SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 28 MARCH 2021 FIND US ONLINE Scan this with your smartphone twitter.com/TheStatesmanLtd facebook.com/thestatesman1875 Pages 12 | `5.00 |LC KOLKATA | NEW DELHI | SILIGURI | BHUBANESWAR A RAJA COMPARES PALANISWAMI TO STALIN’S SLIPPER N.KOREA SNAPS BACK AT BIDEN OVER MISSILE TEST P10 INDIANS TRYING TO HIT UPON WINNING PLOY ‘DISINVESTMENT TARGET OF FY’22 ACHIEVABLE’ P4 P8 P12 Ph 1: Nearly 80 p.c. voter turnout in WB Sporadic violence, complaints against Central forces of influencing voters and EVM malfunctioning mar first phase of polling STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA/PURULIA/BANKURA /MIDNAPORE, 27 MARCH he first phase of Assembly elections in West Bengal was marred by sporadic incidents of violence, complaints against Central forces of influencing voters and EVM malfunctioning even though polling was overall peaceful with a turnout of 79.79 per cent till 5 p.m. Elections were held amidst tight security by following Covid-19 protocols in 30 constituencies of five Junglemahal districts including nine seats in Purulia, four in Bankura, four in Jhargram, six in West Midnapore and seven in East Midnapore. The highest turnout of 82.51 per cent was recorded in East Midnapore followed by 80.12 per cent in West Midnapore, 80.55 per cent in Jhargram and 77.07 per cent in Purulia, said an EC official. Compared to the first two hours in the morning, the number of voters increased manifold in the afternoon in polling booths. “Barring a few stray incidents polling was by and large peaceful. Ten people have been arrested so far,” said CEO Ariz Aftab at a press conference today. In the Contai South seat in East Midnapore, voters staged a protest outside a polling booth over EVM malfunctioning. They blocked a road outside the polling station at Majna, claiming that even if they voted for one party, the VVPAT slip showed another party. A contingent of Central forces was deployed to control the situation and T WEATHER Partly cloudy Sky. Maximum and minimum temperature most likely to be around 37 °C and 25 °C respectively. RAINFALL: NIL RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max. 73 % TEMPERATURE Min. 28 % Max: 36.6°C (2) Min: 24.2°C (N) SUN RISES SUN SETS 05:34 hrs 17:50 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 16:27 hrs 04:37 hrs Full moon on 29 March THUMBNAILS Students of Jadavpur University play with colours on the eve of Holi on Saturday. IANS Top court rules on dying declaration: The Supreme Court has said there can be no rigid standard for acceptance or rejection of dying declaration, which alone can form the basis for conviction if it has been made voluntarily and inspires confidence. The court observed if there are contradictions, then the benefit of doubt P5 shall have to be given to the accused. People wait to cast votes at a polling station during 1st phase of Bengal Assembly polls, at Sirshi in Jhargram on Saturday. polling had to be kept on hold for some time. Mr Aftab said that a technical snag had developed in the VVPAT but polling continued after replacing it. BJP leader Suvendu Adhikari’s younger brother Soumendu was attacked in Contai allegedly by Trinamul supporters, alleged party workers. His car was vandalised and his driver injured in the attack. At 8.30 a.m. in Garbeta III block of West Midnapore, CPI-M’s candidate of Salboni seat Sushanta Ghosh was allegedly attacked by Trinamul supporters who vandalised his car. He was rescued by two policemen while media persons were also attacked later on. Party workers complained that though CAPF personnel were inside the booth, there was no apparent security outside the booth. An EC official said seven persons were arrested in Govt holds meeting to review Covid readiness of 12 states STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 27 MARCH Union Health Minister Dr HarshVardhan on Saturday visited the vaccination centres of the North Delhi Municipal Corporation-run health institutions, to review preparedness for the third phase, beginning from 1 April. “We must take precautions as the cases are on the rise again. We must adhere to the safety protocol like washing hands thoroughly with soap or using sanitizer, wear mask and maintain social distancing.” Meanwhile, in a high-level review meeting chaired by Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Saturday, 12 states Kovind shifted to AIIMS for bypass surgery were informed that the country has seen the sharpest rise in weekly Covid cases and fatalities since May 2020 (7.7% and 5.1% respectively). The 12 states include Maharashtra, Gujarat, Haryana, Tamil Nadu, Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir, Karnataka, Punjab and Bihar. Meanwhile, India’s total active cases have reached 4,52,647 and 62,258 new cases registered in the last 24 hours. Bengal cases: Bengal registered 812 fresh Covid cases and 2 deaths today. The total Covid case count is 5,83,839 and death toll is 10,322 in the state till now while there are 4,608 active cases. Kolkata recorded 294 cases. 