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Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?

The unprecedented action against a sitting Chief Minister raises concerns about political neutrality of a purportedly autonomous institution

13 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

Even as he was on his way out, Sunil Arora, whose term as Chief Election Commissioner ended on April 12, 2021, issued an order banning West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hour hours starting 8 P.M on Monday.

This is an unprecedented move against a sitting Chief Minister and suggests that the order was issued at the behest of the vindictive regime at the Center. The ban on campaigning comes in the middle of assembly elections where violence has been escalating with each passing phase. Indeed, phase four was the bloodies with four people being killed in firing by paramilitary forces and a fifth person gunned down by unknown assailants in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district.

The reason for issuing the 24-hour campaign ban against Banerjee as stated in the EC order is her non- response to two notices, both dated April 8, 2021, issued to her in connection with two separate complaints:

-        When she allegedly appealed to Muslims to ensure their vote does not get divided

-        When she allegedly asked women to gherao (surround) personnel belonging to paramilitary forces if they try to disrupt voting

Mamata Banerjee paints a picture of defiance

At the very outset, Banerjee called out the EC for targeting her and announced plans to protest the move saying, “To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon.”

True to her word, Banerjee arrived at the Gandhi statue and sat quietly in her wheelchair. After some time, she started painting.

 

Banerjee left the protest spot at around 3 P.M. According to The Telegraph, she is expected to resume campaigning after the ban ends at 8 P.M, but has to wind up by 10 P.M as tonight is the last phase of campaigning for phase five of the Assembly elections for which polling will take place on April 17.

But tomorrow, Banerjee is expected to visit the Mathabhanga sub-divisional hospital where three people who were injured in the Sitalkuchi firings are receiving treatment. Banerjee had showed images on her phone of bullet injuries sustained by people in their upper bodies during a press conference after the shooting. She had asked at that time, “This was genocide. The central force just sprayed them with bullets. They fired at the upper part of the body,” adding, “They should have fired below the waist, but the bullets were fired at the neck and the chest.”

Is the regime using EC to intimidate Mamata Banerjee?

Earlier too, the EC had issued orders to transfer police officials and public servants deemed close to Mamata Banerjee.

On Friday, April 9, just a day before voting was to take place for phase four, the EC removed Asoke Chakraborty, an SP rank officer posted in Mamata Banerjee’s security detail. The reason given was security lapse that led to Mamata Banerjee getting injured in Nandigram on March 10. In fact, on March 14, the EC, in an unprecedented move, had suspended Vivek Sahay IPS, Director Security for Mamata Banerjee and directed that charges be framed against him for his failure to protect a Z+ protectee (Mamata Banerjee). The EC had also directed that a Committee of Chief Secretary and DGP shall identify “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”. This move is noteworthy, as these “proximate security personnel” have been working with Banerjee for years. It thus appears to be a rather sensitive step, given how it is basically a move directed at taking Banerjee's trusted inner circle of security personnel away from her.

The decision to suspend and transfer senior officers was taken based on a report and recommendations by Special General Observer Ajay Nayak and Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey. The same Vivek Dubey whose report in the Sitalkuchi matter insists that CISF personnel “fired in self-defence”.

Also, on April 9, the EC transferred Bhangar police station inspector-in-charge Shyam Prasad Saha alleging he was “playing a partisan role to help the Trinamul candidate.”

On Wednesday, April 7, the EC removed three District Magistrates: Nikhil Nirmal of South Dinajpur, Enaur Rehman of East Burdwan and Purendu Maji of West Burdwan. While polling will take place in East Burdwan in two phases: Phase 5 on April 17 and Phase 6 on April 22, both West Burdwan and South Dinajpur will go to polls during the seventh phase on April 26.

Action against BJP

As far as action against members of the BJP goes, Suvendu Adhikari was served notice for calling Banerjee “Begum” and alleging “She will turn Bengal into mini-Pakistan”. On Tuesday, Rahul Sinha has been barred from campaigning for 48 hours following his remarks that more people ought to have been shot dead in Sitakuchi. He reportedly said, “Eight, not four people should have been shot,” at an election rally in Habra. The ban starts on April 13, at 12 noon and ends at 12 noon on April 15.

Meanwhile, a notice has been served to Dilip Ghosh who openly threatened to replicate the Sitalkuchi shootings in other locations if “naughty boys” failed to fall in line. He has been given time till Wednesday morning to explain his remarks. The notice was in response to a complaint filed by the TMC.

Addressing a rally at Baranagar, Ghosh had dubbed the victims of the firing as “dushtu chhele (naughty boys)”. He went on to say, “Aar jodi barabari korey, Sitalkuchitey dekhechhen ki hoyechhe. Jaygaye jaygaye Sitalkuchi hobey (If they cross the limits, you’ve seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be a Sitalkuchi everywhere).”

However, there has been no response to the allegations of bribing voters using Rs 1000 encashable coupons in Raidighi. There has also been no response to attack on a female TMC candidate outside a voting booth during phase three.

Are the BJP’s intimidation tactics backfiring?

Mamata Banerjee is no novice. She has faced violence first-hand in a political career spanning forty years. In fact, she has developed quite a reputation as an indomitable streetfighter who refuses to bow down to threats or even violence.

Even though the Central government has allegedly targeted her using different agencies such as the CBI and EC, she has never backed down or appeared even remotely compliant to their agenda. She did not allow action against her top police officers, she refused to bow to pressure when her nephew Abhishek’s wife was implicated in a case of allegedly stealing coal, and when the CBI was allegedly used to re-examine cases in the Saradha scam for amounts as little as Rs 5,000.

Even after being injured on March 10 in Nandigram, an attack Banerjee alleges was carried out at the behest of the regime, she has been making appearances in her wheelchair, holding marches, protests, rallies… and perhaps getting extra attention for the same.

Related:

Battleground Bengal: Five killed in Sitalkuchi, EC and Central forces under scanner again
Battleground Bengal: Was BJP attempting to bribe voters?
Why has CAPF man on poll duty, accused of molesting EC a minor not been arrested yet?
Battleground Bengal: Security adviser’s powers seized
Battleground Bengal: Unprecedented action by ECI
CBI reinvests vigorously in WB chit-fund case investigations

Battleground Bengal: Campaign ban on Mamata Banerjee parting shot by outgoing CEC?

The unprecedented action against a sitting Chief Minister raises concerns about political neutrality of a purportedly autonomous institution

Image Courtesy:indiatoday.in

Even as he was on his way out, Sunil Arora, whose term as Chief Election Commissioner ended on April 12, 2021, issued an order banning West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from campaigning for 24 hour hours starting 8 P.M on Monday.

This is an unprecedented move against a sitting Chief Minister and suggests that the order was issued at the behest of the vindictive regime at the Center. The ban on campaigning comes in the middle of assembly elections where violence has been escalating with each passing phase. Indeed, phase four was the bloodies with four people being killed in firing by paramilitary forces and a fifth person gunned down by unknown assailants in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar district.

The reason for issuing the 24-hour campaign ban against Banerjee as stated in the EC order is her non- response to two notices, both dated April 8, 2021, issued to her in connection with two separate complaints:

-        When she allegedly appealed to Muslims to ensure their vote does not get divided

-        When she allegedly asked women to gherao (surround) personnel belonging to paramilitary forces if they try to disrupt voting

Mamata Banerjee paints a picture of defiance

At the very outset, Banerjee called out the EC for targeting her and announced plans to protest the move saying, “To protest against the undemocratic and unconstitutional decision of the Election Commission of India, I will sit on dharna tomorrow at Gandhi Murti, Kolkata from 12 noon.”

