Today Picture



PM Modi to visit B’desh next week


Modi’s visit to Bangladesh will be his first overseas trip since the outbreak of Covid, reflecting the priority India attaches to ties with Dhaka.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will visit Bangladesh from 26-27 March at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, according to official announcement.

“This visit is in connection with the commemoration of three epochal events – Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman; 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties between India and Bangladesh; and 50 years of Bangladesh’s war of liberation,” the External Affairs Ministry said. Modi had last visited Bangladesh in 2015.

Modi’s visit to Bangladesh will be his first overseas trip since the outbreak of Covid, reflecting the priority India attaches to ties with Dhaka.


 
During the visit, the Prime Minister will attend the National Day programme of Bangladesh on 26 March as the guest of honour. Besides holding talks with Sheikh Hasina, Modi will call on Bangladesh President Md. Abdul Hamid. Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister A K Abdul Momen will call on the Indian leader.




‘Not all banks are going to be privatized’: Nirmala Sitharaman


“We want banks to meet the aspirations of the country,” she said.

Nirmala Sitharaman, the Union Finance Minister on Tuesday “assured” that not all banks will be privatised.

If and when it happens, the interest of the employees will be protected, she said while addressing the media as the strike called by bank unions entered the second day against the proposed privatisation.

“We want banks to meet the aspirations of the country,” she said.

Even for those banks which are likely to be privatized, the privatized institutions too will continue to function after privatization, the interests of the staff will be protected, said Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

“Interests of workers of banks which are likely to be privatized will absolutely be protected, whether their salaries or scale or pension, all will be taken care of,” said Nirmala Sitharaman.

“We have announced a Public Enterprise Policy where we have identified 4 areas where public sector presence will be there, in this, the financial sector too is there. Not all banks are going to be privatized,” added the Finance Minister.




Covid spike: PM convenes meeting of CMs on 17 March


This was stated here today by chief minister, B S Yediyurappa, immediately after the high level technical committee meeting that he had convened to discuss the situation arising out of the fast spreading virus in the state.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has convened a meeting of chief ministers on 17 March to discuss the surge in Covid-19 cases in some states.

This was stated here today by chief minister, B S Yediyurappa, immediately after the high level technical committee meeting that he had convened to discuss the situation arising out of the fast spreading virus in the state.

Senior officials at today’s meeting appeared alarmed at the increasing number of Covid-19 cases which, they felt could well be signs of a second wave.

While emphasising the seriousness of the current situation, the chief minister was quick to add that luckily the mortality rates were under control.

Even as he ruled out the immediate possibility of a second lockdown, he was quick to add that it would depend on the cooperation extended by the people.

He said that the government would look at punishing the violators of the government’s safety norms to prevent Covid spread.

In fact, the need for strict enforcement of the norms has also arisen following the increase in the movement of people from neighbouring states like Maharashtra and Kerala, both of which have seen a sharp jump in the cases.

Meanwhile, India recorded 26,291 new Covid-19 cases on Monday, its highest single- day spike in 85 days, taking the country’s infection tally to 1,13,85,339, according to Union Health Ministry data.

The death toll due to the disease increased to 1,58,725 with 118 more fatalities being recorded in a day, the data updated at 8 a.m. showed.

Registering an upward trend for five days in a row, the total active caseload has gone up to 2,19,262 which is 1.93 per cent of the total infections in the country, while the recovery rate has dropped to 96.68 per cent, the data stated.

Delhi adds 368 cases, 3 deaths:

The Covid-19 positive cases in Delhi today dipped to 368 from yesterday’s 407 cases. The city reported three more coronavirus-linked fatalities, which pushed its Covid toll to 10,944.




Fight against Covid: India achieves over 3 crore vaccinations


A total of 18,63,623 vaccine doses were given on Monday, taking the total vaccinations in the country to 3,17,71,661 on the 59th day of the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination, as per the provisional report shared by the ministry.

India has crossed an important milestone in its fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. In the world’s largest vaccination programme, the cumulative number of Covid-19 vaccine doses administered in the country crossed the 3 crore mark on Monday, the Health Ministry said.

A total of 18,63,623 vaccine doses were given on Monday, taking the total vaccinations in the country to 3,17,71,661 on the 59th day of the nationwide Covid-19 vaccination, as per the provisional report shared by the ministry.

Of these, 15,98,136 beneficiaries were administered the first dose and 2,65,487 healthcare and frontline workers received a second dose of vaccine as per the provisional report compiled till 7 p.m., it added.

“Final reports would be completed for the day by late tonight (Monday night),” the ministry said.

According to the Health Ministry, those administered the vaccination include 74,08,521 HCWs who have taken the first dose and 43,97,613 who have taken the second dose, 74,26,479 FLWs have taken the first dose while 13,23,527 of them received the second dose.