4,52,647 62,258 30,386 1,61,240 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. SATURDAY 27 MARCH 2021 VOTER TURNOUT 82.51 EAST MIDNAPORE 80.12 WEST MIDNAPORE 80.55 77.07 JHARGRAM per cent per cent per cent per cent PURULIA connection with the incident and a report has been sought from the district administration. The Trinamul, however, denied any involvement. Later, a CPI-M delegation led by Rabin Deb met the CEO and demanded re-polling in 21 booths in Salboni. In Bankura, allegations were levelled against Central forces for influencing voters in eight places and there was a poll boycott in three areas namely Jamthola and Kendua in Chatna and Ranibandh in Hir- bandh over demands of road and bridge construction. In Purulia, where polling was almost peaceful, complaints of EVM malfunctioning leading to protests by voters were registered in some areas including Munsifdanga, Para and Manbazar. Voters in several areas, including Khejuri, Pataspur, Bhagabanpur in East Midnapore and Salboni, Garbeta in West Midnapore complained of intimidation. A few stray incidents of violence were registered in Bhagwanpur, Bhupatinagar and Jhargram while complaints of bombing and booth jamming were lodged at some areas in Khejuri. A few hours after the polling process started Trinamul Congress raised concerns over the fluctuating turnout figures on the EC’s mobile app and malfunctioning of EVMs at several Assam logs 72.14 per cent voter turnout GUWAHATI, 27 MARCH The first phase polling of Assam legislative Assembly elections covering 47 constituencies across 12 districts remained peaceful and the turnout reached to 72.14% till 5 p.m. The polling began at 7 a.m today and scheduled to end around 6 p.m. Weather was pleasant for the voters all the day. Various political heavyweights including State chief minister and BJP leader Sarbananda Sonowal, Assembly speaker Hitendranath Goswami, State ministers Ranjit Dutta, Naba Kumar Doley, saffron legislators Angoorlata deka, Prasanta Phukan, Mrinal Saikia, Opposition leader Debrata Saikia, State Congress president Ripun Bora, Asom Gana Parishad president Atul Bora, party leaders Keshab Mahanta, Prithiraj Rabha, Aaom Jatiya Parishad chief Lurinjyoti Gogoi, etc cast their votes in respective constituencies. The authorities deployed a large number of police and paramilitary forces to ensure a safe ambience SNS for voters. See P5 Modi holds talks with Hasina; two sides sign 5 MoUs SNS & PTI DHAKA, 27 MARCH Prime Minister Narendra Modi met his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina on Saturday and discussed the progress achieved in areas like connectivity, energy, trade, health and developmental cooperation following which the two countries signed five MoUs covering a number of areas of bilateral cooperation. Modi, who is visiting Bangladesh on his first trip to a foreign country since the outbreak of the coronavirus, held one-on-one talks with Hasina which was followed by delegation-level meeting which continued for over an hour. “Relationship going from strength to strength! Prime Minister @narendramodi and Prime Minister PM PAYS TRIBUTE Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday visited the mausoleum of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and paid floral tributes to him, becoming the firstever foreign Head of State to pay homage at the grave of 'Bangabandhu' at Tungipara in southwestern Bangladesh. Prime Minister Modi was received at the mausoleum by his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina, who is the daughter of Rahman. SEE PG 11 Sheikh Hasina discussed the progress achieved in areas of health, trade, connectivity, energy, developmental cooperation and many more, Ministry of External Affairs Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi tweeted after the talks. The two sides signed five Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) covering areas such as connectivity, commerce, information technology and sports Prime Minister Modi handed over a representational key of 109 ambulances to his Bangladeshi counterpart Hasina. He also handed over a representational box to her as a symbol of India’s gift of 1.2 million Covid vaccine doses to Bangladesh The two sides signed five Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) covering areas such as connectivity, commerce, information technology and sports. In a humanitarian gesture, Prime Minister Modi handed over a rep- resentational key of 109 ambulances to his counterpart Hasina. He also handed over a representational box to her as a symbol of India’s gift of 1.2 million Covid vaccine doses to Bangladesh. Hasina presented a gold and a silver coin released on the occasion of the birth centenary of her father and Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman to Modi. She also handed over a silver coin released on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s Independence. The two leaders also jointly opened some projects virtually. Modi’s visit is taking place at a time Bangladesh is commemorating Mujib Borsho, the birth centenary of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman. The two sides are celebrating 50 years of the establishment of diplomatic ties. The two PMs held a virtual summit on 17 December during which Modi said Bangladesh is a key pillar of India’s ‘Neighbourhood First’ policy, while Hasina described India as a “true friend.” See also Pg 3 Biden invites Modi to climate summit Myanmar forces kill dozens STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NEW DELHI, 27 MARCH NEW DELHI, 27 MARCH President Ram Nath Kovind has been shifted to the AIIMS this afternoon and is likely to undergo a bypass procedure on Tuesday, 30 March. A Rashtrapati Bhavan Press release said today, “The President of India, Shri Ram Nath Kovind has been shifted to the AIIMS, Delhi, on Saturday. Post investigations, doctors have advised him to undergo a planned bypass procedure which is expected to be performed on the morning of 30 March. The President’s health is stable and he is under the care of the experts at the AIIMS.” The president was undergoing a health check-up in the military hospital following a chest discomfort on Friday SNS morning. 