QBullet: Modi Speaks at Nuclear Summit, Flyover Collapse Kills 21

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Rescue work in progress as an under-construction flyover collapsed on Vivekananda Road in Kolkata on Thursday. (Photo: PTI)

1. Modi Stresses on Threat to Nuclear Security From Terrorism at Washington

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pressed on the issue of modernisation of the methods to tackle terrorism. Speaking at the Nuclear Summit, Modi put the spotlight on the fact that terrorists are using “21st century technology” while nations’ responses remain “rooted in the past”.

2. Flyover Collapses in Kolkata, Kills 21 & Injures 85

An under-construction flyover collapsed in Kolkata on Thursday killing 21 people and injuring 85.

Rescue operations underway at the site where a part of a portion of Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in Kolkata on 31 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)
Rescue operations underway at the site where a part of a portion of Vivekananda Flyover collapsed in Kolkata on 31 March 2016. (Photo: IANS)

The army was called in for help and the Ministery of Home Affairs also rushed 4 teams of NDRF to Kolkata after the incident.

IVRCL Infrastructure, a Hyderabad-based construction company which was assigned the task of constructing the bridge has described the mishap as an “Act of God.” Kolkata police have sealed the office of IVRCL and have registered an FIR against the company.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamta Banerjee said that 12 dead bodies have been handed over to their families, three are awaiting documentation while six are yet to identified.

Political blame games have also begun as BJP targetted the Mamata government on the issue.

Mamata ji’s government is responsible for this. We want action to be initiated against the ministers and people associated. 
Kailash Vijayvargiya, BJP Leader

Some reports said army personnel deployed at the spot supposedly stopped working after being harassed by the local police force.

Experts suggest the lack of proper planning, delays, lacunae in design and bad tendering may have triggered the collapse. According to The Hindu, an under-construction structure usually collapses due to design error or flaws in welding that leave cracks, causing the structure to collapse under the dead weight of the concrete.

Read more on The Quint.

3. Mehbooba Mufti to Take Oath as First Woman Chief Minister of J&K on 4 April

PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (Photo: Reuters)
PDP President Mehbooba Mufti (Photo: Reuters)

PDP president Mehbooba Mufti will take oath as the Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir on 4 April. With this, the suspense over when the PDP-BJP alliance will take office has finally ended.

The decision to take the oath on 4 April has been conveyed to Governor NN Vohra. According to The Hindustan Times, BJP and PDP are still negotiating portfolios.

BJP has not insisted for any Shubh Mahurat (auspicious occasion). The BJP has demanded an equal share in power. While the PDP, being the senior partner, will have more share in cabinet berths
Senior PDP Leader to The Hindustan Times

The report also suggests that BJP has demanded “non-interference from the coalition partner in transfers of civil and police officials of Jammu division.”

The state of Jammu and Kashmir was put under Governor’s rule on 8 January, a day after then Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed passed away in New Delhi.

Read more on The Quint.

4. Women Activist Pray at Shani Shiganapur But Couldn’t Enter Prohibited Area

The Shani Shingnapur temple. (Photo Courtesy: Website of the temple)
The Shani Shingnapur temple. (Photo Courtesy: Website of the temple)

A group of around 40 women, who have parted ways with Trupti Desai and floated the independent organisation Bhumata Mahila Sanghatana, visited Shani Shingnapur temple on Thursday but did not force their way into the prohibited area.

According to The Times of India, women activists engaged in ‘darshan’ without entering the sanctum sanctorum of the shrine and raised slogans in support of their demand of right to pray for a few minutes, before getting dispersed.

There were no law and order-related issues at the shrine, as the women activists cooperated with the local security staffers, the temple authorities said.

Another report in The Indian Express however, said that over 100 policemen blocked the entrance to the sanctum sanctorum even as “they asked the women activists to produce a copy of high court observation or else stay away from the core shrine area.”

Durga Shukre, the president of Bhumata Mahila Sangathan said that the police allowed them to pray but did now allow women to offer garlands to Lord Shani.

5. ED Files 1st Chargesheet in Saradha Chit Fund Scam

(Photo: iStockphoto/Altered by <b>The Quint</b>)
(Photo: iStockphoto/Altered by The Quint)

The Enforcement Directorate has filed its first chargesheet in the Rs 2500-crore Saradha chit fund scam, naming Sudipta Sen, the chairman of the now-defunct group, and Srinjoy Bose, a Trinamul Congress member of Parliament when the scam unravelled in 2013, among others.

According to a report in The Telegraph, the chargesheet of over 10,000 pages was filed before a special sessions court.

The agency has named 21 accused – 10 individuals and eleven companies – that it had investigated for over three years under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act.

The ED has pegged the scam at Rs 2,500 crore and has conducted a detailed investigation involving lakhs of multi-layered transactions and found that “more than 90 percent of such companies existed only on paper and only 17 companies out of the 224 companies actually had carried out some business”.

