one way and both ways respectively. Some vehicle owners were seen expressing dissatisfaction over the “high” toll.

Expressing his displeasure, secretary of Koch Rajbongshi Mohasabha Biswajit Ray said: “It is not right to open a toll gate when the national highway is not properly maintained. National Highway 31 has potholes and does not have trees on the divider. Besides, if local youths are not employed at the toll gate and the road is not maintained properly, a conflict may arise.”

The NHAI authorities earlier expressed their will to reopen the toll gates from this month.

In July last year it tried to reopen the Raha toll gate in central Assam’s Nagaon district but the decision was kept on hold in view of the publication of the complete draft of the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

The Asom Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad, (AJYCP), an organisation which had protested reopening of the Raha toll gate on National Highway 37, on Thursday reiterated its opposition to any move to reopen the Roha toll gate, saying the construction of the highway is still incomplete.

“The construction of NH37 is incomplete. There is no side protection on the highway. There are no trees on the dividers,” AJYCP general secretary Palash Changmai said.

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Assam govt in wait-and-watch mode

Assam govt in wait-and-watch mode.

The Assam government has been analysing the statements of Ulfa (Independent) chief Paresh Barua, who recently said the outfit would join talks only if they are held in an atmosphere of trust and sovereignty is the “one-point agenda” on the table.

A day after sealing the Bodo Accord, finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday invited Barua to join the peace talks.

Subsequently, the Ulfa (I) chief, in a telephonic interview to a local news channel, said: “We are demanding sovereignty and that is the one point agenda for us. We want talks in a positive atmosphere with the one-point agenda. The government should be sincere. We don’t even need to go to Delhi, we can talk in Assam.”

Sarma said on Thursday, “We have already invited him to join the peace process. But this is not easy as he is demanding talks based on sovereignty and it will be a complex process. We have received the media reports and the statements he made and currently the state government is analysing them. His statement had some ‘positive’ hints and we are going to share the details when the Prime Minister and home minister visit Assam.”

Formed in 1979 with the aim of creating a “sovereign Assam”, Ulfa is the biggest militant outfit of the state. When Ulfa chairman Arabinda Rajkhowa joined the peace process in 2011 with his loyalists, Barua stayed back as the Centre ruled out talks on the issue of “sovereign Assam”.

On the sidelines of the surrender ceremony of NDFB factions here on Thursday, Union home joint secretary (Northeast), Satyendra Garg, said the government was hopeful and positive developments are around the corner.

Asked whether the government was ready to talk on “sovereignty”, Garg said, “We only talk to those who agree to abide by the Constitution. However, we must be optimistic. Who had thought that the Bodo militancy issue would be addressed so quickly? There are many positive developments that happened in the last six months and more are in the pipeline.”

He said peace parleys with the pro-talks faction of Ulfa had already covered most of the issues. “For a fruitful solution, we also want Ulfa (I) to come onboard. We are working on it and the entire peace process will be over in a few months,” he added.

Reacting to reports of the government trying to bring Barua to the peace table before Rongali Bihu celebrations in April, Garg said, “You can have speculation but we don’t discuss such stuff till the outcome is achieved. But we want to make things happen fast.”

Sources said the reactions of Sarma and Garg suggested that the government was approaching the ticklish issue of sovereignty with an “open mind”. They said similar reactions by Barua to talks offer in the past had seen the government summarily ruling out dialogue on the issue of sovereignty but no side is “jumping the gun”, fuelling hope of a breakthrough which “will be complex but not impossible”.

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Plea to lift all cases on NDFB men

Plea to lift all cases on NDFB men

Rebel-turned-Bodoland Territorial Council (BTC) chief Hagrama Mohilary on Thursday sought withdrawal of all cases against members of NDFB factions who laid down their arms before Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal.

Altogether 1,615 cadres of four NDFB factions surrendered here in accordance with the recently signed Bodo Accord. The day of the surrender ceremony was selected to coincide with the death anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.

“It’s important that the government considers the cases registered against these cadres who have decided to join the mainstream. I also want to assure that the authority will take necessary steps but it may take time. Even my cases were withdrawn two years after I became the BTC chief,” Mohilary said. He was the chief of Bodo Liberation Tigers before joining the mainstream in 2003.

