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Monday, March 08, 2021

Daily Briefing: Chinese troops start pulling back; Kiran Bedi removed as Puducherry LG

From Ghazipur protestors leaving for their home amid the sugarcane planting season, to Mumbai's upcoming undersea tunnel; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
February 17, 2021 8:31:17 am
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Good morning,

The Big Story

The Indian Army released five video clips and multiple photographs of Chinese troops dismantling bunkers and temporary fortifications and withdrawing from the Pangong Tso area. One of the clips shows before and after visuals of an area from where Chinese troops are withdrawing, showing visible reduction in the number of troops.

Only in the Express 

After Bihar insisted that “irregularities” in Covid testing data were limited to the district of Jamui following an Indian Express Investigation, new records suggest otherwise. Data compiled by four Primary Health Centres and two government hospitals in Bhagalpur show 1,438 entries for RT-PCR tests with 10 zeroes listed as their numbers and incomplete addresses, making it virtually impossible to trace them, the Indian Express has now found. 

Addressing the removal of Kiran Bedi as Lieutenant Governor of Puducherry and the ongoing political crisis in the Union Territory, Chief Minister V Narayanasamy said: “The removal of Dr Kiran Bedi has been a long-pending demand of the people of Puducherry, because she was behaving in an autocratic manner (by) violating rules of business.”

From the Front Page 

Delhi Police is probing whether Shantanu Muluk, one of the suspects in the toolkit case, was in Delhi on Republic Day. Police sources said they believe Muluk came to Delhi to take videos and photos of the Tikri protest site and use it for the toolkit. On Tuesday, he was granted transit anticipatory bail in the case.

On the day the Congress-led government in Puducherry appeared to have lost majority, the Centre removed the Lieutenant Governor (L-G) of the Union Territory, Kiran Bedi, with whom the government has had a long-running battle. The ruling Congress-DMK alliance and the opposition AIADMK-BJP alliance now have 14 MLAs each in the House after two Congress MLAs resigned in two days. 

The BJP’s top brass went into a huddle with party MPs, MLAs and district leaders from three states against the backdrop of the farmer agitation spreading across the Jat belt. Sources said senior leaders underlined that disaffection among Jats could affect at least 40 Lok Sabha seats in these regions and so the party has to ensure the protests do not spread.

Five persons who returned recently to India have been detected with the infectious Covid-19 variants found in South Africa and Brazil. The National Institute of Virology, Pune, was “attempting to isolate and culture” the South Africa variant, while the Brazil variant has been “successfully” isolated.

Must Read 

The law of sedition “is a powerful tool in the hands of the state” and “cannot be invoked to quieten the disquiet under the pretence of muzzling the miscreants”. This was the observation made by Additional Sessions Judge Dharmender Rana while granting bail to two men facing that charge for allegedly sharing a Facebook post on the Delhi Police during the farmers’ protest.

With the sugarcane planting season set to begin in Uttar Pradesh villages, a number of protesters from Ghazipur have left for their homes, though those left behind insist this is temporary and the protest will return to its former size once planting is over.

ICYMI

The Nepal government objected to a comment made by Tripura CM Biplab Deb, which he attributed to Union Home Minister Amit Shah, stating that the BJP will be forming government not only in Indian states, but in Nepal as well.

Taking a firm stance on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), the Congress announced plans to build a memorial to commemorate those who died in the anti-CAA protests in Assam in December 2019. 

Urging all state health officials to enforce strict Covid norms in the face of a recent surge in cases, Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray warned that a fresh lockdown was not off the table.

The WHO granted emergency use authorisation to the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine, a move that should allow the UN agency’s partners to ship millions of doses to countries as part of a UN-backed program to tame the pandemic.

And Finally 

Mavala, India’s biggest Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM), has been at work 20 metres – the height of a 5-storey building – under Mumbai’s Priyadarshini Park for nearly a month to build the country’s first undersea tunnel aligned to Marine Drive, as part of the city’s Rs 12,721 crore Coastal Road project. The project aims to connect South Mumbai to the Worli end of the Worli-Bandra Sea Link through a high speed corridor.

Delhi Confidential: Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s ‘Doomsday Man’ term for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi during her reply to the Budget discussion in Lok Sabha has become such a hit in BJP circles, that many are now asking for the right Hindi words to convey the same meaning. Sitharaman’s office has come up with the word ‘Pralay Munadi’. 

In today’s episode of 3 things, we look at the arrest of 22-year-old climate activist Disha Ravi, rising fuel prices and the bus accident in Madhya Pradesh.

Until tomorrow
Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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