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Mizo Books' Website was launched mizobooks.com

 Web News
The PIB of Aizawl launched a website of its own. The new website pibaizawl.nic.in



India's 'lost tribe of Israel' awaits a second exodus

By Simon Denyer, AP Writer, in Aizawl, India
25 April 2005

All together, they dip their middle fingers into plastic cups of grape juice, calling out in Hebrew the names of the 10 plagues they believe their God sent to curse the ancient Egyptians. Plastic Israeli flags and photographs of Jerusalem adorn the chipboard walls.

Saturday's feast could have been a celebration of Passover anywhere in the Jewish world, but this is no ordinary celebration and these are no ordinary Jews.

In India's remote hill states of Mizoram and Manipur, thousands of people who believe they belong to one of the 10 "lost tribes" of Israel are celebrating what they hope is their last Passover here before ending a 2,700-year exodus.

Three weeks ago, reports came from Israel that Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar had accepted the B'nei Menashe as one of the fabled lost tribes, and would send a team of rabbis to formally convert them and bring them back to Israel.

"All our dreams have come true," said Liyon Fanai, who embraced Judaism two years ago. Just as the Passover marks the Jews' departure from Egypt for Israel, so he hopes this year will mark his departure for the Promised Land.

On Thursday, a call from Israel said a place had been put aside for him, his wife, Leora, and his 12-year-old son, Sampson, in a Golan Heights settlement. "It is our mitzvah, our duty to go," he said after blessing and breaking the bread at a sabbath gathering in his home in the state capital, Aizwal. "Internally, I feel I am an Israeli, not an Indian."

It is hard to imagine a more unlikely story. A tribe exiled from Israel by the Assyrians about 720BC finds its way, via Afghanistan and China, to this thin slice of India sandwiched between Bangla-desh and Burma. On the way, they forget their language, their history and most of their traditions. Their genes are so mixed up they look like their Mongol neighbours, their memories so faded they speak a Tibeto-Burmese language and eat pork. Almost all that remains is a name, Manasseh, Menasia or Manmase, an ancestor whose spirit they invoke to ward off evil.

In 1950, a holy man from a remote village in Mizoram said the Holy Spirit had appeared to him in a vision, to explain that the "children of Manasseh" were in fact the children of Menashe, a son of Joseph, and it was time to come home. Gradually his ideas took hold among a population that had been converted to Christianity decades before.

Today, there are 800 Menashe in Israel, most in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and 7,000 more in Mizoram and Manipur hoping for their chance to join them. The answer to an intriguing biblical mystery, or a case of mass delusion?

Zaithanchhungi, a Christian woman who hasresearched and defended the Menashe's claims, said that before Christian missionaries came from Wales and England in the late 19th century, the Mizo, Kuki and Chin peoples worshipped one Almighty God, albeit challenged by more than a dozen other spirits. She says some of the practices involving animal sacrifice resembled ancient Hebrew traditions, and an ancient song among one tribe talked of "crossing the Red Sea", with enemies in chariots at their heels. Mizo woven shawls are not unlike Jewish prayer shawls. In place of circumcision is a cleansing ceremony eight days after a child is born, involving burning of incense. However little genetic evidence has been found to support the claims.

A spokesman for Israel's chief rabbinate said a decision on allowing mass conversions outside Israel would be taken after Passover ends on Sunday.

Huge quantity of explosives recovered from Cachar rly station

Silchar (Assam), Apr 22: Eight-hundred detonators and 400 gelatin sticks were seized from under a bench of a railway station in south Assam's Cachar district, police sources said here today.

According to the police, just after the Barak Valley Express passed Bihara station yesterday, the station master saw two bags under a bench on the platform.

The police on being informed, found the detonators packed in 100s inside eight packets besides the gelatin sticks.

Four Mizo youths claiming to be from n c hills district of Assam were arrested from the station in this connection and investigations were on, sources added.

Earlier on April 18, GRP personnel had seized 89 gelatin sticks wrapped inside a holdall of one Hrangthang Raulte hailing from Mizoram during security checks in the up Cachar Express at Silchar.

A few hours later, GRP men at Lumding Station between Silchar and Guwahati also detected another 355 gelatin sticks packed inside two bags abandoned in the same train.

Bureau Report

Spurious liquor claims four - Angry mob burns down house of Mizo brewmaker

Aizawl, April 18: Four persons died at Kolasib in Mizoram today after consuming spurious liquor which was prepared with a special tablet obtained from Myanmar.

The dead included and three women.

Police said Vanlalzawmi (45), Lalsangluri (27), Lalrinawma (31) and Laldingpuii (40), all from Kolasib, died at the Kolasib Civil Hospital today. Vanlalzawmi, the first victim, died around 1 am. She had consumed the spurious liquor on Saturday along with Lallunghnema (37) of Kolasib Hmar Veng locality. Lallunghnema has been admitted to the hospital in a serious condition, the police said.

The second victim, Lalsangluri, died at 4 am. The third victim succumbed around 10.15 am while the fourth died at noon.

The police said 10 persons who had consumed the spurious liquor are undergoing treatment at the hospital. A source from Kolasib said four others are being treated at their respective homes.

The police said the liquor was consumed at different localities of the town and was prepared by one N.K. Thanga. The source said Thanga had prepared the brew from a special triangular tablet obtained from Myanmar. He is undergoing treatment at the hospital after he himself became a victim of the liquor.

The speciality of the tablet is that when it is dissolved in water and kept for 24 hours, it turns the water into a very strong brew. However, if consumed before 24 hours, the solution kills humans with the victims complaining of stomach cramps and backaches while their bodies turn black.

As news of the deaths spread through the town, people who had consumed the liquor turned up at the Kolasib Civil Hospital for a check-up. The police said nearly 100 people had lined up for a check-up.

A team of medical experts has been rushed to Kolasib, the police added.

An angry mob toady burnt down Thanga’s house located at Venglai. Thanga, who originally hails from New Lamka in Manipur, has a wife and a three-year old son.

Thousands of Indian Christians Plan Migration to Israel After "Conversion"

(BosNewsLife Investigation)
Monday, 18 April 2005 (16 hours ago)
By Vishal Arora, BosNewsLife New Delhi Bureau Chief

NEW DELHI, INDIA (BosNewsLife)-- Thousands of tribal Christians in India's northeastern states of Mizoram and Manipur plan to convert to Judaism and leave for Israel which they claim as their home land, BosNewsLife established Monday, April 18.

Squeezed between Burma and Bangladesh, 'descendants' of the Lost Tribes of Israel convert to Judaism

By David Orr in Aizawl, Mizoram, NE India

(Filed: 17/04/2005)

Passover is around the corner and Arbi Khiangte is helping her aunt, Dovi, clean and redecorate her home for one of the most important feasts in the Jewish calendar.

