Assam governor under fire for awarding officials

May 16th, 2008 - 12:51 pm ICT by admin  

Guwahati, May 16 (IANS) Assam Governor Lt Gen (Retd) Ajai Singh finds himself in a blazing controversy over awarding police and civil officials of the state’s Karbi Anglong and North Cachar Hills districts with medals for excellence in service. The awards ceremony came at a time when both the districts have been rocked by violence - close to 25 people have been killed in the North Cachar Hills district since Saturday, while tribal Karbi militants in the adjoining Karbi Anglong district have served quit notices to Hindi-speaking migrant workers to leave the area or face action.

“This small gesture would help in motivating the officials,” the governor said after conferring the awards at the Raj Bhavan in Guwahati Wednesday.

But Brindaban Goswami, president of Assam’s main opposition Asom Gana Parishad, said: “It is shocking indeed to find the governor awarding officials of the two districts for maintaining peace while the ground realities are totally different. The two districts are the worst hit by militancy with close to 100 people killed in the past 12 to 14 months alone.”

Several senior ministers and police officials have also privately admitted the timing for conferring the award was wrong.

There were murmurs of protest from civil society groups as well.

“We don’t know why the governor chose to award officials of just two districts where violence is at its peak,” said Abdul Mannan, a faculty member of Gauhati University.

The Assam cabinet in a resolution February expressed its ‘dissatisfaction’ over frequent interference of the governor in the state’s functioning by calling officials for discussion to the Raj Bhavan.

The cabinet had asked the Raj Bhavan not to call officials directly and instead summon the chief secretary to discuss matters relating to development works or progress of ongoing projects. Singh’s term is due to expire June 6.

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