’Jehadis intrude into India’

The Border Security Force (BSF) on Wednesday said that the anti–India elements are intruding into the country through the porus border. “Possibilities of intrusion of Jehadi activists through the porous Indo–Bangla border could not be ruled out,” said a senior BSF official who is looking after the operation unit. Inspector General (operation), BSF said that at least 3,000 to 4,000 infiltrators are arrested by the border guarding agency every year from along the 4,096–km stretch of India–Bangladesh border.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

CBI grills Himanta for 8 hours

Once the most powerful minister in the Tarun Gogoi government, Himanta Biswa Sarma was today grilled by the Central Bureau of Investigation for over eight hours in connection with the Saradha chit fund scam.

Sarma was asked to appear before the Special Investigation Team headed by Joint Director Rajiv Singh at the CGO Complex in Kolkata.

Sarma, who was in Delhi, reached the Kolkata CBI office at around 9.45 am. He came out of the office at around 6.30 pm.

He was apparently questioned for his purported proximity with Saradha group chief Sudipta Sen.

The agency reportedly asked him about his alleged role in allowing Saradha to spread its network in Assam and his alleged involvement in business activities of the ponzi company under probe.

But he told media persons waiting outside that he was quizzed only for about 90 minutes, and that too in three separate sessions by three different officers. “I was asked questions by an Inspector for about 35 minutes, by an SP for 20–25 minutes and by a Joint Director for 30–35 minutes. That is all,” he claimed.

His name had appeared in a letter Saradha chief Sudipta Sen had reportedly written to the investigating agency. In that letter, Sen had named the high and mighty who had allegedly taken “protection money” from him and had also blackmailed him.

After coming out of the CBI office, Sarma told journalists the he was asked about his meeting with Sen.

“They asked me about my meetings with him. I told the CBI that I met Sen just once. They also asked if I attended their meetings. I told them I was there at the inauguration of Saradha’s biscuit factory at Dhubri,” Sarma said.

“I have clarified everything they wanted to know. If required, I will come again,” the Jalukbari MLA said.

Significantly, Sarma alleged that the controversial letter in which his name also figured was not written by Sen. “I feel it was written by some powerful politician in Wet Bengal who wanted to malign people like us. There is a political conspiracy against me,” Sarma claimed.

Sarma also claimed that he had become “weak” since Tarun Gogoi’s son entered politics. “I have become weak since Gaurav Gogoi entered politics in 2011. Before that I as a powerful person. This letter (purportedly by Sen) was written in 2011. It was around that time that the chief minister had started disliking me,” Sarma claimed.

Interestingly, Sarma also claimed that he will not contest elections till he is given a “clean chit” by the agency. “If I the CBI doesn’t give me a clean chit before 2016 elections, I will not contest the election,” he asserted.

CBI had earlier searched his residence in Guwahati.

His party colleague Anjan Dutta, who purportedly had business transaction with Saradha, was also grilled by the CBI a day before.

Himanta’s close aide and singer Sadananda Gogoi has been already arrested and chargesheeted in the chit fund scam. Gogoi had introduced Sen to Himanta.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

250 admit foreign accounts, more names coming

Refuting opposition charges that little was being done to get back illicit money stashed away by Indians abroad, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said a lot of ground has been covered and 250 people have conceded to overseas bank accounts.

“The issue is not to disclose or not, but how and when to disclose the names,” Jaitley told the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament, in his reply to a discussion on black money on Wednesday.

He said this was because since the evidence of black money stashed away by Indians is outside the Indian shores, the government must get evidence first from other countries, using the various treaties that New Delhi has entered into with them.

“The names will become public,” Jaitley assured, when some opposition members demanded that the government reveals the identities of the perpetrators right away, since they were already being talked about in the media.

“Disclosure of names, without following the proper procedures, would only benefit the account holders,” he added.

He said the government is actively engaging with other countries to widen its scope of operations against black money beyond the stage of cooperation on monies related to drugs and crime to tax–evaded money.