All Bodo Students’ Union (Absu) president Pramod Boro, a signatory of the accord, said: “From today, these men will try to live dignified and normal lives. Therefore, I would like to request the state government to consider the criminal cases registered against them.”

The four NDFB factions which signed the pact are led by Ranjan Daimary, Gobinda Basumatary, Dhiren Boro and B. Saoraigwra. Of the surrendered militants, 836 are from NDFB (Progressive), 579 of NDFB (Ranjan) and 200 of NDFB (Saoraigwra). They also laid down around 178 sophisticated weapons, including AK-series, sniper, Heckler & Koch and SLR rifles, ammunition and explosives.

Welcoming the cadres, Sonowal said, “A comprehensive rehabilitation policy will be formulated for providing employment opportunities to the surrendered militants so they could make meaningful contribution to the nation-building process. I urge them to work for all-round development of BTC and Assam.”

Finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said all measures for the rehabilitation of the surrendered militants would be taken so they do not take up arms again. “The state government will sit with the leaders of all four factions and chalk out a proper rehabilitation scheme for the surrendered cadres,” he said. The state government would table a new Bodo-Kachari Autonomous Council bill in the next Assembly session to facilitate full autonomy to Bodos living outside the present BTC, he added.

According to the treaty, the criminal cases registered for non-heinous crimes shall be withdrawn. However, cases registered in connection with heinous crimes shall be reviewed on case-by-case basis.

Sarma said Prime Minister Narendra Modi would visit Kokrajhar on February 7 to take part in the ceremony to celebrate the signing of the peace agreement. In a series of tweets on Thursday, Modi said, “Bodo friends joining us on path of peace sends a clear message that solution to issues is possible when we leave path of violence & repose faith in democracy & Constitution. I welcome my Bodo friends to the mainstream. We are committed to ensure development of Bodo areas. The five-decade-old Bodo issue finds resolution on the Punyatithi of Pujya Bapu today.”

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The luminous lantern flower glows again in Assam

The luminous lantern flower glows again in Assam

Alantern is shining in Assam after 145 years.

Researchers from the botany department of Gauhati University have spotted Ceropegia lucida wall, commonly known as the luminous lantern flower, in Golaghat district of Upper Assam.

It was first found by R.L. Keenan, an employee of the Royal Botanic Garden, in June 1874, in Cachar after which it was neither collected nor reported from anywhere within the state. It was categorised as “regionally extinct” as it was not located in its site of occurrence.

Debolina Dey, a researcher in the department of botany, Gauhati University, said the luminous lantern flower appears to be a bright and illuminated lantern in the dark. The other researchers are Manash Baruah (research scholar), Nilakshee Devi (head of the department, department of botany) and Jitendra Nath Borah, the executive president of the All Sanchi Growers Association of Assam.

The team has reported the sighting in the current issue of Journal of Threatened Taxa. The flower was found during a recent survey in Golaghat district from August to October 2018, when the researchers came across many interesting plant specimens. On consultation with the existing literature and herbarium specimens, it was found to be the Ceropegia lucida wall.

The plant was twining around an abandoned streamside land mass in the district. The twiner grew in close association with bamboo, ferns and other climbers. Only five to six flowers were observed growing in a single population.

“Of 61 taxa reported from India, only a handful, nine taxa to be precise, are found in the Northeast. This can be considered a celebrity plant genus among taxonomists throughout the globe because of its beautiful flowers, rarity in occurrence and mysterious fly-induced pollination systems,” she said.

“Literature says that the flask-shaped flowers belonging to the genus Ceropegia evolve in such a way that small Diptera flies (mainly females) gets lured by the critical structure of the flower. They therefore get trapped inside and cause pollination. Such biological interaction between plants and insects can be a great scope of research for the upcoming ecology and environmental research workers,” she said.

The leaves are bright green and the flowers are 1.2cm to 3.2cm long, greenish or yellowish-white with purple spots. It flowers from September to November and is found in Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh, Cachar and Golaghat in Assam, Khasi Hills in Meghalaya, Sikkim, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, and China.

“The flower is mostly found in the Western Ghats where extensive work has been done. In the Northeast’s hotspots, I believe more taxa should be present in the wild that calls for thorough research work by young workers/taxonomists of the state,” she added.

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Efforts on to solve NE militancy

Efforts on to solve NE militancy

North East Democratic Alliance convener Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday appealed to Ulfa (Independent) and Manipur militant groups to join the peace process.