The house is next door to the Shalom Zion synagogue where Arbi's uncle, Eliezer, is the cantor. Like most buildings in Aizawl, the synagogue - a large, corrugated-iron structure - is perched precariously on a hillside with nothing but wooden stilts to stop it tumbling into the ravine below.


Arbi Khiangte: ‘We feel more Israeli than Indian’

Though Arbi, 20, has never travelled out of Mizoram - a remote outpost of Indian soil squeezed between Burma and Bangladesh - her heart lies thousands of miles away.

She greets visitors with "Shalom", and a silver star of David hangs from a chain around her neck. Her orange T-shirt declares that "Gush Katif is my Home" - a reference to an Israeli settlement in the Gaza Strip where her cousins and 800 other tribal Indians have moved, converting to Judaism.

She and her family hope that soon after Passover they will follow. "We feel more Israeli than Indian," says Arbi who, when not working in a hospital canteen, spends long hours poring over her Hebrew lessons. "People ask me, 'How can you be Jewish?' or 'How can you want to leave Mizoram?' Sometimes they're quite hostile, but I just smile."

The incredulity stems from the fact that nearly 90 per cent of Mizos are Christians. Their ancestors were converted by missionaries from Wales and northern England after the region's annexation by colonial administrators in 1891.

Mizoram is today a protected tribal area which foreigners may visit only with a government permit. Most people are Presbyterian - and "happy-clappy" hymns sung in English and Mizo are the staple listening of the youth.

In Aizawl, hilltop neighbourhoods take their names from the Bible - Bethlehem, Salem and Kanan (Canaan). People walk along Zion Street, past shops called Israel Electricals and the Jewish Store.

Arbi is determined to move to Israel: ‘Of course we'll miss Mizoram, but the Holy Land is where we belong’

Arbi, and 6,000 fellow believers in India's north-east, have been bolstered by a recent declaration that their claim to be descended from one of the legendary Ten Lost Tribes of Israel - said to have been driven from the Middle East by invaders in the eighth century BC - is to be officially acknowledged. Last month, after a visit to the Indian states of Mizoram and Manipur, the Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, Shlomo Amar, announced that a team of rabbinical judges would convert them to Orthodox Judaism. This would allow them to settle in Israel under the Law of Return, which grants the right of Israeli citizenship to Jews. "I was so glad," says Arbi, who wants to become a nurse in Israel. "It was like my dream became real."

Despite their ethnic Mongoloid appearance and Tibeto-Burman tongue, Arbi's family believe that their ancestors belonged to the tribe of Menasseh or Menashe, which travelled through Iran and Afghanistan to China.

According to tribal belief, all Mizos spring from a cave in China called Chhinlung. Their odyssey is said to have continued through Thailand and Burma before it came to these hills. Arbi and her co-believers call themselves Bnei Menashe - Children of Menashe.

Zai Zaithangchungi, a former teacher who has written a book about Israeli-Mizo links, said: "All Mizo people are children of Menashe but only a few have become Jews. It's no coincidence that before Christianity came here, the Mizos believed in a common ancestor called Manase or Manasia. They worshipped one God and, like the ancient Israelites, made animal sacrifices.

"Like the Jews, they held stars and the number seven in special reverence. Their marriage and burial practices were very similar." Circumcisions, for example, were performed using sharpened stones, as is ancient Hebrew custom.

It was more than 50 years ago that, inspired by a tribal elder's vision that Mizos were a Lost Tribe of Israel, a group of believers set off on foot in search of the promised land. One of Zai's relatives was among them. "She got as far as Assam," says Zai, "but was told Israel was very far away and they'd never reach it on foot. She stayed in Assam for many years before coming home."

The trip nonetheless inspired others. Belief in Judaism took root in neighbouring Manipur where there are now 5,000 Bnei Menashe. Arbi's uncle Eliezer and his wife Dovi changed faith in the mid 1970s and Arbi was brought up as Bnei Menashe.

Yet the recent intervention from Israel is not without controversy. Critics say that Right-wing Jewish groups are promoting such projects to boost the populations of areas disputed by the Palestinians.

In Mizo, meanwhile, Christians are alarmed. "Lying, evil spirits have led our people astray," said Dr Pachuau Biaksiama, a Presbyterian evangelist. "Physically, culturally and linguistically, we're very different from the Jewish people. It's nonsense about us having the same rituals. If you compare any two religions you'll always find some similarities."

Genetic studies at the Central Forensic Science Laboratory in Calcutta and a technical institute in Israel have so far established no ethnic link.

Undeterred, Arbi and her family are determined to go to Israel. "Of course, we'll miss Mizoram," she says. "But the Holy Land is where we belong."

'Ghost' scare in Mizoram jail:

Friday, April 15, 2005

[India News] Aizawl,Prison inmates and officials at a jail in Mizoram are unnerved after a woman prisoner claimed sighting "ghosts" within the precincts.

Authorities at the Central Jail in Mizoram's capital Aizawl have heightened security after the prisoner reported seeing the "ghost" late last month.

"Panic has set in after a young female prisoner was found lying unconscious with some blood-like liquid smeared on her face," jail superintendent C. Lalhmangaiha told IANS. The prisoner, 19-year-old Rebecca Lalthakimi, a theft convict, "narrated sighting a ghost that painted her with blood", he said.

Jail authorities and other inmates did not take the incident seriously the first time Rebecca reported sighting a ghost. The jail houses more than 500 inmates, 100 of whom were women.

Jail authorities launched a formal probe into the spooky incident after Rebecca saw the "ghost" again.

"We conducted an investigation but failed to make out what is happening. As a precautionary measure we shifted Rebecca to another ward and have placed female guards on duty round-the-clock," Lalhmangaiha said.

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Simply divine

Gospel music with its stress on sombre tones and passionate text urging the re-dedication to god has of late become quite a rage in Mizoram. Many frontline songsters in the state, who reaped a fortune by belting out lilting love songs and raucous semi-pop and country music, are now branching out into gospel songs.

Following in the footsteps of Sailova and Robert, Mizoram’s two singing sensations, who had merrily abandoned their craft of singing love songs to join the gospel bandwagon, Joseph Zaihmingthanga, another popular crooner and chartbuster, has also plunged into gospel singing. A young man from Darlawn village in Mizoram, Zaihmingthanga, who rose from rags to riches and recently rode the popularity charts with his love songs, has now teamed up with Sailova and Robert to spread divine love through gospel music.