“Besides, 16,96,497 beneficiaries aged 45 and above with specific co-morbidities and 95,19,024 beneficiaries more than 60 years old also received their first shot,” it added.




Bill to define role, powers of Delhi LG introduced in Lok Sabha


According to proposed amendments, Section 21 of the Act~ dealing with restrictions on laws passed by legislative assembly with respect to certain matters ~ is sought to be revised to clarify that the expression ‘government’ referred to in any law to be made by the legislative assembly shall mean the ‘Lieutenant Governor’.

With the objective of giving a proper “interpretation” of a Supreme Court ruling, the government on Monday introduced a Bill in Lok Sabha that seeks to define certain role and powers of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

Union Minister of State for Home G Kishan Reddy introduced the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Bill, 2021. According to proposed amendments, Section 21 of the Act~ dealing with restrictions on laws passed by legislative assembly with respect to certain matters ~ is sought to be revised to clarify that the expression ‘government’ referred to in any law to be made by the legislative assembly shall mean the ‘Lieutenant Governor’.

A sub-section shall be inserted to this effect in Section 21. In section 24 of the principal Act~ which requires a Bill passed by the Delhi legislative assembly to be presented to the LG who may assent, withhold or reserve it for consideration of the President — an additional clause will be inserted to cover any of the matters that fall outside the purview of the powers conferred on the legislative assembly.

In Section 33 of the principal Act, in sub-section (1) after the words “conduct of its business”, the words “which shall not be inconsistent with the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in House of People” shall be inserted.

Also, in the proviso, for the words “Provided that”, the following shall be substituted, “Provided that the Legislative Assembly shall not make any rule to enable itself or its Committees to consider the matters of day-to-day administration of the Capital or conduct inquiries in relation to the administrative decisions, and any of the rule made in contravention of this proviso, before the commencement of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Act, 2021, shall be void”.

~With inputs from PTI~




Batla House encounter: 13 years on, court gives death penalty to Ariz


On 8 March, the court had convicted Khan in the case, noting that he murdered encounter specialist and inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.The Additional Sessions Judge had said that Khan, along with his associates, intentionally and voluntarily caused the murder of Sharma by the use of gun shot.

Thirteen years after the Batla House encounter, a Delhi Court on Monday sentenced Ariz Khan, who was convicted of the murder of inspector Mohan Chand Sharma and other offences, to death.

Additional Sessions Judge Sandeep Yadav called it a ‘rarest of rare case’ while awarding the death penalty. He said Ariz be hanged by neck till death.

The court also imposed a total fine of Rs 11 lakh on Ariz in the case.

It said Rs 10 lakh should be immediately released to the family members of Sharma.

“I feel the fine of Rs 10 lakh is insufficient. Hence, I am referring the matter to Delhi Legal Services Authority for award of additional compensation,” the judge further said.

The prosecution had sought death penalty for Khan in the case, while the counsel for the convict sought leniency on the ground of his young age.

On 8 March, the court had convicted Khan in the case, noting that he murdered encounter specialist and inspector Mohan Chand Sharma.

The Additional Sessions Judge had said that Khan, along with his associates, intentionally and voluntarily caused the murder of Sharma by the use of gun shot.

Ariz Khan was convicted under Sections 186 (obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions), 333 (voluntarily causes grievous hurt), 353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant) and 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code.

He has also been held guilty under Sections 307 (attempt to murder), 174(a) (non-appearance in response to a proclamation) and 34 (criminal intention) of the IPC and Section 27 (using any prohibited weapons) of the Arms Act.

On 19 September in 2008, the Special Cell of Delhi Police had carried out an encounter at the Batla House in Jamia Nagar, in which two suspected Indian Mujahideen terrorists and inspector Sharma were killed. Ariz Khan had fled from the spot and was declared a proclaimed offender. He was arrested on 14 February, 2018.

Ariz Khan is allegedly associated with the terror outfit Indian Mujahideen. The police claimed that he was present at the Batla House during the encounter and had managed to give the police a slip.

In July 2013, a trial court had sentenced Indian Mujahideen terrorist Shahzad Ahmed to life imprisonment in connection with the case.

~With inputs from Agencies~




India to take up racism issues with Britain when required: Jaishankar


External Affairs Minister was responding to concerns raised by a BJP MP over racism that forced Indian-origin Rashmi Samant to resign as president of the Oxford University Students Union

India will take up with the UK when required the alleged incidents of racism in Britain, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said in the Rajya Sabha on Monday. He also described India as the land of Mahatma Gandhi and said it can never turn its eyes away from racism.