Appealing to Ulfa (I) chief Paresh Barua and Manipur outfits to come to the negotiating table for the sake of “permanent peace in the Northeast”, Sarma, who is a senior Assam minister, said Union home minister Amit Shah had, during a discussion with him on Monday, clearly expressed the Centre’s willingness to talk to Ulfa (I) if it is ready for negotiations.

The major rebel groups in Manipur included the United National Liberation Front (UNLF), Kangleipak Communist Party (KCP), People’s Revolutionary Party of Kangleipak (Prepak), Revolutionary People’s Front (RPF, the political wing of the People’s Liberation Army) and United National United Peoples Party of Kangleipak (UPPK). UNLF chief ) Rajkumar Meghen, alias Sanayaima, was released after serving his sentence in November.

The peace offer came a day after the government sealed a “historic” Bodo peace deal, signed by all stakeholders, including four NDFB factions, the All Bodo Students’ Union and the Bodoland Territorial Council, and two days after the Ulfa (I) claimed responsibility for five serial blasts in Upper Assam on Republic Day.

Sarma said, “This is the first time that this government is making a public appeal to Ulfa (I) for dialogue. If they are willing for negotiations, the Centre will reciprocate with equal respect to bring permanent peace in Assam and the region.”

Terming the decision of the Bodo militant groups to join the peace talks as “mature”, Sarma said all other militant outfits should shun violence and join the mainstream.

“Almost all the militant outfits in the northeastern states, barring some in Assam and Manipur, are holding peace talks. Hereby, I would like to request Barua and Ulfa (I) to consider engaging in a productive dialogue,” he said.

Ulfa was formed in 1979 with the objective of restoring Assam’s sovereignty. In June 2008, two companies of Ulfa’s 28 battalion announced the first unilateral ceasefire. Subsequently, the outfit’s top leadership was flushed out from Bangladesh and arrested in India. They joined the peace negotiation with the Centre in 2011.

Ulfa (I) was formed in 2012. Attempts have been made in the past to bring Barua to the talks table but his insistence on discussing “Assam’s sovereignty”, the Ulfa (I)’s main demand, has emerged as the main hurdle.

In November 2019, Centre’s interlocutor A.B. Mathur had stated that talks with several militant outfits, including Ulfa (pro-talks), were in the final stage. The Centre-Ulfa parleys have been focusing on the group’s key demands of constitutional safeguard of the rights and identity of the indigenous people of Assam, an honourable solution to the three decades of armed conflict, addressing the problem of illegal migration from Bangladesh and details of the whereabouts of 50 leaders and cadres reported missing from the Ulfa’s erstwhile headquarters in Bhutan during the flush-out operation launched in the neighbouring country in 2005.

Reacting to the peace talks invitation, Ulfa general secretary Anup Chetia, who joined the peace talks in 2016, told The Telegraph, “The peace talks with us has almost reached the final stage. We will be very happy if the Centre manages to bring Paresh Barua to the peace table but his absence should not hinder the ongoing process. Since our discussion has come so far, it should not be delayed waiting for Paresh Barua.”

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China alarmed as virus toll reaches 56

China alarmed as virus toll reaches 56

The ability of the new coronavirus to spread is strengthening and infections could continue to rise, China’s National Health Commission said on Sunday, with nearly 2,000 people in China infected and 56 killed by the disease.

A handful of cases have been reported outside China, including in Thailand, Australia, the US and France, with health authorities around the world racing to prevent a pandemic.

The newly identified coronavirus has created alarm because there are still many unknowns surrounding it, such as how dangerous it is and how easily it spreads between people. It can cause pneumonia, which has been deadly in some cases.

China’s National Health Commission minister Ma Xiaowei said the incubation period for the virus can range from one to 14 days, and the virus is infectious during incubation, which was not the case with the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

SARS was a coronavirus that originated in China and killed nearly 800 people globally in 2002 and 2003.

“According to recent clinical information, the virus’s ability to spread seems to be getting somewhat stronger,” Ma told a packed media briefing on the second day of the Lunar New Year holiday, adding that knowledge of the virus was limited.

Containment efforts, which have thus far included transportation and travel curbs and the cancellation of big events, will be intensified, Ma said.

