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Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Daily Briefing: New double mutant variant detected in India; Nuns forced off train, Shah promises action

From the latest on the Mukesh Ambani bomb scare, to the upcoming Assembly elections in four states and one Union Territory; here are today's top stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
March 25, 2021 8:31:53 am
Daily Briefing: Amid Covid second wave, govt rethink on offline CBSE Board exam; 102 test positive at KumbhA look at the top news today, April 14, 2021.

Good morning, 

The Big Story

A new “double mutant variant” was detected in the country, adding to the growing list of Covid variants. It was found in 206 samples in Maharashtra and in varied numbers in Delhi. The government, however, underlined that no direct link has been established between the ongoing surge in cases and the new variant.

Only in the Express 

Each distress story in India’s services sector is unique but all of them face similar questions: The lockdown may have eased but when will demand pick up? What happens with a second Covid wave? What’s clear, though, is that women working in service sectors are much worse off than men. 

From the Front Page

Four Christian women, including two nuns from Kerala, were heckled and forced off a train in Uttar Pradesh by Railway personnel and some fellow passengers identified as ABVP workers who falsely accused them of engaging in forced religious conversion. Campaigning for former Union minister K J Alphons in Kerala,  Union Home Minister Amit Shah said his party’s “government in Uttar Pradesh will ensure that the culprits…will be brought to justice”.

In a rare pushback against the ruling NDA in Parliament, regional parties joined hands to oppose the passing of the controversial Bill that seeks to make the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi equivalent to the Delhi government. The YSRCP, which supported the Bill in the Lok Sabha, opposed it in the Upper House. Though the Bill was passed in Raja Sabha by 83 votes against 45, the proceedings also witnessed a walkout by the Congress, SP, YSRCP, BJD and AIADMK.

 Suspended Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Waze, who is currently in NIA custody, was slapped with charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act  for his alleged role in the Antilia bomb threat case. A team of NIA is also looking into Waze’s stay in Trident Hotel at Nariman Point earlier this year. Waze submitted a fake Aadhaar card and booked a room in the hotel for several days. 

Must Read

In January, Varun Arora, a 37-year-old Delhi-based businessman, cooked fish laced with thallium and served it to his family members. While his mother-in-law and sister-in-law died soon after, his wife has been in a coma since February. The inspiration behind the gruesome murders? Former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and his intelligence agencies who allegedly used the toxin to kill the regime’s political opponents. 

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) has launched an investigation into WhatsApp’s new privacy policy, which was already under judicial scrutiny. The antitrust body has taken a prima facie view that Facebook-owned WhatsApp’s new policy is in contravention of India’s Competition Act “through its exploitative and exclusionary conduct…in the garb of policy update”.

Decision 2021

Signs of anti-CAA anger are all over the Assamese town of Chabua — on the railway station’s walls, at the desolate post-office, roadside graffiti, and the abandoned Circle Office still strewn with burnt government documents. Both PM Narendra Modi and Congress leader Rahul Gandhi have been campaigning in Chabua — Modi’s massive rally of March 20 strengthening the BJP’s belief that the CAA no longer matters here.

It’s a family friendship that goes back generations — starting with Anbil Mahesh Poyyamuzhi’s grandfather Anbil Dharmalingam and Udhayanidhi Stalin’s grandfather M Karunanidhi, continuing with their respective fathers Anbil Poyyamuzhi and Stalin, and now the two of them. Even today, as Mahesh walks 10 hours a day, seeking votes in Thiruverumbur, the Tamil Nadu first family’s backing is clearly with him.

In Kerala’s Puthuppally,  former Chief Minister Oomen Chandy is fighting one of the toughest elections for his party, which is up against a popular LDF government and a growing BJP. The Congress a divided house, he is among its chief fire-fighters, with allies, religious and community leaders. Puthuppally has now voted Chandy 11 times consecutively, starting 1970. A 12th win from Puthuppally would equal the record of the late K M Mani.

And Finally 

Coaching didn’t just fill up a few hours of their days, teaching sport filled up a lifetime. So when the pandemic hemmed these super seniors inside their homes for the first time in their lives, these outdoor doyens of maidaan coaching were left rudderless. We spoke to some of them about how they spent the last one year away from the field. 

Delhi confidential: With the West Bengal elections days away, three Trinamool Congress MPs gave their speeches on the Finance Bill in chaste Bengali. This seemed to become a sticking point, with Trinamool MP Arpita Ghosh telling BJP MPs to listen on their headphones if they wanted to understand.

In today’s episode of the ‘3 Things’ podcast, we look at Punjab’s recent surge in Covid cases, the significance of Muslim voters in Kerala, and the Bihar Police Bill and why it is being called draconian. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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