True to her word, Banerjee arrived at the Gandhi statue and sat quietly in her wheelchair. After some time, she started painting.

 

Banerjee left the protest spot at around 3 P.M. According to The Telegraph, she is expected to resume campaigning after the ban ends at 8 P.M, but has to wind up by 10 P.M as tonight is the last phase of campaigning for phase five of the Assembly elections for which polling will take place on April 17.

But tomorrow, Banerjee is expected to visit the Mathabhanga sub-divisional hospital where three people who were injured in the Sitalkuchi firings are receiving treatment. Banerjee had showed images on her phone of bullet injuries sustained by people in their upper bodies during a press conference after the shooting. She had asked at that time, “This was genocide. The central force just sprayed them with bullets. They fired at the upper part of the body,” adding, “They should have fired below the waist, but the bullets were fired at the neck and the chest.”

Is the regime using EC to intimidate Mamata Banerjee?

Earlier too, the EC had issued orders to transfer police officials and public servants deemed close to Mamata Banerjee.

On Friday, April 9, just a day before voting was to take place for phase four, the EC removed Asoke Chakraborty, an SP rank officer posted in Mamata Banerjee’s security detail. The reason given was security lapse that led to Mamata Banerjee getting injured in Nandigram on March 10. In fact, on March 14, the EC, in an unprecedented move, had suspended Vivek Sahay IPS, Director Security for Mamata Banerjee and directed that charges be framed against him for his failure to protect a Z+ protectee (Mamata Banerjee). The EC had also directed that a Committee of Chief Secretary and DGP shall identify “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”. This move is noteworthy, as these “proximate security personnel” have been working with Banerjee for years. It thus appears to be a rather sensitive step, given how it is basically a move directed at taking Banerjee's trusted inner circle of security personnel away from her.

The decision to suspend and transfer senior officers was taken based on a report and recommendations by Special General Observer Ajay Nayak and Special Police Observer Vivek Dubey. The same Vivek Dubey whose report in the Sitalkuchi matter insists that CISF personnel “fired in self-defence”.

Also, on April 9, the EC transferred Bhangar police station inspector-in-charge Shyam Prasad Saha alleging he was “playing a partisan role to help the Trinamul candidate.”

On Wednesday, April 7, the EC removed three District Magistrates: Nikhil Nirmal of South Dinajpur, Enaur Rehman of East Burdwan and Purendu Maji of West Burdwan. While polling will take place in East Burdwan in two phases: Phase 5 on April 17 and Phase 6 on April 22, both West Burdwan and South Dinajpur will go to polls during the seventh phase on April 26.

Action against BJP

As far as action against members of the BJP goes, Suvendu Adhikari was served notice for calling Banerjee “Begum” and alleging “She will turn Bengal into mini-Pakistan”. On Tuesday, Rahul Sinha has been barred from campaigning for 48 hours following his remarks that more people ought to have been shot dead in Sitakuchi. He reportedly said, “Eight, not four people should have been shot,” at an election rally in Habra. The ban starts on April 13, at 12 noon and ends at 12 noon on April 15.

Meanwhile, a notice has been served to Dilip Ghosh who openly threatened to replicate the Sitalkuchi shootings in other locations if “naughty boys” failed to fall in line. He has been given time till Wednesday morning to explain his remarks. The notice was in response to a complaint filed by the TMC.

Addressing a rally at Baranagar, Ghosh had dubbed the victims of the firing as “dushtu chhele (naughty boys)”. He went on to say, “Aar jodi barabari korey, Sitalkuchitey dekhechhen ki hoyechhe. Jaygaye jaygaye Sitalkuchi hobey (If they cross the limits, you’ve seen what happened in Sitalkuchi. There will be a Sitalkuchi everywhere).”

However, there has been no response to the allegations of bribing voters using Rs 1000 encashable coupons in Raidighi. There has also been no response to attack on a female TMC candidate outside a voting booth during phase three.

Are the BJP’s intimidation tactics backfiring?

Mamata Banerjee is no novice. She has faced violence first-hand in a political career spanning forty years. In fact, she has developed quite a reputation as an indomitable streetfighter who refuses to bow down to threats or even violence.

Even though the Central government has allegedly targeted her using different agencies such as the CBI and EC, she has never backed down or appeared even remotely compliant to their agenda. She did not allow action against her top police officers, she refused to bow to pressure when her nephew Abhishek’s wife was implicated in a case of allegedly stealing coal, and when the CBI was allegedly used to re-examine cases in the Saradha scam for amounts as little as Rs 5,000.

Even after being injured on March 10 in Nandigram, an attack Banerjee alleges was carried out at the behest of the regime, she has been making appearances in her wheelchair, holding marches, protests, rallies… and perhaps getting extra attention for the same.

Related:

Battleground Bengal: Five killed in Sitalkuchi, EC and Central forces under scanner again
Battleground Bengal: Was BJP attempting to bribe voters?
Why has CAPF man on poll duty, accused of molesting EC a minor not been arrested yet?
Battleground Bengal: Security adviser’s powers seized
Battleground Bengal: Unprecedented action by ECI
CBI reinvests vigorously in WB chit-fund case investigations

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Covid-19: Centre fast tracks emergency approvals for foreign produced vaccines

Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V cleared for emergency use by the DCGI on a day that India’s reported over 1,61,736 new cases

13 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy: swachhindia.ndtv.com

On April 9 Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had in a lengthy Twitter thread taunted, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accusing him of “lobbying for pharma companies by asking for arbitrary approvals for foreign vaccines.” 

However just days after this deluge of taunts, the Government of India has announced that it will soon allow all foreign-made vaccines in India. The Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V has already been cleared for emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). The announcement of more international vaccines came on a day that India’s reported over 1,61,736 new cases. Apart from Maharashtra which has reported the highest daily new cases at 51,751, it is Uttar Pradesh which had an alarming 13,604 new cases, followed by Chhattisgarh reported 13,576 new cases.

Basket of vaccines for domestic use 

The Centre has announced that it has “fast-tracked emergency approval for foreign produced Covid-19 vaccines that have been in use in other nations” and these will be added to “the basket of vaccines for domestic use and increase the pace and coverage of vaccination”. At the moment citizens over 45 have access to two vaccines i.e. Covaxin by Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) and Covishield by Serum Institute of India (SII). The choices will expand once the international vaccines that received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the National Regulator (Drugs Controller General of India) are made available.

The government has stated that this EUA has been given to “accelerate the pace & coverage of domestic vaccination programme” and the issue was  discussed in a meeting of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) held on April 11, it was  chaired by Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog.

According to the official statement the NEGVAC, has recommended that Covid-19 vaccines “which have been developed & are being manufactured in foreign countries and which have been granted emergency approval for restricted use by USFDA, EMA, UK MHRA, PMDA Japan or which are listed in WHO (Emergency Use Listing) may be granted emergency use approval in India, mandating the requirement of post-approval parallel bridging clinical trial in place of conduct of local clinical trial as per the provisions prescribed under Second Schedule of the New Drugs & Clinical Trials Rules 2019.” The first 100 to get these foreign vaccines will be “assessed for seven days for safety outcomes before it is rolled out for further immunisation programme within the country.” Five more vaccines are expected to get approval this year. The list includes Johnson and Johnson (Bio E), Zydus Cadila, Serum's Novavax and a nasal vaccine from Bharat Biotech.

Will Sputnik V be available for all?

According to the Union Health Ministry, the Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V has already been cleared for emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India. Limited doses of the vaccine may be available by the end of this month.  