The virus, believed to have originated late last year in a seafood market in the central Chinese city of Wuhan that was illegally selling wildlife, has spread to cities including Beijing and Shanghai.

Hong Kong has six confirmed cases.

President Xi Jinping said during a politburo meeting on Saturday that China was facing a “grave situation”.

On Sunday, China announced a nationwide ban on the sale of wildlife in markets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms. Wild and often poached animals packed together in Chinese markets are blamed as incubators for viruses to evolve and jump the species barrier to humans.

Snakes, peacocks, crocodiles and other species can also be found for sale via Taobao, an e-commerce website run by Alibaba.

The US state department said it would relocate personnel at its Wuhan consulate to the US and offer a limited number of seats to private US citizens on a January 28 flight to San Francisco.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Sunday the government was working with Chinese authorities to arrange a charter flight for any Japanese nationals who wish to return from Wuhan.

The World Health Organisation this week stopped short of calling the outbreak a global health emergency, but some health experts question whether China can continue to contain the epidemic.

On Sunday, China confirmed 1,975 cases of patients infected with the new coronavirus as of January 25, while the death toll from the virus has risen to 56, state broadcaster CCTV reported.

The outbreak has prompted widening curbs on movements within China, with Wuhan, a city of 11 million, on virtual lockdown, with transport links all but severed except for emergency vehicles.

Health authorities in Beijing urged people not to shake hands but instead salute using a traditional cupped-hand gesture. The advice was sent in a text message that went out to mobile phone users in the city on Sunday morning.

Beijing is also postponing the reopening of the city’s schools and universities after the Lunar New Year holiday, state radio reported. Hong Kong had already delayed the reopening of schools to February 17.

Health officials in Orange County, California, reported that a third case of the new coronavirus had been registered in the US, in a traveller from Wuhan, who was in isolation and in good condition.

On Saturday, Canada declared a first “presumptive” confirmed case in a resident who had returned from Wuhan. Australia confirmed its first four cases.

China has called for transparency in managing the crisis, after a cover-up of the spread of the deadly SARS virus eroded public trust, but officials in Wuhan have been criticised for their handling of the current outbreak.

“People in my hometown all suspect the real infected patients number given by authorities,” said Violet Li, who lives in the Wuhan district where the seafood market is located.

“I go out with a mask twice a day to walk the dog — that’s the only outdoor activity,” she told Reuters by a text message.

The outbreak has overshadowed the start of the Lunar New Year, when hundreds of millions of Chinese travel at home and abroad to be with families, with public events cancelled and many tourist sites shut.

Overall passenger travel declined by nearly 29 per cent on Saturday, the first day of the Lunar New Year, from a year earlier, with air passengers down nearly 42 per cent, a transportation ministry official said.

Many cinemas across China are also closed with major film premieres postponed, slashing revenues.

Cruise operators, including Royal Caribbean Cruises, Costa Cruises, MSC Cruises and Astro Ocean Cruises, said they cancelled a combined 12 cruises that had been scheduled to embark from Chinese ports before February 2.

Hong Kong Disneyland and the city’s Ocean Park were closed on Sunday.

Shanghai Disneyland, which expected 100,000 visitors daily through the Lunar New Year holidays, has already closed.

Airports around the world have stepped up screening of passengers from China, although some health officials and experts have questioned the effectiveness of such screenings.

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GuwahatiNewsNorth East

Pledge to save Constitution

Pledge to save Constitution

Members of over 30 organisations participated in an open-air meeting on Sunday to save the Constitution, ironically on a day it came into effect in 1950.

The meeting was organised by the Coordination Committee Against Citizenship Amendment Act in which legal experts, artistes, cultural activists and politicians spoke at Lakhidhar Bora Kshetra here for over three hours against the “unconstitutional” Citizenship (Amendment) Act.

All speakers wanted the Act scrapped as it not only posed a threat to the identity and existence of the indigenous Assamese but also strikes at the secular fabric of the Constitution. They called for a united and peaceful agitation against CAA and also the release of those arrested, including KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, after anti-CAA protests broke out in December.

The participants took a pledge to save the Constitution and safeguard the social fabric of India as embedded in the Preamble, which was read out at the meeting.

