QBullet: Blow for Centre in Uttarakhand, Violence in Bengal Polls

The Quint’s compilation of the stories making headlines in publications across the country.

7 min read
TMC supremo Mamata Banerjee with party candidate Amit Mitra at an election campaign rally. (Photo: PTI) 

1. Armed with Uttarakhand High Court Order, Congress Draws Parliament Battlelines

The Uttarakhand High Court on Thursday struck down President’s rule imposed in the state by the Central government. Former Chief Minister Harish Rawat will be reinstated in his position, KC Kaushik, Rawat’s lawyer, said.

A triumphant but conciliatory Rawat urged the BJP-led Central government to forget the entire episode and work together in the spirit of “cooperative federalism” for the betterment of the state.

I would like to request the Centre to close this chapter and work together to compensate for what we have of lost. We would want to forget this unfortunate chapter and move forward in the direction of development.
Harish Rawat, Chief Minister, Uttarakhand
Harish Rawat has been reinstated as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. (Photo: PTI)
Harish Rawat has been reinstated as Chief Minister of Uttarakhand. (Photo: PTI)

The court’s ruling has left the Centre undaunted. The BJP-led Central government will exploit the last legal remedy available to them before approaching the Supreme Court.

Senior ministers Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley met at party chief Amit Shah’s house following the high court’s ruling. The Centre will challenge the verdict in the Supreme Court on Friday.

According to the BJP, the failure of the Assembly to approve the Appropriation Bill and the “arbitrary” disqualification of nine rebel Congress MLAs are some grounds on which President’s rule may be imposed in the state.

The high court’s order comes just days before the Parliament session, which begins on Monday. The order is a shot in the arm for the Congress, which is seeking to corner the government on the issue. The congress is formulating a joint strategy with other opposition parties.

Congress deputy leader in Rajya Sabha Anand Sharma submitted a motion stating:

This House deplores destabilisation of the democratically-elected government in the state of Uttarakhand and disapproves the unjustified imposition of President’s rule under Article 356 of the Constitution.

2. Violence Mars Biggest Phase of Bengal Polls, 79% Voting Recorded

A CPI(M) worker was shot dead and two others injured in Murshidabad’s Domkol during the third phase of the West Bengal Assembly elections.

Sahidul Islam, 40, was killed allegedly by TMC supporters outside a polling station minutes after voting started. Throughout the day, 960 complaints were lodged and in Kolkata’s Beleghata alone, 47 people were arrested. In another place, the ruling party were accused of snipping the earlobe of a CPI(M) supporter and then breaking his leg.
Report in Hindustan Times

79.22 percent voter turnout was recorded until 5 pm on Thursday. There were reports of crude bomb attacks and voter intimidation, despite the EC having issued non-bailable warrants and restraining anti-social elements. Sporadic violence was also reported from Burdwan and Nadia districts, the erstwhile bastions of the CPI(M).

3. Banks Cannot Seek Details About My Foreign Assets: Vijay Mallya

Vijay Mallya has filed an affidavit before the Supreme Court on Thursday, saying that Indian banks cannot be given details of assets held by him or his family abroad. He has, however, agreed to disclose a list of assets held by him in India to the court in a sealed envelope. He has requested that this information not be made available to the banks.

Mallya, a Rajya Sabha member of Parliament, declined to disclose details of his assets abroad stating that he is a non-resident Indian for income tax and foreign exchange purposes since 1988, while his estranged wife and three children are US citizens.
Report in the Mint

4. World Culture Festival: NGT Pulls up Sri Sri’s AOL for Barring Panel from Site

The NGT has taken the Art of Living Foundation to task for doing “wrong things” after it was informed that the organisation prevented the body’s expert panel from visiting the Yamuna floodplains that hosted the World Culture Festival in March.

Elephants and debris at the end of the three-day world culture festival. (Photo: <b>The Quint</b>/Sanjoy Deb)
Elephants and debris at the end of the three-day world culture festival. (Photo: The Quint/Sanjoy Deb)
The expert committee was constituted by the NGT to inspect the venue, determine a compensation amount and chart out a plan for rejuvenation after it found that the festival hosted by AOL caused environmental damage at the site. At a hearing, the expert committee also informed the NGT that the AOL was yet to pay the initial compensation amount that the Tribunal had ordered it to deposit within three weeks of its order on 9 March.
Report in The Indian Express

At the hearing, advocates representing the AOL and the DDA argued that there was a ‘confusion’ about whether a written statement saying that the land had been vacated was submitted to the DDA.