Responding to concerns raised by a BJP MP over racism and cyberbullying that forced Indian-origin Rashmi Samant to resign as president of the Oxford University Students Union, the minister said New Delhi has strong ties with the UK and will take up such matters with great candour when required. “I note the sentiments of the House,” he said. “I do want to say that as a land of Mahatma Gandhi, we can never ever turn our eyes away from racism wherever it is. Particularly so when it is in a country where we have such a large diaspora,” he said.

Samant, the first Indian woman to be elected as president of the Oxford University Students Union, was forced to resign within five days of her appointment over several of her social media posts that were labelled anti- Semitic and racist.

BJP’s Ashwini Vaishnav said she was cyber bullied and her parent’s Hindu religious beliefs were publicly attacked by a faculty member. “As a friend of the UK, we also have concerns about its reputational impact,” he said. “What I do want to say is that we have strong ties with the UK and we will take up such matters with great candour when required.”

“We will raise it when required and we will always champion the fight against racism and other forms of intolerance,” he added.

~With inputs from PTI~




Mamata security lapse: ECI shifts DM, suspends cops


ECI concludes CM sustained injuries prima facie due to lapse on part of her security in-charge

Two weeks before the first phase of the Assembly elections in Bengal, the Election Commission of India today transferred the district magistrate of East Midnapore and suspended the superintendent of police of the district as well as the director, security, of the state in the wake of the alleged attack on West Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee in Nandigram on 10 March.

In addition, a second police observer has been posted to observe the conduct of the elections in the state. The ECI has appointed former DGP (Intelligence) of Punjab, Anil Kumar Sharma as a Special Police Observer for the state. Mr Vivek Dubey is the other Special Police Observer appointed for the elections in the state.

Mr Vivek Sahay, IPS, Director, Security, has been removed from his post and placed under suspension immediately.

A statement from the Election Commission said that charges must be framed against him within a week for “grossly failing in discharge of his primary duty as Director, Security” to protect Miss Banerjee, who is entitled to Z+ security.

The chief secretary has been asked to appoint a new director, security and inform the Commission within 1 p.m. tomorrow.

A committee of the Chief Secretary and DGP shall identify within next three days the other proximate security personnel below Director, Security, who failed in their duties to prevent the incident and protect the Z+ protectee VVIP and take suitable action for their failure, under intimation to the Commission by 5 p.m. on 17 March, the EC said.

The commission today discussed the reports submitted by Chief Secretary Alapan Bandopadhyay and the joint report submitted by Special General Observer Ajay Nayak and Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey on the incident.

Agency reports from New Delhi quoted sources in the ECI as saying that based on the reports, the ECI concluded that Miss Banerjee sustained the injuries prima facie due to a lapse on the part of her security in-charge.

Mr Pravin Prakash, IPS, SP East Midnapore, has also been placed under suspension and charges would be framed against him for major failure of arrangements, according to the ECI.

Mr Sunil Kumar Yadav, of the 2009 IPS batch will be posted immediately as SP East Midnapore in place of Mr Prakash. Ms Smita Pandey, IAS (2005 batch) will be posted as DM and DEO, East Mdinapore in place of Vibhu Goel, who will be transferred to a non-election post. “Chief Secretary shall ensure that the investigation of Nandigram PS Case number 97/21 is completed and action taken in next 15 days. Report shall be sent to the Commission by 31 March,” said an EC official.




Babul Supriyo, 3 other BJP MPs to fight Bengal polls


Babul to contest from Tollygunge; Nishit Pramanik and Locket Chatterjee have been fielded from Dinhata and Chunchura respectively. Swapan Dasgupta is the nominee for Tarakeshwar

Union minister Babul Supriyo, former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri, Metroman E Sreedharan, film star Kushboo Sundar as well as five sitting MPs were among the BJP’s star-studded list of candidates released on Sunday for the upcoming polls in four states.

The BJP has fielded four MPs, including Union minister Supriyo, in West Bengal, and two in Kerala, raising its stakes in these state polls by bringing its best-known faces from there into these electoral contests.

Addressing a Press conference at the BJP headquarters, party general secretary Arun Singh along with Union ministers G Kishan Reddy and Debasree Chaudhuri released the names of 63 candidates for West Bengal Assembly polls, 17 candidates each for Assam and Tamil Nadu and 112 for the elections in Kerala. Mr Singh said the party will contest in 115 out of 140 Assembly seats in Kerala and in the remaining seats its allies will field their candidates.

For the high-stakes battle for Bengal Assembly, the BJP has fielded Union minister Babul Supriyo, three sitting MPs, a noted economist and several Tollywood personalties. Mr Supriyo is the BJP’s candidate from Tollygunge, where he will face off against Trinamul Congress heavy-weight Aroop Biswas.

