visakhapatnam l sunday l march 28, 2021 l `8.00 l PAGES 24 l 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 ■ 269 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 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 14 more test positive for Covid, AU college hostel turns isolation block 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) 2016 results# 3% less than 2016 as most migrant workers don’t return to cast vote ■ TMC: 27 | ■ Cong: 2 ■ E XPR E SS N E WS S E RVIC E @ Kolkata Left Front: 1 E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Visakhapatnam/Vijayawada 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 Fourteen more students of Andhra University Engineering College tested positive on Saturday, taking the total number of Covid-19 cases to 69. The engineering college hostel was converted into an isolation block to prevent the spread of the virus. According to District Medical and Health Officer PS Suryanarayana, all the infected students are asymptomatic and their health condition is being closely monitored. As many as 821 students of the engineering college tested negative, and they will also be under observation for one week. Covid tests were conducted for 580 girls of the engineering college and of them 200 tested negative. The test reports of remaining students are expected on Sunday,” the DMHO said. GVMC health workers sanitised the entire engineering college campus and no student is being allowed to go out. The @ Vijayawada Former chief secretary Nilam Sawhney on Friday resigned as the Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister after her name was cleared by Governor Biswabhusan Harichan- dan for the post of State Election Commissioner (SEC). Her resignation was accepted by the State government on Saturday allowing Sawhney to as, sume office as the SEC after the end of the tenure of incumbent Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar on March 31. In her resignation letter, she said it was an honour to serve the Government of Andhra Pradesh as the Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister. After her retirement as Chief Secretary on December 31, 2020, the government appointed Sawhney as the Prin- cipal Advisor to the Chief Minister. Sawhney a 1984 batch IAS of, ficer of Andhra Pradesh cadre, worked in various capacities in the combined State. She worked as Secretary of the Central Vigilance Commission and in the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on Central deputation before taking charge as the Chief Secretary of AP in November 2019. Though she was supposed to retire on June 30, 2020, she got extension twice (three months each) and retired on December 31, 2020. express read HC directive on land registration Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh High Court has made it clear that officials at the subregistrar offices should mandatorily accept the documents from those who approach them for land registration and if there are any objections pertaining to the documents, they should reject them only after explaining reasons in writing. CID records farmers’ statements Vijayawada: Continuing their probe into the alleged irregularities in alienation of assigned lands in Amaravati capital region, Crime Investigation Department officials recorded statements of farmers whose names were mentioned in the complaint filed by YSRC MLA Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, on Saturday. Only two options left for A-I: Min gardening class Two students water plants at a Zilla Parishad High School in Vijayawada on Saturday | Prasant Madugula New Delhi: Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri on Saturday asserted that Air India will be disinvested and there was no other alternative except shutting down the carrier. “We’ve decided that Air India will be 100% disinvested. Choice is between disinvestment and closing down,” he said, while talking to a news agency. security lapse? Intruder attempts to break open temple Hundi E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e @ Tirupati An intruder made a vain attempt to break open the Hundi in Sri Govindaraja Swamy temple on Friday night. The incident came to light only after the footage of CCTV cameras on the temple premises was examined by security staff on Saturday morning. Tirupati Central Crime Station DSP G Muralidhar said the intruder, suspected to be an old offender, had made a futile attempt to break open the Hundi. As per the preliminary investigation, he entered the temple like any other common devotee. He hid himself somewhere in the temple till security guards closed it on Friday night. A video grab of an intruder, who attempted to steal cash and valuables from the Hundi in Sri Govindaraja Swamy temple in Tirupati on Friday night | EXPRESS Later, he tried to break open the Hundi to steal cash and other valuables. The CCTV cameras captured his movements. In the CCTV camera footage, the intruder was seen moving in the temple freely . He also attempted to damage the CCTV cameras with stones. The intruder who failed to succeed in his attempt to break open the Hun- di, walked out of the temple after it was opened on Saturday morning along with other devotees, the DSP said. As per the instructions of SP Venkata Appala Naidu, four special police teams have been formed to nab the intruder. “The CCS police and the East Division police are conducting parallel investigation in the case,” the DSP said. It may be recalled that three gold crowns weighing 1,351 grams were stolen from a sub-temple in Govindaraja Swamy temple complex on February 2, 2019. Tirupati Urban police nabbed the accused Akash Prathap Sarodi (25) of Maharashtra on April 23, 2019 and recovered a gold bar from him. Vijayawada: Education Minister A Suresh reiterated that there is no proposal to close schools and colleges despite surge in Covid cases. Educational institutions where Covid-19 cases are reported will only be shut. All precautions will be taken to protect students from coronavirus, Suresh said new cases New recoveries 947 377 engineering colle ge campus was declared a containment zone. District Collector V Vinay Chand inspected the engineering college hostels. “Isolation blocks were set up in hostels. Isolation kits comprising pulse oximeters, multivitamin tablets and immunity boosters were distributed to them,’’ he said, adding that if there is any fluctuation in pulse, the students will be shifted to King P4 George Hospital. reform dynamics Nilam Sawhney quits as advisor to CM to take over as SEC E x p r e s s N e w s Se r v i c e ‘No move to close schools, colleges’ The second day of the ThinkEdu Conclave saw 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 WITH THIS ISSUE Chasing the Truth PLUS 12 PAGES
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28-03-2021 of The New Indian Express-Vishakapatnam