HYDERABAD SUNDAY MARCH 28, 2021 `8.00 PAGES 24 LATE CITY EDITION OVER 90 KILLED IN MYANMAR IN BLOODIEST DAY OF PROTEST JUNTA REITERATES PROMISE TO HOLD ELECTION Touted as a flashpoint, the Armed Forces Day event saw junta leader Min Aung Hlaing calling the protests as acts of ‘terrorism’. In his speech, Hlaing reiterated a promise to hold elections, without giving any time-frame. Eight countries — Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand — sent representatives to the event, while Russia sent a minister The reprisal, coinciding with the 76th Armed Forces Day, came barely 24 hours after media warned that agitators could be shot in the head MILITIA KILLS NINE IN RETALIATORY STRIKE ■ ■ The Karen National Union, an ethnic armed group, said it had overrun an army post near the Thai border, killing 10 people, including a lieutenant colonel, and losing one of its fighters Skirmishes took place in Sagaing, Yangon, Mandalay and Lashio. A one-year-old baby was shot in the eye with a rubber bullet | P9 269 ESTIMATED NUMBER OF PROTESTERS KILLED SO FAR IN THE MILITARY CRACKDOWN CHENNAI ■ MADURAI ■ VIJAYAWADA ■ BENGALURU ■ KOCHI ■ HYDERABAD ■ VISAKHAPATNAM ■ COIMBATORE ■ KOZHIKODE ■ THIRUVANANTHAPURAM ■ BELAGAVI ■ BHUBANESWAR ■ SHIVAMOGGA ■ MANGALURU ■ TIRUPATI ■ TIRUCHY ■ TIRUNELVELI ■ SAMBALPUR ■ HUBBALLI ■ DHARMAPURI ■ KOTTAYAM ■ KANNUR ■ VILLUPURAM ■ KOLLAM ■ WARANGAL ■ TADEPALLIGUDEM ■ NAGAPATTINAM ■ THRISSUR ■ KALABURAGI Bengal witnesses 80% turnout Mask up, avoid religious gatherings or get fined BENGAL PHASE 1 79.9% Polling percentage 30 CONSTITUENCIES* (5 districts — all seats in Purulia and Jhargram districts; parts of West Midnapore, Bankura, East Midnapore districts) EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE 2016 RESULTS# 3% less than 2016 as most migrant workers don’t return to cast vote ■ TMC: 27 | ■ Cong: 2 ■ E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Kolkata @ Hyderabad Left Front: 1 in seats where polling was held on Saturday # A robust 80% voter turnout was recorded in the first phase of Assembly polls in West Bengal on Saturday . The polling was expected to be much higher but it turned out to be around 3% less than that of the previous Assembly polls. Rising Covid-19 cases and the failure of migrant workers — who had left the state after public transport was thrown open following a prolonged lockdown — to return to exercise their franchise are the major reasons for the drop in turnout. A senior TMC leader said absence of migrant workers might hurt their chances. “It was expected Bengalis working in other states will support us because of the hardships they faced due to the lockdown,’’ he said. For an example, in 2016, Jhargram constituency had recorded 86% 2018 polling, but this time, the figure dropped to 80.55%. The BJP believes it has an upper hand as it had won most of the Parliamentary seats in the region in the 2019 general elections. Voting was held in 30 Assembly segments out of 294 with 191 candidates in the fray Over 70 lakh electorates were on . the rolls to exercise their franchise. The 30 seats that went to polls on Saturday included all the 18 constituencies that had voted in the first phase in 2016, too. Assam, which also went to polls on Saturday, recorded 76.89% turnout in the first phase for 47 seats. Analysts attributed the high turnout to competitive politics. “Last time, the aspirational votes resulted in high turnout. This time, it is due to the competitive politics,” political analyst Akhil Ranjan Dutta P7 of Gauhati University said. * Total constituencies: 294 Voters undergo thermal scanning at a polling station in Jhargram, Bengal, on Saturday | PTI VOTERS TORN BETWEEN DADA AND DIDI I F this is a war of ideas, and not a mere electoral mudwrestling match of the usual sort, then Nandigram is the epicentre. It’s a placename that has already seared itself into the pages of Indian political history. But that was a decade ago, when it was an outlier. In 2021, Nandigram offers a different picture — a small, sharp-focused microcosmic picture of West Bengal politics as it’s being played right now. The people of Nandigram are divided. Along voting lines— which can be a euphemism for ‘along religious lines’. They are also pulled by contrasting