'Municipal polls will affect Meghalaya locals'

Shillong, January 13 (PTI):
Eleven organisations today said the planned municipal elections in Meghalaya will affect the local tribes people.  In a joint representation to Chief Minister Mukul Sangma, Joint Action Committee Against Municipality said the municipal elections will "adversely affect the indigenous people".  The organisations sought cancellation of the elections for Jowai Municipal Board scheduled to be held on February 15.  Reminding the protests that erupted after the government tried to hold the elections in the four municipalities of Garo hills last year, the committee urged the government to abandon its plans to hold the civic polls in the state.  Ever since statehood in 1972, Meghalaya has never conducted civic polls.

Chhattisgarh Maoist held in Guwahati

GUWAHATI, January 13 (TNN):
A senior Maoist leader from Chhattisgarh was caught while undergoing treatment for a snake-bite here on Wednesday. Police said they located Pijush Kanti Acharjee (64) at the Guwahati Medical College Hospital (GMCH). "He was admitted there on December 28. We had received inputs about him from Army intelligence officials. We searched the hospital and traced him on January 3," they added.  Acharjee suffered paralysis in the leg after he was bitten by a snake in the jungles of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh, a Maoist stronghold.  Born in Shillong, Acharjee shifted to Dantewada to join the Maoists. After the snake-bite, he first went to a relative's house in Siliguri for treatment. Later, he was brought to Guwahati.  Acharjee said, "I have never picked up arms. Revolution is part of my life and it will continue to be so."

Four NLFT activists surrender to police

Agartala, January 13 (UNI):
Four activists of the banned outfit National Liberation Front of Tripura (NLFT) surrendered before police last evening at Kamalpur in Dhalai district.  Police said preliminary investigations revealed that the activists fled their hideout in Bangladesh following severe resource crunch, adding the outfit was not getting cooperation from its unit in the neighbouring country.  Those who surrendered were identified as Mantu Kr Tripura (25), Malendra Reang (25), Daliram Reang (21) and Duluram Reang (26), all from Dhalai district, police added.  They were allegedly involved in several criminal activities like extortion and murder over the past few years, according to police.  Meanwhile, Border Security Force (BSF) officials said a chopper would be pressed into service to guard the bordering areas that were yet to be fenced, adding rubber bullets would be used to repel the intruders.

Reshuffle in Manipur ministry

Manipur Chief Minister Okram Ibobi Singh has reallocated portfolios among ministers in his Secular Progressive Front government whose term will end in February, next year.  Official sources said today that as per a notification issued yesterday, former civil supply minister Y Erabot would now hold the charge of the commerce and industry ministry while former education minister L Jayenta would look after the medical portfolio.   Irrigation and flood control minister N Biren will hold the additional charge of food and civil supply while the education department has been given to the present science and technology minister D D Thaisi.  The sources said as per the notification, former medical minister Ph Parijat would hold charge of the agriculture department which was taken away from the social welfare minister, N Loken.  They said there were some minor changes in the portfolios of some other ministers and added that those portfolios which remained to be distributed would be looked after by the chief minister.

3 women killed in mishap

Three women were killed and ten others were injured when their bus fell into a ditch at Hojai in Nagaon district of central Assam on Wednesday tonight.   The passenger bus coming from Nagaon town to Hojai skidded off the road and fell into a deep roadside ditch at Hojai Islam Nagar, official sources said.  While three women died on spot, the 10 injured were admitted to the local civil hospital and Haji Abdul Masjid Memorial Hospital at Hojai.  The deceased had been identified as Nur Jahan Begum, Durga Maya Devi and Baijaynti Biswas.

Assam under grip of cold wave

Cold wave conditions prevailed in Assam today as the mercury plummeted to a record low of eight degrees Celsius affecting normal life.   A spokesman for the Regional Meteorology Centre here said the cold wave would persist for a couple of days more, which came as dampener for those preparing to celebrate the Magh Bihu harvest festival starting tomorrow.  Cold north-westerly winds from north India have resulted in the dip in temperature.  The cold wave was persisting in north India and Gangetic West Bengal due to Western Disturbance in the Himalayas, he explained.  Normal life was affected in many parts of the state which came under a thick blanket of fog as people were seen huddling around bonfires to keep themselves warm.  Attendance in government offices was also low.