Jaitley said that as things stood now, the Swiss authorities have been persuaded to at least establish the veracity of any evidence that the Indian government and the special team manage to procure from various sources regarding these accounts.

“In the next stage now, we’ll start a dialogue for automatic exchange of information. With countries all over the world we’re going to have automatic exchange of tax information,” he said.

The finance minister said that out of the 627 names of Indians holding bank accounts overseas, that were furnished to the Supreme Court in a sealed envelope, 427 had been identified. Out of that, he added, 250 had admitted to such accounts.

The finance minister also sought to drive home the point that the first act of the Narendra Modi government was to constitute a Special Investigation Team to probe the black money issue, and that this panel already had these names.

The process, he said was by the special team, under the Supreme Court’s supervision, to look at the legal and procedural issues to take the next logical step of getting the relevant evidence and prosecution.

Jaitley also reiterated what was told to the apex court by the government.

All the 627 accounts in the list are at an HSBC Bank branch in Geneva and the details were secured from the French government. The data was actually stolen by a bank employee, as a result of which the Swiss authorities had declined help in any manner.

As regards HSBC, the bank had said that if the Indian authorities get a no–objection certificate from the account holders, it could then share the relevant details. Some 50–60 of the account holders had given their consent, the apex court had been told.

“We are very much on it. The wait is not long,” Jaitley said.

“We were hitting a blind wall as to what to do with these information. We are very sincere in our efforts to identify the accounts,” he added.

India has no official estimates of illegal money stashed away overseas, but the unofficial ones range from $466 billion to $1.4 trillion.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

Pak plays spoilsport; Modi, Sharif avoid meeting

Pakistan on Wednesday played spoilsport by blocking three major Saarc connectivity projects initiated by India, even as Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi conspicuously avoided meeting his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif while he met five other South Asian leaders here.

The 18th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) summit appeared to become a non–starter with agreement on the three projects – an electricity grid and trade in electricity, and road and rail connectivity – stalled by Pakistan on the premise that it still had to conclude its “internal processes” on it.

While Modi, who gave a forceful maiden speech at the summit on the need for seamless connectivity, met his Bangladeshi and Bhutanese counterparts Sheikh Hasina and Tshering Tobgay, and later the presidents of Afghanistan, Sri Lanka and Maldives – Ashraf Ghani, Mahinda Rajapaksa and Abdulla Yameen – Sharif was not on the list.

India’s external affairs ministry spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said there was “no structured meeting” planned between the two leaders as India had not received any request for such a meet from Pakistan.

However, there is speculation that the two leaders could meet on Thursday during the retreat at the Dhulikhel resort.

Both prime ministers are here for the two–day Saarc summit that began on Wednesday.

Nepal is trying its level best to see that the summit should not go empty, and trying to get Pakistan on board for the agreements.

Nepal’s Foreign Affairs Minister Khagnath Adhikari told IANS: “Our last ditch effort will be continued until Thursday. We are trying to have at least an energy related pact in the summit.”

In his address, Modi also referred to terrorism, especially in the context of the sixth anniversary of the horrific 26/11 Mumbai terror attack, in which 10 Pakistani terrorists unleashed mayhem in India’s commercial capital in 2008 on this day.

“Today, as we remember the horror of the terror attack in Mumbai in 2008, we feel the endless pain of lost lives. Let us work together to fulfil the pledge we have taken to combat terrorism and trans–national crimes,” he said, without any reference to Pakistan.

India has been pressing Pakistan to go ahead with the trial of the 26/11 accused.

Modi urged the South Asian nations to work together to “change cynicism to optimism” and said it was time that the member nations were not just “paas paas” (next to each other) but also “saath saath” (standing together).

He pitched for seamless connectivity in the region and proposed trade in electricity and pushed for connectivity and services by rail, road and air.