M/s Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (M/s DRL) had applied for the grant of permission to import and market Gam-COVID-Vac combined vector vaccine, that is better known as Sputnik-V, developed by M/s Gamaleya Institute, Russia for Emergency Use Authorization. The vaccine is approved in 30 countries across the world. Now the govt has shared that Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. has collaborated with National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation to get approval for import for marketing in India. 

The government says that this vaccine is “indicated for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 disease in individuals of ≥ 18 years of age” and should be administered intramuscularly in two doses of 0.5 ml each with an interval of 21 days. However there is no word yet from the Government on if the vaccination drive will soon be inclusive of all adults seeking protection from Covid-19 contamination. Even as states continue to flag shortages and citizens get messages informing them that their appointments have been canceled or postponed the government has said that cumulatively, 10,85,33,085 vaccine doses have been administered through 16,08,448 sessions, till April 13.

 

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/yS3ou8_jPPXEhltY3VyC-iI-GiFXcZSnoGeHEA0Idp-ZxCYb-cJHofc07WfDm8jgVTXbfgQ3pCcBFDoJBP_ZnPpGqGZK9LRAtpiwY2RLp4R0qQwzIzDZmwtzVchOqesKEwuH6Fxs

Related:

Bar on Covid-19 vaccine for those under 45 arbitrary, unreasonable: Plea before SC
Covid-19: 71 Vaccination centres shut in Mumbai, shortages reported elsewhere too
Covid-19: Gujarat HC says state heading towards a "health emergency”, Gov't stays 
Union Health Minister blames states, citizens for Covid surge
Calling it "Corona curfew" instead of "lockdown" does little to allay fearsa

Covid-19: Centre fast tracks emergency approvals for foreign produced vaccines

Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V cleared for emergency use by the DCGI on a day that India’s reported over 1,61,736 new cases

Image Courtesy: swachhindia.ndtv.com

On April 9 Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad had in a lengthy Twitter thread taunted, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi accusing him of “lobbying for pharma companies by asking for arbitrary approvals for foreign vaccines.” 

However just days after this deluge of taunts, the Government of India has announced that it will soon allow all foreign-made vaccines in India. The Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V has already been cleared for emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India (DCGI). The announcement of more international vaccines came on a day that India’s reported over 1,61,736 new cases. Apart from Maharashtra which has reported the highest daily new cases at 51,751, it is Uttar Pradesh which had an alarming 13,604 new cases, followed by Chhattisgarh reported 13,576 new cases.

Basket of vaccines for domestic use 

The Centre has announced that it has “fast-tracked emergency approval for foreign produced Covid-19 vaccines that have been in use in other nations” and these will be added to “the basket of vaccines for domestic use and increase the pace and coverage of vaccination”. At the moment citizens over 45 have access to two vaccines i.e. Covaxin by Bharat Biotech International Limited (BBIL) and Covishield by Serum Institute of India (SII). The choices will expand once the international vaccines that received Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the National Regulator (Drugs Controller General of India) are made available.

The government has stated that this EUA has been given to “accelerate the pace & coverage of domestic vaccination programme” and the issue was  discussed in a meeting of the National Expert Group on Vaccine Administration for COVID-19 (NEGVAC) held on April 11, it was  chaired by Dr. V K Paul, Member (Health), Niti Aayog.

According to the official statement the NEGVAC, has recommended that Covid-19 vaccines “which have been developed & are being manufactured in foreign countries and which have been granted emergency approval for restricted use by USFDA, EMA, UK MHRA, PMDA Japan or which are listed in WHO (Emergency Use Listing) may be granted emergency use approval in India, mandating the requirement of post-approval parallel bridging clinical trial in place of conduct of local clinical trial as per the provisions prescribed under Second Schedule of the New Drugs & Clinical Trials Rules 2019.” The first 100 to get these foreign vaccines will be “assessed for seven days for safety outcomes before it is rolled out for further immunisation programme within the country.” Five more vaccines are expected to get approval this year. The list includes Johnson and Johnson (Bio E), Zydus Cadila, Serum's Novavax and a nasal vaccine from Bharat Biotech.

Will Sputnik V be available for all?

According to the Union Health Ministry, the Russian-made Covid vaccine Sputnik V has already been cleared for emergency use by the Drugs Controller General of India. Limited doses of the vaccine may be available by the end of this month.  

M/s Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. (M/s DRL) had applied for the grant of permission to import and market Gam-COVID-Vac combined vector vaccine, that is better known as Sputnik-V, developed by M/s Gamaleya Institute, Russia for Emergency Use Authorization. The vaccine is approved in 30 countries across the world. Now the govt has shared that Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories Ltd. has collaborated with National Research Center for Epidemiology and Microbiology of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation to get approval for import for marketing in India. 

The government says that this vaccine is “indicated for active immunisation to prevent COVID-19 disease in individuals of ≥ 18 years of age” and should be administered intramuscularly in two doses of 0.5 ml each with an interval of 21 days. However there is no word yet from the Government on if the vaccination drive will soon be inclusive of all adults seeking protection from Covid-19 contamination. Even as states continue to flag shortages and citizens get messages informing them that their appointments have been canceled or postponed the government has said that cumulatively, 10,85,33,085 vaccine doses have been administered through 16,08,448 sessions, till April 13.

 

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/yS3ou8_jPPXEhltY3VyC-iI-GiFXcZSnoGeHEA0Idp-ZxCYb-cJHofc07WfDm8jgVTXbfgQ3pCcBFDoJBP_ZnPpGqGZK9LRAtpiwY2RLp4R0qQwzIzDZmwtzVchOqesKEwuH6Fxs

Related:

Bar on Covid-19 vaccine for those under 45 arbitrary, unreasonable: Plea before SC
Covid-19: 71 Vaccination centres shut in Mumbai, shortages reported elsewhere too
Covid-19: Gujarat HC says state heading towards a "health emergency”, Gov't stays 
Union Health Minister blames states, citizens for Covid surge
Calling it "Corona curfew" instead of "lockdown" does little to allay fearsa

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Retail inflation rises to over 5 percent while factory output decreases: NSO data

Factors such as changing food and fuel prices along with the poor performance of manufacturing and mining sectors play a significant role in these percentage changes.

13 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Retail inflation rose to a four-month high of 5.52 percent in March, owing to higher fuel and food prices, while factory output lessened to a six-month low of 3.6 percent in February, due to poor performances of manufacturing and mining sectors, said the National Statistical Office on April 12, 2021.

According to Firstpost, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based retail inflation was 5.03 percent in February. The rate of price rise in the food basket accelerated to 4.94 percent in March as opposed to 3.87 percent in the preceding month. Similarly, fuel and light inflation was 4.50 percent during the month vis-a-vis 3.53 per cent in February.

Earlier, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) estimated the retail inflation at 5 percent in the January-March quarter of 2020-21 and at 5.2 percent in the first two quarters of the current fiscal year.

After crossing the upper tolerance threshold of 6 percent from June to November 2020, the CPI inflation fell in December and eased further to 4.1 percent in January 2021 following sharp correction in vegetable prices and softening of cereal prices. However, it rebounded to 5 percent in February, driven primarily by base effects.

The RBI mainly factors in the retail inflation while arriving at its monetary policy and has been asked to keep the CPI inflation at 4 percent with a margin of 2 percent on either side. The central bank retained the key lending rate (repo) in its last monetary policy citing inflationary concerns.

However, Care Ratings Chief Economist Madan Sabnavis told The Telegraph, “With renewed pandemic restrictions across India, elevated global prices across commodities and higher transportation and logistics cost, price pressures are likely to prevail in coming months for most segments. At the same time, the headline inflation reading could benefit from the higher base of a year ago.”

