Vaughan, Cook predicts NZ victory in WTC final

London, Jun 18: Former England captains Michael Vaughan and Alastair Cook reckon New Zealand will walk away with the top honours in the WTC final against India as they have the ability to play long periods of disciplined cricket and have got acclimatized to the English conditions.

The two sides are set to lock horns in the marquee clash starting Friday in Southampton.

"I fancy New Zealand. I know I'm going to get absolute pelters on social media for going against India. But the way New Zealand played in the two Tests against England, I think they're going to do it. They are a high-class cricket team - I like every aspect of their game," Vaughan told 'BBC'.

"New Zealand play long periods of disciplined cricket, with bat and ball. They bat with a great maturity and read the situation perfectly.

"If you analyse Test cricket, generally it is the side that are able to cover all the bases the longest that wins, and New Zealand are able to do that because they have a very skilful bowling attack," he added.

New Zealand head into the fixture on the back of a 1-0 Test series victory over hosts England last week while the last red-ball match India featured in was in March.

Cook feels New Zealand's match sharpness will work in the favour of Kane Williamson and company.

"New Zealand are going to win. They're two matches further into match-sharpness after the series win against England - they're used to playing under pressure and in English conditions."

Cook, who amassed 12,472 in 161 Tests for England, backed the inclusion of left-?arm spinner Ajaz Patel in the Kiwi playing XI.

"The only thing they've got to deal with is the selection question - and getting the balance of the side right. I hope they go in with Ajaz Patel, the left-arm spinner.

"But that means one of their big four seam bowlers - Trent Boult, Tim Southee, Neil Wagner or Matt Henry - who have done such a good job for them, isn't going to play," he added.

Former England women's speedster-turned-analyst Isa Guha said India have the depth in squad with quality batters and an equally potent bowling attack.

"I'm going to go for India. They have got tremendous depth in their squad, the big guns are back and they are a quality outfit under the leadership of Virat Kohli.

"They've got an unbelievable top six -Rohit Sharma, Shubman Gill, Cheteshwar Pujara, Virat Kohli, Ajinkya Rahane, Rishabh Pant are a world-beating line-up and they've got pace bowlers to back it up.

"They have a wonderful bowling attack, probably the best in the history of Indian cricket," Guha said.

Assam reports 3,299 new COVID-19 cases, 48 more deaths

Guwahati, May 10:  Assams COVID-19 tally rose to 2,92,368 on Sunday as 3,299 more people tested positive for the infection while 48 new fatalities pushed the death toll to 1,676, the National Health Mission (NHM) bulletin said.

The state, however, reported more COVID-19 recoveries than fresh cases in a single day as 4,045 patients were discharged from hospitals.

Kamrup Metropolitan district reported the highest of 17 deaths, followed by four in Kamrup, three each in Dibrugarh, Karbi Anglong, Sonitpur and Tinsukia, two each in Bongaigaon, Cachar, Jorhat and Lakhimpur, and one each in Barpeta, Dhemaji, Goalpara, Hojai, Nalbari, Sivasagar and Udalguri.

The NHM said 1,347 more COVID-19 patients have died till now, but the government's Death Audit Board has not included them in the tally of deaths caused by the COVID-19 virus as they had other ailments too.

With the detection of 3,299 cases against the testing of 36,135 samples for COVID-19 on Sunday, Assam reported a positivity rate of 9.13 per cent for the day, the NHM bulletin said.

The overall positivity rate of the state stands at 3.22 per cent against the testing of 90,76,741 samples so far.

Assam had reported a record 5,756 coronavirus positive cases on Saturday against the testing of 65,140 samples.

Currently, the state has a total of 36,005 active cases.

Out of the new cases, the highest number of 1,346 patients were detected in the state capital, followed by 228 in Dibrugarh, 148 in Tinsukia, and 137 in Kamrup.

In Assam, 2,53,340 COVID-19 patients have so far recovered from the infection.

The NHM further said a total of 30,25,447 doses of anti-Covid vaccines have been administered in the state.

As many as 26,206 beneficiaries received the jabs on Sunday, down from 81,067 on Saturday.

Bhageerathi Amma, the oldest equivalency course student passes away

Bhageerathi Amma returned to studies in 2019 and cleared her papers as a 105-year-old student

Bhageerathi Amma, the oldest equivalency course student from Kerala, passed away at Prakkulam due to age-related ailments. A recipient of the Nari Shakti Puraskar, country's highest civilian honour for women, she was 107 when she died. She had cleared Class 4 equivalency course of Kerala State Literacy Mission Authority and joined the next level two years back.