1,19,08,910 Elections were held amidst tight security by following Covid-19 protocols in 30 constituencies of five Junglemahal districts including nine seats in Purulia, four in Bankura, four in Jhargram, six in West Midnapore and seven in East Midnapore booths. Flagging ‘discrepancy’ in voter turnout data, All India Trinamul Congress’ parliamentary party complained to the CEO in this regard. MP Sudip Bandopadhyay further said that the polling process is conducted smoothly if polling agents are from the same locality but BJP requested EC to send any person that the party decides. “We have requested EC to change it from the second phase onwards,” said Mr Banerjee after meeting the CEO. A BJP delegation led by senior leader Kailash Vijayvargiya, who met the CEO lauded the EC’s role claiming that the polling was 90 per cent peaceful. “The process can be made cent per cent peaceful if all persons having criminal records are rounded up,” said Mr Sisir Bajoria, BJP leader. He further flaunted an audio clip of a conversation between chief minister Mamata Banerjee and BJP’s East Midnapore district vice-president Pralay Pal accusing the former of influencing voters and begging votes. Long queues were seen outside most booths in the morning hours with people stepping out early to avoid the sweltering heat, besides the uncertainty of being able to cast their votes in case of violence later in the day. Many voters and political party workers were found without masks amidst the recent surge in coronavirus. In some booths, voters were provided masks, while sanitisers and polythene gloves were made available at many locations. More reports on page 3 US President Joe Biden has invited 40 world leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to the “Leaders’ Summit on Climate” he will host virtually on 22-23 April. The summit will underscore the urgency and the economic benefits of stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow, the White House said. President Biden took action his first day in office to return his country to the Paris Agreement. Days later, on 27 January, he announced that he would soon convene a leaders’ summit to galvanise efforts by the LEADERS’ SUMMIT The summit, which will be hosted by the US president on 22-23 April, will underscore the urgency and the economic benefits of stronger climate action. It will be a key milestone on the road to the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26) this November in Glasgow major economies to tackle the climate crisis. Other world leaders invited to the summit include: Chinese President Xi Jinping, Russian President Vladimir Putin, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netan-yahu, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Apart from Modi, other South Asian leaders invited are: Prime Minister Sheikh The summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 per cent of global emissions and global GDP Hasina of Bangladesh and Prime Minister Lotay Tshering of Bhutan. In his invitation, Biden urged leaders to use the summit as an opportunity to outline how their countries also will contribute to stronger climate ambition. In recent years, scientists have underscored the need to limit planetary warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. A key goal of both the Leaders’ Summit and COP26 will be to catalyse efforts that keep the 1.5-degree goal within reach. The summit will also highlight examples of how enhanced climate ambition will create good paying jobs, advance innovative technologies, and help vulnerable countries adapt to climate impacts. By the time of the summit, the US will announce an ambitious 2030 emissions target as its new Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. The summit will reconvene the U.S.-led Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate, which brings together 17 countries responsible for approximately 80 per cent of global emissions and global GDP . in deadliest day since coup ASSOCIATED PRESS YANGON, 27 MARCH As Myanmar’s military celebrated the annual Armed Forces Day holiday with a parade on Saturday in the country’s capital, soldiers and police elsewhere reportedly killed dozens of people as they suppressed protests in the deadliest bloodletting since last month’s coup. A count issued by an independent researcher in Yangon who has been compiling nearreal time death tolls put the total as darkness fell at 93, spread over more than two dozen cities and towns. The online news site Myanmar Now reported the death toll had reached 91. Both numbers are higher than all estimates for the previous high on March 14, which ranged in counts from 74 to 90. Figures collected by the researcher, who asked not to be named for his security, have generally tallied with the counts issued at the end of each day by the Assistance Association of Political Prisoners, which documents deaths and arrests and is widely seen as a definitive source. The killings quickly drew international condemnation, with multiple diplomatic missions to Myanmar releasing statements that mentioned the killing of civilians Saturday, including children. This 76th Myanmar armed forces day will stay engraved as a day of terror and dishonour, the European Union's delegation to Myanmar said on Twitter. The killing of unarmed civilians, including children, are indefensible acts.” The death toll in Myanmar has been steadily rising as authorities grow more forceful with their suppression of opposition to the 1 February coup that ousted the elected government of Aung San Suu Kyi.
The Statesman is one of India's oldest English newspapers. It was founded in Kolkata in 1875 and is directly descended from The Friend of India (founded 1818). The Englishman (founded 1821) was merged with The Statesman in 1934. The Delhi edition of The Statesman began publication in 1931. The Statesman Weekly is a compendium of news and views from the Kolkata and Delhi editions. Printed on airmail paper, it is popular with readers outside India. The Statesman (average weekday circulation approximately 180,000) is a leading English newspaper in West Bengal. The Sunday Statesman has a circulation of 230,000.