QBullet: Modi at Capitol Hill, ‘Udta Punjab’ Controversy & More

Catch the top stories of the day here.

6 min read

Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the  joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday. (Photo AP)

1. Modi at Capitol Hill

In a 45-minute address to the joint session of the US Congress, Prime Minister Narendra Modi pushed for deeper ties with the US, describing it as an “indispensable partner”, even as he called for isolating countries that harbour and sponsor terror groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba and the Islamic State. He also spoke of a new Indo-US nuclear partnership, and called for deepening economic ties between the two countries.

2. Centre Distances Itself From ‘Udta Punjab’ Controversy

A poster of <i>Udta Punjab. </i>(Photo: Phantom Pictures Limited)
A poster of Udta Punjab. (Photo: Phantom Pictures Limited)

Amid the raging controversy over Udta Punjab, the Cental government seems to be snubbing the Censor Chief. While speaking to The Indian Express, Union Minister for Communications and Information Technology Ravi Shankar Prasad said that the government “celebrates and supports creative freedom”, and to Nihalani’s earlier claims that he was proud to be a Modi chamcha, the minister said the Pradhan Mantri didn’t need any sycophants.

According to the newspaper, besides muting the word Punjab, the review committee’s letter also wants over 80 other cuts to the film, including removal of the names of cities such as Jalandhar, Chandigarh, Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Ludhiana, and Moga – and an audio and video disclaimer at the beginning of the movie acknowledging that the state government and police are working towards tackling the drug problem. Some other cuts suggested by the committee include close-up shots of characters injecting drugs, removal of the words chittave and harami from a song, and altogether removing words such as ‘election’, ‘MP’, ‘party’, ‘MLA’, and ‘parliament’.


3. Pak Raises Concerns Over India’s Missile Test

Pakistan has expressed serious concern over India’s recent development of an anti-ballistic missile system, according to a report in The Indian Express.

The development of an anti-ballistic missile system (ABM) may give India a false sense of security, leading to unexpected complications. Such actions are also contrary to the policy of a peaceful and friendly neighbourhood, which our prime minister (Nawaz Sharif) has repeatedly espoused.
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Foreign Minister.

Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Foreign Affairs Advisor. (Photo: Reuters)
Sartaj Aziz, Pakistani Foreign Affairs Advisor. (Photo: Reuters)

India had successfully test-fired an indigenously-developed supersonic interceptor missile, capable of destroying any incoming ballistic missile from a test range off the Odisha coast on 15 May.

The criticism came in the meeting of Senate on Tuesday, the report said.


4. Maria Sharapova Receives 2-Year Suspension For Doping

Maria Sharapova returns a shot during a quarterfinal. (Photo: AP)
Maria Sharapova returns a shot during a quarterfinal. (Photo: AP)

Maria Sharapova was suspended from tennis for two years on Wednesday for testing positive for meldonium at the Australian Open, and immediately responded by saying she would appeal the decision to the sport’s highest court.

The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
Maria Sharapova

The ruling by an independent three-person panel appointed by the International Tennis Federation (ITF) said Sharapova did not intend to cheat, but that she bore “sole responsibility” and “very significant fault” for the positive test.


5. Bihar Results Controversy: Board Chief Quits

On Wednesday, Bihar School Examination Board (BSEB) chairman Lalkeshwar Prasad resigned from his position, after he was served a showcause notice a day earlier to explain irregularities in evaluation in the Bihar Board Class XII exams, and his handling of the controversy where the board toppers turned out to be undeserving candidates.

In a related development, Shail Kumari, who was superintendent of an examination centre where students of the controversial VR College had written their papers, has also been detained.

Also read: Bihar Exam Board Chief Resigns After FIR Against 3 State Toppers


6. Government Looking to Reduce Airline Cancellation Charges

File photo of an IndiGo aircraft. (Photo: Reuters)
File photo of an IndiGo aircraft. (Photo: Reuters)

The government is looking to reduce cancellation charges for air tickets as it works on a host of new rules for airlines for the benefit of passengers, says a Hindustan Times report.

The government is of the view that the cancellation fee should not exceed the base fare, sources said. Aviation regulator DGCA has already held discussions with airlines on this issue. “Cancellation fees cannot include airport charges, service tax when the passenger hasn’t flown at all,” said an official.

Currently, cancellation charges aren’t fixed, and range between Rs 1,500 and 100% of the fare, depending on class, price and time before departure.


7. Freedom Fighters Association of Goa Wants Portuguese Consulate Shut Down

Terming Goans’ migrating to Portugal “an insult” to India’s sovereignty, the Freedom Fighters Association of the state demands that the Central government to ‘shut-down’ of Portuguese consulate in the state, or even severe diplomacy ties with the Portugal, if they do not stop their ‘absurd’ dual citizenship scheme to Goans, according to The Indian Express.

Portugal has been extending citizenship for Goans under the aegis of the Portuguese citizenship law, when in fact, they signed a treaty with India recognising India’s sovereignty over its former colonies in 1974.


8. IPS Officer May Face Heat Over Pune Land Deal, After Khadse

A senior state IPS officer may face the music over a dubious deal involving a Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) land, days after BJP’s Eknath Khadse lost his ministership over the issue, according to a report in The Indian Express.

In a complaint to the police, the MIDC has accused Mumbai Economic Offences Wing chief Dhananjay Kamalakar’s son Rohit, 23, of “fraudulently” usurping a 76,400-sq km land it owns, worth Rs 205 crore, in Pune’s Karegaon, in cahoots with four other persons.


9. Same FIRs, Different Arrests in Punjab

The Punjab police, in its bid to increase the number of drug-related arrests, has been copying and pasting the same text in multiple FIRs, as an investigative report by The Indian Express has revealed.

Most of the FIRs state that contraband was recovered from a man travelling on a motorcycle, who was stopped and searched. Rather than catching the actual culprits, Punjab Police had started a race of increasing their number of arrests under the NDPS Act. Why doesn’t the government ask an SHO why, while he caught 10 persons with drugs in their possession, he never able to catch those from whom the drugs were obtained? It is ironical that most of the investigations end with the motorcyclist.
Gagan Pradeep Singh Bal, a lawyer at the Punjab and Haryana High Court, to The Indian Express

If multiple FIRs note the same facts and sequence, there is a need for an independent investigation by a specialised agency to check their veracity, said a lawyer to the paper.

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