In his 62nd Mann Ki Baat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had narrated her story, making her an icon of determination. "If you wish to widen your horizons and accomplish key goals in your life, never let the student in you die," the PM had said.

Bhageerathi Amma couldn't pursue her studies after Class 3 as she was expected to take care of her younger siblings. She was married at the age of 15 and once again the responsibilities of a homemaker kept her away from letters. But she returned to studies after nearly a century gap in 2019 and cleared her papers with good grades as a 105-year-old student.

Watch: 105-year-old Kerala woman takes up fourth grade exam

Mamata Banerjee elected Trinamool Parliamentary Party chairperson

West Bengal 23: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee was unanimously chosen as the chairperson of its Parliamentary Party placing her in a pivotal position to coordinate with the other opposition parties.

After TMC’s victory in West Bengal Assembly elections in May this year, the party has been positioning itself as unifier for all opposition parties, a role that the Congress as single largest opposition party has been playing so far. The Congress often finds itself constrained since it is a political opponent to many of the regional parties in different States.

Party’s Rajya Sabha leader MP Derek O'Brien at a press conference in Delhi said Ms. Banerjee has been the guiding force behind the parliamentary party for a long time.

“We are just formalising a reality. Our chairperson is a seven time member of Parliament. She has the vision to guide the parliamentary party. She has the experience and insight. She was anyway guiding us. The decision has been taken both at a conceptual and tactical level. She has always been a call away. We feel more empowered,” Mr. O’Brien said.

The announcement comes just days ahead of Ms Banerjee’s Delhi visit where she is expected to meet a host of opposition leaders. On TMC invitation on July 21 leaders from the Congress, DMK, AAP, Shiv Sena, Samajwadi Party, Akali Dal and many others had remotely joined its Martyrs Day event.

“She is the leader of the second largest opposition party in the Parliament. And we don’t have problems like the Congress does. With U.P. elections round the corner, the Samajwadi Party will not like to be seen with the Congress. And with Punjab elections the Akalis would not be part of any platform organised by the Congress,” a senior TMC leader said. If Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha MPs are put together the TMC has 33 MPs, second to Congress’s 86 MPs.

Ms Banerjee is not an MP or an MLA. In recent Assembly elections, she had lost the Nandigram seat by a slender margin to TMC rebel Suvendu Adhikari. However, there are no rules prohibiting an unelected person from leading lead a parliamentary party.

Mr O’Brien also criticised the move to suspend party MP Shantanu Sen from the Rajya Sabha, a day after he snatched and tore a statement that IT Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw was reading. “We consider Sen’s suspension as malicious and arbitrary. We condemn it. The order was without any justification and has no provision in law,” he said. TMC Chief whip Sukendu Sekhar Ray added that the BJP can “suspend us but people will suspend them.”

Released Manipur scribe to move Supreme Court against NSA

His petition against sedition law is pending in apex court.

Manipur journalist Kishorchandra Wangkhem, released after more than two months in jail, said he was considering petitioning the Supreme Court for scrapping the National Security Act (NSA).

His petition against the sedition law is pending in the apex court.

“I will talk to my lawyers and see if I can move the Supreme Court against the NSA just as I had done against the sedition law,” he said after his release from jail at 4.10 p.m. on Friday.

He was arrested along with political activist Erendro Leichongbam on May 13 under the NSA for using the death of Manipur BJP president S. Tikendra Singh to comment on social media that “consuming cow dung and cow urine” cannot cure anyone of COVID-19.

Mr. Leichongbam was released on July 19 following an order by the Supreme Court.

Accusing the State government of abusing powers to silence dissenting voices, Mr. Wangkhem said he was targeted as he was conducting an investigation for a story relating to COVID-19. He claimed COVID-19 cases had surged in Manipur after the return of some 200-250 people from the Kumbh Mela.

“The government probably got a wind of what I was trying to do and put me in jail to make sure I cannot speak the truth. I knew this dictatorial government will do something to silence me. I think we need to campaign against the draconian NSA so that it is never used by those in power,” Mr. Wangkhem said.

Iboyaima Laithangbam reports from Imphal:

The Manipur High Court on Friday ordered the release of Mr. Wangkhem, who was detained under the NSA. The order came on a letter to the court by his wife, Elangbam Ranjita, seeking his release.

