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Terrorists massacre 13 in Assam, army kills one attacker




Guwahati, Aug 5 : In Assam’s worst terror attack since 2014, gunmen dressed in military fatigues opened fire at a crowded market in Kokrajhar on Friday, killing 13 civilians. One of the attackers was also killed.

The terrorists hurled a grenade and then opened indiscriminate fire after reaching the weekly market in Kokrajhar town, some 220 km from here, in an autorickshaw, police and military officials said.

Nearly 20 civilians were also injured, many seriously, in the ghastly attack. Both the dead and injured were mainly Bodos who dominate Kokrajhar and the surrounding areas.

An army patrol in the vicinity hit back, killing one of the terrorists. The others escaped, forcing security forces to launch a major operation to hunt them down.

Authorities blamed the “anti-talk faction” of the National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) led by I.K. Songbijit, who carries a reward of Rs 10 lakh on his head, for the massacre.

“Saddened by the attack in Kokrajhar,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. “We strongly condemn it.” He added the Home Ministry was in touch with the Assam government and monitoring the situation closely.

“Terrorists moving in an autorickshaw opened indiscriminate fire at Balajan Tinali area, killing 13 civilians and injuring 20 others,” Defence Ministry spokesman Lt. Col. Suneet Newton said.

“The army has launched a massive combing operation, pressing into service specialized troops and tracker dogs. The army will continue its relentless operations against the terrorists,” he added.

Assam Police chief Mukesh Sahay said the militants had chosen a soft target. He put the number of attackers at four or five.

Security forces recovered an AK-56 rifle and grenades from the spot.

This was the worst terror attack in Assam since December 2014 when the NDFB killed more than 70 Adivasis in Kokrajhar and Tezpur districts. This led to a major crackdown against the NDFB’s “anti-talk faction”.

Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal ordered a high alert in view of the Independence Day on August 15.

“We will not tolerate any threat from any group,” he said. “The government will not bow to any pressure while tackling terrorist groups.”

Sonowal, who took charge of Assam in May at the head of its first BJP government, vowed to deal with the terrorists “very sternly”. He said: “No one involved in the crime will be spared.”

He announced ex gratia of Rs 5 lakh to the families of those killed and told the administration to ensure that the injured got free treatment and to shift the seriously wounded to Guwahati.

A medical team from Guwahati was rushed to Kokrajhar.

The Chief Minister told the media here that he had spoken to Modi and Home Minister Rajnath Singh and suggested that “a foreign hand” may be involved.

In a bid to avoid retaliatory killings, Sonowal appealed for peace and harmony. Officials said additional paramilitary forces were being rushed to Assam.


Bengal government to provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students to facilitate online education

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.



Mamata Banerjee

The state government will provide tabs to around 9.5 lakh students in government schools and government aided schools, chief minister Mamata Banerjee announced on Thursday.

“Because of the pandemic students are suffering. We will provide tabs to 9.5 lakh students studying in class 12 in government schools, government-aided schools and madrasahs. Computers would also be also provided to every secondary school to facilitate online education during pandemic,” Banerjee said at the state secretariat.

There are around 36,000 government and government-aided secondary schools, around 14,000 higher secondary schools and 636 madrasahs in the state.

“Many students are not being able to follow the online classes. The tabs would help the students even when they are pursuing their graduation,” said Banerjee.

With an eye on the crucial 2021 Bengal assembly elections, the chief minister also announced 3% dearness allowance for 10 lakh state government employees from January 1, 2021. This would cost the state exchequer Rs 2200 crore.

Speaking in another program during the day Banerjee said that Information Technology (IT) firms in West Bengal have registered 133% growth in the last eight years and IT exports have gone up by 175%.

“Many more investments are coming. On December 1, we cleared 20 proposals of setting up IT offices at Bengal Silicon Valley Hub with a proposed investment of Rs 3000 crore. They would directly employ 9000 IT professionals,” Banerjee said at a program

At present over 1500 IT companies, including Tata Consultancy Services, Wipro, Infosys, Cognizant and IBM among others, have their offices in West Bengal. The state has around 2.1 lakh IT professionals.