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector that constitutes 77.63 percent of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) declined 3.7 percent in February 2021. Similarly, the mining sector output declined 5.5 per cent in the same period. However, power generation grew marginally by 0.1 percent.

Speaking to the newspaper, ICRA Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said this marginal change between September 2020 and February 2021 shows that the recovery in industrial volumes lacks conviction.

Related:

Withdraw excise duty hikes on petroleum products: CPI (M)
The relevance of a 2018 private member Bill for the protesting farmers
Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation falls to 3.21 percent during lockdown month of May
Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy: Abhijit Banerjee

Retail inflation rises to over 5 percent while factory output decreases: NSO data

Factors such as changing food and fuel prices along with the poor performance of manufacturing and mining sectors play a significant role in these percentage changes.

Image Courtesy:timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Retail inflation rose to a four-month high of 5.52 percent in March, owing to higher fuel and food prices, while factory output lessened to a six-month low of 3.6 percent in February, due to poor performances of manufacturing and mining sectors, said the National Statistical Office on April 12, 2021.

According to Firstpost, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) based retail inflation was 5.03 percent in February. The rate of price rise in the food basket accelerated to 4.94 percent in March as opposed to 3.87 percent in the preceding month. Similarly, fuel and light inflation was 4.50 percent during the month vis-a-vis 3.53 per cent in February.

Earlier, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) estimated the retail inflation at 5 percent in the January-March quarter of 2020-21 and at 5.2 percent in the first two quarters of the current fiscal year.

After crossing the upper tolerance threshold of 6 percent from June to November 2020, the CPI inflation fell in December and eased further to 4.1 percent in January 2021 following sharp correction in vegetable prices and softening of cereal prices. However, it rebounded to 5 percent in February, driven primarily by base effects.

The RBI mainly factors in the retail inflation while arriving at its monetary policy and has been asked to keep the CPI inflation at 4 percent with a margin of 2 percent on either side. The central bank retained the key lending rate (repo) in its last monetary policy citing inflationary concerns.

However, Care Ratings Chief Economist Madan Sabnavis told The Telegraph, “With renewed pandemic restrictions across India, elevated global prices across commodities and higher transportation and logistics cost, price pressures are likely to prevail in coming months for most segments. At the same time, the headline inflation reading could benefit from the higher base of a year ago.”

Meanwhile, the manufacturing sector that constitutes 77.63 percent of the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) declined 3.7 percent in February 2021. Similarly, the mining sector output declined 5.5 per cent in the same period. However, power generation grew marginally by 0.1 percent.

Speaking to the newspaper, ICRA Chief Economist Aditi Nayar said this marginal change between September 2020 and February 2021 shows that the recovery in industrial volumes lacks conviction.

Related:

Withdraw excise duty hikes on petroleum products: CPI (M)
The relevance of a 2018 private member Bill for the protesting farmers
Wholesale Price Index (WPI) inflation falls to 3.21 percent during lockdown month of May
Spending is the easiest way to revive the economy: Abhijit Banerjee

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Babri demolition case judge appointed UP’s deputy Lok Ayukta

In his judgement delivered on September 30, 2020, Surendra Kumar Yadav had acquitted all surviving accused

13 Apr 2021

Babri demolition case judge appointed UP’s deputy Lok AyuktaImage: Praveen Jain / The Print 


A former judge of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court who last year acquitted all surviving accused in the criminal case involving the demolition of the Babri Masjid, has now been appointed the deputy Lok Ayukta of Uttar Pradesh. Surendra Kumar Yadav was sworn in on Monday by Lokayukta Justice (Retd.) Sanjay Mishra. Yadav’s appointment had been cleared by UP Governor Anandiben Patel when she signed a notification dated April 6.

Yadav, who originally hails from Jaunpur, has previously served in the state’s legal apparatus as Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM), Chief Judicial Majistrate (CJM) and Additional District Judge. He is however best known for the verdict in the criminal case surrounding the Babri Masjid demolition. This case was separate from the land dispute case heard in the Supreme Court.

Special CBI judge SK Yadav delivered the judgment that ran into over 2,000 pages and held that there was no criminal conspiracy behind the demolition. The court further held that the demolition wasn’t planned and that the accused persons were trying to stop the mob, and not inciting violence. The court further said that it could not probe the authenticity of the audio and video evidence provided by the CBI. It said that those who climbed the dome were anti-social elements.

This judgement was significant because the 32 accused included political heavyweights such as Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Sakshi Maharaj, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar among others. Three key accused; VHP’s Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia are deceased. 26 of the accused including Vinay Katiyar, Dharamdas, Vedanti, Lallu Singh, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey were present in court when the judgment was delivered, though LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh appeared via video conferencing. Bharati had been diagnosed with Covid-19 just a few days before the judgement.

Interestingly, shortly after being acquitted in the Babri Masjid demolition case, one of the accused boasted in front of news channels of demolishing the mosque as well as future plans to attack other such mosques in the country.

The 62-year-old BJP member and former Chief of Shiv Sena’s North India faction, Jai Bhagwan Goyal, said that the group had always intended to demolish Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. They first attempted to do so in 1990 but were stopped by the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh. Goyal said they succeeded with their “unflinching commitment” in 1992.

Related:

Babri Masjid demolition case: The long road to justice

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We always planned to demolish Babri Masjid: Jai Bhagwan Goyal

Babri demolition case judge appointed UP’s deputy Lok Ayukta

In his judgement delivered on September 30, 2020, Surendra Kumar Yadav had acquitted all surviving accused

Babri demolition case judge appointed UP’s deputy Lok AyuktaImage: Praveen Jain / The Print 


A former judge of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Court who last year acquitted all surviving accused in the criminal case involving the demolition of the Babri Masjid, has now been appointed the deputy Lok Ayukta of Uttar Pradesh. Surendra Kumar Yadav was sworn in on Monday by Lokayukta Justice (Retd.) Sanjay Mishra. Yadav’s appointment had been cleared by UP Governor Anandiben Patel when she signed a notification dated April 6.

Yadav, who originally hails from Jaunpur, has previously served in the state’s legal apparatus as Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM), Chief Judicial Majistrate (CJM) and Additional District Judge. He is however best known for the verdict in the criminal case surrounding the Babri Masjid demolition. This case was separate from the land dispute case heard in the Supreme Court.

Special CBI judge SK Yadav delivered the judgment that ran into over 2,000 pages and held that there was no criminal conspiracy behind the demolition. The court further held that the demolition wasn’t planned and that the accused persons were trying to stop the mob, and not inciting violence. The court further said that it could not probe the authenticity of the audio and video evidence provided by the CBI. It said that those who climbed the dome were anti-social elements.

This judgement was significant because the 32 accused included political heavyweights such as Lal Krishna Advani, Murli Manohar Joshi, Uma Bharati, Sakshi Maharaj, Kalyan Singh, Vinay Katiyar among others. Three key accused; VHP’s Ashok Singhal, Giriraj Kishore and Vishnu Hari Dalmia are deceased. 26 of the accused including Vinay Katiyar, Dharamdas, Vedanti, Lallu Singh, Champat Rai and Pawan Pandey were present in court when the judgment was delivered, though LK Advani, MM Joshi, Uma Bharati and Kalyan Singh appeared via video conferencing. Bharati had been diagnosed with Covid-19 just a few days before the judgement.

Interestingly, shortly after being acquitted in the Babri Masjid demolition case, one of the accused boasted in front of news channels of demolishing the mosque as well as future plans to attack other such mosques in the country.

The 62-year-old BJP member and former Chief of Shiv Sena’s North India faction, Jai Bhagwan Goyal, said that the group had always intended to demolish Babri Masjid on December 6, 1992. They first attempted to do so in 1990 but were stopped by the then Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh. Goyal said they succeeded with their “unflinching commitment” in 1992.