Lok Sabha MPs Nishit Pramanik and Locket Chatterjee have been fielded from from Dinhata and Chunchura respectively. Rajya Sabha MP Swapan Dasgupta is the BJP’s nominee for Tarakeshwar assembly segment. Outgoing MLA of Singur Rabindranath Bhattacharya, who had crossed over from the Trinamul Congress after it denied him ticket, has been fielded from the same seat by the BJP.

Besides Chatterjee, the party has given ticket to several Bengali film personalities, including Tanushree Chakraborty from Shyampur, Payal Sarkar from Behala Purba and actor Yash Dasgupta from Chanditala in Kolkata. The BJP also nominated former Chief Economic Advisor Ashok Lahiri from Alipurduar. Lahiri has also served as chairman of the Kolkata-based Bandhan Bank and was a member of the Finance Commission from 2017 to 2020.

In Kerala, the BJP fielded ‘metroman’ E Sreedharan from Palakkad and former Union minister and sitting MP K J Alphons from the Kanjirappally Assembly seat. The party has also fielded sitting Rajya Sabha MP Suresh Gopi from Thrissur.

For Tamil Nadu, the BJP announced actor-turned politician Khushbu Sundar as its candidate from the Thousand Lights seat. BJP’s women cell chief Vanathi Srinivasan fielded against film star Kamal Haasan from Coimbatore South seat.

~With inputs from PTI~




Opp demands discussion on rising fuel price, Cong’s Mallikarjun Kharge debuts as leader of Opposition


The Opposition wanted to embarrass the government on the quick revisions of the petrol and diesel prices as it affected common man.

Parliament resumed its Budget Session last week with minimal business because of repeated adjournments.

The Opposition wanted immediate discussion on petroleum price-hikes, but the presiding officers declined, saying the members could raise the subject while discussing the budgetary demands later.

The Opposition wanted to embarrass the government on the quick revisions of the petrol and diesel prices as it affected common man.

An early discussion would have reflected the public mood and extract an explanation from the Government.

In the Lok Sabha, Speaker Om Birla told the House that the subject could be discussed along with the finance Bill.

Leader of the Congress party Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury complained on Tuesday morning that the television broadcast of the House proceedings had blacked out Opposition members, while they were speaking.

The Question Hour remained disrupted in both Houses.

In the Rajya Sabha, on Monday, veteran Congress MP Mallikarjun Kharge, making his debut as the Leader of the Opposition, gave a notice under Rule 267 for adjournment of business to discuss the fuel price issue.

Responding to this, Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu said he had rejected it, as the House could discuss the subject during the Appropriation Bill debate.

Kharge said that the price of petrol had reached Rs 100 per litre and that of diesel about Rs 80 and a major reason for this was the rise in excise duty on diesel by 820 per cent and on petrol by 258 per cent after 2014, he said.

The Chairman said he had discretionary powers under Rule 267 to turn down the request, although nearly all Opposition supported Kharge’s move.

A series of adjournments followed. The scene repeated during the next two days also.

On Tuesday, Deputy Chairman Harivansh, presiding in Naidu’s absence, said a ruling once given by the Chairman could not be “re-opened.”

The Opposition members entered the well of the House to press their point. Kharge said the Opposition was not against taking up of legislative business but wanted the burning issue of petroleum prices taken up first.

He maintained Harivansh was not bound by the Chairman’s Monday ruling, and could look at the issue afresh.But the Deputy Chairman declined.

On the third working day of the week, the confrontation continued, and the Opposition raised slogans on the contentious farm laws also.

The Chairman reminded the Opposition that the repeal of laws could be done only if the majority of members wanted it.

Later, the Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Bill, that was to replace an Ordinance, was passed amidst the din.

The Lok Sabha too passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi Laws (Special Provisions) Second (Amendment) Bill, 2021 to regularise Delhi’s unauthorised colonies, in less than 30 minutes.

The presiding officers in both Houses made observations on the International Women’s Day on 8 March, but women members could speak only briefly on the subject.

In the Lok Sabha, a Calling Attention on the Empowerment of Women was converted into a Short Duration Discussion but only four members could speak for 25 minutes and the House was adjourned due to interruptions.

B V Satyavathi (YSRCP) initiated the discussion and said she was a gynaecologist and had seen discrimination against women at first hand.

In the Upper House, Naidu said this was “a day to take stock of the hurdles coming in the way of ensuring women their worth in all walks of life and socio-economic development.”

He advised members not to bring “politics” in their observations. Nine women members got about 20 minutes to speak on the issue. Chhaya Verma (Congress) initiated saying that daughters were not safe anywhere.

Welcoming the members for the second part of the Budget Session, Naidu said the two Houses of Parliament took a three-week break for examination of the Demands for Grants of various Ministries and Departments, for the financial year 2021-22, by 24 Department-Related Parliamentary Standing Committees.





Top