A Division Bench of Justices Sanjoy Kumar and Kh. Nobin Singh said Mr. Wangkhem was detained by an order issued on May 17, 2021 under Section 2(3) of the NSA and lodged in the central jail at Sajiwa in Imphal East district. The judges said it was a fit case of urgent hearing since it concerned the life and liberty of an individual.

The High Court order said Mr. Wangkhem had stated on Facebook that cow dung and cow urine were not medicines for COVID-19. Mr. Leichongbam had also posted the same on Facebook. After Mr. Leichongbam was set free, Ms. Ranjita appealed for the release of her husband. Since there was no response, she wrote an undated letter to the High Court on Thursday. The judges considered it as a petition and heard it on Friday.

The High Court observed that there was “no distinction” in the two cases. The Bench said the May 17 Manipur government order stood “suspended” till next hearing. It ordered the release of the detainee forthwith “within 5 p.m.” and he would furnish a security bond of ₹1,000 as was done in the case of Mr. Leichongbam.

Earlier also, Mr. Wangkhem was detained under the same Act but was set free later.

Border situation with Mizoram fragile: Assam CM

The chief ministers of the region will be present at a meeting of the North East Space Applications Centre (NESAC), to be chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Guwahati: Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday said that the situation along the interstate border with Mizoram is currently “fragile” and it will take some time to resolve the disputes with the neighbouring state.

The chief minister, however, expressed optimism that some progress will be made in resolving boundary disputes with Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh when he meets his counterparts from these states of the North-eastern region on July 23 in Shillong.

The chief ministers of the region will be present at a meeting of the North East Space Applications Centre (NESAC), to be chaired by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, on that day.

The NESAC is a joint initiative of the Department of Space and the North Eastern Council (NEC) to augment development of the region by providing advanced space technology support.

Sarma said that he is expecting some headway during the talks to resolve the border disputes with Meghalaya and Arunachal Pradesh.

Also Read: BJP executed nearly 100% of budget proposals, Cong did 10%: Assam CM

As far as the boundary dispute with Nagaland is concerned, the matter is in the court, he said.

“The situation with Mizoram, however, is not conducive. We are not seeing eyeball to eyeball in Hailakandi district (bordering Mizoram). The situation is fragile. It will take some time with Mizoram,” he said.

Tension along the inter-state with Mizoram in Cachar and Hailakandi districts of Assam have been escalating in the last few days over Assam Police’s drive to clear land allegedly encroached by miscreants from across the border.

An IED was hurled on an Assam government team visiting the border by suspected miscreants on July 10, while two back to back explosions were heard from across the border in the wee hours of July 11.

A high-level meeting between officials of both the states, including the chief secretaries and DGPs, was also held in New Delhi a few days ago on the issue.

BJP executed nearly 100% of budget proposals, Cong did 10%: Assam CM

If budget announcements and how many of those were implemented since BJP came to power in 2016 are reviewed, we will find almost all promises have been kept, said Assam CM Himanta Biswa Sarma

Guwahati: Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma on Tuesday claimed in the assembly that the BJP-led government in the state has implemented nearly 100 per cent of the announcements made in annual budgets since 2016, while the Congress executed only 10 per cent of the proposals during its last three terms.

The fact that the BJP government has presented Action Taken Reports (ATR) on the budget in the assembly since coming to power in the state proves that the announcements are being implemented, he said.

“If the budget announcements and how many of those were implemented since the BJP came to power here in 2016 are reviewed, we will find that almost all the promises have been kept.

“Of course, there could be one or two that could not be done due to some issues,” Sarma, who was the finance minister in the first BJP government in the state, said while participating in a discussion on this fiscal’s budget.

Ajanta Neog, the first woman finance minister of the state, on July 16 presented a Rs 566 crore deficit budget for 2021-22 in the assembly, proposing no new taxes.

Also Read: Assam: 8 minors among 37 rescued from being trafficked

“If one does some research on the Congress budgets from 2001 to 2015, one will find that 90 per cent of announcements were not implemented. The sanctity of the House has increased since the BJP came to power as we do what we say here,” the CM said.

The Congress had ruled Assam for three consecutive terms since 2001 and its government was ousted by the BJP in 2016. The saffron party returned to power in 2021.

Taking part in the discussion, opposition members said that the government should have increased tax on the rich and on liquor and reduced it on essential food items.