Committee president and litterateur Hiren Gohain said the BJP-led central and state governments are rapidly taking the country towards “total tyrannical rule” at the cost of the basic structure of democracy and the identity of indigenous population in Assam. Gohain compared the BJP governments to the pre-Independence British rulers in its authoritarian ways.

Senior advocates K.N. Choudhury, Arup Borbora, H.R.A. Choudhury, Assam PCC president Ripun Bora, CPM leader Hemen Das, Dibrugarh University Students Union general secretary Rahul Chetry and senior journalist Ajit Bhuyan also participated.

“The government has forgotten what is written in the Constitution and the history of Assam. It has forgotten the meaning of secularism, equality and fundamental rights. It is just following the RSS. This government has to be ousted,” Chetry asserted.

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GuwahatiNewsNorth East

Ulfa-I claims hand in Assam blasts

Ulfa-I claims hand in Assam blasts

Five low-intensity blasts marked Republic Day celebrations in Assam on Sunday despite a daylong strike called by Ulfa (Independent).

The government used the occasion to reiterate its commitment to protect the state’s “culture, language and political identity” which the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act brigade say is under threat.

Ulfa (I) claimed responsibility for the blasts, all in Upper Assam — three in Dibrugarh district and one each in Tinsukia and Charaideo districts. Nobody was hurt.

Two blasts occurred in Dibrugarh town around 8am on Sunday — one at Graham bazar near a garbage dump along NH 37 and the other near the boundary wall of Sikh National School at Marwari Patty. The third blast occurred at Peopoltol Tiniali in Duliajan around 8.05am, damaging a footpath. Another explosion was triggered near Koliapani bridge at Doomdooma in Tinsukia district. The fifth blast occurred near a shop at Teok ghat at Sonari in Charaideo district.

Dibrugarh superintendent of police Sreejith Tiraviam said, “The blasts were of low intensity. Ulfa(I) triggered the explosions to show their presence. Investigation is on and we will take strict action against those involved.”

Director-general of police Bhaskar Jyoti Mahanta said, “We have received the information about the explosions in Dibrugarh. An investigation has begun to find out those involved in the incidents.”

Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal termed the blasts a “cowardly act” and sought the people’s support to strengthen democracy. “Today, I want all the people to take a vow to join hands in unity and harmony and help take the state on the path of progress. Let’s all work together to make Assam one of the best states in the country. We all must remember the sacrifices of our freedom fighters and work to fulfil their dreams of a powerful India,” he said.

Governor Jagdish Mukhi, who took the guard of honour during the Republic Day celebrations at Khanapara here, also pressed for a peaceful and prosperous Assam. He highlighted how the current government was working to provide maximum benefits to the people.

“The state government is committed to safeguarding all the rights of the people and that’s why it has taken effective steps to implement Clause 6 of the Assam Accord to provide constitutional safeguards to the state’s culture, language and political identity for good. The Centre and the state government are working in tandem to accelerate Assam’s progress,” Mukhi said.

The government also felicitated three of five Padma Shri awardees from the state — Lal Bahadur Chettri (his son attended) and Jogendra Nath Phukan (literature and education) and Kushal Konwar Sarma (medicine). The other two winners are Indira P.P. Bora (arts) and Ravi Kannan (medicine).

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Assamese to be made mandatory in schools

Assamese to be made mandatory in schools

The Assam government is mulling a new law to make Assamese a mandatory subject in all schools of the state, excluding Barak Valley and Bodoland Territorial Area Districts (BTAD) soon.

The law will make Assamese a compulsory subject in all schools of the state irrespective of its medium of instruction.

In December last year, amid the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests in the state and the fear of migration of a large number of Bengali-speaking people in its aftermath, the state cabinet decided to bring a law making Assamese language compulsory in all English (including Kendriya Vidyalaya) and vernacular- medium schools upto Class X.

Education minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The state government will bring in the bill to make Assamese a compulsory subject in schools during the budget session in March.”

He added that the state government has been contemplating a separate law making the knowledge of Assamese language mandatory for state government jobs in coming days. “The law will make it necessary for all government employees to have knowledge of Assamese language. Only those who learned Assamese till their matriculation will get government jobs in the state. The knowledge of Assamese is a must to function properly in state offices,” said Sarma. In both the proposed laws, knowledge of Bodo and Bengali language will also be considered along with Assamese in BTAD and Barak properly Valley respectively.