He said India will now give business visa for 3–5 years for Saarc and also issue a Saarc Business Traveller Card.

Referring to India’s huge trade surplus with Saarc countries, Modi said, “I believe that this is neither right nor sustainable”, and assured to address their concerns and provide a level playing field in India.

He urged the seven other nations to invest in India “to produce for the Indian market and create jobs for your youth”.

In health, he said, India will meet the shortfall in funds to establish the SAARC Regional Supra Reference Laboratory for TB and HIV and also offer the five–in–one vaccine for children of South Asia.

India’s proposals for greater Saarc integration comes amid China’s push to get its observer status upgraded to that of a member.

Pakistan mooted the idea of upgrading China’s and South Korea’s status in the organisation at a meeting of Saarc foreign ministers on Tuesday.

It was quickly rebuffed by India, with the foreign ministry spokesperson saying intra–Saarc cooperation needed to be deepened first.

In his address on Wednesday, Sharif stressed the role of observers, while Rajapaksa, whose country also has increasing interaction with Beijing, said: “It is imperative to seek ways and means in enhancing this engagement with the observer states, and consider graduating their role to a more project based, results–oriented partnerships.”

China, which shares border with five Saarc nations, is among the nine observer nations.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

’Ensure transparency in school admission’

WHAT THE COURT SAYS

*     No admission test or interview of the child or parent

*     Number of seats available should be clearly indicated

*    Admission can be based on various criteria

*    Classrooms should not be cramped

*    Schools must maintain healthy teacher–pupil ratio

*    Adequate and proper toilet facilities

*    Adequate space for sporting activities

*    Schools should have a child–friendly atmosphere

*    Fees to be paid should be disclosed at the time of disclosing the admission schedule.

*    District Level Grievance Redressal Committee has to be constituted.

In these days of competition, tender minds even in pre–primary schools often become the victims of different types of pressure. Parents also face hurdles while admitting their children to institutions of their choice. Complaints are often being raised that pre–primary schools, from posh to mediocre, don’t provide the facilities they claim before admission and sometimes tactfully conceal vital information which parents must know at the time of admission.

Realising the plight of children and their parents, the division bench of Gauhati High Court, comprising Chief Justice KS Rao and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan, delivered an important judgement issuing number of directions regulating admission to all schools in the State imparting pre–primary education from the calender year 2015. The HC judgement is based on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Children Welfare Association, a non–governmental organisation (NGO).

The PIL highlighted various issues confronting pre–primary/pre–elementary education in Assam, more particularly, the issue relating to admission. The problem is more acute in unaided private schools across the State.

The PIL alleged that such schools have mushroomed all over the State without adhering to any objective and their primary purpose is to make nursery/KG education a totally commercial proposition. On many occasions, parents are not informed about the admission criteria and high fees are charged from them, the PIL added.

The NGO has also sought a direction from the HC to lay down guidelines for private schools and other educational institutions to formulate their admission criteria and disclose the same to the guardians to ensure transparency and eliminate discrimination.

The High Court, in its directions, says, “There shall be a transparent and non–discriminatory admission procedure which shall be notified by the respective schools and shall be made known to the parents/guardians seeking admission of their children, well in advance. It should be displayed prominently in the school notice board or in any prominent place within the school premises or in the prospectus or in the form of printed rules/norms of the school concerned or by way of advertisement.”

“In case the number of applicants is more than the number of notified seats, a transparent and non–discriminatory admission procedure should be adopted and applied, which should be notified well in advance in terms of direction,” the HC adds.

The admission procedure can be based on various criteria, such as first–come–first serve basis; giving more importance to children residing near the school; sibling of an existing student may be given preference; and a girl child or a child of a single parent may be given additional weightage. Similarly, specially–abled children may also be given additional importance. However, the admission criteria should be placed in the public domain, the court states.

There shall be no admission test or interview of the child. Likewise, there shall be no interview of the parent/guardian to assess the suitability of the child. In other words, there shall be no screening or profiling of the child as well as of the parent/guardian.