Music is the staple food of soul for the Mizos, who are never embarrassed to gyrate in open spaces to the thud and strains of music, be it pop, country, rap or simply divine. At a recent musical soiree in Aizawl held to mark a campaign against drug abuse and spread of AIDS, the Blue Corn, an all-woman band, enthralled the audience.

Furore over lost Mizo tribe link

Aizawl, April 17: The news that the rabbinical court has accepted Mizos as descendants of Manashe, the father of one of the 10 lost tribes of Biblical Israel, has triggered a controversy in Mizoram.

Orthodox Christians fear that the news will tempt the Mizos to embrace Judaism.

The chief rabbi of the Sephardic Rabbinical Court, Schlomo Aram, declared the Mizos descendants of Manashe, the younger son of Joseph, Abraham’s descendent, on March 30.

A Church elder, P.C. Biaksiama, who resigned from his post of a Union finance department officer to carry out research on Christianity, has termed the acceptance of Mizos as Israelites as “the work of Satan, whose main aim is to convert Christian Mizos to Judaism.

“We need to deal with this seriously, with earnest prayers to God. This is an instrument of our greatest enemy, Satan, to burst asunder Mizo society and its religion. Christianity is at stake here and we should never take what is happening now lightly,” Biaksiama was quoted as saying in a vernacular paper.

Biaksiama also criticised the Chhinlung Israel People’s Convention, an organisation, which believes the Mizos to be descendants of one of the 10 lost tribes of Biblical Israel.

Zaithanchhungi, a resident of Aizawl who has researched the history of the Mizos for 10 years, contradicted Biaksiama and said the origin of the Mizos is difficult to trace as they had no written form of language before the missionaries arrived.

However, oral traditions handed down generation mention many rituals, which are similar to those practised by the Jews, she said.

Between 732 and 722 BC, the king of Assyria invaded Palestine, which was then occupied by the Israelites, and took 10 of the 12 tribes to his country as slaves.

Only the tribes of Benjamin and Judah remained in the Holy Land. The history of the 10 tribes was lost to modern man and it was only after Israel gained independence in 1948 that a search began for the descendants of the 10 tribes.

With the identification of the Mizos as the Bne’i Manashe (sons of Manashe), all 10 tribes have been identified.


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'Increase security on border to check illegal immigrants'

New Delhi, Apr 15: Alarmed by rising illegal immigration into North-East India from Bangladesh, Chief Ministers of five states of the region have asked the Centre to increase security along the international borders and help them strengthen their police forces.

They also demanded that the region's insurgency problems be treated as a "national issue as in the case of Kashmir" so that these could be solved quickly.

"Steps have been taken to ensure that the demographic structure of the North-East is kept intact. The Centre should strengthen the presence of border security force along the borders with Bangladesh," Meghalaya Chief Minister D D Lapang told a press conference here last evening.

"They should enhance its manpower and modernise its mechanism for checking immigration. We also expect financial support for modernising our police forces," he added.

He was joined by Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Gegong Apang, Manipur CM O Ibobi Singh, Mizoram CM Zoramthanga and Nagaland CM Neiphiu Rio.

The leaders, who came to the capital for the Chief Minister's Conference on Internal Security and Law and Order, also held discussions earlier with Assam CM Tarun Gogoi and Tripura CM Manik Sarkar, Lapang said.

Asked whether north-eastern states were in favour of a unified command structure as suggested by the Centre, Lapang said, "We will discuss about it once we get the blueprint of the proposal. We will evaluate it with an open mind."

Differences within the states on the issue of illegal immigration, however, became evident with Rio virtually charging Assam with not taking steps to check it.

"Assam has almost become a breeding ground for illegal migrants as they are procuring documents like ration cards there and then coming to the hills, this is very dangerous," the Nagaland CM said.

Rio also claimed that such migrants were being settled in disputed areas between Assam and several other states.

On the decades-long boundary disputes Assam had with Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Manipur, Rio said, "Being the larger sister, Assam should act with accomodative spirit to settle them. Unfortunately, they have approached the Supreme Court."

While supporting Centre's efforts to solve insurgency problems through negotiations, Mizoram CM Zoramthanga said, "We want the Centre to treat the NE issue as a national issue as in the case of Kashmir."

Lapang said the North-East wanted to be a "real asset and pride" of the nation without "murmurs of secessionist activities."

"But for this there should be all-round development so that youths can get employment. If we cannot make them constructive, they are bound to become destructive."

Lapang hoped that there would be greater development in the region with North Eastern Council (NEC) being upgraded from an advisory to a planning body.

"However, its allocation of funds has to be increased from the current Rs 5,000 crore if it is to be effective," Zoramthanga said.

Asked about China's renewed claim over Arunachal Pradesh, Apang said, "It is a central government matter and we have full confidence that it will be settled as in case of Sikkim now that guiding principles for boundary talks have been adopted."

Bureau Report

Mizo Weaving chatroom

Mizo Weaving chatroom was launched www.mizoweaving.com/chat.htm

Phawngpui forest

An Indian farmer has written his will, leaving his body to wild animals, reports Asian News International. New World Laldingliana, 46, of Mizoram has registered his will in a magistrate's court in the state capital Aizawl. It says: "One of my greatest wishes is to throw a feast for the wild animals in Phawngpui forest with my own body. As such, I have made my will without any coercion or motivation from anyone."

Posted on 12 April 2005

Mizoram man wills his body to wild animals

(ANI News) Aizawl: In what could be termed as the strangest will ever made in Mizoram, a man in Kawkulh village has willed his last remains to wild animals after his death.

New World Laldingliana, 46, made his will with the district council court’s first class magistrate Lalbiakzama here last Friday. The will of Laldingliana, who recently received the Pawngpui Award, a prestigious wildlife award given by the state’s Environment and Forest Department says, “I, New World Laldingliana, have decided to give my body to wild animals when my life on earth is over to show that I had given my life for them (the animals).”

An ordinary farmer in Kawkulh village, Laldingliana has become well known for his contributions towards the protection of wildlife, which was confirmed by the award he received from the state’s Environment and Forest Department in 2003.

Laldingliana has established a sanctuary in Kawkulh and planted large varieties of fruit bearing trees to feed birds and animals.

“One of my greatest wishes is to throw a feast for the wild animals in Phawngpui forest with my own body. As such, I have made my will without any coercion or motivation from anyone,” the will further reads.

Laldingliana, who believes in the sanctity of life, says that it’s God call to him to work for the protection of wildlife. “But his ability is very less”, he adds.

The magistrate also said that the will is unique and was the first of its kind that he has ever come across. (India News)

Posted on 12 April 2005

PM launches healthcare mission for villages

(IANS News) New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh Tuesday called for a monitoring system for national healthcare that works with greater community participation.