The clean-up of the floodplains had not been completely carried out yet and therefore the inspection could not be carried out till we had vacated the site. Clean-up work was still taking place. As the issue of the inspection of the land is a matter before the NGT, the site visit also has to be conducted only after we notified the DDA… that the land has been vacated.
Gautam Vig, Art of Living

5. Cannot Differentiate Among Terrorists: Manohar Parrikar to Beijing

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said that he had “expressed very clearly” to Chinese leaders that “all terrorists are the same, and should be dealt with in the same manner.” He was referring to Beijing’s blockade of India’s bid to designate Pathankot terror attack mastermind Masood Azhar as a terrorist.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. (Photo: Reuters)
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar. (Photo: Reuters)
The issue was raised and India’s concerns were presented in a clear manner. Maybe for the first time, it was raised clearly and firmly. Of course, they have their own justification, but we did not shy away from raising our issues.
Manohar Parrikar, Defence Minister

External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj raised the issue with her Chinese counterpart Wang Yi in Russia.

According to Parrikar, the takeaways from his China trip include a decision on increased interaction and adopting better border management strategies to reduce chances of “undesirable” incident.

Read the full story on The Quint.

6. AAP Govt Smells Conspiracy to Disturb Odd-Even

Delhi’s Transport Minister Gopal Rai said that there was a conspiracy to disturb the second phase of the odd-even traffic rationing initiative and has cited a number of incidents to back his claim.

Rai said the proposed auto strike, breakdown of buses in the middle of odd-even and a sudden increase in the number of vehicles hinted at sabotage.
Report in the Hindustan Times
First there was an attempt by a section of auto drivers to go on strike. This failed but during the first few days of odd-even, we noticed a steep rise in cases of breakdown of buses. These were hired specifically for odd-even 2. The drivers were taking money not to complete the trips.
Gopal Rai, Delhi Transport Minister

The minister also said that the volume of traffic has suddenly increased in some places and it has been found that most vehicles were from outside the city.

7. NIA Seeks Help of Tanzil’s Children

Two children stare blankly in a conference room for hours together. A 14-year-old girl and her 12-year-old brother have hardly had any time to grieve privately for their parents, both killed by bullets fired at the family in the early hours of 3 April.

Ever since NIA Inspector Mohammed Tanzil Ahmed and his wife Farzana’s death, the NIA and the UP police have not been able to agree on the motive behind the crime.

The two children are now the prime witnesses. For the past two days, the two children have spent hours at the NIA office on Jai Singh Road here. They are helping the sleuths of the Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force and Anti-Terror Squad (ATS) and the NIA track down the main accused and unravel the motive behind the killings. The NIA has not yet ruled out the “terror angle” in the case.
Report in The Hindu

Officially, the Uttar Pradesh police have said “vengeance, personal animosity and domestic disputes” was the motive for the crime. However, neither the family nor the NIA is convinced.

8. My Learning in Tihar

The walls of Tihar shut out not only the warmth of the sun, but also of society, writes Kobad Ghandy in The Indian Express. The walls of the high risk wards block out the sun, most facilities and entertainment in jail.

Seven years in such an environment acts to dehumanise anyone. It tends to numb one’s sensibilities. Yet, besides this ordeal of extreme confinement, that too in a jail within a jail, Tihar has been a great school of learning. Why crime continues to rise in Delhi, why Delhi is the rape capital of the world and why the criminal justice system appears so unjust.
Kobad Ghandy

9. Nearly Half of Indians Survived on Less Than Rs 38 a Day in 2011-12

How much of India is poor? And by how much has that number reduced over the years? The answers to these questions vary depending on the choice of the survey method and the poverty line, writes Tadit Kundu in the Mint.

According to official statistics, India’s poverty rate declined from 45 percent in 1993-94 to 22 percent in 2011-12. However, the poverty lines used to determine the above poverty figures have been criticised as being too low to allow a decent standard of living. The Planning Commission deemed anybody to be non-poor if he or she could spend Rs 27 per day in rural areas or Rs 33 per day in urban areas in 2011-12.
Tadit Kundu

Kundu’s article reveals that in reality, the poverty rate would be closer to 47 percent, more than double the official statistics.

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