QBullet: 3 Indians Among Over 200 Killed in SL; Jaitley Backs CJI
1. Three Indians Among 207 Killed in Sri Lanka Terror Attacks; 13 Suspects Held
Three Indians were among 207 people confirmed killed as eight blasts rocked churches and luxury hotels in or near Sri Lanka’s capital on Easter — the deadliest attacks the country has seen since a bloody civil war ended a decade ago. Around 500 were wounded.
Six blasts within 20 minutes took place in the morning in Colombo at St Anthony’s Shrine — a Catholic church and the Cinnamon Grand, Shangri-La and Kingsbury hotels, as well as St Sebastian Catholic Church in Negombo, a mostly Catholic town north of Colombo, and at the Zion church in the eastern town of Batticaloa. After a few hours, two more blasts occurred, at an inn near the National Zoo in Colombo, and at a house where police were conducting a raid. Three cops were killed in the blast.
Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj identified the Indians as Lakshmi, Narayan Chandrashekhar and Ramesh. “We are ascertaining further details,” she tweeted.
Police said 13 suspects had been arrested.
2. India Sent Alert, but Why Sri Lanka’s Guard Was Down
The Sri Lankan government’s investigations are pointing to the involvement of a jihadist organisation in the multiple attacks on Sunday, 21 April. One of those arrested from the Cinnamon Grand Hotel, where one of the eight attacks took place, had been reported missing six months ago by his family.
The Indian Express has learnt from two sources, one Indian and another Sri Lankan, that earlier this month, India passed on specific intelligence to Sri Lankan authorities that a terrorist attack was imminent there.
It appears that it was on the basis of this alert that the police chief sent out his 11 April nationwide alert warning of attacks on the Indian high Commission and churches. The alert named a group called the National Towheeth Jamaath, which preaches a puritanical form of Islam.
However, Sri Lanka’s guard was clearly down, with the country shut down since 12 April for the Sinhala-Tamil new year, Good Friday and Easter.
(Source: The Indian Express)
3. ‘It’s Time to Stand up With Judiciary’: Arun Jaitley on Allegations Against Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley on Sunday, 21 April, jumped in support of Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi, saying that some ‘institution disrupters’ are trying to destabilise the Office of CJI by taking advantage of free speech. Jaitley’s support comes after a former woman employee at the Supreme Court alleged sexual harassment charges against Gogoi.
“It is time to stand up with the judiciary,” Jaitley said in a Facebook post.
Accusing the Left-wing backed media outlets of shouldering unverified allegations, Jaitley said, “The last few years have witnessed the consolidation of ‘institution destabilisers’ in a major way. Many of these destabilisers represent Left or ultra-Left views. They have no electoral base or popular support. However, they still have a disproportionate presence in the media and the academia. They continue to believe in the old Marxian philosophy of ‘wrecking the system from within.’ They use free speech to destroy the judicial institution.”
(Source: The Indian Express)
4. Pakistan Must Remember Our Nuke Arsenal Is Not for Diwali: PM Modi
India is not afraid of Pakistan nuclear weapons any more, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in Rajasthan on Sunday, 21 April, adding Islamabad must remember that New Delhi’s nuclear arsenal is not for Diwali fireworks.
Continuing with his narrative on national security, Modi also said that, in February, India warned Pakistan of serious consequences if it harmed Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who was captured after an aerial dogfight between fighter jets of the two nations.
“Every other day they [Pakistan] used to say, ‘We’ve nuclear button, we’ve nuclear button’...What do we have then? Have we kept it for Diwali?” Modi told a gathering in Barmer.
5. Seven Dead in Stampede at Temple Festival in Tamil Nadu’s Trichy
Seven people, including four women, were killed and 12 others injured in a stampede at the Sri Karuppanaswamy temple at Muthayampalayam near Thuraiyur, Tamil Nadu on Sunday, 21 April.
The tragedy occurred when devotees in large numbers turned up at the private temple for receiving ‘pidi kasu’ (coins) given as part of the Chithra Pournami festival by the shrine’s fortune teller MD Dhanapalsamy who runs it.
The stampede took place around 8:45 am at the entrance when devotees arrived in droves to receive the coins.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Edappadi Palaniswami expressed their condolences over the stampede deaths. PM Modi announced a solatium of Rs 2 lakh from the Prime Minister's National Relief Fund to the families of the deceased. He also approved a financial assistance of Rs 50,000 to those injured in the incident.
(Source: The Hindu)
6. BJP Announces 4 Delhi Candidates, Retains Sitting MPs for Lok Sabha Election
Even as uncertainty loomed on whether Congress will ally with AAP or contest the upcoming Lok Sabha election in Delhi on its own, BJP on Sunday, 21 April, announced the names of its candidates in four of the seven seats, retaining the sitting MPs.
The BJP names announced include Union minister Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari from North East Delhi, former chief minister Sahib Singh Verma’s son Pravesh from West Delhi and Gujjar leader Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi parliamentary constituency.
Sources added that there was a prolonged discussion on the names of probables on the remaining three seats of New Delhi, East and North West Delhi. The sitting MPs on these three seats have got a relatively poor feedback in internal surveys of the party.
7. Data on Intellectual Exploration Set to Delay Census Process
“Does anyone in your family suffer from any intellectual disabilities or mental illness?”
This could be one of the questions enumerators of the 2021 Census may throw at you, officials aware of the matter said on condition of anonymity.
Whether to include it in the Census questionnaire is still being debated.
“Enumerators will face resistance, and importantly it is difficult to quantify who has intellectual disability... even the enumerators may not understand the concept of various kinds of disability— such points were raised in recently concluded ‘Data User’s Conference-Census 2021,” one official said, asking not to be named.
“These were raised in the Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) for Census 2021, but a decision is awaited,” the official added.
Enumerators may also separately count the number of people from the other backward classes (OBCs) this time. This may require a change in the Census Act of 1948 that governs the conduct of the exercise and collection of data.
8. A Surgical or Air Strike Won’t Change Pak Attitude: DS Hooda
The Congress said on Sunday, 21 April, it accepted the five pillars of Let Gen (retd) DS Hooda’s national security vision paper, which proposes plans to secure India’s neighbourhood and improve internal security, even as the architect of the 2016 surgical strikes said a single assault on Pakistan was not enough to change its behaviour.
While addressing a joint news briefing with Hooda and former Union minister Jairam Ramesh, senior Congress leader P Chidambaram said that if the party is voted to power in this summer’s Lok Sabha elections, it will try to implement the five proposals mentioned in the report submitted by Hooda.
Presenting salient features of his report at a separate event organised by think tank Observer Research Foundation, Hooda said: “One surgical strike or air strike is not going to change Pakistan’s behaviour.”
Chidambaram, who was also present at the event, said India must also change its attitude towards Pakistan to bring about a change in its neighbour’s behaviour.
9. Silver Jewellery Exports Crash 75% After Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi Flee
The exit of diamantaires Nirav Modi and Mehul Choksi from the Indian market has resulted in a sharp fall in the country’s silver jewellery exports with an over 75 percent decline reported during the 2018-19 financial year.
Modi and Choksi fled the country early last year after it emerged that the diamond traders had cheated Punjab National Bank (PNB) in what is allegedly a Rs 14,000-crore fraud. But the impact showed during the last financial year as their Indian businesses came to a standstill.
As a result, during the last financial year, silver exports plummeted to $838 million from nearly $3.4 billion in 2017-18, data available with the Gems & Jewellery Export Promotion Council showed. Senior functionaries of the trade body confirmed that the decline was due to the exit of the uncle-nephew duo after the alleged fraud was unearthed.