Launching the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM), initially covering 18 states, Manmohan Singh said the present National Health Survey does not reflect information from districts and sub-districts.

"There is a need to reorient systems to support accountability by developing district health reports," he said.

The first phase of NHRM will cover all villages in Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura.

Terming the health mission as one that seeks to "improve overall the delivery of healthcare", Manmohan Singh said the monitoring systems have to become "outward towards the community and not upwards towards the bureaucracy".

He said that, over the years, the government had failed to achieve comprehensive healthcare and "abandoned this approach and public healthcare for specified diseases".

As a result, the country has paid "inadequate attention to public health issues and preventive medicine", Manmohan Singh said.

Under the new mission, 250,000 accredited social health activists or trained healthcare workers will work as "change agents", he said.

The NRHM will focus on the determinants of good health - nutrition, sanitation, hygiene and safe drinking water. It will also mainstream Indian systems of medicine.

Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss said the mission marked a major shift in the governance of public health by giving leadership to panchayati raj institutions. It aims to increase the reach of the healthcare system to villages.

Minister of State for Health Panabaka Lakshmi said the mission would see increased public expenditure on health, reduction in regional imbalance in health infrastructure, pooling of resources, optimisation of manpower and decentralised management of health programmes.

Besides community participation and ownership of assets, the mission will strengthen community health centres. (India News)

Posted on 07 April 2005, © Asian News International

PIB Aizawl comes up with its website

World News, Aizawl: The PIB of Aizawl today launched a website of its own. The new website, www.pibaizawl.nic.in, was inaugurated by the Minister for Information & Public Relations, Mizoram, Dr. R. Lalthangliana.

The launch of the website has made PIB Aizawl the second branch office to have its own website, the first being PIB Chennai.

Designed on the lines of the PIB’s main website, it offers multifarious features like press releases in Mizo and English, Photogallery (current and archives) and features in Mizo and English. It is well adapted to cater to the local needs of the media with useful links to Central Government Offices.

Mizoram waging war against drug abuse
By Aarti Dhar

AIZAWL, FEB. 6. Mizoram is waging a war against drug abuse for, there isan unprecedented increase in the number of addicts and Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) /Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) cases. The youth have got together under the banner of the Young Men's Association to fight the menace by creating awareness. The current debate in the State is whether lifting prohibition on liquor could reduce drug addiction.

Over the years, drug addiction and HIV/AIDS have become major problems as more and more young men and women are taking to drugs. In January, six people have died due to drug abuse. More than 1,000 deaths have been reported from Mizoram since 1984 when the first drug abuse case was detected. Then the use of heroin was prevalent.

But, now the scene has shifted to the intravenous use of pharmaceutical drugs, particularly proxyvon or spasmoproxyvon capsules — a synthetic analgesic compound known as dextropropoxyphene. Almost 87 per cent drug addicts inject `P' or `SP' as the capsules are called, by dissolving them in water, which enhances its effect.

According to an official spokesperson of the Mizoram Government, it is difficult to measure the exact number of intravenous drug users.During early 1990s some non-governmental organisations and Government agencies estimated it to be around 2,000-2,500.

Another estimate puts the number at 15,000-20,000. The recent figures released by the Excise Department put it at 3,486.

Heroin seizure

Heroin comes into the State from across the international border of Myanmar while all pharmaceutical drugs are from the neighbouring States. ``The stress now is to create awareness at the school level because that is the time when children pick up the habit,'' the spokesperson said.

The intravenous use of drugs has resulted in the transmission of HIV. While Manipur detected its first HIV case in 1988, Mizoram reported its first case in October 1990, both being among the Injecting Drug Users (IDUs).

An independent pilot study conducted between 1991 and 1995 among 200 IDUs revealed that all of them led an active sexual life but safe sex practices were not adopted.

Only 30 per cent of respondents in 1991 knew about HIV or AIDS, the awareness increased to 83.5 per cent by 1995. However, this awareness did not bring in any change of risk behaviour as 87.5 per cent still shared the needles and syringes.

Posted on 06 April 2005, © Indo Asian News Service

Promised land beckons 'lost' northeast tribe

India News, Aizawl: Hundreds of tribal Jews in India's northeast are offering thanksgiving prayers after their religious head in Jerusalem recognised them as one of the Biblical 10 lost tribes.

Aizawl: Hundreds of tribal Jews in India's northeast are offering thanksgiving prayers after their religious head in Jerusalem recognised them as one of the Biblical 10 lost tribes.

The chief rabbi of the Sephardic Jews, Shlomo Amar, announced in Jerusalem last week that members of the 6,000-strong Bnei Menashe tribe in the northeastern states of Mizoram and Manipur were descendants of ancient Israelites.

"We do not have words to express our joy," 48-year-old Peer Tlau, an engineer in Mizoram's capital Aizawl, told IANS.

"We are now looking for the day when we can migrate to our promised land in Israel."

A team of Israeli priests will soon visit Mizoram and Manipur for formal conversion of the tribal people to Judaism.

"The process of migration will be possible only if we are able to read and write Hebrew and practise Judaism in its truest form," Tlau said.

The decision to recognise the tribe as descendants of Israelites follows a visit by two members of the Chief Rabbinate religious jurists to Mizoram and Manipur last year.

"After a thorough review of their findings, it was decided that the Bnei Menashe are in fact descendants of Israel and should be drawn closer to the Jewish people," Rabbi Eliyahu Birnbaum, a rabbinical court judge and spokesman for Rabbi Amar, said in a statement.

As news of the recognition reached the mountainous state of Mizoram, people rejoiced and celebrated the "landmark decision".

"We sang and had good food to celebrate the occasion," said Elishevah Zodingliani, a journalist in Aizawl.

The visit by the Israeli religious leaders to ascertain the veracity of the claims comes in the wake of piles of applications from locals seeking to migrate to Israel, which they say is their "right to return to their promised land".

According to Israeli law, every Jew enjoys the "right of return" -- or the right of abode in Israel. Israel's interior ministry had in the past couple of years put a sanction ordering an open-ended review of the visa arrangement for Jews from Mizoram and Manipur, effectively freezing their immigration.

"Now that the chief rabbi has formally recognised us, there should be no problems to migrate to our native land," said Yonathan Ralte, a college student, said.

At least 800 people from Mizoram and Manipur have migrated to Israel in the last decade, the last batch of 71 people leaving for Jerusalem in May 2003.

The local tribal Mizos and some people of the Bnei Menashe tribe of Manipur are believed to have many things in common with the Jews in Israel.