Related:

Babri Masjid demolition case: The long road to justice

Court begins recording statements of Babri demolition accused

No one conspired to demolish Babri Masjid?

This judgment is far from justice: AIMPL Board

We always planned to demolish Babri Masjid: Jai Bhagwan Goyal

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Dalit trailblazer, Vira Sathidar succumbs to Covid-19

Although renowned for his work as an actor, Sathidar preferred to be known for his activist-work that voiced the plight of the Dalit community

13 Apr 2021

artist Vira Sathidar

Cultural activist, Editor and artist Vira Sathidar also known as Vijay Ramdas Vairagade passed away due to Covid-19 on the intervening night of April 12 and April 13, 2021. The stoic figure of the anti-caste movement breathed his last at the age of 61 years at a hospital in Nagpur.

Most people recognise Sathidar as the lead actor in the Oscar-nominated Marathi movie ‘Court.’ However, his own life narrated a story of a Nagpur-born cowherd, who took an interest in folk art and music, and went on to become the Editor of Marathi bi-monthly magazine ‘Vidrohi’ as well as a democratic rights activist.

His own parents worked with Dalit icon Dr. B.R. Ambedkar but they were unable to ensure a future in academics for Sathidar. So he worked in a Nagpur factory where he learnt about Leftist ideology. Years later, as a member of the Republican Panthers, Sathidar was one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad.

He defended the ‘Aajchya Peshwaishi Mukabala Karnyasathi Kamar Kasuya’ (Let us prepare to fight the New Peshwas) pamphlet that described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a Peshwa successor and quoted Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as saying, “The last option to preserve human values is to take up arms.” Rather than calling the pamphlet “provocative” Sathidar said the words were direct quotes from Ambedkar’s article from August 1940.

After being accused in the electricity theft case along with fellow Editor Sudhir Dhawale, the Ambedkarite claimed to have become disillusioned by the Indian judiciary and the democratic system. Accordingly, he told interviewers that he did not struggle to play the role of Narayan Kamble because he had suffered similar instances in court and with police. Sathidar and his son were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for selling books with “objectionable” literature in Chandrapur in 2006. Later, authorities filed a closure report.

Such police oppression lessened somewhat after the ‘Court-associated’ fame. However, despite the favourable reviews and his additional work in “Aadha Chand Tum Rakh Lo” short film and “Chronicles of Shree” Musical short, Sathidar considered himself more of a poet, writer, singer and lyricist. Although he told The Hindu he hoped to direct his own film one day.

As the news of his demise breaks out, many people pay their condolences on social media. Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (CPIML) Polit Bureau member Kavita Krishnan tweeted on Tuesday, “Shocked to learn that we lost Vira Sathidar, revolutionary street theatre activist, singer, writer, poet, actor, to Covid-19. This is a huge loss. Many of you may know him from his performance as lead actor in "Court" (2015).”

 

 

Related:

Easter at Taloja Jail: Stan’s Cross

Democracy dies when it’s streets fall silent: Activists on the right to protest

Mumbai’s prominent union leader Datta Iswalkar passes away

It is a war against Ambedkar's Constitution, not just Muslims alone: Dalits

 

Dalit trailblazer, Vira Sathidar succumbs to Covid-19

Although renowned for his work as an actor, Sathidar preferred to be known for his activist-work that voiced the plight of the Dalit community

artist Vira Sathidar

Cultural activist, Editor and artist Vira Sathidar also known as Vijay Ramdas Vairagade passed away due to Covid-19 on the intervening night of April 12 and April 13, 2021. The stoic figure of the anti-caste movement breathed his last at the age of 61 years at a hospital in Nagpur.

Most people recognise Sathidar as the lead actor in the Oscar-nominated Marathi movie ‘Court.’ However, his own life narrated a story of a Nagpur-born cowherd, who took an interest in folk art and music, and went on to become the Editor of Marathi bi-monthly magazine ‘Vidrohi’ as well as a democratic rights activist.

His own parents worked with Dalit icon Dr. B.R. Ambedkar but they were unable to ensure a future in academics for Sathidar. So he worked in a Nagpur factory where he learnt about Leftist ideology. Years later, as a member of the Republican Panthers, Sathidar was one of the organisers of the Elgaar Parishad.

He defended the ‘Aajchya Peshwaishi Mukabala Karnyasathi Kamar Kasuya’ (Let us prepare to fight the New Peshwas) pamphlet that described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a Peshwa successor and quoted Dr. B. R. Ambedkar as saying, “The last option to preserve human values is to take up arms.” Rather than calling the pamphlet “provocative” Sathidar said the words were direct quotes from Ambedkar’s article from August 1940.

After being accused in the electricity theft case along with fellow Editor Sudhir Dhawale, the Ambedkarite claimed to have become disillusioned by the Indian judiciary and the democratic system. Accordingly, he told interviewers that he did not struggle to play the role of Narayan Kamble because he had suffered similar instances in court and with police. Sathidar and his son were booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for selling books with “objectionable” literature in Chandrapur in 2006. Later, authorities filed a closure report.

Such police oppression lessened somewhat after the ‘Court-associated’ fame. However, despite the favourable reviews and his additional work in “Aadha Chand Tum Rakh Lo” short film and “Chronicles of Shree” Musical short, Sathidar considered himself more of a poet, writer, singer and lyricist. Although he told The Hindu he hoped to direct his own film one day.

As the news of his demise breaks out, many people pay their condolences on social media. Communist Party of India – Marxist Leninist (CPIML) Polit Bureau member Kavita Krishnan tweeted on Tuesday, “Shocked to learn that we lost Vira Sathidar, revolutionary street theatre activist, singer, writer, poet, actor, to Covid-19. This is a huge loss. Many of you may know him from his performance as lead actor in "Court" (2015).”

 

 

Related:

Easter at Taloja Jail: Stan’s Cross

Democracy dies when it’s streets fall silent: Activists on the right to protest

Mumbai’s prominent union leader Datta Iswalkar passes away

It is a war against Ambedkar's Constitution, not just Muslims alone: Dalits

 

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Walmart and Adani join hands to build massive warehouse in India

The tie-up signals Adani conglomerate jumping into the three-way battle between Amazon, Walmart and Reliance Industries for India’s online market.

12 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:businessoffashion.com

Walmart Inc’s e-commerce unit Flipkart Online Services Pvt signed a pact with billionaire Gautam Adani’s conglomerate to build one of the largest retail warehouses in India, reported Bloomberg news on April 12, 2021.

The move is in preparation of a battle between Amazon Inc. and homegrown rivals to dominate the local market in India. Walmart and Adani’s partnership marks Adani entry into this battle for the online shopping space that also includes Reliance Industries Ltd., the conglomerate owned by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

According to reports, each company wants a slice of the online market that is estimated to generate $200 billion in sales by 2026, especially considering pandemic regulations that distance people from physical shops.

A joint statement on Monday stated that Adani Logistics Ltd., a unit of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd., will build a 5,34,000-square-feet fulfillment centre in its upcoming logistics hub at Mumbai, then lease it to Flipkart. The warehouse is expected to be operational in the third quarter of 2022 and at the size of about 11 football fields can store 10 million units of inventory.

Further, Bengaluru-based Flipkart will also develop its third data centre at Chennai’s AdaniConneX facility to help the e-commerce company keep its data within India, said the company. AdaniconneX is a joint venture between the U.S.’s EdgeConneX Inc. and Adani Enterprises Limited., the conglomerate’s flagship listed unit. The statement did not disclose financial terms of the partnership.