loyalties: their allegiance to ‘Dada’ and ‘Didi’. The latter needs no explanation. Mamata Banerjee is Didi for not just Nandigram — which votes in the second phase of a long-drawn poll process — but for all of West Bengal, even India to some extent. Dada is Suvendu Adhikari, her Nandigram custodian-turned-challenger. Suvendu may not yet have at- WEST BENGAL SANTWANA BHATTACHARYA @ Nandigram tained the eminence of a ‘Dada’ for the larger Bengal polity, but there’s no doubting his stature here. Anything that has happened or not happened in Nandigram has his stamp on it. That’s not counting his cutouts, popping out from amidst crop- land, smiling at passing vehicles with a chutzpah that’s almost breathtaking, bordering on arrogance in a qualitative way. Suvendu and the Adhikari family have a close relation with these farmlands of Nandigram. He is credited with spearheading the Bhumi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee—now, that one committee not only ensured the chemical hub planned by the then Buddhadeb Bhattacharya government never materialised, it virtually led to the ‘uchhed’ (uprooting) of the 34-year-long Left Front government in Bengal. In that election and in the years that followed, Suvendu became the Dada, replacing the Left’s Laxman Seth. It’s as if he has now come to claim ownership of the very croplands he once struggled to save. CONTINUED ON P7 REFORM DYNAMICS The second day of the ThinkEdu Conclave saw the higher education secretary, Amit Khare, say the Centre may alter the criteria to qualify for Institute of Eminence tag. In another session, Principal Economic Advisor Sanjeev Sanyal spoke about ego not coming in the way of fixing the flaws in reform policies | P5 WHAT’S ON YOUR PLATE? Tribals from Chenchu Palugu and Gumpanpally villages of Nagarkurnool district protest on the Hyd-Srisailam Highway Tribals block highway after forest staff assault them, dept denies claims EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Mahbubnagar FOUR tribals were admitted to hospital and a few officials of the Forest Department were injured in incidents that transpired among them between Friday night and Saturday morning in the forests of the Amrabad Tiger Reserve, near Mannanur. Following the incidents, tribals from Chenchu Palugu and Gumpanpally villages of Nagarkurnool district blocked the Hyderabad-Srisailam National Highway for nearly three hours. While they alleged manhandling by the department staff, the latter, in its defence, accused them of in- citing violence and releasing a video of a mob of tribals damaging a Forest Department vehicle. Tribal Welfare Minister Satyavathi Rathod condemned the incident and said the officials must exercise restraint. On the other hand, the Forest Department blamed politicians for siding with the tribals without having complete information of the incident. According to the department, a patrolling party head, ed by Forest Section Officer Ramanjaneyulu, along with base camp and fire watchers, went to forest compar t- ment-326 in the Mannanur (West) beat late on Friday . On spotting a fire, they reached the location and found around 18 tribals — both men and women — camping. The villagers infor med the staff that they were there to collect Mahua flowers. The tribals alleged that the patrolling team thrashed some of them, resulting in injuries to some of them. But the Forest Department denied the allegations, claiming that the injured tribals are those who ran into the forest out of fear after they saw the staff, and as a result got injured. CONTINUED ON P4 Govt data points at sub-standard food quality in TS E X P R E S S N E W S S E R V I C E @ Hyderabad NEARLY eight per cent of all food samples tested in Telangana in the 2019-2020 fiscal and around 11 per cent tested during an eight-month period last year were found to be unsafe or sub-standard. This data was presented in the Telangana Legislative Council by the Health and Family Welfare Department in response to a question raised by MLC A Narsi Reddy While it raises concerns re. garding the quality of food in Telangana, the number of samples tested also points towards another issue — of low testing. In the 2019-2020 fiscal, only 1,680 samples were tested in the State, of which 24 were