6. BJP Fears Losing Traditional Voters Over Jat Quota

Violence during the Jat agitation for quota. (Photo: PTI)
Violence during the Jat agitation for quota. (Photo: PTI)

Bowing to intense pressure from the sizeable Jat population in Haryana, the BJP government in the state moved and passed the Bill giving reservation to the community. However, the decision has put the party in a fix as this has made the non-Jat voters who form the core of its support base unhappy.

A section of leaders in BJP and it’s parent organisation RSS are concerned about political consequences of granting reservation to Jats, according to The Economic Times.

Not only are the non-Jats unhappy about the new reservation law but also have bitter memories of the recent agitation which say the gutting of their shops and business establishment. There are reports of the agitators attacking these communities as well.

BJP is still hopeful that the new reservation law in Haryana will be quashed by the courts in the near future as the total quantum crosses the 50 percent mark. The party is keeping a tab on a PIL filed by an individual against the Bill.

7. Alcohol Ban May Not be Answer to Bihar’s Drinking Problems

Indian-made foreign liquor is the only available choice for alcoholics in Bihar, for now.(Photo: iStock)
Indian-made foreign liquor is the only available choice for alcoholics in Bihar, for now.(Photo: iStock)

Bihar’s ban on country-made liquor comes into effect from Friday – a 2015 election promise by chief minister Nitish Kumar. The promise that will cost the state an annual revenue of Rs 4,000 crore, says an editorial in The Indian Express.

While Nitish Kumar has found ways to compensate the huge revenue loss by increasing VAT on certain items and reworking other taxes, the big challenge before him is of job layoffs created by liquor ban implementation. The shutting down of liquor units will result in loss of livelihood for many people.

The biggest challenge, however, comes from policing the ban. With amended law laying stringent provisions making most offences non-bailable. This means that one wouldn’t get bail from police stations from drinking offences.

It would be very easy to frame a person just by planting a liquor bottle in his vehicle. The person in trouble would have two options – either face stringent laws or bribe cops. How can the state monitor if its police have been fair?

Nitish Kumar at Bihar assembly while adopting a resolution against consumption of alcohol. (Photo: ANI)
Nitish Kumar at Bihar assembly while adopting a resolution against consumption of alcohol. (Photo: ANI)

Nitish has been aware of the challenges, but he says now that he has made up his mind, he would take it head on.

Is spirit ban ko aap logo ne sahi spirit me nahi liya hai. (You guys haven’t taken the idea of alcohol ban seriously)
Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister, Bihar

Read more here.

8. Class 12th Pass Students to Receive Credit Cards From Government

Govt to provide loan worth Rs 4 lakh to 12th pass students. (Photo: iStockphoto)
Govt to provide loan worth Rs 4 lakh to 12th pass students. (Photo: iStockphoto)

The government will launch a credit card scheme from 1 April to provide a maximum loan of Rs 4 lakh to students who have passed Class XII. According to The Telegraph report, the students’ credit card is part of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s ‘Seven Resolves’ and the government aims to provide financial assistance to those students who find it difficult to pursue higher studies because of poor economic conditions.

Loans up to Rs 4 lakh will be provided under the scheme. The state government will act as guarantor for 25 percent of the loan amount and the students will have to repay it after a period of four years. The Union government would be the guarantor for rest of the amount.
Anup Kumar, Deputy Director, Education department to The Telegraph

However, under the scheme, bank rates of interest will similar to loans given by other nationalised banks.

9. Opinion: BJP Has Replaced Congress as Principle Pole of Indian Politics

We want a Congress Mukt Bharat,” thundered Narendra Modi in the 2014 general election campaign, a slogan echoed repeatedly BJP president, Amit Shah. The declared goal was not just to win an election, but to “eliminate” the Congress from the country’s national political map. Two years later, the Modi-Shah duo’s ambition is on track. If at the start of 2016, the Congress was ruling in nine states, it is now in charge in just seven states after its governments were dismissed in Arunachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand. By May, it could lose two more — Assam and Kerala
Rajdeep Sardesai in his column for The Hindustan Times

Rajdeep adds that the BJP has replaced the Congress as the principal pole of Indian politics. It has also embraced the Congress “culture”: the party with a difference is now a regime which wields absolute power with ruthless efficiency at the Centre.

But even if the Modi government can be accused of an arrogant abuse of power, the real crisis lies within the Congress, not outside. Firstly, the fall of the two Congress governments is a reflection of the growing restiveness within a section of Congress MLAs. The humiliating defeat in the 2014 general elections has created a crisis of confidence: Why else would the MLAs switch sides in Uttarakhand less than a year before the state goes to the polls? Secondly, there is a credibility crisis afflicting the state leaderships of the Congress. In Uttarakhand, a Vijay Bahuguna was originally made chief minister only because of his alleged proximity to the party high command and not because he enjoyed majority support in the state legislature.

Read more here.

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