However, it is said that the new centre will likely be larger in area than the ones operated by Amazon, underscoring the potential size of the Indian market.

Adani Ports Chief Executive Officer Karan Adani told Bloomberg that the company considers it a great opportunity to serve Flipkart’s physical as well as digital infrastructure needs. The partnership also indicates Adani’s growing clout with his coal mining-to-data centres conglomerate that rapidly expanded and diversified across sectors, adding $24 billion to his net worth in 2021. Riding a massive rally in his companies’ shares, Adani’s wealth jumped to almost $58 billion — the fastest rise in wealth globally.

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Walmart and Adani join hands to build massive warehouse in India

The tie-up signals Adani conglomerate jumping into the three-way battle between Amazon, Walmart and Reliance Industries for India’s online market.

Image Courtesy:businessoffashion.com

Walmart Inc’s e-commerce unit Flipkart Online Services Pvt signed a pact with billionaire Gautam Adani’s conglomerate to build one of the largest retail warehouses in India, reported Bloomberg news on April 12, 2021.

The move is in preparation of a battle between Amazon Inc. and homegrown rivals to dominate the local market in India. Walmart and Adani’s partnership marks Adani entry into this battle for the online shopping space that also includes Reliance Industries Ltd., the conglomerate owned by Asia’s richest man Mukesh Ambani.

According to reports, each company wants a slice of the online market that is estimated to generate $200 billion in sales by 2026, especially considering pandemic regulations that distance people from physical shops.

A joint statement on Monday stated that Adani Logistics Ltd., a unit of Adani Ports & Special Economic Zone Ltd., will build a 5,34,000-square-feet fulfillment centre in its upcoming logistics hub at Mumbai, then lease it to Flipkart. The warehouse is expected to be operational in the third quarter of 2022 and at the size of about 11 football fields can store 10 million units of inventory.

Further, Bengaluru-based Flipkart will also develop its third data centre at Chennai’s AdaniConneX facility to help the e-commerce company keep its data within India, said the company. AdaniconneX is a joint venture between the U.S.’s EdgeConneX Inc. and Adani Enterprises Limited., the conglomerate’s flagship listed unit. The statement did not disclose financial terms of the partnership.

However, it is said that the new centre will likely be larger in area than the ones operated by Amazon, underscoring the potential size of the Indian market.

Adani Ports Chief Executive Officer Karan Adani told Bloomberg that the company considers it a great opportunity to serve Flipkart’s physical as well as digital infrastructure needs. The partnership also indicates Adani’s growing clout with his coal mining-to-data centres conglomerate that rapidly expanded and diversified across sectors, adding $24 billion to his net worth in 2021. Riding a massive rally in his companies’ shares, Adani’s wealth jumped to almost $58 billion — the fastest rise in wealth globally.

Related:

Will India face the impact of US sanctions on Myanmar military companies?
Was the ‘BHU Professor Nita Ambani’ controversy a diversion from other issues?
India shocked as Sri Lanka cancels international partnership for ECT project
Why farmers are anti-Adani

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SC judges to work from home after half the court’s staff tests Covid positive

Hearings to be held online as courtrooms get sanitised

12 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:thelogicalindian.com

At least 44 staff members of the Supreme Court of India tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday prompting the court to take extreme measures. Judges will now conduct proceedings remotely as they work from home.

Meanwhile courtrooms are being sanitised. Various benches sat 30 to 60 minutes later than the scheduled time today. All proceedings are now being conducted via video conferencing.

Justice DY Chandrachud told NDTV, “Judicial work will not be affected by the pandemic.” Referring to the 1,600 video-conferencing links available with the SC, he said, “The Supreme Court has adequate infrastructure for judicial work,” adding, “Sixteen benches are functioning.”

India’s latest wave of Covid-19 has seen over 1,00,000 fresh cases being reported each day. Crematoria in many states are getting overwhelmed, while there are reports of shortfalls of vaccines in many states, it has now emerged that a few states have managed to procure, even allegedly hoard life-saving medication, with the patronage of powerful political parties.

Related:

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SC judges to work from home after half the court’s staff tests Covid positive

Hearings to be held online as courtrooms get sanitised

Image Courtesy:thelogicalindian.com

At least 44 staff members of the Supreme Court of India tested positive for Covid-19 on Saturday prompting the court to take extreme measures. Judges will now conduct proceedings remotely as they work from home.

Meanwhile courtrooms are being sanitised. Various benches sat 30 to 60 minutes later than the scheduled time today. All proceedings are now being conducted via video conferencing.

Justice DY Chandrachud told NDTV, “Judicial work will not be affected by the pandemic.” Referring to the 1,600 video-conferencing links available with the SC, he said, “The Supreme Court has adequate infrastructure for judicial work,” adding, “Sixteen benches are functioning.”

India’s latest wave of Covid-19 has seen over 1,00,000 fresh cases being reported each day. Crematoria in many states are getting overwhelmed, while there are reports of shortfalls of vaccines in many states, it has now emerged that a few states have managed to procure, even allegedly hoard life-saving medication, with the patronage of powerful political parties.

Related:

Covid-19: Gujarat HC says state heading towards a “health emergency”, Gov't stays silent
Don’t compare Kumbh Mela to Markaz event: Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat

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Former IPS Amitabh Kumar Das returns police medal to defend the Khuda Baksh public library

Das decried the government's decision to destroy part of the iconic library for construction of a flyover nearby.

12 Apr 2021

Former IPS Amitabh Kumar Das returns police medal to

In a bid to decry Bihar government’s plan to demolish a large part of the historic Khuda Baksh Oriental public library in Patna capital, former IPS officer Amitabh Kumar Das returned his police medal to President Ramnath Kovind, reported Jagta Hindustan on April 12, 2021.

Along with the medal, Das sent a letter to Kovind that said, “Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to demolish parts of the historic Khuda Baksh library on orders of corrupt contractors and tender mafia. The library is a legacy of the entire human race, a symbol of the “Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb.” The whole of Bihar is proud of it. As a book-lover, I am deeply shocked by this decision. I served the country for many years as an IPS officer. I am returning to you the police medal given by the Government of India to protest the Nitish government's decision.”

Similarly, Das talked about his campaign “Har Shaks: Khuda Bakhsh” (Every person for Khuda Baksh) to save the library and appealed to people associated with education and literature across India to return their Padma Shri or Sahitya Akademi Award and stand in solidarity with the Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library.

According to the Bihar State Bridge Construction Corporation, the demolition of the Curzon reading room and front garden of the library is required to overcome traffic issues from Kargil Chowk to NIT flyover. According to the Siasat, parts of Patna Medical College and Government Urdu library will also be affected. However, Das’s Bihar Viplavi Parishad organisation opposed this decision.

The Khuda Bakhsh Oriental library is one of India’s national libraries boasting lakhs of books and manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Pashto, and Turkish. The public library was opened on October 29, 1891 by Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh with 4,000 manuscripts. The place is known for its rare collection of Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Over the years, many lords and ladies, kings, nawabs, freedom fighters including Mahatma Gandhi, poets and patriots have visited the library.

Related:

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Former IPS Amitabh Kumar Das returns police medal to defend the Khuda Baksh public library

Das decried the government's decision to destroy part of the iconic library for construction of a flyover nearby.

Former IPS Amitabh Kumar Das returns police medal to

In a bid to decry Bihar government’s plan to demolish a large part of the historic Khuda Baksh Oriental public library in Patna capital, former IPS officer Amitabh Kumar Das returned his police medal to President Ramnath Kovind, reported Jagta Hindustan on April 12, 2021.

