A look at the top news today, April 18, 2021.
Four persons, including an 18-year-old, were shot dead by CISF personnel at a polling booth in West Bengal’s Cooch Behar district after villagers stormed the booth and tried to snatch weapons of the security personnel, police said. The Election Commission stopped polling at the booth and barred all political leaders from entering the district for the next 72 hours.
# While Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee called for Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s resignation over the firing, Banerjee, in the run-up to the fourth phase of polling, has repeatedly accused the Central forces of acting at the behest of the Centre and even urged people to “gherao” them if they see any “wrongdoing”.
# In Jorpatki village, eyewitness recount how a rumour that CISF men had assaulted a 12-year-old boy has led to angry villagers gheraoing the central forces. Among the four killed in the firing, three were migrant workers who had returned home to vote in the polls.
Only in the Express
Four institutions — media, judiciary, CAG, Parliament — had an opportunity to scrutinise the Rafale aircraft case, but have failed in their duty, writes former union minister P Chidambaram.
From the Front page
With Covid cases continuing to rise and vaccinations dipping owing to shortages, Maharashtra is likely to see a complete lockdown, for not more than 15 days, to curb the infection spread. Opposition parties, including the BJP, supported the move, but said the economic concerns cannot be dismissed.
Even though it is against political parties making any reference to Defence personnel in their poll campaign, the Election Commission has invoked the armed forces in its print advertisement urging West Bengal’s electors to come out and vote.
What is significantly damaging in the US Navy’s controversial public statement on its freedom of navigation operation in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone is that the issue of “not requesting prior consent or permission” figured previously only in statements with respect to China (South China Sea).
On April 4, the bodies of 14 jawans were found strewn around Jhiragaon and Teklagudem in Chhattisgarh, two days after 2,000 security personnel got into an alleged gunfight with Naxals. In South Bastar, a Naxal strike, such as this one, is all too familiar. In fact, it was the third such attack since 2020. Still, the Naxal challenge has shrunk from its peak in mid-2000s, when over 200 districts were affected, to a 700-km corridor headquartered in Abujhmad in Bastar.
When medical students Janaki Omkumar and Naveen Razak posted a 30-second video of themselves dancing to the Boney M classic ‘Rasputin’ in their navy blue scrubs, little did they know that they would be catapulted to fame and would quickly become mascots for communal harmony. But their journey to internet stardom was not without hurdles. This week, a lawyer put up a Facebook post referring to their different religious backgrounds and cautioning Janaki’s parents.
In the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council elections, the Tipraha Indigenous Progressive Regional Alliance (TIPRA) Motha, a newly floated political outfit, registered a landslide win bagging 18 out of 29 seats. Meanwhile, the ruling BJP managed to win only 9 seats while its ally IPFT drew a blank.
Declaring votes cast at these polling stations on April 1 “void”, the Election Commission of India (ECI) ordered repolling at four polling booths in Ratabari, Sonai and Haflong constituencies of Assam on April 20.
A pall of gloom descended on Jorpatki village in Cooch Behar district’s Sitalkuchi area after four villagers were shot dead by Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel while polling was underway in the fourth phase of the Assembly elections. “If I had known that I would lose him forever, I would have never let him leave home to vote,” the father of one of the victims said.
In an expansive conversation, writer Amit Chaudhuri and political theorist Pratap Bhanu Mehta discuss the idiosyncrasies of Indian classical music, how it shaped Chaudhuri’s creative impulse and his idea of home and the world.
Inside Track: Recently when a prospective candidate grumbled over being denied a ticket, saying it meant he had become irrelevant in politics, Home Minister Shah disarmed him citing his own example. He was not given the Lok Sabha ticket for a particular constituency six times, even though he knew the area like the back of his hand and was invariably made the polling agent.
Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose