SUNDAY www.thestatesman.com 11 APRIL 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 ‘INDIA NEEDS TO GROW FASTER TO MAKE UP FOR CONTRACTION’ A TORMENTED LIFE P6 KOLKATA KNIGHTS ALL SET FOR RIDE TO GLORY CHINA SLAPS RECORD FINE ON ALIBABA P8 P11 P12 Bloodshed in 4th phase polling; 5 dead WEATHER Partly cloudy sky with possibility of rain. Temperature most likely to be in the range of 36-27 degrees Celsius. Security forces said to have opened fire at voters in two separate incidents during polling in Sitalkuchi constituency, Cooch Behar Mamata, Modi spar over Bengal violence RAINFALL: Nil RELATIVE HUMIDITY Max.90% TEMPERATURE Min. 43% Max: 35.8°C (N) Min: 26.7°C (+2) SUN RISES SUN SETS 05:21 hrs 17:55 hrs MOON RISES MOON SETS 04:27 hrs 16:31 hrs New moon on 12 April STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE NAIHATI/SILIGURI, 10 APRIL THUMBNAILS Security personnel keep vigil after Election Commission ordered stopping the voting exercise at polling station 126 in Sitalkuchi, Cooch Behar where clashes erupted. STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE SILIGURI/KOLKATA, 10 APRIL loodshed marred the fourth round of Assembly elections in West Bengal when five persons died after security forces allegedly opened fire at voters in two separate incidents during polling in the Sitalkuchi Assembly constituency in Cooch Behar this morning. The incidents also left three others injured. Police sources said the incident was triggered by a “rumour” that a boy had been shot at by the Central forces. In the wake of the violence, the Election Commission this evening decided to bar the entry of politicians to Cooch Behar district for the next 72 hours. The EC has also extended the “silence period” from 48 hours to 72 hours for the fifth phase of polling, scheduled on 17 April. In many areas of the districts of south Bengal, the vehicles of several candidates were vandalised and at least six persons were arrested over an attack on the vehicle of Locket Chat- B Farmers block the KMP Expressway during their ongoing agitation against Centre’s three farm laws. In Ghaziabad on Saturday. (SEE P5) Myanmar massacre: Myanmar security forces fired rifle grenades at protesters in a town near Yangon on Friday, killing more than 80 people, the Assistance Association for Political Prisoners (AAPP) monitoring group and a domestic news outlet said. Details of the death toll in the town of Bago, 90 km northeast of Yangon, were not initially available because security forces piled up bodies in the Zeyar Muni pagoda compound and cordoned off the area, according to witP11 nesses and domestic media outlets. Shock defeat for BJP in Tripura: In a shock defeat for the ruling BJP in Tripura, the newlyformed TIPRA, led by former state Congress president Pradyot Kishore Deb Barman, swept the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council (TTAADC) elections on Saturday, winning 18 of the 28 seats that went to the polls on Tuesday. The BJP won nine seats and one seat was bagged by an Independent candidate. The TTAADC area makes up twoP5 third of the state's territory. terjee, BJP candidate from Hooghly. The first incident in Cooch Behar’s Sitalkuchi occurred at a polling station area when a new voter identified as Ananda Barman was shot when Central forces opened fire during a political clash, sources said. Significantly, though all the relatives of the deceased claimed that Barman was a BJP supporter, outgoing North Bengal Development Minister and Trinamul Congress leader Rabindranath Ghosh said “BJP goons” attacked his supporters and killed Barman. Immediately after the incident, four persons belonging to the minority community were killed in similar firing at a different location near the 5/126 polling station (Madrasa Siksha Kendra) under the constituency. One of the injured there has sustained bullet injuries on his hip, it is learnt. “While local TMC activists claimed that the Central forces opened fire without provocation, election officials initially reported to the Election Com- mission that the forces rushed there after a political clash broke out between two groups. As locals attacked the forces, they opened fire in self-defense,” a source said. After visiting the site, DIG of Police, Jalpaiguri Range, Annappa E, said: “A 14-year-old ailing boy was playing at the site of the violence when a group of women tried to rescue him. A group of Central forces rushed to the area and arranged to have the boy taken to hospital. In the meantime, someone informed others that the boy was shot at by the CISF. The trouble broke out immediately after the rumour spread and hundreds of angry locals, including women, attacked the forces and tried to snatch weapons from them. Central forces opened fire in selfdefense. Four persons died on the spot and four others were injured.” An overall voter turnout of 76.16 per cent was recorded till 5 p.m. during the fourth phase today for 44 seats across the five districts of Alipurduar, Cooch Behar, Senior citizens after casting their vote during the fourth phase of the Bengal Assembly Election, in Kolkata Overall voter turnout Till 5 p.m 76.16 per cent 79.73 76.02 75.49 per cent per cent per cent Cooch Behar Hooghly South 24 Parganas 75.03 73.65 per cent per cent Howrah Alipurduar Hooghly Howrah and South 24-Parganas. The highest polling percentage of 79.73 was recorded in Cooch Behar followed by Hooghly (76.02), South 24 Parganas (75.49), Howrah (75.03) and Alipurduar (73.65). “Barring two incidents in Sitalkuchi in Cooch Behar where five persons died, polling was by and large peaceful. Till now, 2,371 complaints have been received by the commission,” said West Bengal CEO Ariz Aftab at a press conference this evening. Meanwhile in many areas of south Bengal districts, vehicles of several candidates were vandalised. In Howrah, BJP candidate from Bally Baishali Dalmiya complained that her vehicle was vandalised by alleged Trinamul backed goons while in South 24-Parganas, BJP candidate from Behala East Paayal Sarkar’s car was allegedly damaged in Haridevpur. BJP candidate from Kasba Dr Indranil Khan alleged that he was attacked by some miscreants when he tried to protest against the “bike bahinis” that were moving around the polling booths and complained that the CRPF jawans were mute spectators. In Ganguly Bagan area in Jadavpur constituency, the booth agent of CPI-M candidate Sujan Chakraborty was reportedly attacked by a “fake voter” and a central police contingent was rushed to the spot. In Bhangar in South 24Parganas, clashes were Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee today demanded the resignation of Union Home minister Amit Shah following the killing of five voters in Cooch Behar, allegedly in firing by Central paramilitary forces and said her government would conduct a CID probe into the incident. In Siliguri, Prime Minister Narendra Modi blamed Miss Banerjee for the “very unfortunate” incidents and said he sympathised with the family members of the victims. Miss Banerjee said at Naihati: “Unlike Left Front regime, police firing is very rare in West Bengal during my tenure. But rioting, killing are common for Prime Minister and Union Home minister. They were responsible for riots in Gujarat, UP and genocide in Delhi.” She later told the Press in Siliguri: “When elections are being held peacefully. as the BJP knows that it is facing defeat, it has started terrorizing people. Home Minister Amit Shah is completely responsible for today’s incident. I do not blame the Central forces as they act on the directions of the home minister. I will conduct an inquiry into the incident. They will now say I would be violating the model code of conduct, but I cannot remain mum when people are losing their lives,” she said. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Modi said Miss Banerjee’s “style of violence” and “her party activists’ attempt to spoil the poll process would not continue in SNS Bengal.” reported after ISF alleged the ruling party was not allowing their polling agents to enter the booth. Similar clashes between rival party workers were witnessed in Chanditala and Bandel in Hooghly. The EC on Satur- day directed the Union Home Ministry to deploy 71 additional companies of Central Armed Police forces (CAPFs) in Bengal for the conduct of the remaining four phases of polls. More reports on P 2,3 Pentagon defends US Navy ship’s India, China agree to avoid new incidents patrol in Indian EEZ sans consent MARATHON 11TH ROUND OF TALKS ASHOK TUTEJA PRESS TRUST OF INDIA WASHINGTON, 10 APRIL The Pentagon has defended its Navy asserting its navigational rights within India’s exclusive economic zone without taking New Delhi’s permission, calling the move “consistent with international law”. In an unusual move, the US Navy announced that on Wednesday it conducted a freedom of navigation operation in Indian waters without prior consent to challenge India’s “excessive maritime claims”, triggering a reaction from New Delhi, which on Friday said it has conveyed concerns to Washington through diplomatic chan- NEW DELHI, 10 APRIL “The USS John Paul Jones asserted navigational rights in vicinity of Maldives by conducting innocent passage through its territorial sea in normal operations within its exclusive economic zone without requesting prior consent. JOHN KIRBY PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON nels. The Ministry of External Affairs also contested the US