“Schools should maintain a healthy teacher–pupil ratio. Classrooms should not be cramped. Schools should have adequate and proper toilet facilities and also adequate space for sporting activities. Moreover, the school should have a child friendly ambience.”

The fees to be paid by the parent/guardian including admission fee, tuition fee etc. should be disclosed at the time of displaying the admission schedule, the HC states.

The Education (Elementary) Department in consultation with the Assam State Commission for Protection of Child Rights constituted under the Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 should constitute district level grievance redressal committees to look into any grievance of a parent/guardian relating to admission of their child in a pre–primary school.

The HC made it clear that the above directions shall be applicable to all schools in the State imparting pre–primary education. “It should be the responsibility of the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam, Education (Elementary) Department to ensure its compliance and implementation,” the HC adds.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

’It’s rotten from top to bottom’

The Sentinel has been asking people their views on reports about rampant corruption in the State government and the inaction of the Chief Minister – the head of the State. Today, this newspaper is carrying the views of senior lawyer Nekibur Zaman.

“Time and again, the media has been highlighting corruption under the Tarun Gogoi government. Police can take up suo moto cases on the basis of such reports…but they have not done it,” Zaman said.

Police had done it in case of senior employee of the State assembly Sanghamitra Bharali after a media report that exposed how she amassed wealth disproportionate to her known sources of income. “In fact she was convicted by a court later in the disproportionate assets case. But the department in which she was working has very little scope for corruption. There are several other departments – like forest, agriculture, DRDA etc – where corruption is rampant, but police has failed to take up any case despite frequent media reports,” the senior lawyer said.

“Corruption in Assam has become a chain. It is there from top to bottom and everyone has a share. That is why everyone is silent,” he said.

“There must be a political blessing…that is why police is not acting against the corrupt officials and ministers. There is definitely a foul play and the Chief Minister, being the head of the State, is responsible for it. I find it hard to believe that corruption can prevail if there is no consent from the Chief Minister,” Zaman insisted.

He said there are several wings like CID and vigilance and anti–corruption whose duty is to check the malaise. “But they too are mysteriously silent. For that matter, even the Central government is not interfering,” he said.

He also was critical on the role played by the Opposition parties who also were not raising the issue vociferously.

“There is no other way…the people should unite and raise their voices. Some of course can file PILs in the court. The common people can give their judgement during elections as they have done in the last Lok Sabha elections,” the lawyer said.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/

China ready to hold fresh border talks with India

China welcomes India’s newly–appointed special representative on border talks, Ajit Doval, and expects a new round of parleys soon, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said on Tuesday. Doval, the national security advisor, was appointed to the role by the Indian government on Monday.

“We are willing to hold a new round of special representatives’ talks on border issues at an appropriate time, and push forward the settlement of the problem based on the principles and consensus reached by both sides in previous talks,” Xinhua quoted spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying. Currently, talks between both countries’ special representatives have entered a crucial stage, with an initial agreement reached, Hua told a routine press briefing.

“To settle the border problem between China and India at an early date meets both countries’ common interests and the strategic target agreed to by both state leaders,” she said.

China has vowed joint efforts with India to push forward border negotiation, in a bid to seek a solution that is fair, reasonable and acceptable to both sides, she added.

China and India share a 2,000–km–long border that has not been formally delineated. The two countries were involved in a bruising border conflict in 1962. The two countries established special representative meetings in 2003 as an important platform for resolving border disputes.

(Source) The Sentinel Assam – The Largest Media group of North-East India — focused on news publishing. Combined circulation of the group is over 120,000 newspapers per day, making it the largest newspaper group in the region. The Sentinel is the only English daily in the Northeast India with five editions published simultaneously from Guwahati, Dibrugarh, Shillong, Silchar and Itanagar. For all local, news from Assam, national and international news please visit  http://www.sentinelassam.com/