The chief minister while listing out a series of expansion plans of some of the top IT firms in the state said that while Nxtra Data of Bharti Airtel has come up with a proposal of Rs 350 crores, Wipro has an expansion plan worth Rs 500 crores in the state.

“Tata Consultancy Services is expected to increase their employment from the present 44,000 to around 61,000. Very soon their operation in West Bengal would be larger than their Bengaluru operation,” she said.

The chief minister added that while Cognizant Technology Solutions is also expected to expand further, ITC Infotech has almost completed their project in New Town and will employ around 3000 IT professionals there.

IT services giant Infosys will start construction of a proposed software development centre in the state by July 2021. They have been allotted 50 acres of land.

“Our youth will not have to roam in other states and across the world looking for jobs. They can work here,” Banerjee said.

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Farmers try to force their way into Delhi at Ghazipur border, stopped




Delhi UP Ghazipur Border

New Delhi: Agitated farmers on Delhi-Uttar Pradesh border near Ghazipur on Thursday failed in their attempt to enter the national capital by breaking the barricades after the police pacified the situation.

“If a decision is not taken in 24 hours, we will break all the barricades at different locations and enter Delhi,” Pawan Khatana, Bharat Kisan Union’s Delhi-NCR President, told IANS after attempting to break the barricades.

Thousands of farmers protesting against the Central farm laws have laid siege at Ghazipur border and on the Delhi-Meerut Expressway in a bid to enter the national capital. The crowd swelled after around 100 tractors reached the protest site at noon.

The border points in the area continue to remain under heavy police cover with multilayered barricades in place.

In the morning, when the farmers had blocked the expressway, Gayendra Singh, SP (City), Ghaziabad, had said that the police were hopeful that the blockade will end soon on the key road leading to Delhi.

All eyes are now on the ongoing fourth round of talks between the farmers’ unions and the Centre. The third round talks had failed to break the deadlock on Tuesday.

The farmers have been sitting on protest for the last eight days at Delhi-Haryana and Delhi-Uttar Pradesh borders. Thousands of farmers have been camping at the Singhu border, while several other groups have blocked entry at the Delhi-Haryana border in Tikri, the Delhi-UP border in Ghazipur and the Delhi-UP border in Chilla.

The farmers are demanding that the three farm laws passed by the Parliament in September be repealed, expressing apprehension that they would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) system, leaving them at the mercy of the big corporates.

The government has, however, maintained that the laws will provide farmers with better opportunities. It has also accused the opposition parties of “misleading” the farmers.

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Kerala on high alert for Cyclone Burevi: Vijayan




Pinarayi Vijayan

Thiruvananthapuram, Dec 2 : Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Wednesday said that the state is on a high alert in view of Cyclone Burevi.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi called to find out about the state’s preparedness. We informed him that all possible steps have been taken… we are waiting for more weather updates and accordingly the necessary action would be taken,” he said.

Vijayan said that according to the present updates, it is expected to enter Kerala by Friday noon.

“Districts like Thiruvananthapuruam, Kollam, Pathanamthittta, Kottayam, Alappuzha Ernakulam and Idukki districts could have the impact of very heavy rains besides heavy winds also. People should not venture out at all. The seas also would turn very rough. Winds with speed ranging from 30 kms to 60 kms are also expected,” he added.

Vijayan said that eight teams of the National Disaster Rescue Force have already arrived, besides the Air Force base at Sulu, near Kovai is already on high alert, while the Indian Navy also is ready.

“In case of a need, we have identified 2,849 relief camps and by now 13 are already functional. If the situation warrants, depending on the weather updates, people will be evacuated. All the district authorities have been told to take appropriate action depending on the needs and none need to wait for clearance. The ongoing Sabarimala pilgrimage will be regulated, if a situation arises,” he said.

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