11 April 2021
A) West Bengal Assembly Elections | Four killed in firing by security personnel, one more shot dead by miscreants.
Five people were killed in two separate incidents of firing during elections at Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency in north Bengal on Saturday, sending shockwaves across the State where voting for four more phases is yet to be held. Four persons were killed when central forces opened fire at polling booth number 126 at Amtali Madhyamik Siksha Kendra under Jor Patki gram panchayat at Sitalkuchi Assembly segment. The death triggered huge political reactions and elections at the polling booth were suspended. Superintendent of Police, Cooch Behar Debasish Dhar said that about 300 to 350 people, including women, attacked guards with crude weapons at the polling station after a rumour spread that security personnel have beaten up a person who had allegedly fallen ill. The incident evoked strong reactions from the Trinamool Congress (TMC), which has claimed that all those killed were party workers. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee blamed Union Home Minister Amit Shah for the incident and the manner in which polls are held are a shame on democracy. Describing it as a planned attack she said in a press conference, Home Minister Amit Shah is completely responsible for the incident and he himself is the conspirator. He don’t blame central forces because they work under Home Minister’s order. They will demand his resignation, she said in a press conference this evening. Prime Minister Narendra Modi accused Banerjee of inciting people against central forces. In another incident under the same Assembly constituency, an 18-year-old was killed when miscreants opened fire on him when he was returning from polling booth number 285 at Pathantuli under Bolenhati gram panchayat. Two persons have been detained in connection with the incident, the CEO said. Sitalkuchi, an assembly segment bordering Bangladesh in Cooch Behar district, was on the boil over the past few days and the convoy of BJP president Dilip Ghosh was attacked in the district. The ECI had deployed a maximum of 188 companies of central forces in Cooch Behar district. The Commission had deployed 793 companies of central forces across the state for the fourth round of polling. The State had recorded about 76.16 % polling till 5 p.m. in the 44 Assembly seats in the State that went to polls today.
B) Firing in Cooch Behar incident was in self-defence, says report by security forces.
According to a report prepared by the Border Security Force (BSF), coordinator of all central forces in Cooch Behar’s Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency where two incidents of violence were reported today, members of the police and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) fired more than 15 rounds in self defence in a span of two hours. The BSF report said that at around 9.35 a.m., a quick reaction team (QRT) of the CISF was attacked by a mob of 50-60 persons while it was patrolling the areas near booth number 126. Inspector Sunil Kumar of CISF was attacked when he was taking a round of the area along with the local police after getting complaints that voters were being stopped from reaching the polling booth, the report said. In the melee, one child fell down and miscreants started damaging the vehicle of the QRT and attacked the QRT personnel. QRT reacted in self-defence and fired six rounds in the air to disperse the mob. Deepak Kumar, deputy commandant of CISF reached the spot and pacified the mob. He then left, the report said. After an hour, a mob of around 150 people started manhandling the polling staff on duty at booth number 186. The report said the mob assaulted a Home Guard and an Asha worker. It said the CISF booth commander tried to pacify the miscreants but the mob entered the polling booth and assaulted the other polling staff. Few miscreants tried to snatch the weapons of CISF personnel deployed there. As a result, CISF personnel fired two rounds in the air but the mob didn’t pay any heed to the warning. In the meantime, QRT of CISF and police also reached at the spot. The mob further started advancing aggressively towards CISF personnel. Therefore, sensing imminent danger to their life, they fired 7 more rounds towards the advancing mob, the report said. While the above incident was going on, more police party also arrived at booth. It is reported that in self-defence they have also fired few rounds. As a result few miscreants were injured and immediately the mob dispersed. The polling was halted. More police personnel have reached the spot. It is reported that 5 to 6 miscreants have sustained fatal injuries and further they succumbed to injuries, the report said.
C) Sonia holds virtual meet with Congress CMs; charges Modi govt. with ‘mismanagement’ of Covid-19 crisis.