found to be unsafe and 111 sub-standard. In the period of April-December, 2020, only 631 food samples were tested, of which 20 were reported to be unsafe and 49 were sub-standard, according to the department’s data. WITH THIS ISSUE CHASING THE TRUTH PLUS 12 PAGES BLATANT VIOLATION Narayana, Chaitanya rapped for holding admission test EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE @ Hyderabad TAKING a tough stance against admission-cum-scholarship tests conducted by two major private players in education — Narayana Educational Institutions and Sri Chaitanya Educational Institutions — the Telangana School Education Department on Saturday put the screening procedures on hold, a day before they could be conducted. The department pointed out that conducting such a test is in violation of Rule 13 of the Right to Education Act, 2009. The proceedings — issued by the Regional Joint Director of School Education, K Lingaiah — pointed out that as per the Rule, any school that “subjects a child to a screening procedure, shall be punishable with a fine which may extend to `25,000 for the first contravention and `50,000 for each subsequent contraventions.” Also, school managements must not collect capitation fee as per the RTE Act, it stated. The department directed the two private players to put on hold their admission-cumscholarship tests until further orders. The proceedings were issued after a meeting was held between the managements of the schools and the Regional Joint Director on the same day . The proceedings also pointed out that all educational institutions, except for medical colleges, have been directed to remain shut in view of the rising Covid cases. MORE ON P3 Screening procedures Narayana conducts Narayana Scholastic Aptitude Test for Classes V to XII; Sri Chaitanya holds Outstanding Achiever Reward Exam WEARING mask in all public places, work spaces and public means of transport has been made mandatory in Telangana. Also, rallies, public celebrations and religious congregations have been banned till April 30 amid a spike in Covid-19 cases. Any deviation from these rules will attract prosecution under Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act 2005 and Section 188 of the IPC, as well as other applicable laws, according to the government orders issued on Saturday . Sections 51 to 60 of the Disaster Management Act attracts imposition of a fine, imprisonment up to two years or both, while Section 188 of the IPC will attract imprisonment up to six months, a fine up to `1,000 or both. Chief Secretary Somesh Kumar issued two separate GOs on wearing masks and holding religious congregations. According to GO 68, wearing face masks is one of the most important intervention to prevent Covid-19. He directed all district Collectors and Commissioners/Superintendents of Police to strictly implement these instructions across the State. According to GO 69, the government has decided that public celebrations/observances should not be allowed during the upcoming religious events of Shab-e-Barat, Holi, Ugadi, Ramanavami, Mahavir Jayanti, Good Friday and Ramzan till April 30. We have to strictly follow the Covid-19 guidelines. If we do not control the virus now, we will also end up like Maharashtra and Kerala, reporting a high number of cases Dr Ramesh Reddy, Director of Medical Education Rallies, processions banned till April 30 No rallies, processions, public celebrations, gatherings and congregations will be allowed in connection with religious events in public places, grounds, parks and religious places till April 30. “The number of cases in the country has been showing a rising trend for the last few weeks. The MHA also issued an order, allowing States to impose curbs to prevent the spread of Covid, based on the assessment of the situation,” Chief Secy Somesh Kumar said 1-crore mark crossed by TS in Covid testing. Also, active cases rose to 4,241 on Friday, with 495 new infections detected. This takes the tally to 3.05 lakh cases. The new cases are concentrated in three districts — GHMC (142), Rangareddy (35) and Medchal (45). Also, hospitalisations have gone up, with 2,371 people getting admitted, which makes up 55.9% of the active cases
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