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Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Daily Briefing: Vaccinate all 45-plus in 2 weeks in surge districts, says centre; Pak to meet to review trade with India

From the latest on the upcoming Assembly Elections in four states and one UT, to the ongoing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic; here are today's big stories.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: March 31, 2021 8:28:21 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 18, 2021.

Good morning, 

Big Story

The Government is pushing states to achieve 100 per cent vaccination coverage for those above 45 in districts that have been witnessing a second wave of Covid-19 cases. In a meeting with 46 districts that reported 70 per cent of the total cases over the last month, the Centre conveyed that 90 per cent of Covid-linked deaths in the country continue to be from this age group. 

Only in the Express

In a major move towards normalising ties with New Delhi, the Pakistan government is expected to take a call today on resuming trade with India. Pakistan’s cabinet committee on economic affairs, sources said, is going to decide on importing sugar and cotton from India. The committee meeting is scheduled at 11.30 am Pakistan time.

With the job of holding back those fleeing from the Myanmar army crackdown falling to the Assam Rifles, sources in the paramilitary force admit it is virtually impossible to man the porous 510-km border along Mizoram with just three battalions. And unlike its border with Bangladesh, the state’s border with Myanmar is completely unfenced.  

From the Front Page

The BJP and TMC went all out on the last day of campaigning for the second phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal, with road shows, public meetings, fiery speeches in Nandigram. Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who is seeking a third term in office, even rose from her wheelchair and stood on one leg to sing the national anthem after addressing her last meeting for the day.

The woman who accused former Karnataka minister Ramesh Jarkiholi of sexual assault  recorded a statement before a magistrate in Bengaluru. She was untraceable since March 2, the day TV channels played a video CD allegedly featuring the two. Now, Jarkiholi faces the prospect of arrest. 

A queue outside a Covid-19 testing centre. (Express Photo: Deepak Joshi)

Decision 2021

In Assam’s Barak Valley, ties with the BJP go back as early as the 1990s. Today, its CAA promise, excluding Muslim immigrants, and its rhetoric targeting ‘Miya’ culture are playing on the intrinsic divide here. “Yes, roads were built, but…none of the schemes reached me,” said Shahin Ahmed Chowdy, the owner of a local gift shop. “They can build all the roads in the world but then they are spreading hate.”

In an interview with the Indian Express, Sushmita Dev, widely considered the face of the Congress in Assam’s largely Bengali-speaking Barak Valley, said, “Polarisation is just the BJP’s tool, that is now jaded. Jobs and unemployment are the biggest issues, and so is the kind of corruption the BJP has done.”

With the DMK seen to have an edge over the AIADMK in the Tamil Nadu elections, Revenue Minister R B Udhayakumar is among the few AIADMK ministers who is confident of a win. Udhayakumar kept the AIADMK flag flying in Madurai at a time when DMK leader M K Alagiri ruled the region. While Alagiri is a spent force now, Udhayakumar’s popularity has surged, on the strength of the time and efforts he has dedicated to his constituency Thirumangalam.

Must Read 

For the last eight months, Manzoor Ahmad Wagay has been digging the earth in search of his son’s body. His son, Territorial Army soldier Rifleman Shakir Manzoor, disappeared on Eid, last year. A week later, an audio clip circulated on social media made unverified claims that “the soldier’s killing and denial of his body to his family was retribution for a similar policy adopted by J&K authorities for militants killed in encounters”.

In a village called Gumiyapal, 45 km away from the district headquarters in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, 14 tribal men, aged 25-40 years, were recorded as Naxals by the police. Posters were put up around the village describing the men as members of the jan militia, an unarmed front organisation of Maoists. Besides the police, the men now live in fear of retribution from the Maoists, who may label them as police informants. 

And Finally 

Over the past year, four-time Commonwealth Games medal-winning discus thrower Seema Punia has been through hell and back. The 37-year-old, who trains in Russia, tested positive for Covid, spent long hours in solitude and fought mental battles. But she never gave up even though she was in a foreign land. 

Delhi Confidential: Referring to his 16-year-old friendship with former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, Attorney General KK Venugopal on Tuesday withdrew himself from looking into a lawyer’s plea to bring a contempt of court case against Katju for his comments about the Indian judiciary in an UK court in the Nirav Modi extradition case.  

In today’s episode of ‘3 Things’, Arun Janardhanan joins the show to discuss all you need to know about politics in the southern state of Tamil Nadu. 

Until tomorrow, 

Leela Prasad G and Rahel Philipose 

Express Cartoon by EP Unny.

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