Along with the medal, Das sent a letter to Kovind that said, “Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has decided to demolish parts of the historic Khuda Baksh library on orders of corrupt contractors and tender mafia. The library is a legacy of the entire human race, a symbol of the “Ganga-Jamuni Tehzeeb.” The whole of Bihar is proud of it. As a book-lover, I am deeply shocked by this decision. I served the country for many years as an IPS officer. I am returning to you the police medal given by the Government of India to protest the Nitish government's decision.”

Similarly, Das talked about his campaign “Har Shaks: Khuda Bakhsh” (Every person for Khuda Baksh) to save the library and appealed to people associated with education and literature across India to return their Padma Shri or Sahitya Akademi Award and stand in solidarity with the Khuda Baksh Oriental Public Library.

According to the Bihar State Bridge Construction Corporation, the demolition of the Curzon reading room and front garden of the library is required to overcome traffic issues from Kargil Chowk to NIT flyover. According to the Siasat, parts of Patna Medical College and Government Urdu library will also be affected. However, Das’s Bihar Viplavi Parishad organisation opposed this decision.

The Khuda Bakhsh Oriental library is one of India’s national libraries boasting lakhs of books and manuscripts in Arabic, Persian, Pashto, and Turkish. The public library was opened on October 29, 1891 by Khan Bahadur Khuda Bakhsh with 4,000 manuscripts. The place is known for its rare collection of Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Over the years, many lords and ladies, kings, nawabs, freedom fighters including Mahatma Gandhi, poets and patriots have visited the library.

Related:

Battleground Bengal: For the Matuas, This is Utsav time

Restore Maharashtra State Urdu Sahitya Academy: Rahman Abbas’ appeal to CM Thackeray

Delhi’s pre-Mughal mosques wallow in neglect

Hindi literature and journalism will always remember the rich contributions of Manglesh Dabral

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Covid-19: Over 1,45,384 new infections reported in India on Saturday

Weekend lockdowns, night curfews begin in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Noida, Ghaziabad, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha

10 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:ndtv.com

As the week drew to a close, Covid-19 cases continued to rise across the country. On Saturday, over 1,45,384 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours. This is the fourth consecutive day that India has recorded more than 1 lakh cases in a 24 hour period. The number of active Covid-19 cases in the country have now crossed the 10 lakh-mark.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Fc2G1xUnzvFMeOz4vN0CjVBw6W1x7vLVPbjaeLASZKUJXOREkYd5ad6SYFkRQbALxksHKrcn1egleR41ZxeEWITVB_mKWZMUYf40vY2mkuHQQKRZrQ_SQTEy4GLWGFJAh8azV17A

As states continued to alert the Centre of impending vaccine shortages, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said that the Narendra Modi government has mismanaged the situation in the country. Gandhi blamed the Centre of exporting the vaccines and thus allowing “a shortage to be created in India.” She held a video conference with chief ministers of Congress-ruled states and said the focus must be on India’s vaccination drive first and foremost, and only then should the government “export vaccines and gift them to other countries.”

She also called out “mass gatherings and religious events” saying that they added to the rise in coronavirus cases. She asked the Congress-ruled states to “make all efforts to support those who have faced the brunt of reduced economic activity as the restrictions become harder and more stringent.” 

Ironically, on the same day Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan who had earlier lashed out at the Government of Maharashtra, and blamed citizens for the rise in cases, was busy promoting visuals of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally in West Bengal, where many unmasked supporters were seen crowding together. West Bengal has over 18,603 active Covid-19 cases at the moment.

Maharashtra, the state that has been asking for more vaccine doses, and instead has been attacked verbally by many senior ministers, has begun the weekend lockdown. According to a report in The Indian Express, private vaccination centers will remain closed in Mumbai till Monday, however, government vaccination centers will remain open in the city. Prithviraj Chavan, Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and former CM, has also alleged, “The central government has not only failed to provide vaccines to Maharashtra but also to provide important medical equipment during the Corona period. According to Lok Sabha data, N95 masks, PPE kits and ventilators have been provided by the central government in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh with a busy population.”

Meanwhile in Delhi where rumours of an impending lockdown made migrant workers pack their bags and start heading home again, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ruled out the possibility of a lockdown. However he said that new restrictions will be implemented soon, and added that Delhi currently has seven to 10 ten days of Covid vaccine stock. Kejriwal told the media on Saturday, "If we are provided with enough vaccine doses, the age bar for vaccination is removed and we get approval to open more vaccination centers on a larger scale then we can vaccinate people within 2-3 months in Delhi. Currently, we have vaccines for 7-10 days. There will be no lockdown. New restrictions will be imposed soon."  

Other places which have already implemented night curfews and partial lockdown include Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh Noida and Ghaziabad, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha.

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Covid-19: Over 1,45,384 new infections reported in India on Saturday

Weekend lockdowns, night curfews begin in Delhi, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Noida, Ghaziabad, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha

Image Courtesy:ndtv.com

As the week drew to a close, Covid-19 cases continued to rise across the country. On Saturday, over 1,45,384 new infections were reported in the last 24 hours. This is the fourth consecutive day that India has recorded more than 1 lakh cases in a 24 hour period. The number of active Covid-19 cases in the country have now crossed the 10 lakh-mark.

https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/Fc2G1xUnzvFMeOz4vN0CjVBw6W1x7vLVPbjaeLASZKUJXOREkYd5ad6SYFkRQbALxksHKrcn1egleR41ZxeEWITVB_mKWZMUYf40vY2mkuHQQKRZrQ_SQTEy4GLWGFJAh8azV17A

As states continued to alert the Centre of impending vaccine shortages, Congress chief Sonia Gandhi on Saturday said that the Narendra Modi government has mismanaged the situation in the country. Gandhi blamed the Centre of exporting the vaccines and thus allowing “a shortage to be created in India.” She held a video conference with chief ministers of Congress-ruled states and said the focus must be on India’s vaccination drive first and foremost, and only then should the government “export vaccines and gift them to other countries.”

She also called out “mass gatherings and religious events” saying that they added to the rise in coronavirus cases. She asked the Congress-ruled states to “make all efforts to support those who have faced the brunt of reduced economic activity as the restrictions become harder and more stringent.” 

Ironically, on the same day Union Health Minister Dr Harshvardhan who had earlier lashed out at the Government of Maharashtra, and blamed citizens for the rise in cases, was busy promoting visuals of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s election rally in West Bengal, where many unmasked supporters were seen crowding together. West Bengal has over 18,603 active Covid-19 cases at the moment.

Maharashtra, the state that has been asking for more vaccine doses, and instead has been attacked verbally by many senior ministers, has begun the weekend lockdown. According to a report in The Indian Express, private vaccination centers will remain closed in Mumbai till Monday, however, government vaccination centers will remain open in the city. Prithviraj Chavan, Member of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and former CM, has also alleged, “The central government has not only failed to provide vaccines to Maharashtra but also to provide important medical equipment during the Corona period. According to Lok Sabha data, N95 masks, PPE kits and ventilators have been provided by the central government in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh with a busy population.”

Meanwhile in Delhi where rumours of an impending lockdown made migrant workers pack their bags and start heading home again, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal ruled out the possibility of a lockdown. However he said that new restrictions will be implemented soon, and added that Delhi currently has seven to 10 ten days of Covid vaccine stock. Kejriwal told the media on Saturday, "If we are provided with enough vaccine doses, the age bar for vaccination is removed and we get approval to open more vaccination centers on a larger scale then we can vaccinate people within 2-3 months in Delhi. Currently, we have vaccines for 7-10 days. There will be no lockdown. New restrictions will be imposed soon."  

Other places which have already implemented night curfews and partial lockdown include Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Uttar Pradesh Noida and Ghaziabad, Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir and Odisha.