Congress president Sonia Gandhi, in a virtual meeting with Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled States on Saturday, charged the Narendra Modi government with mismanaging the Covid-19 situation by allowing exports of vaccines, resulting in a vaccine shortage in the country. The Modi government has mismanaged the situation exported vaccine and allowed a shortage to be created in India. Mass gatherings for elections and religious events have accelerated COVID for which all of us are responsible to some extent. We need to accept this responsibility and keep the interest of the nation above our own, Gandhi told her party colleagues in her introductory remarks. As the principal Opposition party, it’s our responsibility to raise issues and push the government to move away from PR tactics and act in the interest of the people, she added. The Congress chief said cooperation with the States showed respect to federalism and it was equally important for States to be constructive and cooperate with the Centre in its efforts to fight the pandemic. The Congress chief also took stock of the on-going farmers’ protests against the new farm laws, and of approval not being given by the President of India for State laws that negated the Central farm laws. Former Congress chief Rahul Gandhi, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his Chhattisgarh counterpart Bhupesh Baghel were among those who participated in the meeting. Senior Congress Minister in the Maharashtra government Balashaeb Thorat, and Rameshwar Oraon of the Jharkhand government also participated in the meet. Chief Ministers of Congress-ruled States expressed concern over vaccine shortage, with Baghel stating that Chhattisgarh had stock that would last only three days. Punjab’s Captain Amarinder Singh said that while the State had stocks to last five days at current levels of vaccination, if it scaled up the vaccination target to 2 lakh shots a day, Punjab, too, would have vaccine stock for only three days. Singh also claimed that the anger against the Centre over the farm laws had impacted the State’s Covid-19 vaccination drive.
D) India, China agree to maintain stability on ground, avoid any new incidents in eastern Ladakh.
India and China have agreed at their 11th round of military talks to jointly maintain stability on the ground, and avoid any new incidents in eastern Ladakh. A day after the talks, the Indian Army on Saturday said the two sides agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols. The two sides had a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh, it said. The two sides agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols, the Army said in a statement. In this context, the Army said it was also highlighted that completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for the two sides to consider de-escalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquillity and enable progress in bilateral relations. The 11th round of Corps Commander-level talks took place at the Chushul border point on the Indian side of the LAC in eastern Ladakh.
E) Covid Watch: Numbers and Developments.
The number of reported coronavirus cases from India stood at 1,33,28,422 with the death toll at 1,70,403. Madhya Pradesh, among the 10 States that account for 84% of the new daily cases in the latest surge of Covid-19, is also facing a shortage of medical oxygen as well as the crucial drug remdesivir, used to treat infected patients and reduce time in hospital. The State has been placed under a 60-hour lockdown from 6 p.m. on Friday till 6 a.m. on Monday. Reports of shortage of oxygen and drugs have come in not only from Bhopal but also Indore, the State’s commercial capital, where a large number of attendants of corona patients staged a protest at the Dawa Bazar. Jabalpur also witnessed similar protests over lack of supplies for patients. Addressing a virtual meeting of the Cabinet on the pandemic, Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan said the oxygen supply in the State had been tripled in the past three days to 180 metric tonnes. He added that one lakh Remdesivir injections will be made available in the State every month.
A) U.S. Congress advances slavery reparation proposals.
U.S. lawmakers next Wednesday will consider a Bill to study paying reparations to descendants of enslaved people, which could open the door for a potential vote on an issue that has gained momentum in recent years. On April 14, the House Judiciary Committee will hold the first-ever markup the process by which committees debate and amend legislation on a Bill that creates a commission to study and develop reparation proposals for Black people. Friday’s announcement comes during the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of killing Black man George Floyd, whose death triggered nationwide protests highlighting the country’s racial injustice. The Bill was first introduced more than 30 years ago but never advanced. It addresses the period of slavery and discrimination in the U.S. from 1619 to the present day, and will propose remedies including financial reparations. The historic markup of HR 40 is intended to continue a national conversation about how to confront the brutal mistreatment of African Americans during chattel slavery, Jim Crow segregation, and the enduring structural racism that remains endemic to our society, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said. Americans still face racial disparities in access to education, health care, housing, employment and other social provisions, he added. President Joe Biden has repeatedly addressed the need to end systemic racism, and the White House has expressed support for the Commission.
B) Saudi Arabia executes 3 soldiers for ‘high treason’
Saudi Arabia on Saturday executed three soldiers for high treason, the Defence Ministry said, in a rare public announcement that accused them of colluding with an unspecified enemy. The executions come as a Saudi-led military campaign intensifies in neighbouring Yemen and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s de facto ruler, consolidates his grip on power. The soldiers were convicted of the crime of high treason in cooperation with the enemy in a way that threatens the kingdom, the Ministry said. The statement named the three soldiers Mohammed bin Ahmed, Shaher bin Issa and Hamoud bin Ibrahim without identifying which enemy they were accused of aiding. Saudi Arabia, a Sunni powerhouse, views Shiite Iran as its main regional foe and identifies Yemen’s Tehranaligned Houthi rebels as a major security threat to the oil-rich kingdom. The statement makes a rare announcement of military executions in the kingdom, which is known to be highly secretive about its armed forces. The fact that the names of the decedents were publicized means the Saudis must consider their alleged misconduct to be exceptionally egregious and thus worthy of exemplary punishment, David Des Roches, from the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies in Washington, said.