Also Read: CAA, NRC nothing to do with Hindu-Muslim divide: RSS chief in Assam

On ATRs presented at the end of each fiscal, Sarma said, “Let the opposition show me one example of another finance minister who gives an ATR and dares to accept what could not be done and what has been implemented.”

All the 18 announcements made in the last state budget have been implemented, he claimed.

He added that revenue generation could be a problem this year, but the government will try to fulfil its announcements as much as possible.

On Opposition’s criticism that the budget does not include any measure to control price rise, Sarma said that prices cannot be controlled by a budget.

“The only way to avoid price rise is to increase our own production. The budget has given ample importance on taking our key sectors forward, including setting up an agriculture commission,” he added.

On the government’s vision to make Assam among the top five states of the country, Sarma said that development is measured in various parameters and not just economic ones.

He emphasised that crimes should be checked to improve Assams position in sustainable development parameters and also highlighted the role of the people at large in crime control.

Finance Minister Ajanta Neog said that the pandemic has created pressure on the economy, and development and Covid management has to go hand in hand.

In the budget, the focus has been given on agriculture and increasing work culture, she said.

On the opposition criticism of creating beneficiaries through the budget, Neog said, “Beneficiaries are created due to circumstances. Schemes have been announced for providing economic protection to the poorer sections so that they can move up in the economic strata.”

Also Read: Assam: Elderly man killed in elephant attack in Digboi

Taking part in the discussion earlier, Deputy Leader of the Opposition Rakibul Hussain said that imposition of no new taxes cannot be supported.

“There should have been an increase in tax on rich people, on liquor, and reduction on items needed by the general people, like mustard oil,” the Congress leader added.

Describing the budget as ‘unrealistic’, another Congress member Bharat Narah said, “The government has spoken of flood-free Assam. But monsoons will come annually and bring rain. How can floods be totally avoided?”

Opposition AIUDF MLA Md Aminul Islam raised apprehensions on revenue generation as the economy has taken a hit due to the pandemic.

Assam cycles to wish Olympics boxer Lovlina Borgohain

Assam ministers, MLAs and senior officials took part in 'Go for Glory - Lovlina', a bicycle rally held in Guwahati to wish success to boxer Lovlina Borgohain

Guwahati: Chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma, Assembly Speaker Biswajit Daimary and Leader of Opposition Debabrata Saikia on Wednesday pedalled bicycles, wishing success to pugilist Lovlina Borgohain, the lone competitor from Assam in Tokyo Olympics.

Along with them, several ministers, scores of MLAs and senior officials took part in the ‘Go for Glory – Lovlina’, a bicycle rally that started at Last Gate and concluded at Nehru Stadium in the city.

Speaking at the event, Sarma said the rally was organised with a vision to support and motivate “Assam’s daughter” Lovlina Borgohain, who is representing India at the Tokyo Olympics.

He also felicitated the boxer’s father Tiken Borgohain at the event, while urging people to come together and cheer for the pugilist.

“We are so proud of Lovlina who is the first female athlete from #Assam to represent India at the #Olympics $@$# the second boxer after Shiva Thapa to participate in the same from the state. May you continue to bring glories to the nation,” Sarma tweeted after the function.

Also Read: CAA, NRC nothing to do with Hindu-Muslim divide: RSS chief in Assam

Saikia said Lovlina is the pride of Assam and he is confident that she will make the state and country proud with her stupendous performance.

Along with Sarma, Daimary and Saikia, Deputy Speaker Numal Momin, ministers Bimal Bora, Atul Bora, Urkhao Gwra Brahma, Pijush Hazarika, Sanjoy Kishan and Jogen Mohan also pedalled through the Guwahati roads.

The Assam government had in June extended financial assistance of Rs 5 lakh to the Arjuna awardee to help her prepare for the mega sporting event.

Lovlina Borgohain, 23, who had qualified for the Tokyo Olympics in March last year, will be competing in the welterweight category (69 kg) of the boxing event.

The much-delayed Tokyo Olympics are scheduled from July 23 to August 8, with the boxing events starting from July 24.

Assam: 8 minors among 37 rescued from being trafficked

Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel rescued 15 people, including six minors, on Tuesday from Rangia station while they were being taken to Mumbai in Maharashtra.

Rangia/ Guwahati: At least 37 people, including eight minors, were rescued from two places in Assam while allegedly being trafficked to Maharashtra and Gujarat, police said on Tuesday.