Like in any Jewish home in Israel, the Mizo Jews also places a mezuzah or a wooden box containing verses from the Torah on the entrance of his home, besides wearing the kippah or headgear during prayers.

"I am convinced the Mizos are Jews. There are lots of similarities between the Israelis and the Mizos," said Zaitthangchungi, a researcher and author of a book "Israel Mizo Identity".

In predominantly Christian Mizoram - about 87 percent of the nearly 900,000 people are Christians - talking about Judaism is not taken very lightly. But the church is maintaining a neutral stand although individual religious leaders were opposed to the conversion to Judaism.

"We do not have problems if someone decides to get converted into Judaism as one has the right to choose any faith they like," said Lalrinawma, moderator of the Presbyterian Synod in Mizoram.

Rangoon wants to meet Dhaka on April 20-21 By Nava Thakuria
Mizzima news
April 5, 2005

Guwahati: Burma wants Dhaka meet with them to sign a tri-nation gas pipeline project deal on April 20-21. At a meeting of the technical committee on the laying of the Burmese gas pipeline to India through Bangladesh, a Memorandum of Understating (MOU) is supposed to be signed by Burma, India and Bangladesh.

The director general of Burmas Energy Ministry, Soe Myint, had already sent an official letter to Dhaka confirming that Rangoon had finalized the draft of the memorandum, a source close to Bangladeshs Energy and Mineral Resources Division has said.

The first meeting of the energy ministers of Burma, India and Bangladesh was held in Rangoon on January 11-12 this year. At that meeting, the participants decided to form a technical committee comprising representatives of the three countries to follow up the action. The first meeting of the technical committee also took place in the Burmese capital on February 24. The committee, which has prepared a draft MOU, later decided to meet the next time in Dhaka to sign the agreement.

Sources said the head of Energy Planning Department of Myanmar put forward the proposal in a letter recently to the chairman of Petrobangla, the state-owned hydrocarbon agency. They are both members of the technical committee that will settle the technicalities of the venture for striking the deal the three nations have agreed upon in principle, reported the United News of Bangladesh from Dhaka.

The proposed gas pipeline will start from Arakan and enter Northeast Indias north-eastern states of Mizoram and Tripura. It will pass through Bangladesh via Brahmanbaria and run to the Rajshahi border before reaching to Kolkata.

Faithful in India mourn passing away of Pope

[India News] New Delhi, April 3 : Special prayers were held in Roman Catholic churches across India Sunday as the faithful mourned the passing away of Pope John Paul II, and many who had met the pontiff recalled his kindness and vision.

Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithyathil of St. Mary's Basilica in Kochi, Kerala, will be going to Vatican City to attend the funeral.

Sister Nirmala, superior general of Kolkata's Missionaries of Charity (MoC) founded by Mother Teresa, will also attend the funeral of Pope John Paul II who died around 1.07 a.m. IST Sunday in Vatican City.

Many remembered interacting with the Pope during his visit to India in February 1986 and November 1999. Christians comprise 25 million of India's one billion population and 17 million of them are Catholics.

In Kerala, where around 22 percent of the state's 32 million population is Christian with Catholics accounting for close to 50 percent, bells tolled in hundreds of Catholic chapels and churches in the state. Special mass was conducted in memory of the departed pontiff.

At Kochi's St. Mary's Basilica, the mass was led by Cardinal Mar Varkey Vithyathil, one of the three cardinals from India who are members of the Sacred College that elects the next pope. The others are Mumbai's Archbishop Ivan Diaz and Ranchi's Telesphore Toppo.

"I had the benefit of being associated with the Pope for close to two decades when I was in Rome. He always had a special place for Kerala in his mind," Vithyathil said.

"I owe my rise in the church to him. It was he who elevated me to the post of a cardinal in 2001," Vithyathil said.

The Pope had paid a three-day visit to Kerala in 1986 during which he conducted a mass at Kochi, and began it, to everyone's delight, in Malayalam. The Pope also blessed Sister Alphonsa and priest Kuriakose Elias Chavara.

T.R. Devassy, the chauffeur who had driven the pontiff from the Kochi airport then, remembers meeting the Pope in May 21, 2003, at the Vatican. "It was the most beautiful moment of our lifetime. He blessed us," Devassy said.

In Kolkata, nuns of the Missionaries of Charity (MoC) held special prayers after receiving news of the Pope's death.

Sister Nirmala, superior general of the organisation that works among the city's poor, had turned to Pope John Paul II after the death of Mother Teresa to seek directions to run the MoC.

"After Mother's death I spoke to the Pope several times and sought his directions on many issues," said a grieving Nirmala.

The MoC members, who had been praying for the past few days when the Pope was ailing, prayed since morning Sunday after the pontiff's death was confirmed by the Vatican.

The Pope had beatified Mother Teresa in October 2003.

In the national capital, the faithful gathered at the Sacred Heart Cathedral where candles were lit near the portrait of the pontiff placed at the entrance.

Sister Marie Therese of the Jesus and Mary congregation in New Delhi told IANS: "When I met him he spoke to me in English even though he himself knew very little of the language. I have only fond memories of the Pope." She had met the pontiff several times at the Vatican.

Prayers, which began in the cathedral Saturday evening, will continue till the Pope's funeral Wednesday afternoon. There will be a special prayer service Monday evening and an inter-religious prayer meeting Tuesday evening.

As a mark of respect, the diocese announced a holiday Monday for all catholic educational institutions in Delhi and seven districts of Haryana.

In the northeast, thousands of Catholics held special prayers to mourn the death of the Pope.

"We feel sad at his demise but at the same time we must understand that John Paul is now closer to god," Pricilla Sangma, a nun in Assam's main city Guwahati, said sobbing.

Special prayers were offered across the northeastern region, where an estimated 20 percent of the 40 million people in the seven states of Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur, Tripura, Mizoram, Nagaland, and Arunachal Pradesh are Christians.

"We prayed for the pontiff's departed soul and hoped his message of peace and harmony survives the passage of time," Archbishop of Guwahati Thomas Menamparampill told IANS.

"The Pope's message of peace and universal brotherhood was the theme of special prayers held Sunday."

Pope John Paul II had visited Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, during his trip to India in 1986. A rally addressed by him at that city's Golf Links was attended by thousands of people from across the region.

--Indo-Asian News Service

Pilots' strike hits Alliance Air service:

[India News]: Kolkata, Feb 15 : A wildcat strike by pilots of Alliance Air affected the airline's service in the country's northeast Tuesday.

According to Indian Airlines officials 20 Alliance Air pilots remained absent from work in support of their demands.

The strike forced the airline, a subsidiary of Indian Airlines, to cancel flights to several destinations in the northeast.

