QBullet: Blast Kills 23 in Punjab; Heavy Rain Paralyses Mumbai

Here are the top stories of the day.

5 min read
Several were killed in an explosion at a firecracker factory in Batala city in Punjab.

1. Blast at Fireworks Unit Kills 23 in Punjab Town

An explosion ripped through a firecracker factory in a residential neighbourhood in Punjab’s Batala town on Wednesday afternoon, 4 September, killing 23 people and injuring another 27.

The blast, which occurred around 3.45pm, also damaged nearby buildings and shattered the windows of residences and commercial establishments in a 200 metre radius.

The exact cause of the blast was not immediately known. Local residents said the explosion could be heard across the town, roughly 200 km from state capital Chandigarh.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

2. Lakhs Stranded as Rain Stops Trains, Paralyses Mumbai

Six hours of heavy downpour on Wednesday brought the city to its knees, stalling all three major train routes, paralysing traffic and leaving lakhs of commuters stranded.

Two BMC labourers at work in water-logged Goregaon died. A seven-year-old boy is feared dead after he fell into an open gutter on a flooded road in Nalasopara (E). The Met department warned of heavy to very heavy rain at isolated places on Thursday.

An extraordinary September deluge of 217.4 mm, the second highest in a single day in a decade, led to the Mithi river overflowing again and flooded parts of the city.

(Source: The Times of India)

3. Putin Listening, Modi Says No Room for Outside Role in Internal Matters

On A day when India and Russia signed 15 MoUs across a range of sectors, from space to deep-sea exploration, Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a veiled reference in Vladivostok to J&K and Pakistan — and said that India and Russia “are against outside influence in internal matters of any nation”.

Speaking at a joint press conference Wednesday, along with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Modi also said that the nuclear power plants being built in India by Russia had strengthened bilateral relations, and announced a proposal for a “full-fledged” maritime route between Chennai and Vladivostok.

(Source: The Indian Express)

4. After Protests, HK Withdraws Controversial Extradition Bill

Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam.
(Photo Courtesy: AP/Kin Cheung)  

Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam announced on Wednesday the government will formally withdraw an extradition bill that sparked months of demonstrations, bowing to one of the protesters’ demands in the hope of ending the increasingly violent unrest.

But lawmakers warned that the bill’s withdrawal was not enough to end the turmoil, which has increasingly focused on alleged police brutality against protesters and democratic reforms. The bill would have allowed Hong Kong residents to be sent to mainland China for trials.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

5. Rate Cuts for New Home Loans to Be Passed on Automatically

Image used for representation.
Image used for representation.
(Photo: iStock)

All banks are now mandatorily required to link floating rate loans extended to retail and small business to the repo rate – the rate at which lenders borrow from RBI – or to treasury bill rates from October. The move comes days after public sector banks announced a slew of repo-linked loans following a nudge from Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

In a circular to all banks, RBI said floating rate loans for housing, auto and other personal advances as well as those advanced to micro and small enterprises have to be linked to one of three external benchmarks instead of the Marginal Cost of Lending Rate (MCLR).

(Source: The Times of India)

6. Desperate Pakistan Is Pushing Infiltrators Into Valley: Army

A soldier along the LoC. 
A soldier along the LoC. 
(Photo: Reuters)

Announcing the arrest of two Pakistani nationals affiliated to banned militant outfit Lashkar-e-Toiba, General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Army’s 15 Corps Lt Gen K J S Dhillon said Wednesday that a “desperate” Pakistan was pushing infiltrators into the Valley to carry out “terrorist activities”.

Addressing a joint press conference with ADG (Law and Order) Munir Khan in Srinagar, one month after the Centre scrapped Jammu and Kashmir’s special status and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, Lt Gen Dhillon said the Army arrested two Pakistan-based Lashkar militants from the Gulmarg sector on 21 August.

(Source: The Indian Express)

7. Johnson Suffers Brexit Defeats as Election Looms

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday suffered another parliamentary blow over the country’s move to leave the European Union as MPs backed a bill to block a no-deal Brexit, which could trigger a snap general election.

Opposition MPs and Tory rebels ensured the bill to prevent Britain leaving the EU without a deal in ace passed its first stage of reading by 329 votes to 300.

(Source: Hindustan Times)

8. Muslim Litigants Talk of Co-Existence in Ayodhya

A view of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in October 1990.
A view of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya in October 1990.
(Photo: PTI)

Muslim parties created a flutter on Wednesday during the hearing of cross-appeals for ownership of disputed 2.77-acre Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid land in Ayodhya by telling the Supreme Court that if the title of the disputed land was vested in them, Hindus could be allowed to worship deity Ram Lalla in the outer courtyard of the demolished mosque.

Appearing to dilute demand for exclusive rights over the land, advocate Rajeev Dhavan said on behalf of Muslim parties, “Co-existence is okay. But title should vest in Sunni Waqf Board. We (Muslims and Hindus) may co-exist. But it is my property. Some people came and wanted to pray, so I had allowed them to pray.”

(Source: The Times of India)

9. Overriding Rule, Govt Nods to NGT Members for 3 Years or ‘Until Further Orders’

National Green Tribunal. 
National Green Tribunal. 
(File Photo: IANS)

The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) has cleared the appointment of an unspecified number of members in the National Green Tribunal for three years “or until further orders”.

This flies in the face of the National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. Under NGT Rules, a Tribunal member has a fixed five-year tenure and cannot be removed without consulting the Chief Justice of India and an inquiry conducted by a judge of the Supreme Court.

(Source: The Indian Express)

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