Besides, the education minister also announced an array of new schemes for an overhaul of the education department in the next six months. He said that the state government has earmarked around Rs 3,000 crore for the proposed schemes which would benefit around one lakh teachers and 60 lakh students of the state.

“Around 15,000 posts under the elementary education will be filled up in the next six months. Subsequently, the government will fill up around 8,000 vacant posts in the high school level by conducting necessary formalities. The teachers’ and schools’ provinicialization matter will also be completed in the next six months. At the level of elementary level, government is considering provincialization of 4,993 schools involving 13,362 teachers,” he added.

He said that the state government would also endeavour to resolve the issue of salary disparity faced by the contractual teachers working in high schools and state pool teachers working under elementary education in a time-bound manner. Sarma said that the issues of teachers’ pay disparity, the security of jobs, facility of health care and medical reimbursement etc will also be addressed in the next budget.

The minister added that in view of the mammoth exercise, the education department will not be able to take up issues like transfer-posting till next Durga Puja.

“The government will not entertain any individual application of teachers during working days. Teacher communities and other respective unions are requested to meet officials of the education department only with prior appointment and permission,” he stated.

Sarma added that the government would also address the various infrastructure deficiencies in the state’s schools.

He added, “All these promises announced will be converted to a reality in the next six months of time. We seek blessings of the teacher communities and all the stakeholders for the success of the reforms and initiatives.”

A few of the other schemes announced:

⚫At the secondary level a total 626 schools will be provincialized involving 4828 teachers or tutors subject to strict verification.

⚫At the higher education level 30 new colleges will be provincialized involving around 900 posts teaching and non-teaching posts too. Besides,

⚫Apart from provincializing of 30 new colleges, 768 number of posts will be provincialized in 134 already provincialized colleges, as all these teachers have recently acquired UGC norms etc. for such provincialization.

⚫By a general order all the Principals of colleges will be now authorised to fill up all the vacant posts in next six months of time.

⚫From Class-I to Class-VIII, every student will get four sets of Uniforms including one set of uniform having T-Shirt along with pant or skirt for their use in various sports and cultural activities.

⚫For the first time in Assam, student from Class-IX & Class-X will also get two pairs of free uniforms.

⚫Setting up of new colleges, universities, higher and technical institutes, law, BEd colleges will start.

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GuwahatiNewsNorth East

Assam’s foremost linguist dies

Assam’s foremost linguist dies

Eminent linguist Golok Chandra Goswami, 97, who believed that as long as the Assamese community lives the Assamese language will not die, succumbed to age-related ailments here on Friday morning.

Goswami, a resident of Ambikagiri Nagar here, was undergoing treatment in a private nursing home since January 2.

The last rites of Goswami, who is survived by his wife, a son and three daughters, was performed at Nabagraha here with full state honours.

The foremost linguist, who had written at least 13 books, in English and Assamese, on the Assamese language and also edited many, always emphasised creation of better literature in Assamese because good literature would help take the Assamese language to the world stage.

His contribution was best described by Sahitya Sabha president Paramananda Rajbongshi, “After Banikanta Kakati (prominent linguist), Goswami tried to give a new direction to the Assamese language. We looked upon him as pitamoh (grandfather).”

Goswami was a member of the Centre’s expert committee on tribal and minor Indian languages, the technical and advisory committee of the Central Institute of Indian Languages, Mysore, the Sahitya Akademi’s executive committee, the Linguistic Society of India, Pune, and the Asam Sahitya Sabha.

Condolence messages poured in from all quarters with chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal saying, “Goswami was a pioneer in the field of scientific study of Assamese language and many of his books have set a strong foundation for Assamese language globally. He also contributed to Assamese literature through his original and translated works. Moreover, as a professor of Gauhati University, he enriched the academic field of the state.”

Born in Morigaon district (then undivided Nagaon) in 1923, Goswami maintained an excellent academic record throughout his student days, despite missing his matriculation examination in 1943 because he took part in the freedom movement. Subsequently, he studied in Cotton College and Gauhati University and did his PhD on Structure of the Assamese Language under Sumitra Mangesh Katre of Deccan College in Pune.

He began his professional life as a teacher of Kamrup Academy Higher Secondary School in Guwahati. Later, he joined the Assamese department of Gauhati University from where he retired in 1985. He participated in numerous national and international seminars.

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