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SC dismisses Anil Deshmukh’s plea against Bom HC order for CBI probe

The court stated that the nature of allegations was serious and it was not inclined to interfere with the High Court’s order

09 Apr 2021

CBI

The Supreme Court has dismissed the pleas filed by Maharashtra government and former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the Bombay High Court order directing a probe by an independent agency into corruption allegations made by Ex- Commissioner of Police, Parambir Singh.

The bench of Justices SK Kaul and Hemant Gupta held that the nature of allegations, the persons involved and the seriousness of the allegations do require an independent agency to enquire into the matter.

The court stated that it is a matter of public confidence and it is only a preliminary enquiry. The court refused to take into consideration that since Deshmukh had resigned as Home Minister, the enquiry should not be instituted. "The two personas involved in the case were working together till they fell apart. Both of them were holding high positions. Certainly an independent investigation is needed," said Justice Kaul.

Further, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that Deshmukh is mandatorily entitled to be heard in his individual capacity even though the State Government was represented and he was a Minister at that time. Sibal further argued that Parambir Singh's letter is based on hearsay evidence, and he claims no direct knowledge of the allegations, thus, it was important to give Deshmukh an opportunity to be heard. Sibal also proposed that investigation under the monitoring of the High Court or the Supreme Court, instead of the CBI. The court refused to accept this contention and said that the petitioner cannot pick and choose the agency.

"I am vilified unheard. I had to resign. If I was given an opportunity to bring my version on record, this would not have happened", Sibal said.

The bench, however, was not inclined to interfere with the High Court’s order.

Background

On April 5, the high court directed CBI to probe into the ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ case within 15 days. The case stems from allegations made by ex-Police Commissioner, Parambir Singh, in an eight-page letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. In the letter written three days after Singh's posting to the Home Guards, he alleged that Deshmukh asked the now suspended and arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs. 100 crore, by tapping the 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai for Rs 40-50 crore every month.

Soon after the Bombay High Court order, Deshmukh had resigned as the state’s Home Minister. “Following the court’s order, it does not seem appropriate that I maintain my post as Home Minister. For this reason, I have decided to distance myself from this designation,” Deshmukh wrote in his letter.

The plea

The grounds on which Deshmukh had challenged the order before the apex court are that the order was passed without giving Deshmukh or state police machinery an opportunity to be heard; it did not take into account the revocation by the government of the general consent for CBI probes; no opportunity was given to the police to investigate into the matter; alternate remedy of approaching Magistrate under section 156(3) of CrPC was not considered.

The plea states that the allegations were made after the ex-commissioner of police was transferred, and the evidence sought to be created with intent and that these aspects need to be looked into before instituting an inquiry by the CBI. He further argues in his petition that the allegations made by Singh are not substantiated and are motivated.

"The erstwhile Commissioner of police has referred to alleged conversations by others, which is pure hearsay, not produced any substantive evidence before Court, that can, in law, be relied upon, and without giving notice to the Petitioner, has handed over investigation to an agency which the State Government has least confidence in. If this principle were to be followed, and courts under Article 226 of the Constitution were to accept bald and motivated statements of this nature, made much after the alleged incidents, without any actionable evidence before Court, then the Petitioner believes that such processes may well be followed to destabilize governments", the plea states, as reported by LiveLaw.

Deshmukh has also separately filed a Special Leave Petition over the legality of appointment of interim Director of CBI, which has been questioned before the apex court, in a plea filed by NGO Common Cause.

The order may be read here:

Related:

Anil Deshmukh moves SC against Bom HC order directing CBI probe

Corruption accused Anil Deshmukh resigns from Home Minister post

CBI to hold preliminary inquiry against Anil Deshmukh: Bombay HC

Petitions seeking probe against HM “filed for cheap publicity”: Bombay HC

SC dismisses Anil Deshmukh’s plea against Bom HC order for CBI probe

The court stated that the nature of allegations was serious and it was not inclined to interfere with the High Court’s order

CBI

The Supreme Court has dismissed the pleas filed by Maharashtra government and former Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh challenging the Bombay High Court order directing a probe by an independent agency into corruption allegations made by Ex- Commissioner of Police, Parambir Singh.

The bench of Justices SK Kaul and Hemant Gupta held that the nature of allegations, the persons involved and the seriousness of the allegations do require an independent agency to enquire into the matter.

The court stated that it is a matter of public confidence and it is only a preliminary enquiry. The court refused to take into consideration that since Deshmukh had resigned as Home Minister, the enquiry should not be instituted. "The two personas involved in the case were working together till they fell apart. Both of them were holding high positions. Certainly an independent investigation is needed," said Justice Kaul.

Further, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal contended that Deshmukh is mandatorily entitled to be heard in his individual capacity even though the State Government was represented and he was a Minister at that time. Sibal further argued that Parambir Singh's letter is based on hearsay evidence, and he claims no direct knowledge of the allegations, thus, it was important to give Deshmukh an opportunity to be heard. Sibal also proposed that investigation under the monitoring of the High Court or the Supreme Court, instead of the CBI. The court refused to accept this contention and said that the petitioner cannot pick and choose the agency.

"I am vilified unheard. I had to resign. If I was given an opportunity to bring my version on record, this would not have happened", Sibal said.

The bench, however, was not inclined to interfere with the High Court’s order.

Background

On April 5, the high court directed CBI to probe into the ‘extraordinary and unprecedented’ case within 15 days. The case stems from allegations made by ex-Police Commissioner, Parambir Singh, in an eight-page letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray. In the letter written three days after Singh's posting to the Home Guards, he alleged that Deshmukh asked the now suspended and arrested Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze to collect Rs. 100 crore, by tapping the 1,750 bars and restaurants in Mumbai for Rs 40-50 crore every month.

Soon after the Bombay High Court order, Deshmukh had resigned as the state’s Home Minister. “Following the court’s order, it does not seem appropriate that I maintain my post as Home Minister. For this reason, I have decided to distance myself from this designation,” Deshmukh wrote in his letter.

The plea

The grounds on which Deshmukh had challenged the order before the apex court are that the order was passed without giving Deshmukh or state police machinery an opportunity to be heard; it did not take into account the revocation by the government of the general consent for CBI probes; no opportunity was given to the police to investigate into the matter; alternate remedy of approaching Magistrate under section 156(3) of CrPC was not considered.

The plea states that the allegations were made after the ex-commissioner of police was transferred, and the evidence sought to be created with intent and that these aspects need to be looked into before instituting an inquiry by the CBI. He further argues in his petition that the allegations made by Singh are not substantiated and are motivated.

"The erstwhile Commissioner of police has referred to alleged conversations by others, which is pure hearsay, not produced any substantive evidence before Court, that can, in law, be relied upon, and without giving notice to the Petitioner, has handed over investigation to an agency which the State Government has least confidence in. If this principle were to be followed, and courts under Article 226 of the Constitution were to accept bald and motivated statements of this nature, made much after the alleged incidents, without any actionable evidence before Court, then the Petitioner believes that such processes may well be followed to destabilize governments", the plea states, as reported by LiveLaw.

Deshmukh has also separately filed a Special Leave Petition over the legality of appointment of interim Director of CBI, which has been questioned before the apex court, in a plea filed by NGO Common Cause.

The order may be read here:

Related:

Anil Deshmukh moves SC against Bom HC order directing CBI probe

Corruption accused Anil Deshmukh resigns from Home Minister post

CBI to hold preliminary inquiry against Anil Deshmukh: Bombay HC

Petitions seeking probe against HM “filed for cheap publicity”: Bombay HC

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