Indian Airlines official Sekhar Ghosh had flown to Kolkata from New Delhi to negotiate with the striking pilots.

Passengers destined for at least two cities were accommodated on Indian Airlines flights.

--Indo-Asian News Service

Manipur eyes place in India's winter tourism map:

[India News]: Aizawl, Feb.10 : Manipur, it seems, is eying its place in India's tourism map.

To attract tourists, the state government recently organised a winter festival at which it brought forth Manipur's cultural richness. Out of the 29 tribes in the state, 17 not only showcased their rich repetoire of dance and music, but through their different styles reflected their united purpose of presenting to the world a new facet of Manipur - a Manipur where violence is an aberration and peace is way of life.

"People in Manipur did not have such an awareness before. The tourism department is not so developed here, but the government and the art and folk dance guild still organised the festival. I think this will certainly boost the tourism sector," said Imocha Heisnam.

"The prospects are good. Now, in terms of development, it (tourism festival) will bring prosperity," added Ibotombi Singh.

The state government is working hard to develop tourism, using its rich natural and anthropological beauty to attract tourists in droves. In 2001 around 100,000 people visited the state. The state government is trying to restore peace and remove some of the bureaucratic bottlenecks to attract many more tourists.

"We have got the protected area permit or PAP because of which foreign tourists can't visit. We have already discussed this issue with the governor and will also take it up with the Government of India. Secondly, the budget provision for the tourism department is very low, and we have requested the Government of India to help us to develop this sector of the state," says Manipur's Tourism Minister K.Govindas.

A little paradise on earth, Manipur is home to a host of rare flora and fauna, besides an exotic scenery.The state government has initiated plans to develop tourist complexes in Moreh,Thongam Mondum,Singda and a health resort near Imphal.By developing its tourism infrastructure, Manipur hopes to broaden its reach to the ASEAN nations. The prospects are bright as the state may soon be linked by highway to most countries in South East Asia. (ANI)

Mizoram to send bamboo for tsunami victims:

[India News]: Aizawl, Feb 4 : Mizoram government today decided to send one lakh bamboo to tsunami victims in Tamil Nadu for reconstruction of destroyed houses and would decide on sending the material to Andaman and Nicobar islands after assessing the requirement.

A meeting chaired by Chief Minister Zoramthanga decided that the bamboo collection would be undertaken by the state environment and forest department.

NGOs would also be invited to collect the bamboo, the meeting decided.

Mizoram government was asked by the centre to provide bamboo for re-construction of damaged houses in tsunami hit areas.

Bamboos form an integral part of the bio-diversity and lifestyle of the Andaman and Nicobar islands, which were ravaged by the December tsunamis. PTI

Patil in Tripura for border survey:

[India News]: Agartala, Jan.31 : Union Home Minister Shivraj Patil, who is currently on a two-day visit to Tripura, on Monday reviewed the law and order situation in the state and also assessed the progress on various central government aided developmental projects.

Accompanied by the state's Chief Secretary, R K Mathur, its Director General of Police, G M Srivastava, and other senior officials, Patil inspected border out posts and the ongoing barbed wire fencing work going across the 856 km Indo-Bangladesh border that Tripura shares with Bangladesh.

Patil took note of the activity and the situation in which the Border Security Force jawans work, and praised them for their hardship in protecting the country from foreign invasions.

The Home Minister also visited a Bangladesh Rifles post at Akhauara where he was received by Colonel A K M Jahangir and other senior officials of Bangladesh Rifles (BDR). He inspected the guard of honour and exchanged dialogue and sweets with the officials there.

Later Patil meet Governor DN Sahaya and Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and held an inter security meeting at the secretariat building.

The Home Minister also had an interaction with the media person at the Raj Bhavan here. He said that terrorism is a double-edged weapon and Bangladesh should realise it that the militants being sheltered there is also a threat to Bangladesh.

He also emphasized on the early completion of the border fencing work going both in the Western as well as Eastern frontier to stop infiltration, movement of militants and other illegal activities. He said that infiltration has come down in Jammu and Kashmir and after the completion of the fencing in the Northeast, infiltration in the North East would also go down.

The State Minister of Home Prakash Jaswal, DG BSF R. S. Mooshahary, DG CRPF J K Sinha and other senior officials accompanied the Home Minister. He shall leave for Mizoram tomorrow morning. (ANI)

Ten states report country's half malarial deaths:

[India News]: New Delhi, Jan 30 : Ten states in the north east and eastern region which, otherwise, are thought to be "generously blessed by nature" also harbour mosquitoes and are responsible for half of the malarial deaths within the country, a top official has said.

"North-eastern states, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand - the known green states - also possess the dubious distinction of the top ten states that contribute about 49 per cent of country's malarial deaths," Director, National Institute of Vector-borne Diseases, Dr P L Joshi told PTI.

States such as Assam, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Sikkim, Nagaland, Tripura, Orissa, West Bengal and Jharkhand are home to only 18 per cent of the country's population but contribute about 72 per cent of the malarial cases, he said.

"About 64 per cent of the Celebral or brain malaria cases are reported from the region. The deadly form of disease could be life threatening if not treated timely," Joshi said.

High prevalence of Vector-borne diseases including malaria and dengue in these states which largely form the "green belt" also hinder their social and economical progress, he said adding "Orissa tops the list with country's one-fourth deaths due to malaria are reported from there." PTI

Shivraj Patil to visit northeast:

[India News]: New Delhi, Jan 29 : Home Minister Shivraj Patil will Sunday begin a four-day tour of the northeast to review the security situation in Tripura, Mizoram and Assam.

Patil, who will head a high-level team, will hold discussions on issues relating to internal security with the governors, chief ministers and senior officials of the three states.

He will also address a conference of chief ministers of the northeastern states to be held in Guwahati Tuesday.

Patil, who will be accompanied by Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal, will visit some border outposts.

Assam has witnessed a spurt in violence that has been blamed on the banned United Liberation Front of Asom. The main Republic Day function in Guwahati was marred by two bomb blasts.

Patil had last visited the northeast in November.

Indo-Asian News Service

Bru jhum cultivators' huts torched in Mizoram:

[India News]: Aizawl, Jan 28 : Six huts belonging to Bru jhum (shifting) cultivators were torched by unidentified persons at a hamlet in Kolalian village of Mizoram on the border with Assam, police said today.

However, none was injured in the incident and the belongings of the Bru jhum cultivators were taken out by the attackers before torching the huts yesterday, Mamit district additional superintendent of police Rodingliana Chawngthu told PTI over phone.

The attack follows demands by students of a nearby village to the Bru jhum cultivators to leave after harvesting as they were not bona fide residents of the state and setting up of the jhum hamlet was illegal.