Navy’s 7th Fleet statement of 7 April that the freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) by the guided-missile destroyer USS John Paul Jones “upheld the rights, freedoms, and law- ful uses” of the sea recognised in international law by challenging India’s “excessive maritime claims”. When asked about India’s reaction over the US move, Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby on Friday said: “That’s consistent with international law.” The MEA said: “India’s stated position on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) is that the Convention does not authorise other states to carry out in the Exclusive Economic Zone and on the continental shelf, military exercises or manoeuvres, those involving the use of weapons or explosives, without the consent of the coastal state. Top commanders of India and China have agreed to avoid any new incidents in the border areas between the two countries and jointly maintain peace and stability on the ground, the Ministry of External Affairs said today. At their marathon 11th round of talks which concluded at the Chushul-Moldo border late last night, the military commanders agreed that it was important to take guidance from the consensus reached between the leaders of the two countries, continue their communication and dialogue and work towards a mutually acceptable resolution of the remain- Covid-19 vaccines drying up in city hospitals STATESMAN NEWS SERVICE KOLKATA, 10 APRIL Acute shortage in supply of Covid-19 vaccines have forced many city hospitals to suspend vaccination programme for an indefinite period at a time when there is an alarming spurt in the number of novel coronavirus cases in the state. Today, several private hospitals, including the AMRI Hospital unit at Salt Lake, BelleVue Clinic and others have put up notices saying no vaccine is available from 10 April. Vaccination programme would be resumed when vaccines are available, the notices stated. “Yes, there is a shortfall in supply of Covid-19 vaccines in our state,” admitted Mr N S Nigam, state health secretary. “Today, we have got only 10 out of our daily requirement of 25 vials. With these 10 vials 100 beneficiaries have been vaccinated so far. There is no more stock in our hospital and vaccinations have been suspended from tomorrow till further availability,” said Mr Pradip Tondon, chief administrative officer of Belle Vue Clinic. “We hope the crisis will be over shortly,” he said. Bengal had a stock of around eight lakh vials of Covid vaccines left till Friday. On an average, three to four lakh vials are required across the state every day. “A vaccine consignment from the Centre was supposed to land in Kolkata on Friday but it didn’t come. If we don’t get fresh supply by Monday or Tuesday, vaccination will come to a stop. We asked the Centre on Friday to supply vaccines on an emergency basis,” an official in the health department said. Several states have complained of shortage of supply of vaccines. Maharashtra has Maharashtra has 15.63 lakh doses: Maharashtra is currently left with 15.63 lakh of the 1.10 crore anti-Covid 19 vaccine doses it had received, Union minister Prakash Javadekar said on Saturday and called for their “proper distribution” amidst reports of an acute shortage of vaccines which the state government had blamed on the Centre. Earlier, Maharashtra health minister Rajesh Tope had said that 8 lakh doses were available and “we have been told we will get four lakh doses in a day”. Javadekar said over 1,100 ventilators will be made available for the state. said it had to close many vaccination centres for want of doses. Several hospitals in Calcutta had to temporarily stop vaccination on Friday because of the shortage. R N Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Science at Mukundapur also suspended its Covid-19 immunisation programme today after running out of stock. “We have adequate stock of vaccines for at least one more week. We will arrange for more stock on Monday considering the shortfall in sup- ply of the vaccines,” said Dr Rupali Basu, managing director and chief executive officer of Woodlands Multispeciality Hospital. Sonia charge: Congress president Sonia Gandhi accused the Centre on Saturday of “mismanaging” the Covid situation and creating a vaccine shortage in the country by exporting it, as she called for cancelling all public gatherings and poll rallies in view of the rising number of coronavirus cases, PTI adds from New Delhi. Completion of disengagement in other friction points along the LAC will pave the way for the two sides to consider de-escalation of forces The disengagement is to be followed by deescalation and deinduction, which means pulling back troops and war