Three persons, including a woman, were arrested in these connections, they said.

Railway Protection Force (RPF) personnel rescued 15 people, including six minors, on Tuesday from Rangia station while they were being taken to Mumbai in Maharashtra.

A woman trafficker from Tezpur was arrested in this connection and remanded in judicial custody.

During interrogation, the rescued people said that they were promised jobs in a fish packaging company in Mumbai by the woman, police claimed.

Also Read: Assam orders probe into death of scores of birds in Barpeta

In another incident, a team of state policemen rescued 22 people from Baksa while they were being taken to Gujarat on Monday, and two persons were arrested in this connection.

The rescued people include 15 men, seven women and two minors, police added.

Last week, the Assam Police had rescued nine girls who were trafficked to Kerala and arrested two persons.

CAA, NRC nothing to do with Hindu-Muslim divide: RSS chief in Assam

No Muslim will face any loss due to Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), said RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who is on a two-day visit to Assam

Guwahati: RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat, who is in Assam on a two-day visit, said on Wednesday that the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC) have nothing to do with Hindu-Muslim divide and communal narrative surrounding the two issues were being peddled by some to gain political mileage.

He further emphasised that no Muslim will face any loss due to the citizenship law.

“After independence, the first prime minister of the country had said that minorities will be taken care of, and that has been done so far. We will continue to do so. No Muslim will face any loss due to CAA,” Bhagwat said after launching a book here, titled Citizenship debate over NRC and CAA-Assam and the Politics of History.

The citizenship law is will provide protection to persecuted minorities in the neighbouring countries, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) chief underlined.

Also Read: Now, Assam CM wants secularism defined in context of ‘Indian civilisation’

“We reach out to the majority communities, too, in these countries during a calamity…. So if there are some who wish to come to our country due to threats and fear, we will definitely have to help them out,” Bhagwat said.

Talking about NRC, he stated that all nations have the right to know who its citizens are.

“The matter is in the political domain as the government is involved in it… A section of people wants to get political mileage by creative a communal narrative around these two issues,” he added.

Assam orders probe into death of scores of birds in Barpeta

Scores of birds, including sparrows and cuckoos, died at Bohori Silgaon village in Assam's Barpeta district on Monday after consuming crops in a paddy field, said an official

Guwahati: The Assam forest department has ordered a probe into the death of a large number of birds after consuming crops, which were allegedly sprayed with poison, in Barpeta district, an official said on Wednesday.

Scores of birds, including sparrows and cuckoos, died at Bohori Silgaon village on Monday after consuming crops in a paddy field, the PRO to the forest minister said in a statement.

“Environment and Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya has asked the chief wildlife warden and the principal chief conservator of forests (wildlife) to institute a probe into the incident and to submit the action taken report immediately,” he said.

The dead birds have been sent for post-mortem examinations and results are awaited to ascertain the exact cause of death, but forest officials visiting the place said it is a suspected case of poisoning.

Also Read: Assam: Elderly man killed in elephant attack in Digboi

“The chief minister has also brought the matter to the notice of the environment and forest minister and asked him to initiate necessary action,” the release said.

Meanwhile, a case has been registered by the Barpeta Road Ranger and a suspect was arrested.

“Investigation is underway to nab more culprits involved in the incident,” the PRO added.

Assam: Elderly man killed in elephant attack in Digboi

71-year-old man trampled to death by wild elephant at Durgabari in Assam's Tinsukia district in the early hours of Wednesday, an official said

Representational image

Guwahati: A 71-year old man was trampled to death by a wild elephant at Digboi in Tinsukia district of Assam, an official said.

The person, identified as Chitranjan Chakraborty, was attacked by the wild elephant at Durgabari of Digboi range under Digboi Forest Division in the early hours of Wednesday, the official said.

On getting information, forest department personnel rushed to the site of the incident and conducted necessary formalities.

A detailed report of the incident will be submitted soon, he said.

The range officer provided assistance to the kin of the deceased in carrying out the last rites.

Also Read: Now, Assam CM wants secularism defined in context of ‘Indian civilisation’

Compensation of Rs 4 lakh will be given to the next of kin of the victim by the Environment and Forest Department after receipt of post-mortem report and other documents, the official said.

On July 14, the Assam government had informed the Assembly that altogether 812 people have died due to man-elephant conflict across the state in the last 10 years.