Kolalian used to be a village inhabited by Brus before the mass exodus of the members of the community to Tripura in late 1997 following ethnic tension. Some of the Bru jhumias from Tripura and Assam had begun to relocate at the village during the past four years and even undertook shifting cultivation in the area, official sources said.

Many of the Brus who had fled to Tripura had also returne to the village though a large number of them are still lodged in six relief camps at Kanchanpur sub-division of North Tripura district, the sources added. PTI

Excavations show North East India had ties with China:

[India News]: Guwahati, Jan 28 : A professor of Guwahati University has claimed to have found evidence of palaeolithic culture which has thrown light on the prehistory of the state linking it to Southeast Asia and China.

Prof Dilip Medhi who worked for years in the state says Mizoram can boast of its prehistoric status with the discovery of evidence of the palaeolithic culture.

Medhi says in his findings that there was plenty of authenticating evidence of human migration from Southeast Asia and China to the North East part of India and to other mainland.

He also says that the N E region had relation with China and Southeast Asia and that neolithic shouildered celts were found in North Cachar hills of Assam and in 1964, again in Kamrup district of the same state and also at Parse Parlo in Arunachal Pradesh.

Medhi says according to the findings Mizoram can boast of three major cultural ties with Southeast Asia which are the palaeolithic, neolithic and megalithic.

He reveals that three massive choppers including few othe Tools came to his hand whose appearance provides a connection of Mizoram to the palaeolithic "Anyathian' culture in the Yeraadi valley of Myanmar. PTI

Around 100 chieftains for tribals

Bit Irom (Integrity News Intl.)

IMPHAL, Jan 28: 2005: Around 100 ethnic tribal chieftains in the interior area of the Manipur's Churachandpur district sharing border with Myanmar and Mizoram have urged the governments at the centre and state to take positive steps for bringing succour to the civilians displaced in the counter insurgency operations. The village chiefs after convening meetings twice at Santing and Aina in the same district recently have taken strong exception to the restriction imposed on transportation of food items, using villagers as porters and guides and defiling the sacred of religious places by the army personnel in the name of the operations. In a joint memorandum, the village chiefs condemned the action of the law protectors engaged in CI operations as devoid of human sense.

The memorandum states that restrictions are also imposed on bringing in battery and kerosene oil in the tribal villages. It also appeals against using innocent villagers as human shields and porters suffering injuries during shoot outs with the insurgents in several villages. The villagers are also forced to fetch water for the army men. With army personnel having occupied Pangshang Church, the villagers are not allowed to go inside the Church for worship defiling the sanctity of the Church.

Accusing the security men of limiting movement of essential commodities, the memorandum said that apart from restricting movement of essential commodities into the interior areas of Churachandpur, the army had imposed a ban on transpiration of life-saving medicines as well with the result avoidable deaths of six persons including two children during the past two months. Civilian vehicles are also used as shields for movement of Army vehicles. The chiefs included from the villages of Hence, Phoipi, Umtal, Singtam, Singngat, Bangai Sampau, Pansang, Henjang, Phoipi, Tumuljang, Phoipi, Sijol, Tipaimukh, Thanlon, Henglep, Tuilaphai, Kolhen, New Pangshang, Pangshang, Umtal, Silhol, Santing and Aina. Meanwhile, several voluntary organizations including the International Peace and Social Advancement and Kuki Inpi Manipur, the apex Kuki body in the state have condemned the actions of the law protectors pressing the governments to take steps for bringing betterment of the helpless civilians affected by the "Operations All Clear" which started since first week of October last. Integrity News International

BSF killed 297 Bangladeshis in four years: NGO report By Nazrul Islam:

[World News]: Dhaka, Jan 27 : Indian border guards and miscreants have reportedly killed as many as 297 Bangladeshi people over the past four years, a non-governmental group working on human rights in Bangladesh said on Wednesday.

"Frequent intrusion of the Indian Border Security Force into Bangladesh territory, shooting down of innocent peoples, abduction and hijacking have created a humanitarian disaster-like situation in the frontiers," said a statement issued by the coalition of non governmental organisations, Odhikar.

Scanning newspaper reports and investigating other sources of information from July 2000 to July 2004, the organisation compiled a report, which also stated that the Indian guards and the miscreants violated human rights over 1500 people during the period.

The report, however, did not mention the number of casualties by Bangladesh Rifles, the official border guards of Bangladesh.

Most of the people killed in BSF firing are stated to be innocent peasants, said the report adding that the authorities failed to minimize the number of incidents despite having number of flag meetings at different tires - from company commander level to director general level.

Giving details of the rights violation, the Odhikar said the Indian guards arrested 451, abducted 390 and raped three women while BSF shooting killed 297 and injured 407 people during the period.

In the first six month of 2004, 34 Bangladeshis were killed. The number was 43 in 2003, 105 in 2002, 94 in 2001 and 21 from July to December 2000. (ANI)

Kohli unfurls tricolor amidst tight security:

[India News]: Aizawl, Jan 26 : Mizoram Governor Amolak Rattan Kohli today unfurled the national flag on the occasion of the Republic Day at the Assam Rifles ground here amidst tight security.

More security personnel than usual were deployed to prevent disruptive forces from taking advantage of the peaceful conditions prevailing in the state even as there were no specific threats this year, Aizawl district Superintendent of Police L T Hrangchal said.

In his address to the people, Kohli said the state continued to be one of the most peaceful states in the country and it had taken big strides in development for bringing prosperity to the people.

He congratulated the security and law enforcement agencies, the churches and the NGOs for their committed endeavours and for the active cooperation of the peace-loving and religious people of the state for maintaining peace.

Outlining the achievements of the state government, the governor said high priority was accorded to introduction of organic farming where utilisation of bio-fertiliser and bio-pesticides were given due encouragement.

He said a Bamboo Policy had been framed and Bamboo Development Agency constituted for sustainable utilisation of extensive bamboo resources in the state.

"My government is fully prepared to deal with the situation arising out of gregarious flowering of bamboo which caused famine or 'Mautam' as locally known, at an interval of 50 years," he said.

"To deal with gregarious flowering of bamboo during 2005-2007, the state government has undertaken programmes of fast track harvesting and creation of plantation of improved and more valuable species of bamboo," he said. PTI

Republic Day in northeast amid boycott call:

[India News]: Guwahati, Jan 26 : At least 100,000 Indian security personnel were deployed across India's northeast Wednesday on the country's Republic Day as separatist groups called for a boycott of all celebrations.

"Security forces are on maximum alert in the region," an army commander said here.