equipment to the pre-April 2020 home bases ing issues at the earliest. “The two sides agreed on the need to resolve the outstanding issues in an expeditious manner in accordance with the existing agreements and protocols. In this context, it was highlighted also that completion of disengagement in other areas would pave the way for the two sides to consider deescalation of forces and ensure full restoration of peace and tranquility and enable progress in bilateral relations,” the MEA said. It said the two sides had a detailed exchange of views for the resolution of the remaining issues related to disengagement along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. The talks, which began at 10.30 on Friday morning, concluded at around 11.30 p.m. The Indian delegation was led by Lt Gen P G K Menon, the Commander of the Leh-based 14 Corps. COVID SNIPPETS NEW DELHI, 10 APRIL Gandhinagar municipal polls postponed Gujarat State Election Commission on Saturday decided to postpone the elections to the Gandhinagar Municipal Corporation, scheduled to be held on 18 April, due to the rise in Covid-19 case Lockdown extended till 19-22 April in MP areas The Madhya Pradesh government on Saturday decided to extend the lockdown in several cities, including commercial hub Indore, till 19 April amidst a surge in coronavirus cases in the state, an official said. The talks focused on disengagement at Gogra heights, Hot Springs and Depsang Plains. The two sides have already successfully completed disengagement at the Pangong Tso Lake. The disengagement is to be followed by deescalation and deinduction, which means pulling back troops and war equipment to the preApril 2020 home bases. The commanders of the two sides had last met on 20 February after completing the first phase of the pullback. The two sides have been discussing disengagement at the level of senior diplomats under the framework of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination (WMCC) on border affairs. MAMATA BANERJEE I want to say this to Didi and TMC activists and goons that such misrule will not continue. I appeal to the Election Commission to take proper action on the incident by identifying the culprits. NARENDRA MODI PE against Anil Deshmukh MUMBAI, 10 APRIL The CBI on Saturday reviewed the statements and documents collected by it during the ongoing Preliminary Enquiry in former Mumbai police chief Param Bir Singh’s allegations of corruption against ex-Home minister of Maharashtra Anil Deshmukh, an official said. The CBI is preparing an action plan to be adopted during the probe, as part of which it studied all the documents and statements. The NIA is probing the case of an explosives-laden SUV found near industrialist Mukesh Ambani's house, ‘Antilia’, in south Mumbai on PTI 25 February. India adds 1.45L fresh Covid cases SNS & PTI Deserted view of Gateway of India during weekend lockdown I was astonished to see how the Prime Minister without expressing his grief over the killings of five innocent people justified Central armed forces firing and killing of the innocents. With a record 1,45,384 fresh cases, India’s Covid-19 tally has climbed to 1,32,05,926, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. The number of active cases has breached the 10lakh mark again after around six-and-a-half months, while the death toll due to the virus has gone up to 1,68,436 with 794 more fatalities, the highest since 18 October last year, the Ministry’s data updated at 8 am showed. Registering a steady increase for the 31st day in a row, the number of active coronavirus cases in the country has gone up to 10,46,631, accounting for 7.93 per cent of its total caseload, while the recovery rate has further dropped to 90.80 per cent. Ten states ~ Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Karnataka, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and Rajasthan have shown a steep rise in daily Covid-19 cases accounting for 83.29 per cent of the new infections, the Union Health Ministry said. Maharashtra has reported the highest daily new cases at 56,286. It is followed by Chhattisgarh with 10,652 while Uttar Pradesh reported 8,474 new cases. New Bengal cases cross 4kmark:West Bengal recorded this year’s highest single-day Covid-19 case count and death toll of 4,043 fresh cases and 12 deaths today. The state’s total Covid19 case count is 6,10,498, with the death toll at 10,390, while there are 21,366 active cases. Kolkata recorded 997 cases and 4 deaths while North 24-Parganas recorded 887 fresh cases and 5 deaths in the last 24 hours. 1,32,05,926 10,46,631 1,45,384 77,567 1,68,436 UNION HEALTH MINISTRY FIGURES AS OF 8.00 A.M. SATURDAY 10 APRIL 2021
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