At least 10 separatist groups have called for a boycott of the Republic Day festivities in five of the seven northeastern states. The only two states where there are no such calls are Mizoram and Nagaland.

Mizoram does not have any rebel group while two of the militant outfits active in Nagaland are currently operating a ceasefire with New Delhi.

"Normal life has been affected in Assam, Manipur and Meghalaya in view of the 24-hour strike call by militants (that began Tuesday midnight)," a police officer said here.

Streets were deserted, with public and private transport going off the roads, police sources said.

Militants in Assam triggered a series of explosions in the run-up to the celebrations killing at least six people and blowing up an oil pipeline.

Militants in the insurgency-hit northeast have for years were boycotting India's Independence Day and Republic Day celebrations to protest against New Delhi's rule over the vast region rich in oil, tea and timber.

The run up to the events has always been violent, with rebels striking vital installations including crude oil pipelines, trains and road and rail bridges, besides targeting security forces.

"We are carrying out aerial surveillance over government installations to foil possible rebel attacks," an army spokesman said.

--Indo-Asian News Service

List of Padma awards recipients:

[India News]: New Delhi, Jan 25 : The following is the list of recipients of the Padma awards announced here Tuesday on the eve of the Republic Day celebrations.

Padma Vibhushan: Bal Krishnan Goyal (medicine) Maharashtra, Bhai Mohan Singh (trade and industry) Delhi, Jyotindra Nath Dixit (posthumous - civil service) Delhi, Karan Singh (public affairs) Delhi, Martanda Varma Sankaran Valiathan (medicine) Delhi, Milon Kumar Banerjee (public affairs) Delhi, Mohan Dharia (social worker) Maharashtra, Pandit Ram Narayan (art) Maharashtra and Rasipuram Krishnaswami Laxman (art) Maharashtra.

Padma Bhushan: A Ramachandran (art) Delhi, Andre Beteille (literature and education) Delhi, Anil kohli (medicine) Delhi, Azim Premji (trade and industry) Karnataka, Balraj Puri (literature and education) Jammu and Kashmir, Brijmohan Lall Munjal (trade and industry) Delhi, Chandi Prasad Bhatt (social work) Uttaranchal, G.V. Ramakrishna (civil service) Tamil Nadu.

Girish Chandra Saxena (civil service) Delhi, Hari Mohan (medicine) Delhi, Irfan Habib (literature and education), Uttar Pradesh, K. Srinath Reddy (medicine) Delhi, Kiran Majumdar Shaw (science and engineering) Karnataka, M.T. Vasudevan Nair (art) Kerala, Mrinal Miri (journalism) Meghalaya, Mrinal Datta Chaudhuri (trade and industry) Delhi.

Narasimhiah Seshagiri (science and engineering) Karnataka, Prabodh Chandra Dey alias Manna Dey (art) Maharashtra, Qurratulain Hyder (literature and education) Uttar Pradesh, Romila Thapar (literature and education) Delhi, S.R. Sankaran (civil services) Andhra Pradesh, Sardar Anjum (literature and education) Haryana.

Late Syed Mir Qasim (public affairs) Jammu and Kashmir, T.R. Satish Chandran (civil services) Karnataka, Tarlochan Singh (medicine) Delhi, Valangiman Subramanian Ramamurthy (science and engineering) Delhi, Varaprasad K. Reddy (science and engineering) Andhra Pradesh, Mark Tully (journalism) Britain, Yash Chopra (art) Maharashtra and Yusuf khwaja Hamied (trade and industry) Maharashtra.

Padma Shri: Amin Kmil (literature and education) Jammu and Kashmir, Amiya Kumar Bagchi (literature and education) West Bengal, Anil Kumble (sports) Karnataka, Banwarilal Chouksev (science and engineering) Madhya Pradesh, Bhagavatula Dattaguru (science and engineering) Karnataka, Bilat Paswan Vihangam (literature and education) Bihar, Chaturbhuj Meher (art) Orissa.

Cyrus Soli Poonawalla (trade and industry) Maharashtra, Darchhawna (literature and education) Mizoram, Dipankar Banerjee (science and engineering) Delhi, G. Bakthavathsalam (medicine) Tamil Nadu, Gadul Singh Lama (literature and education) Sikkim, Gambhini Devi Tumlembam (art) Manipur, Ustad Ghulam Sadiq Khan (art) Delhi.

Gladys Staines (social work) Australia, Gurbachan Singh Randhawa (sports) Delhi, Hema Bharali (social work) Assam, Indira Jaisingh (public affairs) Delhi, J.M. Hans (medicine) Delhi, Jagtar Singh Grewal (literature and education) Punjab, K.C. Reddy (civil services) Karnataka, Kanaksen Deka (journalism) Assam, Kavita Subramaniam Krishnamurti (art) Karnataka, Guru Kedarnath Sahu (art) Jharkhand.

Komala Varadan (art) Delhi, Krishnan Nair Santhakumari Chitra (art) Tamil Nadu, Kumkum Mohanty (art) Orissa, Kunnakudi R. Vaidyanathan (art) Tamil Nadu, Kuntgod Vibhuti Subbanna (art) Karnataka, Lalsawma (social work) Mizoram, Lavu Narendranath (medicine) Andhra Pradesh, Madhu Sudan Kanungo (science and engineering) Uttar Pradesh.

Mahadevappa Madappa (science and engineering) Karnataka, Mammen Mathew (journalism) Kerala, Manas Chaudhuri (journalism) Meghalaya, Manuel Santana alias M. Boyer Aguior (art) Goa, Mehrunnisa Parvez (literature and education) Madhya Pradesh, Muzaffar Ali (art) Uttar Pradesh, Nana Chudasama (social work) Maharashtra.

P.N. Vasudevan Kurup (medicine) Gujarat, Pullela Gopichand (sports) Andhra Pradesh, Puna Ram Nishad (art) Chhattisgarh, Puran Chand Wadali (art) Punjab, Rachel Thomas (sports) Delhi, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore (sports) Rajasthan, Swami Ram Swaroop Sharma (art) Uttar Pradesh, Shah Rukh Khan (art) Maharashtra, Shameem Dec Azad (art) Jammu and Kashmir.

Shantaram Balwant Mujumdar (literature and education) Maharashtra, Shobhana Bhartia (journalism) Delhi, Sougaijan Thanil Singh (art) Manipur, Srikumar Banerjee (science and engineering) Maharashtra, Sunita Narain (environmen protection) Delhi, Sushil Sahai (social work) Uttar Pradesh, Theilin Phanbuh (social work) Meghalaya.

Vasudevan Gnana Gandhi (science and engineering) Kerala and Veer Singh Mehta (medicine) Delhi.

Indo-Asian News Service

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